The 6 Things Alex Honnold Can’t Live Without
Honnold is known for his minimalism, both in climbing and in life. But there are couple items he deems essential.
Outside's long reads email newsletter features our strongest writing, most ambitious reporting, and award-winning storytelling about the outdoors. Sign up today.
Back on June 3, Alex Honnold became the first climber in history to free solo Yosemite's 3,000-foot El Capitan. That means he climbed the entire wall without a rope, harness, or any other kind of safety equipment. Even more impressive: the whole climb only took him three hours and 56 minutes.
That feat was certainly his most audacious, but it was hardly the first time Honnold has made headlines for ropeless ascents: the 31-year-old is famous for his bare-bones climbing approach. He also's well-known for living simply out of a 2016 Dodge van that he drives from one climb to the next.
But ask him what he can't live without and it turns out there are a few things on that list. We recently called him up and got the details.
The North Face Cinder 32 pack is a perfect mid-size bag that carries everything. I bring it with me pretty much everywhere: it carries my rope and rack, my shoes, harness, water, food, a jacket. With that, I’m good for the whole day.
Noise Canceling Headphones
These Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones are a must-have for traveling. I listen to a lot of movie soundtracks. I'll sleep to the Avatar soundtrack or Gladiator—I find them quite peaceful. I hiked into the Torre Valley in Patagonia listening to the Batman soundtrack. It's the most beautiful hike you can imagine.
I only drink water and I usually use a Nalgene. It’s small enough that you can use it as cup in streams. In Patagonia, there’s so much fresh water around, you never need to carry more than a half liter. Plus, the hard plastic means you can use it to roll out your legs and IT band whenever you get where you’re going.
I have a really good breakfast routine. I’ve been eating Bob’s Red Mill Old Country Style Muesli. I add chia seeds, flax seed, and hemp milk. I've eaten the same breakfast for the last six months. Sometimes, I prepare everything but the milk the night before and leave it sitting out, especially while training for El Cap. I've been getting up at 4:45 in the morning, so it's nice to just pour hemp milk and you’re good to go. It feels well balanced with carbs and protein.
Burly Phone Case
I use my iPhone every day. It's in my pocket on every climb. But I needed a sturdy case for it so I don't crush the screen when I’m climbing the Chimney. The Pelican Adventurer Case has been working well.
I always travel with two journals. One is just for climbing where I list all the routes I've climbed in a very specific format: “I climbed this route on this day and it took this long.” It's very clinical and sterile. My climbing journal is a standard Mead Five Star Notebook. The entry from El Cap on June 3 reads:”'6-3-17. Freerider. 5.12D. Solo!!! 3:56. Felt amazing, smooth and awesome.”
Then I have a training journal where I keep dietary notes and training logs. In the back, I make notes, like to-do lists or memorizing sequences for climbs. It's one of those black-and-white Mead Composition Notebooks. It has some random dude’s name on it—Cody something. My mom is a retired professor and it came from her.