Equipment for your walking holiday
Packing for your trek is fairly simple. Most of our trekkers find that their standard kit is almost all they need.
Alpine Exploratory Kit List (headings)
Alpine Exploratory Kit List (explained)
On booking we email our Key Notes, containing a list similar to the annotated one below. Please ask us any time for tips, including advice on specific items you're considering. Individual advice lets us be more candid about the gear we like. Thank you and happy planning!
Alpine Exploratory's Shop
Please see our kit available to buy:
Here is our kit list without explanations: please see below for the annotated list.
To wearWalking boots (6)
Walking socks (16)
Walking trousers (22)
Walking shirt (26)
Walking kitWaterproof jacket (32)
Waterproof trousers (31)
Hat and gloves (17&28)
Spare warm layer (19)
Sun hat (12)
Sun cream (2)
First aid kit (21)
Lunch and snacks
Emergency shelter (7)
Wash kit (2)
Travel towel (29)
Walking poles (23) (Optional)
Shorts (30) (Optional)
Insect repellent (3) (Optional)
Buff or other microfibre scarf (10) (Optional)
Gaiters (13) (Optional)
Mosquito Net (15) (Optional)
Swim suit (24) (Optional)
To carryRucksack (1)
Dry bags (2&4)
Transfer bag (Only if having baggage transfer)
Personal itemsPassport and visa (4)
Mobile phone (4)
Bank cards and cash
Camera (14) (Optional)
NavigationNotes and routecards
Maps (8) (Optional for guided trips)
Map case (8) (Optional for guided trips)
Compass (5) (Optional for guided trips)
If staying in hutsSheet liner (9)
Sandals (18) (Optional)
Here is our kit list with full notes.
We write this list with our frequent trips 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.
|+||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.|
|+||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.|
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 into dry boots.
|+||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!|
|+||Transfer bag: (Only if having baggage transfer) 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.|
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.
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 charger and 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.)|
Optional: Sandals (to give feet a rest from boots, especially at huts), Wet wipes (if your schedule notes high huts without showers)
Your info pack explains the general pattern of shops along your route. Resort towns like Chamonix and Cortina have lots of outdoor shops, whereas the villages along the route might or might not have one. If traveling through one of the cities that border the Alps, the shopping will be fantastic as we explain below.
City breaks after hiking in the Alps
City breaks after hiking in Scandinavia
City breaks after hiking in the UK
We encourage clients to use Alpine Exploratory's discount with Cotswold Outdoor, a chain of outdoor shops in the UK. On booking we send you the discount code to use in-store or online.
Shopping in the Alps
We are particular fans of Globetrotter and Schuster Sports in Munich, the most important German city for the Alps. In Grenoble, Au Vieux Campeur is a popular and huge store. Innsbruck has the multi-storey Sportler store. The Swiss cities each have a Mammut store plus one or two independent shops.
Isartorplatz 8-10, Munich
Shopping in Norway
If Lillehammer is a base for your trip then you are in luck: the same shops that serve the Winter skiers hold masses of stock for Summer hikers. The cities of Oslo, Bergen and Trondheim host Norrona stores - the popular Norwegian make - as well as general outdoor stores. A good range of kit can also be bought at DNT tourist offices across Norway.
Shopping in the UK
The Edinburgh examples below are a good indication of the shops in big British cities, and London and Manchester in particular have lots of choice. The London areas of Kensington High Street and Covent Garden have long-standing clusters of outdoor shops; in Manchester it is Deansgate. In Scotland we like the small chain Craigdon Mountain Sports. In the Lake District there are several excellent independent shops such as The Climbers Shop in Ambleside and George Fisher in Keswick.
When stocking up for your trip you might like to use our discount with Cotswold Outdoor, a chain of outdoor shops across the UK. On booking we send you details of these discounts, which can be used online as well as in the stores.
Outdoor shops in Edinburgh
If staying in Edinburgh before your trip, please see the good mix of shops that - by chance - are clustered in the streets around Alpine Exploratory's office.
Cotswold Outdoor (www.cotswoldoutdoor.com)
72 Rose Street, Edinburgh
125 Rose Street, Edinburgh
Nordic Outdoor (www.nordicoutdoor.co.uk)
23 Frederick Street, Edinburgh
Also at 20 Bruntsfield Place and 225 Granton Road
The North Face (www.thenorthface.co.uk)
14-16 Frederick Street, Edinburgh