If you’re planning to trek the Walker’s Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt (or the other way around) and have been utilizing our Guide to Camping on the Haute Route, you’re well on your way to having your best possible adventure. By now, you’ve likely realized that the Haute Route is a tough hike that requires thoughtful preparation and efficient packing. So how do you make sure you’ve got everything you need without carrying a backpack that’s as big as you are? Our Walker’s Haute Route Packing List is here to help!
Below you’ll find a detailed Walker’s Haute Route packing list that will provide you with great, trail-tested gear that won’t weigh down your backpack too much. This list reflects our personal packing list which will vary for each individual’s specific needs. However, this should serve as a great starting point for planning your own Walker’s Haute Route adventure! We’ve organized it into the following categories to make it easy to customize for your own travel style and itinerary:
- Haute Route Packing Basics
- Camping-Specific Gear List
- Refuge-Specific Gear List
- Personal Gear List
- Miscellaneous Gear List
- Women’s Clothing List
- Men’s Clothing List
Haute Route Packing Basics
There are limitless ways to hike the Haute Route; you can customize the length of your trek, your accommodation preferences, your meal options, and so much more. Your Walker’s Haute Route packing list will need to be tailored to your individual itinerary and needs. Someone who is using a luggage transfer service and staying in refuges will have a significantly different kit than someone who is carrying all of their own camping gear and cooking their own meals. Despite all of this variability, there are a few basic truths about packing for the Haute Route that apply to everyone. These include:
- Keep your backpack as light as possible! (see the next section for more on this)
- Bring shoes/boots that you know from experience will be comfortable and problem-free.
- Bring hiking poles and learn how to use them prior to your WHR trek.
How much should my pack weigh?
This isn’t easy to answer, since there are a ton of factors that influence how much is too much for any individual hiker. Some things to think about…
- How fast are you hoping to hike? Generally speaking, lighter=faster
- Have you completed a multi-day through hike with this specific backpack and this amount of weight before?
- Are you injury-prone or do you have any chronic knee, hip, or back issues?
As a very general rule, campers should keep their pack weight below 13kg, including food and water. Those staying in refuges should carry no more than 9kg. If having your luggage transferred along the trail, most transfer services will limit you to 18kg, and your daypack shouldn’t exceed 4kg. If you are backpacking for the first time or have a chronic injury, the weight of your pack should be significantly less than these guidelines.
Generally speaking, less is more. Here’s a few tips for lightening your load:
- You only need a couple of shirts. Same goes for underwear and socks. Before you write us off as total dirtbags, hear us out. First, you’ll have plenty of time and sunshine to wash and dry laundry. Second, clothes are heavy, so cutting out everything but the absolute essentials will make a huge difference.
- Plan out when/where you’ll restock food provisions and don’t carry more food than you need.
- Consider leaving your bulky camera equipment at home. Unless photography is your passion, most smartphones take great photos and save a ton of space and weight.
Footwear on the Walker’s Haute Route
Traditional hiking boots, hiking shoes, or trail runners will all work for the trail conditions on the Haute Route, but you need to make sure they will work for you too. This means that you should bring a pair of boots or shoes that you know from experience don’t cause problems for your feet. Ideally, you should put at least 30 miles on them in various terrain and weather conditions to reduce the chance of running into issues on the trail. A nasty blister can be catastrophic on a multi-day trek like the Haute Route! That being said, you also don’t want your boots/shoes to be too broken in, as you need them to hold up faithfully for many miles of gnarly terrain. I know we’re asking you to work some Goldilocks magic here, but it’s definitely worth it!
In terms of other specifications, we feel that the only other must-have is a good, grippy vibrum (or similar material) sole for steep descents and loose paths. Otherwise it’s up to personal preference when it comes to how much ankle support you need, waterproof versus quick-dry, sturdy versus lightweight, and so on.
You’ll probably need to cross some snow at some points along your hike. Gaiters and waterproof boots can be helpful for these situations, but certainly aren’t essential.
You’ll also want to make sure you have some good socks. Socks are one of those rare things in life where you really do get what you pay for, and high quality socks can be a game changer. Once again, try to do some hiking in a few different types to figure out how what you like in terms of thickness, cushion, and height. We love merino wool for its quick-drying and anti-stink qualities.
