(Alta Via 1) Snow patches in the Dolomites

Equipment for your walking holiday


Packing for your Alpine or UK trek is fairly simple and most of our trekkers find that their standard kit is almost all they need. On booking we email our Key Notes which give a kit list, and here is a basic one below. Please ask us any time for tips, including advice on specific items you might be considering. An email lets us be more candid! Thank you and happy planning.

  Packing in progress    Alpine Pass Route

We write this page with our frequent trips to the Alps in mind, most of which involve flying hand-luggage only in order to take trains and buses around the mountains. This is the neatest way to go and is what we encourage.

To wear

+ Walking boots: Boots should have good ankle support and good deep tread. They should be well worn-in to reduce the risk of blisters. Low-ankled approach shoes or running shoes are generally inadvisable, for the risk of turning an ankle in boulders.
+ Walking socks: Socks can be a key way of improving the fit and comfort of boots; in general, thicker and newer sock are better.
+ Walking trousers: Light walking trousers are made by many manufacturers. A good flexible fit is key, the aim being to keep you cool on hot days.
+ Walking shirt: A breathable synthetic fabric is essential, to help sweat evaporate. A cotton T-shirt can be uncomfortably hot. For sun protection we like long-sleeved shirts with zip necks.


+ Rucksack: We suggest a pack of 30 to 45 litres as about right for our holidays. If taking a baggage transfer option (please see below) then this size could be at the bottom of this range, but even when carrying everything, 30 to 35 litres is ample. There are no specific requirements but comfort on the back is of course the key.
+ Dry bags: We like to bag individual or collective items in smaller dry bags, rather than rely on rain covers or whole-rucksack liners. Roughly 2, 3 or 4 dry bags of small to medium size will cover all of your kit. When it rains in the mountains, it can really throw it down!

Alpine Exploratory's dry bags

Walking kit

+ Waterproof jacket: The key is breathability, to reduce build-up of sweat and heat; this means Gore-Tex or a similar concept of the manufacturer's own. Often rain comes at the same time as warm temperatures. Generally a light-weight waterproof is ideal. A hood is essential.
+ Waterproof trousers: On the same basis as your waterproof jacket, breathable is needed, but otherwise your waterproof trousers need not be too heavy. Full waterproofs are essential because storms can bring torrential rain, quickly soaking anything exposed, plus low temperatures that will chill you if you get wet.
+ Fleece: For cooler days, a simple fleece or other mid-layer is advised. We like hoods for quick adjustment if cold.
+ Hat and gloves: Fleece or wool, these can be essential even in summer for keeping the extremities warm
+ Spare warm layer: We pack a puffa or duvet jacket, such as an Arcteryx Atom or the equivalents in most makers' ranges. These pack light and can be brought out on cool hut evenings or in emergencies.
+ Sun hat: A wide brim keeps the face in the shade; otherwise any cap or light hat is great.
+ Sun cream: Use a high factor such as 20 or 30 and re-apply regularly through the day
+ First aid kit: (Optional for guided trips) As simple as possible, for injuries on the trail, and perhaps one kit per party. Treatment for blisters might be the most you use!
+ Lunch and snacks: Our notes advise on places to buy food each morning; on rare stages you might need to plan the following day too. We like to maintain a rolling stock of bread, cheese and chocolate.
+ Emergency shelter: (Optional for guided trips) A lightweight fabric shelter, designed to cover 2, 4 or more people in case of injury or other need in bad weather; an example is the Rab Superlite Shelter. The difference is huge to be out of the wind and rain.
+ Whistle: (Optional for guided trips) To attract attention in emergencies.
+ Spare clothes: One spare of everything can work, with hand-washing as you go, or take more spares for variety and ease. We advise on laundry possibilities along your route. Especially worth taking extra are walking socks in case a pair gets wet, a base layer for the physical and psychological value of a dry base layer in bad weather, and a second spare warm layer for any particularly cool or wet weather. (Spare clothes can of course go in your transfer bag if having baggage transfer.)
+ Wash kit: A simple bag with toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo and other things you like. (Washing things can also go in your transfer bag if having baggage transfer, except for hut nights.)
+ Water: We suggest in our notes to start the day with 2 litres, more if it's going to be hot. Our routecards show huts and shops on the day's stage, to plan ahead.

Alpine Exploratory's water bottle

Optional: Walking poles (for balance we suggest one pole, and normally acceptable in hand luggage), Shorts (for hot days), Insect repellent (insects are rarely a problem but in Scotland the midge can be troublesome... we advise!), Buff or other microfibre scarf (Very versatile and useful in a wide variety of weather conditions and circumstances), Gaiters in lightweight fabric, primarily for the UK to prevent water running down overtrousers and stright into otherwise dry boots

Personal items

We find that a small dry bag is a good way to maintain this inner sanctum of personal kit. Typical rucksacks have a pocket near the top for such things. Our little dry bags are then transferable in and out of different rucksacks, staying with us all the time.

