Our trekking gear list contains everything you need for your trek where you’ll be staying in mountain huts.
It can also be intimidating knowing what to pack for a long-distance trek, especially if you’re carrying everything yourself and you’re equally concerned about having the essentials, and the weight of carrying it.
Note: On some trips like the Tour du Mont Blanc and Best of the Southern Via Dinarica luggage transfer is available. On other trekking tours like the Walker’s Haute Route and the Alta Via 1 in the Dolomites it’s not available, so this is something to consider if it’s your first trek or if you’re concerned about carrying all your own gear.
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When I first laid everything out on my bed and tried to stuff it in my backpack, a third of it didn’t fit. The next attempt, I managed to get it closed, but just barely.
After strapping it up and staggering a few steps, I quickly realized that if I was having a hard time making it across my bedroom, I had no chance of making it 160km across mountain passes every day.
So I reduced it again. I can’t emphasize how important it is to pack your trekking gear in advance and see if you can carry your backpack. It’s also a great idea to do some practice hikes with the equivalent weight of what you plan to bring with you. Not only will your back and shoulders thank you, but it will also help build the muscles that you need.
How to Use this Trekking Gear List
This trekking gear list is geared at treks that are 5- 12 days long where you’ll be staying in mountain huts.
If you plan to sleep in a tent, of course, you would need camping gear. You’d also need to decide whether you would be cooking your own food or eating at a nearby refuge.
It also assumes that you will be carrying your own backpack. You’ll likely need a 55- 60-L backpack. If you pack really light you can get away with a 45-litre backpack, which I’ve used on some trips.
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Trekking Gear List: Clothing
Description: Smartwool top
It repels odour. And you can actually wear it multiple days without washing it and it really doesn’t smell, wicks away moisture and dries quickly. It’s also really soft on the skin. I’ll often just bring 2 of these or 1 in long sleeves and one in short sleeves for the entire trip.
Price Range: from $70 to $140
Description: 2 Quick-dry moisture-wicking shirts
Only 2 is enough if they are long-sleeved with the option to roll the sleeves up, otherwise, bring 2 short-sleeve and 1 long-sleeve shirt. Note, you can choose between these or the Smartwool tops.
Price Range: from $8 to $55
Description: Lightweight fleece with hood
This should be another warm layer. Make sure to choose one that’s lightweight and warm. It is your mid-layer. I bring one on every single hike – even if it’s hot outside. You can also wear it in the evenings in the mountain huts to keep warm.
Price Range: from $25 to $120
Description: Waterproof shell with hood
Depending on where you’re hiking, it will likely rain at some point. Shells don’t take up much room. They’re also great to wear on windy days.
Price Range: from$35 to $170
Description: Waterproof pants
Remember, rain is a high possibility at some point when you’re trekking in the mountains.
Price Range: from $26 to $130
Description: 2 pairs of Convertible hiking pants
Look for the kind that zip off into shorts. This saves you from having to bring both pants and shorts. For shorter hikes, I only bring one pair.
Price Range: from $20 to $160
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Description: Thermal leggings
Depending on where and when you’re hiking you may/may not need these. I bring them on every spring or fall hike.
Price Range: from $8 to $72
Description: 3 pairs of moisture-wicking hiking socks
Socks are one item you don’t want to cheap out on. A good pair of socks will help prevent blisters by wicking the moisture away. They’ll also help regulate your foot temperature.
Price Range: from $15 to $65
Description: Light gloves
If you’re trekking in summer you may not need them but I always bring them when trekking in spring or fall.
Price Range: from $10 to $55
This is one of my favourite pieces of gear and takes up almost no space. I usually only bring if I’m hiking in spring or fall or trekking to high elevations.
Price Range: from $8 to $16
Description: Warm hat
Or a toque as us Canadians call it :). Again, you may only need this when trekking in spring or fall.
Price Range: from $8 to $35
Description: Dry Bag
For your electronics and passport.