We’ve completed a lot of tough treks all over the world, but the Walker’s Haute Route was the toughest on our knees. There are long steep ascents, and even longer and steeper descents on nearly every stage of this roughly two-week hike. I honestly don’t think we would have been able to complete this trek without our trusty trekking poles. These help so much with taking some of the strain off of your lower body and providing traction and stability on loose sections. We consider trekking poles to be an absolute game-changer for the Walker’s Haute Route, and this is especially true for campers who are carrying heavier loads.
The same rule for shoes applies to backpacks: make sure you complete several hikes with your bag packed the same way (and same weight) you’ll carry on the Haute Route. Also similar to shoes, backpacks need to be broken in through use, and your body needs to get used to the feeling of wearing it for extended periods of time. In terms of size, most campers will need between 45 and 65 liters. If you’re purchasing a new one, most good outdoors stores have experienced staff that will help you find the right fit and style for your needs.
Don’t forget to bring a pack cover (included with many newer backpacks) to protect against rain. This is an absolute must-have.
If you plan on using your phone as a GPS to navigate along the Walker’s Haute Route (which we highly recommend!), it’s imperative that it stays charged. Many campgrounds will allow you to charge electronics, but this isn’t a guarantee everywhere. Carrying a small battery backup or one of these nifty portable solar panels will give you a little more freedom and peace of mind. In our Camping Guide, we’ve noted the availability of electronics charging along every stage.
Puffy down jacket
We’ve found this to be a perfect piece of gear for the Walker’s Haute Route. It can be quite chilly in the Alps in the early morning and evenings, but a heavy fleece or bulky jacket can really sabotage a lightweight pack. Down jackets are warm, super packable, and very lightweight. Besides a light waterproof rain jacket, this is the only outer layer you should need.
Ciccerone’s Chamonix to Zermatt: The Classic Walker’s Haute Route by far the best guidebook out there for the Haute Route. This thorough guide covers everything from the history of the hike to interesting sights you’ll see along the way, and of course provides a comprehensive breakdown of every stage. It offers helpful advice on how to tailor the length of the trek to work for your time parameters, as well as descriptions of optional variants and side-trips. It is also available as an e-book, meaning you can download it to your phone to really optimize your packing! Make sure to get the 2019 version for the most up-to-date information.
If you plan on camping along the Walker’s Haute Route, there’s a lot more gear you need to think about than just your hiking basics. Don’t worry though, we’ve got you covered!
Use this camping gear list in conjunction with the personal items list, miscellaneous list, and men’s or women’s clothing list to put together your perfect Walker’s Haute Route packing list.
Camping on the Walker’s Haute Route is definitely worth carrying the bigger backpack. We loved the flexibility and independence it gave us, and many of the campgrounds are downright luxurious. With the right gear and a manageable pack size, you are guaranteed to have an amazing experience conquering the Haute Route with your own tent.
When the sun goes down, it can get very cold in the Alps, even in the summertime! Spending night after night shivering in your tent will surely make your Haute Route adventure much less enjoyable. This sleeping bag is designed for backpacking, meaning it is lightweight and packs down small, while still being cozy and warm. It is thoughtfully designed; we love the practical features like the double zippers and convenient stash pocket. Sure it’s not as fancy as a down version, but it’s the best synthetic option on the market and way more affordable than down.
|Item||Our recommended gear|
|Tent||Sierra Designs - Clip Flashlight 2 |
MSR Hubba Hubba Tent
|This is the best budget tent on the market and the best overall tent on the market!|
|Sleeping bag||Marmot Trestle 15||Nights can get cold on the Haute Route, so a good sleeping bag is a must!|
|Sleeping pad||Nemo Astro Sleeping Pad||If you are a side sleeper this is a must!|
|Pillow||Therm-a-Rest pillow||If you're camping more than a few nights you will be glad you packed this!|
|Headlamp||Black Diamond Storm headlamp|
|Stove||MSR Pocket Rocket Stove||Ian has used this stove for nearly a decade and highly recommends it!|
|Backpacking pot||GSI Halulite|
|Utensils||Humangear Spork||Best $4 you will ever spend!|
|Plate/Bowl/Mug||MSR Deep Dish plate , MSR Stainless Steel mug|
If you’re planning on sleeping in mountain refuges and hotels along the Walker’s Haute Route, you can enjoy the benefit of a shorter packing list! This list has a few items you’ll need specifically for sleeping in gites and refuges. While you don’t need much, there are some essentials that you’ll be glad to have for these communal accommodation situations. Use this list in conjunction with the other lists (except for the camping gear list) to ensure that you’re well prepared for your Haute Route adventure.
