How to Build Wands

| October 22, 2014

I know – the moment you’ve all been waiting for.  Both of you.

As detailed in my previous post, I’ve built a lot of bad mountaineering wands before arriving at this solution.  I like this design as they stay put in deep snow for weeks on end, withstand wind, are easy to place, easy to clean and generally work well.  I like the combination of both a small duct tape flag and a ribbon as if it is a total white-out, you can often still hear the ribbon flapping in the wind.

1. 48″ tomato stakes – 25 pack.  I like starting with long stakes (4′ versus 3′), but will cut them down if I’m going somewhere that requires a lot of maneuvering in and out of planes or boats as the long ones are a pain in the ass.



2. 2″ Fluorescent Duct Tape.  There is actually some disagreement over where or not fluorescent tape shows up better, but I think for low or flat light conditions it does.  Maybe not in bright daylight, but then again you don’t really need wands in bright daylight.



3. Barricade Tape



… also available in humorous options…



You can often times find all of these ingredients at a home store, but if not, they are easily available on line.

Once you have all of the required parts, the construction is brainless. Rip off a 5″ ish piece of tape, fold it around the wand, tab in about 1/2″ of ribbon and squish it all together.



A pile of wands in action:


I like carrying them on the right side of my pack so I can reach back and grab them like an arrow from a quiver and place them without stopping (if you are going to get lost, you might as well do it as fast and efficiently as possible).

90% of the time I carry wands I’m not actually placing them, so I stitched up a “wandom” to slip over the flagging to help keep them organized and cut down on the flapping.

The author achieving wanding nirvana on a trip to Antarctica.

Help support and strap your wands onto a Mountain Hardwear Summitrocket 30 Daypack from Click on the photo below.




Category: 02 Gear, 10 Navigation, Projects

About the Author ()

Andrew McLean lives in Park City, Utah and is a gear designer, writer, photographer, ski mountaineer, climber and Mountain Unicycle rider. He and Polly Samuels McLean are the parents of two very loud little girls.

Comments (4)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. “I know – the moment you’ve all been waiting for. Both of you.”

    So who’s my fellow traveler here?

    But seriously, even though I have no desire to ski on glaciers so heavily crevassed that I need wands, this is perfect for marking hazards on our one 100% backcountry rando race out here, to supplement the ISMF-style wands (green = skin, yellow = boot, ski = red) — many thanks for the idea!

  2. viktor says:

    im the other one reading this, in north sweden(and norway).even though our glaciers are often werry safe and our mountains smaller so wands are not often needed, i still realy need to read stuff like this to get me trough the waiting for snow. so thanx! in swedish wand could meen what thes guys are doing,in a werry positive way:

  3. Paddy says:

    This right here is why I check your blog. Actual, practical advice born out of years of experience.

  4. imelrSedgesprite says:


%d bloggers like this: