Josh Ferguson’s gear stash is wonderful — you can tell the gear is used often. Whereas some climbers have monstrous racks touting the exact tool for the exact job, Josh’s rack includes purposeful gear that often plays multiple roles. It’s great to see exactly how he came to his gear picks and why they work so well for him. It seems to be rare for a climber to really enjoy every piece of gear they own, yet it feels that way with Josh. And now he’ll tell you the rest…

I started climbing the first year of my Outdoor Recreation, Parks & Tourism Program at Lakehead University. When I moved to Thunder Bay, Ontario, I had no idea about the wonderful climbing potential that the city held. I didn’t even have any clue that such an incredible, empowering, adventure filled, adrenaline riddled sport really existed. So my introduction to the sport began through the University climbing wall. I bought my first harness and pair of shoes and quickly fell in love.

Josh Ferguson's Straightforward Get-Things-Done Gear Stash 1
A small taste of the local scenery at Squaw Bay! @c.k_william_ leads up the first pitch of Spiral Galaxy, a mega classic in the area, photo by @JDFergus.

Once I knew the sport existed, and all my perfectly suited location had to offer, I still didn’t have the unbridled access that I desired so much… I was missing the equipment.

The North Shore of Superior has shaped my equipment choices. The rock here is predominantly Diabase which is most similar to Basalt. There are plenty of cracks, 90 degree edges and thin crimps. Although many of the more popular areas are equipped with a two bolt system for descending, there are plenty of areas that require experience with natural anchor building and problem solving to get down safely.

For the quality and quantity of rock climbing in the area there are still hundreds of km of unexplored rock that are just waiting to be climbed. If you can lead 5.10 trad and are willing to do some serious bushwhacking, you could put up FFA’s all day long. That being said there is plenty of world class climbing that is absurdly easy to access that has been established by generations of inspired local adventures. But I digress…

I live and share the gear room with my girlfriend Leana and my friend Esker. All of us are climbers and paddlers. Although most of the climbing equipment is mine, we keep some items together like helmets and ropes.

This is the setup we’ll be exploring (as seen on Josh’s Instagram, @JDFergus):

Josh F Feb 27 gear setup


Petzl Sirocco – My helmet of choice is the Sirocco because my preference is a helmet that is extremely light and comfortable, so I am much more likely to want to wear it. There is nothing worse that only owning a helmet that you don’t like. I would go as far to say that liking your helmet is one of the most important aspects of which helmet you choose. When it comes down to safety, a helmet is up there and really spending the $200 that you might need to so that you have a helmet that you will actually wear is definitely worth the money. The breathability, the weight, and how much of the back of my head that the Sirocco protects are what really swayed the scales for me.

Note: You may see a lot of helmets in later photos — each of us in the house have a white water helmet, a climbing helmet, and a mountain biking helmet.


I have had multiple ropes over the years. My first one was a 10.2 Mammut rope, then I had an Edelrid rope for a while. I currently own 3 ropes with Leana, all of them are Petzl ropes (no particular reason for Petzl, other than I was able to get a discount and they’re great ropes).

Volta 9.2, Dry – Originally we bought this rope for Ice climbing, it was great! The 70 meters was ideal for ice climbing in the area, the extra length was optimal for touching down on those lines that were just shy of a 60 m. Although as soon as the rock season rolled around, it was impossible to resist the temptation to use it on rock. We were also about to leave on an 8 month trip to South East Asia and couldn’t help but take our favorite rope. So it became our rock rope. The dry treatment quickly wore off in the sandy conditions of Tonsai. Now it’s completely out of the running to be used on ice, especially in wet conditions it was time to figure out what to buy next.

Rumba 8.0, Dry – Half / Twin ropes, in my opinion are the best and most logical option for ice climbing. The amount of options that having a second rope opens up are extremely freeing.

  • A second safety - If one rope happens to be damaged, kicked with crampons or with an axe. Simply compromised in any way there immediately is a backup
  • Rope drag – It’s very likely while climbing any ice / mixed route in Northern Ontario that the environment will dictate where your pro goes and it could be all over the place if you are interested in having bomber gear. For wandering routes, two ropes cannot be beat.
  • Trifecta – If you ever happens to go on a mission with 3 people having one rope really slows down the process, or you have to tag a second line along to ensure the safety of the whole party. With two ropes, two climbers can simultaneously follow (as long as the route allows for it), which can really shave off wasted time.
  • Seasonal use – Finally having a set of twin / half rope is beneficial to me because I am less inclined to use them on rock routes during the summer, this prolongs the dry life of my ropes giving me more usable ice seasons.

Ice Tools

Josh Ferguson's Straightforward Get-Things-Done Gear Stash 2

Cassin X-Dream Alpine My first pair of axes were a pair of old Petzl Quarks. I climbed on these for financial reasons for three years, but in December of 2017 I bought a pair of Cassin X Dream Alpine axes. These axes are a huge improvement from the Quarks. Most notably, the bucket handle. It protects my hand from hitting the ice while swinging, which is a major upgrade in the quality of climbing experience. Combined with the improved wrist position, these axes are much easier to hold on to for longer on steep terrain. The picks are very nice for climbing ice because of their angle and how thin they are. They displace very little ice and stick beautifully. The down side to the ice picks is their performance on rock, they work fine for pulling on edges and slotting but any torking makes me nervous, I am afraid to snap them while climbing. I need to purchase some aftermarket picks that are made thicker for dry tooling. I have yet to use the dry setting on the handle, but I am glad that I have the option. The only downside to these axes that I have noticed is that the handle tends to loosen up every so often. It’s never enough to fall off but definitely enough to feel a wiggle that can be unsettling. This can be easily solved by carrying an allen key in your climbing pack and just tighten them when they start to loosen. All in all I love these axes; they swing like a dream and I wouldn’t buy different axes if I had the chance.


