Alps Hiking Packing List

General Packing Considerations for Hiking in the Alps

The following instructions apply to most of our hiking trips in the Alps such as Best of the Swiss Alps and Exploring the Jungfrau. For more strenuous trips like the Haute Route and the Tour du Mont Blanc you'll want to refer to the Trekking Packing List. You'll also find informative videos addressing these topics on our Haute Route Essentials page. For our easier trips like sightseeing, rail, and food & wine tours, please refer to our Alps Travel Packing List.  If you are going on a snowshoeing tour, you can find our Winter Hiking packing list here.

While we always recommend that you travel light, keep in mind that almost all of our hikes and treks are supported with luggage transfers, allowing you to bring a suitcase that will be waiting for you at our hotel most nights. The exception being at the Berghotel Obersteinberg on our Exploring the Jungfrau tour. Most days you'll be able to travel light, carrying just a daypack with snacks, camera, water, and a light jacket or fleece. Even on the nights when we stay in a mountain hut, all of our food and bedding is provided at the hut, but you may want to carry a change of clothes and personal toiletries. Most people choose to check a suitcase for the transatlantic flight and use their small backpack as a carry-on piece.

At the end of each day we go out to dinner either at the hotel restaurant or at a nice restaurant nearby. While it's always casual, you'll probably want to clean up and put on something other than the clothes and shoes you've been hiking in all day. A pair slacks, khakis, or even jeans may be your choice, along with a comfortable pair of shoes or even sandals. While we make some specific recommendations below, your own personal preference, experience, and comfort-what works best for you-is ultimately the most important factor in deciding what to bring. This page includes affiliate links. 

keen shoe

Hiking Shoes

We recommend that you choose your shoes carefully, with proven comfort being your prime consideration. While most modern hiking shoes don't require being "broken in" as was the case with leather boots of old, you will still want to have worn the shoe on a variety of trail surfaces and over comparable condition for 8-10 miles a day carrying a light pack, so that you know they will be comfortable on the trip.  Your shoes can be low-cut or mid-ankle,  but should have a sturdy sole such as Vibram (my personal favorite). Alpine hiking and walking trails are usually on stable dirt surfaces with some rock, and some patches of boulder-hopping. Happy feet make happy hikers. Keen, Merrell, Oboz, Lowa and Vasque are companies that make quality hiking boots with a variety of styles and materials. 


You should be able to get by with a small daypack in the 20-30 liter size. Even with a lighter pack  we would still recommend a hip belt. In the ultralight style, Deuter, Osprey, Vaude, Kelty, Dana Designs, Osprey, Mountainsmith, REI, Sierra Designs and Jansport all make great packs. Many of these packs come with a built in waterproof pack cover, but you an also buy an inexpensive cover separately. For years now, Alpenwild Trip Leaders were outfitted in some smart-looking and highly functional Deuter packs --a great choice. 


I wish we could say this isn't really needed, but good lightweight raingear (tops and bottoms) can make the difference between a miserable day and an enjoyable personal triumph. While we've long recommended waterproof-breathable (Gore-Tex) type raingear, some manufacturers make lightweight raingear using other fabrics. You may find that an inexpensive, even disposable, poncho can serve you very well. It is a personal preference.

Trekking Poles

Trekking poles have many benefits. They provide propulsion on the ascent, aid in balance and stability, and protect your knees on the descent. Though not mandatory, the vast majority of hikers use trekking poles and you'll see them used on day hikes throughout the Alps. Poles should be collapsible, so that they fit conveniently in checked luggage, since they are not allowed on board the aircraft under security regulations. Alpenwild Trip Leaders give the nod to the Black Diamond trekking poles.

Packing List

It's a good idea to pack your clothes in zip-lock bags inside your pack. We've also had good experience using the airtight vacuum-sealed packing bags. They allow you to compact your clothes in a small space and are reusable. When selecting clothing, think about dual-purpose clothes and about layering for warmth and keeping dry. It is better to have several layers you can take off and put on one at a time versus one heavy layer. 

  • 1 daypack (to carry water bottle, snacks, camera, and jackets)
  • 1 pair mid-weight hiking shoes, can be low-cut or mid-ankle (suggested), and should have a sturdy, vibram-like sole
  • 1 pair trekking poles (optional)
  • 1 rain jacket (pants are a good idea too)
  • 1 mid-weight fleece sweater or soft-shell jacket
  • 2-3 pair synthetic hiking pants 
  • 3-4 T-shirts - with wicking properties.
  • 1 pair long pants
  • 1-2 long sleeve shirts
  • 4-5 pair hiking socks - Wool or wool-blend preferred
  • 1 pair extra shoes for wearing at end of day and in town 
  • Casual dinner attire
  • 1 hat (one with a brim offers great sun protection for your ears)
  • 1 lightweight warm hat to keep ears warm at higher elevations
  • 1 pair lightweight gloves

Other Gear:

  • 1-2 liter water bottle or Camelback (hydration system)
  • Sun glasses
  • Small headlamp (Handy for mountain hotels and as a trail emergency item)
  • Personal toiletries, such as toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, sun screen, razor, lip balm (soap and shampoo or body gel is available at all hotels, but not at mountain huts). Most hotels have hair dryers.
  • Laundry soap for hand washing clothes at hotels is also helpful
  • Hand sanitizer and/or wet-wipes
  • Face mask (summer 2020)

Optional Items:

  • Camera
  • Ear plugs for use in the mountain huts (only needed if you are on a tour going to huts)
  • Sleepwear
  • Swimsuit

If you are on a Guided tour ---- Group gear:

Your guide will carry the following items, which will be available for your use on the trail and throughout the trip:

  • Smartphone
  • First aid kit (Small, and stocked primarily with anti-inflammatories, bandages, and moleskin). 
  • Trail maps, field guides
  • Multifunction knife

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