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Packing With the Pros: Mountaineering (Lilla Molnar)


By Abby Cooper

Mountaineering requires a fair amount of gear, and between your hard goods and clothing needed for an array of weather, you need to be careful not to leave crucial gear behind. Abby Cooper caught up with ACMG/IFMGA-certified guide, Lilla Molnar, to find out what’s in her pack, and her best tips for packing for a day spent high in the alpine. 

Lilla Molnar. Photo by Marc Piche

Lilla Molnar’s drive to spend as much time work-playing as possible started young – so young, in fact, that her first memorable mountain playing experience happened at a ripe age of two when she went skiing for the first time. She grew up in Toronto, but the mountains begged her to head West. As of’ 1997, Lilla has been a Canmore resident, and not too long after a certified ACMG/IFMGA guide, the sixth female mountain guide in North America. Now a mountain momma herself, Lilla often takes her little one with her guiding when possible (her bad-assness will transcend another generation here!) 

Inspired by her mark on the mountain community, we caught up with Lilla to find out what kind of things she takes with her on a day mountaineering trip. Packing for each trip requires slightly different gear, so Lilla’s pack explained below is from a recent and frequent trip to the beloved Bugaboos, to the Northeast Ridge of Bugaboo Spire, to be specific. This information transfers to similar day-trip mountaineering objectives, and we have plenty of those in the backyard!


Pack: Arc’teryx Cierzo 35L

Light, flexible and compressible, the Arc’teryx Cierzo is a dream day pack. If you’re heading out to set up base camp and tackle a few objectives from the same staging area, this is what you want in your overnight bag to later use as a daypack. To add some support, Lilla transfers a cardboard First Aid splint from her big pack to the back of her Cierzo. Her overnight pack of choice is the Arc’teryx Maia 65L because “it is waterproof and has a swivel in the waist straps, which moves with every step.”

First Aid Kit

A fan of making her own custom First Aid kit that best suits her current adventure at hand, Lilla dishes on what she’s packing. “Lots of absorbent bandages, but specifically a couple of big abdominal pads to absorb a heavy bleed” (these can be cut if needed for multiple smaller injuries). She also includes Tensor bandages to work with the cardboard splint, triangular bandages, white athletic tape, and a tincture of Benzoin applicator to help make tape and bandages stick. In her custom kit, you’ll also find a syringe for cleaning small wounds, Steri-Strips, Ibuprofen, a few Tylenol 3s, tampons (you never know!), a lighter, pen and duct tape. She also carries a VHF radio in case of emergencies.

Blister Kit

A small blister specific kit is a game changer, not only for yourself but also for your friends. If they’re complaining of pain and bleeding out of their boot, chances are you won’t be having a great time either.

Repair Kit

More duct tape! Another crossover item that can be considered First Aid is a small tube of crazy glue, not only for gear repairs but it also “works well on skin flappers and nasty deep cuts which tend to form on the edge of fingernails,” Molnar says. A multitool with knife, scissors, plier, and tweezers is a necessity. She also carries white hockey tape and a small piece of wire to temporarily fix broken crampons.

Hard Goods

Four locking carabineers, Petzl Reverso belay device, Petzl Micro Traxion Pulley,  double set of cams, nuts, nut tool and Petzl Sum’Tec Ice Tool.  Her Black Diamond FLZ hiking poles are a learned favorite because they are collapsible and fit easily inside a climbing pack. You can’t forget the ice axe, and Petzl Irvis Hybrid crampons which are super light and perform well both on mixed conditions and bare ice.


2 x Dyneema double length slings with non locking carabineers, and a set of draws (half being shoulder length Dyneema slings. Her Mammut Duodess rope (+60m) is accompanied by a 5-metre length 7-mm Prusik and 1-metre personal Prusiks; the Sterling Auto Block is her preference. The Arc’teryx AR-385A adjustable leg loop harness is her harness of choice. Don’t forget your helmet!

Rock Shoes

La Sportiva TC Pros are packed and ready to swap out with her leather mountaineering boots when the conditions call.

Soft Goods

Lilla loves her Arc’teryx Squamish Hoody for warm days in the alpine. “It provides just enough wind protection and breathes plenty for me on a multi pitch climb,” says Molnar. “The chest pocket is just big enough for easy access to my phone for photos.” For a tough shell, Lilla turns to the Arc’teryx Alpha SL GORE-TEX jacket (the lightest with alpine-specific GORE-TEX), but she always hopes this one stays packed at the bottom of her bag! For early ups made cozy, she recommends her Arc’teryx Proton LT hoody for warmth and breathability. A packed Buff is ready to offer sun protection or additional warmth as needed. Last on the list of alpine driven soft goods is the Arc’teryx Alpha MX glove: “it provides enough insulation and is supple with good dexterity for rope handling.”

→ Looking for a Buff? Look no further than our custom Mountain Culture Elevated Buff.

Sil Tarp

This is a shelter in a snap, in case of a storm. It’s never a bad idea to bring this in a daypack for objectives both big and small. Alberta-made, Integral Designs offer an array of sizes.


Julbo Photochromic sunglasses provide great UV protection on a bright day, but adjust to cloud cover or daylight.


A Garmin inReach is tucked away in Lilla’s pack for a rare emergency situation where reception is unavailable from her VHF radio.


Here are a few “top pocket” favorites that Lilla brings on her missions:

  • Mineral based sunscreen – ideally the most natural to reflect UV rays.
  • Several sticks of lip balm –  “you can never have enough; they always go missing!”
  • Bars. Right now Lilla is on a Probar Superfood Slam flavor kick.
  • Ball cap for sun protection.
  • Petzl Actik Core Headlamp shines 350 lumens, which is extremely useful for distinguishing rock features in the dark.
  • A toque (hopefully it stays stashed).
  • Bathroom Kit: Hand sanitizer, lighter, TP and wet wipes.
  • Water bottle.
  • Bear spray.


  • A few beers left to cool in the river is a few less in your pack and much more rewarding en route home!
  • Extra socks are worth the extra weight. Also, buy light socks and you’ll never question yourself.
  • Gaitors are highly recommended for early season climbs before the snow is settled.
  • Always bring an extra pair of sunnies.
  • Remember those cameras, phones, and radios won’t do anyone any favors if they aren’t fully charged. On multi-day trips, she brings a back-up charger.
  • Don’t forget to bring your field book, hut reservation, guiding permit, guides card. As a guide, you gotta!

A lover of all things outdoors, Abby Cooper is a splitboarder, climber, hiker, adventurer, photographer and writer. She’s living life one adventure to the next with her dog by her side.

The views and opinions expressed in the articles on are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the editor, the editorial team or the publishers.

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