Price Range: from $8 to 45
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Trekking Gear Essentials
Description: Anti-shock & retractable hiking poles
Hiking poles reduce the pressure on your lower body. Buy the retractable kind so that you can carry them on your backpack when you’re not using them. Some hikers consider them optional but for me they’re a necessity and help take pressure off my bum knees.
Price Range: from $20 to $95
Description: Hiking boots
Choose an ankle-height pair that is waterproof or water-resistant. VERY IMPORTANT: Be sure to break them in before you start trekking. Painful blisters have wrecked many a treks.
Price Range: from $70 to $450
Description: 45-60L Backpack
The size you choose will depend on how much you pack. Look for one that comes with a built-in rain cover, and has a place for your hiking poles.
Price Range: from $50 to $400
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Very useful in case of rain or walking through deep snow banks. Plus they keep tiny rocks from getting in your boots. I always carry mine.
Price Range: from $30 to $100
Description: 3 pairs of quick-dry underwear
They save a lot of space by not having to bring so many pairs.
Price Range: from $10 to $50
Description: Sports bra
You should also take a regular bra for hanging out at the hut. You don’t want to have to put on a sweaty bra after showering, yuck.
Price Range: from $10 to $150
Description: Baseball/sun cap
You definitely don’t want to get sunstroke while hiking so bring some kind of hat that will protect you from the sun.
Price Range: from $10 to $90
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Trekking Gear List: After Hiking Clothing
Description: Hut shoes
Most mountain huts don’t allow regular shoes in certain areas. Bring a pair of hut shoes, spa shoes, or slippers to wear indoors. Some, but not all huts will provide these. UPDATE: DUE TO COVID, MANY HUTS ARE NO LONGER PROVIDING THESE SO BRING YOUR OWN.
Price Range: from $15 to $75
Description: Nightshirt or something to sleep in
You may be sharing a room with others. Even if you have your own private room, you will be sharing a bathroom, so bring something that covers everything. I.e. leave the negligee at home.
Price Range: from $15 to $50
Description: ALPS Mountaineering MicroFiber Rectangle Sleeping Bag Liner
The mountain huts provide blankets and a pillow. A sleeping bag liner serves as a barrier between you and the blankets. Bring this even if you’re staying in private rooms since some but not all accommodations provide linens.
Price Range: from $13 to $60
Description: Comfortable pair of casual pants
You’ll wear these after hiking and having dinner in the refuges.
Price Range: from $12 to $55
Food and Snacks to Pack for Your Trekking Tour
Bring nutritious snacks that don’t squish easily. Nuts and dried fruit are good choices. Crackers and wafers get crushed easy and chocolate melts. If you crave something sweet, then gummy bears are a better choice than chocolate since they don’t melt.
If you have any food allergies, like me, I’m Celiac so can’t eat any gluten, then bring a few extra snacks in case the mountain huts aren’t able to accommodate your allergy or forget, as happened to me on a couple of occasions.
Note: Breakfast and dinner are both served in mountain huts in the Alps. Some huts give you the option to purchase a to-go lunch. The other option is to bring more food or plan to stop at one of the mountain huts (when available) en route for lunch. If you choose the last option, prepare to do more route planning so that you don’t end up eating lunch at 10:00 am or 4:00 pm.
Staying Hydrated When Trekking
Description: 3 liters of water
How much water you’ll need will depend on how far you’re trekking and the conditions but always bring a bit more than you’ll think you need. Be sure to drink a couple of glasses before you start trekking.
Price Range: from $10 to $65
Description: Electrolyte tablets
These are very helpful near the end of the day when you’re ready to power out, but still have more hiking to do. I feel so much better when I take these and will also take them at lunchtime if I”m feeling sluggish.
Price Range: from $10 to $50
Description: Lifestraw Personal Water Filter Depending on where you’re trekking, you may need a water filtration system. You don’t need this if you’re hiking in Western Europe, but we do recommend it on our Via Dinarica tour. The water is very clean and comes from the mountains but it’s an added precaution.
Miscellaneous Stuff to Pack for Your Trek
Due to COVID, at some mountain huts, you’ll also need to wear a face mask whenever you enter/leave your accommodation or are walking around. You don’t need to wear it once you’re sitting at your table.
