what i can't live without

What Alex Honnold Can’t Live Without

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photo: Matt Misisco

If you’re like us, you’ve probably wondered what famous people add to their carts. Not the JAR brooch and Louis XV chair but the hair spray and the electric toothbrush. We asked professional rock climber Alex Honnold — who recently partnered with soap-maker Dr. Squatch — about the headphones he uses to focus, the backpack he’s abused for years, and the only nutritional gummies he ate on a 32-hour mountain mission.

I was slightly worried that these were too bougie when my wife bought them for me (replacing my very old and very broken previous Bose headphones), but they’re freaking awesome. I love ’em for flying, for travel, for escaping when you need to. I like the noise canceling to drown out the noise from a plane or from a busy terminal or whatever is around you. It’s not quite as important what’s playing on the inside as what you’re blocking from the outside.

When I’m flying, I normally listen to classical music or movie soundtracks. The Last of the Mohicans has a great soundtrack. It’s one of the best, but I listen to obvious classics, like Pirates of the Caribbean — great soundtrack. I mean, Hans Zimmer in general is pretty good. The Batman soundtracks are good. John Williams is a total genius — all the Star Wars soundtracks are good. Howard Shore, too. Surprisingly, the first Twilight movie soundtrack is kind of great and I sleep to it a lot. I wouldn’t necessarily say I endorse the movie, but the soundtrack is great for sleeping.

I’ve been sponsored by The North Face for 15 years, so I’m no stranger to free jackets or wearing them in very remote places. And yet there are still some jackets that you like more than others. I’m finding myself in this jacket every day. It’s my new favorite. I find it surprisingly warm for being relatively lightweight. It’s basically the heaviest jacket that I wear in, like, normal applications, you know. It’s what I would take bouldering and to the crag.

From $99

Basically every morning I just wake up and have my AG1. I’ve taken a lot of different vitamins and things over the years, and nowadays people just send me all kinds of weird free stuff, like the next health product or the thing that’s supposed to help you. And, realistically, I never really noticed that much of a difference from ’em. And I feel like AG 1 is the only sort of supplement or health product I’ve ever used where I’m like, You know, I actually kind of feel better. Like, I think it does do something. But then, also, I live in the desert, and so every morning I drink half a liter of water with greens in it. And there’s really no downside to just starting your day hydrated. I think of AG1 as sort of a foundational routine, where every morning I just start the same way.

From $33 for 12

I’ve eaten tons of different kinds of sports-nutrition products over the years, and I find that the Bolts are the most kind on my stomach during really prolonged activities. I did a 16-hour mountain-bike ride powered mainly by Bolts. And I recently did a 32-hour continuous climbing adventure across a local mountain range — the Honnold Ultimate Red Rock Traverse, or the HURT — powered largely by Bolts. Though, to be honest, by hour 20 I was pretty over them. But anything else would have been worse. It’s hard to fuel big pushes in the mountains, and these are one of the best things that I’ve found.

Apple iPhone 13 Mini
From $490
From $490

Maybe it’s a little clichéd to name my phone, but it is certainly the most useful tool that I own. I use it for almost everything, just like everyone else, even remote mountain adventures. Even in places with no service, I’m using it to navigate and listen to music, as well as to take photos and make notes. An incredibly versatile tool.

I was doing some climbing shoot for Good Morning America, and my iPhone 12 Mini fell out of my pocket and just got destroyed at the base of this wall, which is the first time I’ve ever lost a phone out of a pocket. And I was like, Oh, man. And then the very nice publicist woman from Good Morning America the next day showed up with a new 13 Mini and I was like, Great success! It’s all about the Mini. Like, I want the smallest thing possible so it can fit in a pocket underneath a harness.

I use this backpack almost every day. Super robust and durable. Actually, I just broke one of the buckles on my Cinder after five or six years of heavy use. And so apparently they aren’t indestructible … but they’re the most robust backpacks I’ve ever used, for sure. Because I use mine as sort of a haul bag as well. Like, I’ve dragged it up cliffs all over the world and it just keeps on trucking, you know, it just never dies. Well, actually, it still didn’t die, but it’s just less functional now that the buckle’s gone. It’s not overbuilt, it’s just a big empty space with a lid, like a pouch for your snacks. That’s all you need.

$104

I’ve had this hangboard in my van the past six years; it’s my go-to training tool. I have one in the house now as well, but somehow my van hangboard still means more to me. Though, sadly, the Beastmaker works the same way as any other fitness tool: You actually have to use it a ton to see any effects. It’s never easy to dangle from your fingertips … But if you’re going to train for climbing, this is one of the best ways. One of the things I actually really like about the Beastmaker is that it’s ubiquitous. It’s in basically every gym. And so if you’re doing any kind of consistent training thing — I travel and climb in different gyms so much — it’s nice to use whatever tool is available at every gym. So if I’m using specific edges in specific ways, I know that I can replicate that workout in other places.

I like that these soap bars are big enough that I can actually hold them. When you get hotel soap or something and it’s so small that you’re like, Oh, I can’t hold this in my hand. So I like the heft, but mostly it’s just a nice product made with natural ingredients. Everyone has to bathe sometimes, and this is my go-to soap. I don’t go on any trips or excursions without one. Their summer citrus scent is my favorite at the moment. It’s got some grit, which I love for exfoliation, and a great scent.

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What Alex Honnold Can’t Live Without