Compass Illustration

What to Pack

You’ll find a lot of variety in both the weather and your choice of activities throughout your travels in the Alps.


Layering is key, for both comfort and ease of packing. You’ll only have to carry a light daypack for the remote nights on inn-to-inn tours, and you’ll have your luggage at every village hotel along your route. A general rule of travel is to take a look at the pile of things you want to pack, then remove half of it. And then do that again!

Getting Ready: We have arranged 20% discounts for our US clients with both Mammut and Leki.

Mammut (boots, backpacks, layers): Go to and use invitation code: MAMMUT-AH-CLIENT does not allow returns. For more traditional shopping, visit Mammut’s main site – the 20% discount does not apply here, but we get commissions that we donate 100% to our Sustainability and Climate Action fund.


Leki (hiking poles) –  Alpinehikers Leki Store page.

Footwear:  Take good care of your feet

Boots  Of number one importance is comfort and fit of your active footwear.  Blisters can absolutely ruin any hiking trip.  Lightweight boots are fine for most people, since you won’t be carrying a heavy pack.  Some people prefer high ankle support, while other like lower cut trail-runners.  Find a shoe that has a strong, sturdy sole and that you feel comfortable in.   Make sure your boots are well broken-in before your trip.  Seasoned European hikers wear their boots on the plane – if your luggage is lost or delayed, at least you’ll have a good, broken-in pair of boots to start with.

Shoes  For off-the-trail, bring something light and very comfortable for the evenings and train rides.  This can be anything from another pair of sneakers to a comfortable dress shoe or sandal.

Socks  Thick, non-cotton socks, such as wool, will help protect your feet from blisters and stay warm when wet.  Many socks are made specifically for hiking.  3-4 pair for a week with some hand-washing in the evening is fine.


Clothes:  Layering is your key to happy hiking

Rain Gear  A hi-quality raincoat with a hood is a must.  Waterproofing technology varies from company to company, but Gore Tex is pretty trust worthy.  The fabric is waterproof as well as breathable, which makes it great for hiking!  Rain pants aren’t quite as essential, but you will definitely be grateful for them if you need to hike through extended periods of rain.  We bring both. It’s best to carry rain pants and never need to use them instead of wishing you had them on a long, cold day.

Warm Layer  A fleece jacket, sweater, or light down or synthetic jacket is a must.  People get wet, weather changes suddenly, and we all need to be prepared for cold temperatures.  Cotton does not keep you warm if you get wet.  Down jackets are warm and very compactible if you want to keep weight down.

T-shirts  Bring a few.  If you want to pack light, bring 3-4 for a week and hand-wash as you go.  Poly blends or wool hiking shirts are good, cotton is a bad choice if the weather is bad.

Pants  A couple pair that are light and breathable. Quick drying, poly blends are best. Jeans are restrictive and dry much too slowly when wet.

Shorts  1 pair for warm days should be fine.

Dinner Wear  For the most part, none of your restaurants will require formal attire.  You will want something nice, and not just your hiking clothes, but casual attire for dinner is fine.  If you are staying in 4 and 5-star hotels, more elegant clothing for dinner is appropriate but not usually necessary.

Swimsuit  There are pools and spas in many of the villages and village hotels.  If you like to swim or use a sauna, bring one.


Gear:  It’s got you covered in outdoor and travel situations

Backpack  You’ll need a day pack for your hikes.  It should be large enough to carry your warm layers, camera, water, lunch, and rain gear.  No matter what the weather when you start out, you want to be prepared for a variety of weather conditions.  Make sure you have space for an extra set of clothes for the hut nights!  Preferences vary, but a 30-35 liter pack should be appropriate.

Walking/Trekking Poles They look like collapsible ski poles and are very common in the Alps.  We find them to be a great help on steep slopes, up or down.  They help distribute your weight from your knees and can make a vast improvement in comfort, especially for people who have had knee problems in the past.  They’re also good for balance.  Many, many people, after a tour, have suggested that we make these a mandatory packing item.  The Leki Makalu FX Carbon or Cressida (like the Makalu but smaller) are great poles – super-light and they can be easily disassembled to fit into your checked baggage.

Small Flashlight  For finding the bathroom at night while staying in huts or remote inns.

Swiss Army Knife  Always useful.  Great for cutting cheese while breaking for a picnic.  Don’t leave it in your carry-on luggage or you will lose it at the airport.

Binoculars  Fun for spotting wildlife, climbers on peaks, and distant avalanches.

Camera  If you’re bringing a separate camera, consider extra batteries (or a charger and adapter).

Adapter  Having one or two adapters for plugging in all those gadgets.  For US clients, we like the Kikkerland UL03-A for it’s flexibility to fit many outlets – Swiss, French and Italian.  Or the Ceptics European adapter is also a good choice. If you have a lot of devices, it’s nice to bring a small power strip as well, as outlets are not always plentiful.

Power Bank  Cell phones are always running out of juice, especially when you’re on the road. A mini power bank, like the Skullcandy Stash is small, affordable, and will give you numerous charges.

Sleep Sheets  These are provided when you have private rooms, but you will want to bring a thin sleep sheet for any dorm nights in huts.  Silk packs up smaller and lighter than cotton, but either is fine.  We like to bring a clean t-shirt to use as a pillowcase.  If you have a private room, sheets and towels are typically provided.  The Cocoon Coolmax Travel Sheet will do.

Soap and Towels  Towels are provided when you have private rooms, but you’re expected to bring your own when you stay in dormitory.  You might also want to bring a small amount of your favorite shampoo.

Earplugs  They take up little space, and can be essential for a good nights sleep.  Highly recommended for any dormitory nights!

Water Bottle  If you have a water bottle or a Camelback system you like, bring it.  Nalgene makes a great sturdy refillable water bottle.  If you want to travel light, you can buy bottled water when you arrive and re-use the bottle for the rest of the trip.  Plan to carry a couple liters.


Sun Protection:  Don’t start your vacation with a sunburn 

You’ll need a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen (and maybe protective lip balm with SPF). The sun can be very strong at high altitudes, especially when reflected off snow or water – don’t underestimate it.



First Aid:  For any bumps and scrapes along the way

Your first aid kit should include blister protection, pain killers, cold medicine.  Moleskin is the classic blister protection, although it needs to be taped to stay in place.  Compeed blister strips are great for serious protection, and Bandaid blister strips work well, too.  Duct tape is a great low-tech solution, best used for hotspots before you blister.




Skip it:  Don’t even think about it. Leave these at home!

Sleeping Bag  Even in the simplest inns and huts, blankets are always provided.

Water Filter  Clean, safe drinking water is in no short supply in the Alps.  You won’t need a filter.  A small amount of iodine tablets are good to have for emergencies.

Hair dryer  3-star hotels and higher have them, and small inns often don’t have the circuitry to handle it anyway.

Site Design Rebecca Pollock
Site Development Alchemy + Aim