Are you unsure what to pack for your first hiking trip in the Alps? Don’t worry – our essential Alps hiking packing list will help you choose the essentials while keeping your backpack light.
Let’s get packing!
Think Before You Pack
Packing just right for a several-day-long hiking trip is not the easiest. One has to be prepared for rapid weather changes and a mix of rain, snow, and scorching sun.
Luckily, hiking gear is much better now than it used to be: light, breathable materials, thin but warm layers, and waterproof boots make hiking pleasant in almost every weather.
Make sure to choose good quality items made of light, breathable materials. They are easy to pack, wear and wash – something you might want to do along the way.
While we always recommend that you travel light, keep in mind that all of our multi-day hikes and treks are supported with luggage transfers, allowing you to bring a suitcase that will be waiting for you at our hotel. Still, a smaller luggage where every item will find its purpose is no doubt the way to go.
How To Choose The Right Hiking Items?
The most important thing to consider before completing your Alps hiking packing list is walking shoes. You will need a pair of comfortable hiking shoes fit to take you through the walking trails and as well as red mountain trails.
The terrain there usually consists of stable dirt surfaces with some rock, patches of roots & small stones, and some paved surfaces. Your shoes can be low-cut or mid-ankle but should have a sturdy sole such as Vibram.
When buying walking shoes, make sure they fit slightly looser than your usual footwear. It’s important as your feet will swell while walking, making well-fitted shoes uncomfortable and can even cause chafing, bruising, or blisters.
It’s important to have comfortable socks, possibly made out of natural wool, particularly if you’re going to walk in hot weather. Your feet will swell and sweat throughout the day. That, combined with repeated rubbing against the inside of your shoe, will most definitely cause blisters. Walking with blisters is never fun thus your socks must be made of natural, breathable materials.
We recommend the Swiss-made “Rohner” socks. The Rohner brand offers all types of socks for all kinds of sportswear. An equivalent would be socks by the brand Falke. They produce great quality breathable socks for every type of sport out there.
What sets hiking socks apart from regular socks is their fibre composition and extra padding where your feet are the most exposed to chaffing. They are also made to fit right and left foot – sort of like gloves.
We suggest that you bring a small backpack with you to carry all your necessities throughout the day. Such a backpack should not be bigger than 30 liters.
Look for a backpack with an adjustable harness, regulated straps and, if possible, a metal wire construction helping air circulation. You will carry several liters of water, extra layers, snacks, and personal items with you so the backpack should be as comfortable as possible.
If you’re not sure what brand to choose, Deuter, Osprey, Vaude, Kelty, and Dana Designs, all make extraordinary bags. If in doubt, go to a good sport store and ask for assistance, they will most likely be able to advise you on the best choice of backpack for your needs.
We highly discourage you from bringing jeans or similar as your hiking pants. Not only will they make you feel uncomfortable, they are also impractical. They take long to dry, they can rip open and it’s very hard to layer anything on top or underneath. If you don’t have or don’t want to buy dedicated hiking pants, leggings or gym shorts are also fine. Make sure they’re comfortable and made of quick-drying materials.
You will need a multifunctional jacket that will keep you warm but provide airflow at the same time. It’s also important that it’s waterproof. The North Face has great options for three-in-one jackets with a windproof outer layer and detachable inner fleece layer. Softshell jackets are also a good option if conditioned with water-resistant spray. Make sure your jacket is light and can be tightly folded.
Swiss Alps Hiking Packing List
Depending on how long you’re going to hike for, we recommend taking 1 top + set of underwear extra for each day. Pressure packing cubes are great to save space and keep your backpack organized.
What to bring?
- Hiking poles
- Comfortable hiking shoes
- Several pairs of trekking socks + underwear
- Waterproof + windbreaker jacket
- Light fleece jacket
- 1 long sleeve themoactive shirt/blouse
- 1 short sleeve thermoactive shirt/blouse
- 1 pair of hiking pants/leggings/shorts
- Sleepwear (if staying overnight)
- Hat and gloves
- Toiletries: soap bar, small towel, toothbrush, toothpaste (if you’re staying overnight with your backpack only)
- Lip balm
- Refillable water bottle
- Camera and or binoculars
- Energy bars, trail mix
- Cash and cards
- Half-tax card, Swiss Pass Card, and tickets
- First aid kit
Good to have:
- Trail maps, field guides
- Multifunction knife
A Well Packed Backpack
When packing your backpack, remember to pack the heaviest things in the middle, and the lightest on the bottom and on the top. You might want to keep your water bottle in an outside pocket for easy reach. Make use of various compartments in your backpack and think where to pack items you’re going to reach for the most.
We hope that this Alps hiking packing list made your packing a little bit easier. Remember to pack your essentials, like medicines, smartphone, documents and other items that you will need at all times.
ECHO Rails hiking trips are designed for people of all fitness levels, to showcase you the best of Switzerland. Take a look at our hiking packages or contact us for an individual hiking itinerary.