10 Essentials for the Tour du Mont Blanc

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The Tour du Mont Blanc is no doubt one of the greatest hiking trips in the world. The route is filled with incredible views, towns, and people, and it will surely be a trip we never forget. We highly recommend camping along the way as you’ll save money and experience the towns and stops along the TMB in a very different way.

We’ve also published our packing list for those curious as to what they may need to bring to ensure they are equipped for this adventure. But what other recommendations do we have for those considering tackling the awesome experience that is the TMB?

Here are our 10 essentials for hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc.

Everything you need to to plan your TMB trek – all in one place.

Whether you prefer mountain huts or hotels, fastpacking or meandering, luxury, dirtbag or or something in between, we’ve got you covered. Our Guide to the Tour du Mont Blanc is the ultimate tool to help you plan your perfect trip.

When you purchase a guide, you’ll get instant access to all the information you need to plan your trip in our planning portal as well as in a downloadable PDF eGuide.

Your in-depth guide contains resources you won’t find anywhere else, including:

  • Instant access to our online trip planning portal
  • Downloadable eGuide to the Tour du Mont Blanc
  • Complete 9-day, 11-day, and 12-day Tour du Mont Blanc itineraries with video fly throughs
  • Accommodation options and booking information
  • Detailed maps for every stage
  • Custom GPS data for each itinerary
  • The ultimate packing list
  • Information about getting to and from the trail
  • 15-week training plan
  • Video tutorials on how to use your GPS files to navigate on the trail. 

We truly believe this is the best resource available for planning your TMB.  Pick up your guide below and if you’re not satisfied for any reason we’ll give you a full refund!

1. Train

This is our single biggest piece of advice that we can offer to those thinking about hiking the TMB. This is a very difficult hike that requires crossing several mountain passes, walking over one-hundred miles, and climbing nearly 33,000 feet.

Simply put, you’ll be miserable if you don’t put in at least some training prior to starting the TMB. Luckily, we’ve written a post here that details everything you need to know about getting in shape for your trip. You don’t have to do anything crazy, but just be sure to put a bit of effort into getting into shape for this trip. You’ll be glad you did.

2. Treat Your Feet

Of all the gear you plan to bring, the single biggest impact on how you feel will come from how you treat your feet. A good fitting pair of boots matched with some comfortable socks will do wonders for how you feel at the end of a long day.

Remember that you’ll have days on the TMB when you’ll be on your feet hiking for close to 10 hours! For your boots, we recommend heading to your local outdoor shop and trying on as many pairs as they’ll let you.

Find the pair that is most comfortable, and be sure to break them in with some good hiking trips a few months before heading out.

For socks, our absolute favorite brand is Darn Tough. These merino wool socks are breathable, comfortable, and very odor resistant. We brought just a few pairs each, washing them in campground skinks along the way, and couldn’t have been happier with them.

3. Enjoy a Rest Day

If you’ve got the time, a well deserved rest day will give you a chance to slow down and really appreciate the incredible trip you’re on. If you’re hiking the traditional counter-clockwise direction, Courmayeur makes a great place to spend an extra night and soak in the atmosphere of the Alps. If you’ve been camping up until this point, consider splurging on a hotel for at least one night. We stayed at the incredible Maison La Saxe,  and  highly recommend it to anyone looking for a lovely, locally-owned hotel.

Courmayeur makes for an excellent rest day

4. Bring Good Rain Gear

There is really no doubt that you’ll encounter rain at some point along your TMB journey. The weather in the Alps moves fast, and can quickly change from sunny skies to pouring rain. Being prepared for the inevitable downpours you’ll encounter will go a long way in ensuring that you won’t have sleep in a soaking wet sleeping bag. Your focus should be on two areas: keeping yourself as dry as possible, and (more importantly) keeping your gear as dry as possible.

For yourself, we recommend a good rain jacket, rain pants, and our personal favorite, a poncho. These three items together will work wonders in keeping you dry and happy. As for your gear, we employ two methods for keeping everything dry. The first, and most critical, is a high-quality pack cover that fits seamlessly over your entire backpack. We really like the Sea to Summit version here.

The second layer of protection involves storing the items inside your backpack in either a dry bag (like this one), or in big garbage bags. This is your last line of defense, and this step ensures that if water does find its way into your bag, everything you’re carrying won’t be completely soaked.  There really is nothing better than putting on dry clothes and curling up in a dry sleeping bag after a day of hiking in the rain!

Get The FREE TMB Essentials Handbook

Our free PDF guide covers all the basics – when to hike, accommodation, typical costs, and more!

5. Brush Up on Your Navigation Skills

Much of the TMB is well sign-posted, and you shouldn’t have any trouble finding your way with minimal navigation skills. However, there are plenty of sections that are a bit confusing, which can often be compounded by the exhaustion that comes with a long day of hiking.

Having a good map and compass-and knowing how to use them-is essential for any backcountry adventure, no matter how close to civilization you may be. Check out our detailed post on how to navigate along the TMB, using what we think is the best method.