Josh Ferguson's Straightforward Get-Things-Done Gear Stash 3

Petzl Lynx As a climber who wants to cover a large variety of terrain, but also doesn’t want to own too many pairs of crampons, I use a highly modular crampon. These crampons are everything that I could want in a crampon. 4 different front point configurations including offsets and mono. They pack up quite small and fit into a handy case. I prefer a mono-point configuration, mainly to reduce my ice displacement and for standing on small edges, they allow me to rotate my feet on small edges, where dual points would restrict that type of moment. I would not recommend monos for beginner climbers, because duals offer more stability in ice right off the bat, but with more experience and comfort with the sport monos increase the versatility of your crampons.

BootsJosh Ferguson's Straightforward Get-Things-Done Gear Stash 4

Scarpa Inverno – I use very old double boot Inviernos. The main benefit to climbing with double boots in this area is warmth, the downside is that they are heavier. Since our approaches are generally not very long, they are fine and I have not needed to buy newer leather boots. I love the stability of double boots, but that stability only comes when they are laced up perfectly. I recently bought a pair of Scarpa Mont Blanc, and am now learning and mastering the differences between them.


I own a separate harness for rock and ice climbing.

  • Rock (Sport & Gym) – Arc’teryx S220 LT – Super lightweight, packs down very small and is quite comfortable. Note: The S220 LT is no longer produced but you can see all the Arc’teryx harnesses on WeighMyRack, including the most similar model the SL 340
  • Ice & Trad – Petzl Corax – Heavy duty, comfortable, and compatible with ice clippers. Adjustable leg loops & a multidirectional cinching system which allows me to tighten the harness without messing up my layers.

Josh Ferguson's Straightforward Get-Things-Done Gear Stash 5

My harness is always racked with the essential that I want to have with me every time I go out:

  • Personal Anchor System (PAS) – The Metolious personal anchor system is beautifully designed. The individual loop system used makes for a large number of ways to use this piece of equipment.
  • Belay Device – Mammut Smart Alpine with a Mammut Crag Smart Auto-locking carabiner to avoid cross loading. I prefer the Smart Alpine to an ATC Guide because of the assisted locking feature. It’s like having a Gri-Gri and an ATC all in one.
  • Prusik Cord with its own carabiner – This comes in handy for tricky rappels where I expect to have to go hands free. I feel everyone should always have a prusik with them in any outdoor climbing environment. They are never a nuisance and can really save your ass one day.
  • Petzl Tiblock, a piton & a quick link, for emergency use The Tiblock combined with a prusik, a belay device, and some carabiners can make a very efficient rope ascending system. The piton I rarely touch, but it’s for that one time where I need a piece of pro and it’s the only thing that will fit. Last but not least the quick link for just ditching on a rappel when necessary
  • 3 Dyneema Slings, each with 2 locking carabiners – These are simply for making anchors, I find that with one double shoulder length and 2 quadruple shoulder length you can make and anchor almost anywhere.
  • 4 Ice Clippers for racking up in the winter. I rack the Petzl ice clippers on the front because they’re larger. I had bought the BD clippers first but they’ve been relegated to the back of the harness due to size.

Locker note: On the original gear spread photo at the top of this article I grabbed every piece of hardware I had. This includes a lot of lockers (30+) of which I use mainly for slacklining and highlining. I don’t take that many lockers climbing 🙂

Quickdraw note: In my opinion, draws are not that important, I find the performance of draws to be very similar despite many changes. The draws I have are just the ones I happen to have. I will swap them out for a newer set soon because mine are getting old. I prefer extendables but they are not always necessary and would be a hindrance while sport climbing. My bar for a quickdraw is really anything that will hold a falling climber.

Hardware (Protection)

Josh Ferguson's Straightforward Get-Things-Done Gear Stash 6

Due to my work schedule, the majority of the climbing that I do happens in the winter. I am busy all summer and as a result I only catch the shoulders of the rock season. That’s the long-winded explanation for why I have so many stoppers. The short version is: hexes and nuts, unlike cams, are not affected by icy cracks. During the winter I may still carry between 2 and 5 cams depending on the route I am climbing. The ice pitons come in very handy when protecting frozen turf, where there is really no other form of protection.

Josh Ferguson's Straightforward Get-Things-Done Gear Stash 7

Josh Ferguson's Straightforward Get-Things-Done Gear Stash 8

Petzl Laser ice screws – I exclusively buy Petzl Laser Speed ice screws. I prefer to have a uniform style so that every time I place a screw it feels exactly the same, I also expect that the bigger crank knob is slightly better for wear and tear on your gloves. My size spread is also intentional based on the frequency of use of the sizes. Another 1 or 2 10 cm screws would be nice as I get more into climbing mixed routes.

As all racks, they start out slow and never stop growing. Here’s my first gear storage closet, compared to my most recent gear storage photo:

Josh F first gear setup josh f current rack



Any gear questions? Ask in the comments!



This Gear Stash post is Part 3 of 11 and is sponsored by Backcountry. This means, all opinions are 100% the author’s and there has been no manipulation of the gear being displayed, but gear links go directly to Backcountry’s website when available. This sponsorship helps to keep WeighMyRack alive, to pay authors, and allows more articles to be written. Also, since Backcountry has the biggest online selection of climbing gear of any US retailer, it made sense for us to partner with them for our Gear Stash stories.

If you’d like your rack to be featured on our Gear Stash series in the future, tag #weighmyrack and #gearstoke on Instagram. If we share your post on our feed and it becomes a most liked photo, we’ll reach out about becoming officially featured as an Ultimate Gear Stash.