You should also bring hand sanitizer. Many accommodations will provide this and ask you to sanitize your hands before entering but it’s still a good idea to bring your own.
Description: Compeed blister cushions
These are THE best blister treatment I’ve ever found.
Price Range: from $5 to $17
Description: Plastic bags
Yes, you’ve got to carry that toilet paper out. You can’t leave it. Yes, it’s stinky and gross, but do it anyway. Hence the plastic bags.
Price Range: from $5 to $15
Description: Quick-dry towel
Most mountain huts don’t provide towels, so you need one you can dry off with after a shower, and use to dry your face.
Price Range: from $10 to $60
Price Range: from $12 to $45
Description: Universal Travel Adapter
Depending on where you’re trekking, you may need an adapter. I recommend bringing one that has multiple outlets. Outlets are in short supply in the mountina huts and this one allows you to charge multiple devices at the same time.
Price Range: from $8 to $25
Description: Mini first aid kit
You probably don’t need a full-size First Aid Kit. I use a mini one like this one and it has the basics.
Price Range: from $7 to $20
Description: Toilet paper
If you’ve ever been without toilet paper while hiking, you’ll understand why you should always bring a roll with you.
Price Range: from $5 to $10
You need a proper place to keep your toiletries so they don ruin everything else if they spill.
Price Range: from $15 to $55
Description: Headlamp with extra batteries.
I always carry a headlamp in my backpack. It’ handy if you get lost and also if you need to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night when you’re sleeping in a mountain hut
Price Range: from $8 to $100
Description: Washing detergent
Make sure it is biodegradable so that you contaminate the least possible.
Price Range: from $5 to $20
Travel and trip cancellation insurance. We recommend World Nomads since it includes mountain rescue and repatriation insurance which are required and not covered by all insurance policies. Also, unlike many insurance policies, it also covers pandemics so if you become ill or unable to travel due to COVID, they’ll cover you. Check out their site for the specific details, as not everything is included.
Money When Trekking
Many mountain huts do not accept credit cards so be sure to bring enough cash with you. You can expect to pay €12 – €15 for a packed lunch from the mountain huts in the Alps. You’ll also need money for drinks at your hut. If you’re trekking route has optional transfers, plan for this as well in case you want to take a lift or a bus to shorten your hike. Plus it’s a good idea to bring extra cash as a contingency.
In Europe, it’s required by law that you carry identification with you. If you’re a European citizen identification will do. If you’re not European, you must carry your passport with you.
Optional Items to Pack for Your Trek
This is for taking photos. I rarely hike with my DSLR because it’s so bulky and heavy. The new smartphones take really great photos. I also use the GPS function. You can also use it to download hiking apps.
Price Range: $900
Description: Book to read. I recommend bringing both a Kindle Fire HD – pre-loaded and a small paper one. Plugins are in short supply in refuges and you may not be able to charge all your devices every night.
Price Range: $150
If you’re trekking where the route isn’t clear you may want one of these. I personally just use an app on my phone.
Price Range: from $80 to $500
Description: At mountain huts there are frequently more hikers wanting to charge their devices than spaces available so bringing a solar charger ensures that your devices always stay charged.
Price Range: $40 to 150$
Description: Card Game.
You may have time to relax when you arrive at the hut each day. Bring a card game or other game that doesn’t take up much space. Pictured is one of my favourites.
Price Range: from $10 to $25
Description: Massage Ball
I highly recommend bringing a small one that you can use on your feet, aching shoulders, and legs. It doesn’t take up much room and feels soooo good.
Price Range: from $5 to $25
Description: Muscle-soreness relief cream
You might need them after each day of hiking.
Price Range: from $8 to $25
Description: Eye mask and ear plugs.
While it’s lights out fairly early in the dormitory rooms, there’s usually at least one person snoring.
Price Range: from $9 to $30
Now, what you’ll need will vary from trek to trek and the climate and conditions, but you’ve got all the essentials and can accordingly.
That’s your complete trekking gear packing list. Have an amazing trek!