Having some basic navigation skills will help when encountering signs like this.

6. Have a (realistic) Understanding of How Fast You Hike

If you’ve brought the Cicerone Guidebook along (and we highly recommend that you do), you’ll quickly notice that the description of each stage includes an approximate time for hiking. This is very valuable information because it will give you a sense of what your days will look like.   

This gives you the ability to plan ahead for things like arrival times, how early you need to start in the morning, and how long of a lunch break you can enjoy. The problem arises when you realize that the times quoted in the book can vary significantly from your actual experience. You may be hours ahead or you may be well behind the times provided by our friends at Cicerone.

There is nothing wrong with being faster or slower, but you must be able to understand your pace and then estimate the distances you’ll realistically cover in a given timeframe. It is a good idea to note your timing when you’re out on your training hikes, but you’ll want to pay especially close attention on your first day of hiking the TMB.

A little ahead of the pace? You’ll be able to adjust your plans accordingly (and maybe snag an extra hour of sleep!) A little behind the pace? You’ll know to leave a bit earlier, or at least plan on slightly longer days on the trail.

You may also want to pay attention to how steep inclines and declines impact your pace, and use the guidebook’s elevation profile to plan accordingly.  The important thing is to know yourself, and be able to accurately estimate the time it will take to cover a given distance. This will help you stay relaxed and happy throughout each day on the trail.

7. Be Open to Changing Plans

If you’re anything like us, you’ll spend hours before a trip planning out all the details of where you’ll stay, what you’ll do, and how you’ll get to every place you want to see. This type of planning is invaluable and will certainly set you up for success, but you also have to be open to changing those plans, especially on the TMB.

Weather, the way you’re feeling on a particular day, and even the time you start can all influence a changing itinerary when you’re out hiking the TMB. Get a late start and the hut is full? No worries if you’ve got your tent and the ability to find the nearest campground. Feeling especially good today? Why not put in a few extra hours of hiking to make your next day a little more leisurely?

The point is that being open to different possibilities will make handling the unexpected much easier, and allow to you enjoy your adventure to the fullest. Check out this post for details about itineraries, detours, and shortcuts. 

8. Bring a Good Camera

The views on the Tour du Mont Blanc are truly stunning. It seems like around every bend is another wide open vista, quaint hamlet, or gorgeous stream. We are strong believers that smartphone cameras still don’t compare to the shots you can get with even a mid-level DSLR or mirrorless camera. Our favorite? The Sony a5100 mirrorless camera combined with the Joby GorillaPod tripod. Armed with these tools, you’ll have everything you need to take incredible photos.

You’ll want to capture views like this.

9. Know How Much Cash to Carry (and which kind)

There is no doubt that hiking the TMB gives the impression that you’ve gone back in time. Visiting tiny hamlets with only a single, rustic restaurant or shop is part of the magic of this adventure. But you’ll also quickly realize that many of the amenities of larger towns are non-existent.

You won’t always find easy access to ATMs and the ability to pay with a credit card. It’s important to plan ahead for roughly how much cash you’ll need at each stop, since ATMs can be scarce and credit is often not accepted.

Be sure you’ve got enough to cover your food and lodging, plus a bit extra to splurge on that post-hike beer. It’s also important to remember that you’ll need both Euros (France and Italy) and Swiss Francs. In general, many places in Switzerland will accept Euros, but try and get rid of those Swiss Francs in Chamonix and you’ll be sure to get a puzzled look when paying.

10. Make New Friends

Be social! The Tour du Mont Blanc is full of amazing people from all over the world sharing this experience together. You’ll meet people along the trail, in the huts, and at your campground. Putting in the extra effort to say hello to someone you recognize from the top of the last mountain pass, or sharing a conversation at dinner in a hut will add a whole new dimension to your trip. Exchanging stories and learning from others on the trail is truly one of the great experiences of the TMB!

Be sure to say hello while taking in the view!

Let us help plan your TMB

We’re here to help! We offer comprehensive TMB planning support so you can plan your perfect trip!

In addition to our popular guides, we also offer the following TMB planning services:

GPS Digital Download


GPS files for the entire TMB

Navigate with confidence on the trail

Works with all GPS navigation apps & devices

Custom GPS File


Custom GPS file created for your unique itinerary

Includes all of your accommodations

Confidently navigate using a GPS file designed just for you

Expert Consultations


1-on-1 video calls

Specifically catered to your questions

Problem-solve your itinerary, bookings, route options, and more!

Why work with us?

As passionate hikers, we’ve made it our goal to empower you with all of the information you need to have your best TMB experience. 

We’ve helped over 2,500 hikers prepare for their trips, navigate on the trail, and simplify the planning process.

Keep Reading

Be sure to check out all of our Tour du Mont Blanc posts below:

Get The FREE TMB Essentials Handbook

Our free PDF guide covers all the basics – when to hike, accommodation, typical costs, and more!

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