+ Passport and visa: We advise on visa requirements for our overseas clients; please also see our page on Booking from overseas.
+ Travel tickets: Boarding passes, bus/minibus/train tickets bought in advance...
+ Mobile phone: Doubling as a camera for many hikers, and handiest kept in the pocket for a quick photo. Our notes advise on mobile recption and on roaming considerations.
+ Charger: A light USB cable and your usual plug.
+ Adapter: Our notes advise on which adapters to take, for Austria, France, Italy, Slovenia, Switzerland or the UK.
+ Medications: Any usual medication, plus for anyone a stock of ibuprofen or other painkillers might be desirable for early-trip aches.
+ Bank cards and cash: Your info pack brings lots of notes on cash to take, ATMs, and so on.
+ Torch: A headtorch is preferable to allow hands to do things in an emergency, or just for reading in the bunk. Modern headtorches are small and light, down to a tiny Petzl eLite or Tikka XP.

Optional: Camera (and any separate charger or memory card)


+ Notes and routecards: Your Alpine Exploratory folder and enclosed notes, plus for self-guided trips the routecards needed.
+ Maps: (Optional for guided trips) Your info pack contains all the maps you need for your holiday.
+ Map case: (Optional for guided trips) It can rain! The flexible Ortlieb cases are highly recommended.
+ Compass: (Optional for guided trips) A compass with a base plate, to use with your map in case a bearing is needed. Please see the books listed in your info pack for refreshers on how to use a compass.

Optional: GPS (bring your Global Positioning System along as additional interest on top of the essential map and compass skills)

If staying in huts

+ Sheet liner: All of our huts ask guests to bring their own sheet, to use with the blankets or duvets that the hut supplies. There is no need for a sleeping bag. The sheet that you bring saves the hut the work of laundry in the midst of the mountains, or the waste of disposable sheets. By sheet liner what we mean is a sleep sack, sheet sleeping bag, or any old sheet. Light and compact ones are available in nylon or silk. (The sheet liner can go in your transfer bag if having baggage transfer, on those nights not needed.)

Sheet liners or 'hut sleep sacks' at Schuster Sport in Munich

Optional: Sandals (to give feet a rest from boots, especially at huts), Wet wipes (if your schedule notes high huts without showers)

Where to buy outdoor gear?

In the UK we encourage clients to use Alpine Exploratory's discount with Cotswold Outdoor, a chain of outdoor shops. On booking we send you the discount code to use in-store or online. We also like Ellis Brigham and, in Scotland, Craigdon Mountain Sports.

In the US we like REI and Eastern Mountain Sports for their large ranges. In Australia, Kent Street in Sydney is gear-shop row and includes Paddy Pallin and a Macpac store.

The cavernous REI in Manhattan

If you are travelling to the country before your trek and wish to buy kit then please see your Joining Notes, in which we note the good shops for the relevant trip. We are particular fans of Globetrotter and Schuster Sports in Germany, the most important German city for the Alps being of course Munich. In France, Au Vieux Campeur is popular.

The excellent map room at Schuster in Munich

It can be imagined that for many (many) years we have been keen students of the outdoor retail scene. If you have a good tip, we'd love to hear. Thanks!

Alpine Exploratory kit

We are delighted to offer these items to clients or anyone who would like one. Please just email us. Easier still, we'll include details when asking for your balance payment.

Dry bags
Keep your kit dry inside your rucksack by using a few smaller drybags. Made by LOMO.
Size: cm by cm
Price including postage: GBP 5
We include one dry bag per person in your info pack; please ask us if you'd like a second dry bag also free of charge. Please ask for more! Above 2 per person we'll ask the price above - thanks.

Water bottles
The classic Nalgene bottle in BPA-free plastic. Made by Nalgene.
Size: 32oz or about 1 litre
Price including postage: GBP 15

Our simple Cambridge-style mugs, straight-sided, red outside and white inside.
Price including postage: GBP 8

Thank you!

  First aid kit    Walker's Haute Route

If having baggage transfer

Baggage transfer is available on many of our trips; please see the specific page under Holidays for details. If taking the baggage option then your walking rucksack can be relieved of your washing things and spare clothes. It's important to note that all the remaining items above, are still recommended to be carried each day. The difference is quite small between a pack with everything, and a pack without the overnight things.

+ Transfer bag: We suggest a soft-sided 'holdall' style bag or a soft suitcase, instead of a hard-sided suitcase. This helps your bag fit in the minibuses, but is not a fixed rule. The classic bag would be The North Face's duffel bag in Medium size. This would give masses of room for spare clothes. Most manufacturers have an equivalent; equally any old holdall or rucksack is fine.

Guided and Self-Guided Holidays

Alpine Exploratory
Alpine Exploratory is a system of knowledge on the best mountain trekking in our areas, giving clients superb holidays based on this exploration.
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