Note: there are some repeats on this list that we’ve also included on the other lists. However, we wanted to highlight items on this list that are especially important for anyone who is staying primarily in refuges.
Many mountain refuges along the Walker’s Haute Route require the use of sleep sheets for hygienic reasons. Even if it’s not mandated, a sleep sheet is a good idea. The bedding at most refuges consists of just a mattress cover and a duvet that isn’t typically washed between every use. Plus, it can get quite warm at night in those crowded dorm rooms, and you may prefer something lighter than the blanket provided. The Vumos sleep sheet is great for a number of reasons. It’s super soft, thoughtfully-designed, and easily packable in a compact stuff sack. This can be a huge difference-maker when it comes to getting quality sleep on your trek.
|Item||Our recommended gear|
|Earplugs||Mack's Earplugs||The best defense for that snorer next door!|
|Sleeping mask||Alaska Bear Sleeping Mask||Perfect to block out light while sleeping in refuges.|
|Sleep sheet||Vumos Sleep Sheet||Required in most of the refuges along the Haute Route.|
|Sandals/Slippers||Crocs||While not the most stylish, Crocs make the perfect refuge shoes! Most refuges provide slippers, but many hikers prefer to use their own.|
Whether you’re camping or staying indoors, these items are must-haves for the Walker’s Haute Route. While we’ve included some toiletries that are absolutely essential for this hike, we’ve left it up to you to determine your personal list of additional self care items (comb, toothbrush, prescription medication, etc).
Use this list in conjunction with the camping gear list OR refuge list, and the miscellaneous and clothing lists to build your perfect kit.
Depending on when you hike the Walker’s Haute Route, these will either be absolutely essential or at the very least super helpful. It is very common for large patches of snow remain on the trail through mid-July or later. Some of these sections are easy to navigate with just your hiking boots, but others are extremely steep and slick. This can create a slow, tiring situation at best and a dangerous one at worst. These Microspikes can be quickly attached to your shoes or boots, and they provide immensely better traction to help you grip icy and snowy surfaces. They are small and easily pack away when you don’t need them.
|Item||Our recommended gear|
|Multi-tool||Gerber Suspension Multi-Plier||A handy, must-have on the trail.|
|First-aid kit||Adventure Medical Kits|
|Hydration Bladder||Platypus 3 Liter Hydration Bladder||Way easier than a water bottle!|
|Small day-pack||Cotopaxi Luzon 18L||Great for short day hikes and excursions in Chamonix or Zermatt!|
|Pack-cover||Sea to Summit Pack cover||This is a truly essential piece of gear given how much it can rain on the Haute Route!|
|Men's backpack||Osprey Atmos 65||The most comfortable backpack on the market!|
|Women's backpack||Osprey Ariel 65|
|Trekking poles||Black Diamond Trail Back Trekking poles||Essential for long downhills!|
|Micro-spikes||Kahtoola Microspikes||You'll almost certainly encounter snow at some point on the Haute Route and micro-spikes can be essential to safely navigating it.|
|Travel towel||Sea to Summit DryLite Towel||Great to have for campsite showers.|
|Dry bags||Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Dry Sack||Keeps your clothes and other items dry in a downpour!|
|Hiking Gaiters||Outdoor Research Rocky Mountain High Gaiters||These will help keep your boots dry when walking on snow covered trails.|
|Warm, waterproof gloves||Seirus Waterproof Gloves|
|Buff or Bandana||Original Buff|
|Sleeping Mask||Alaska Bear Sleeping Mask|
|Blister pads||Band-Aid Blister Pads|
|Lip Balm||Jack Black Lip Balm|
These odds and ends are the unsung heros of the Walker’s Haute Route packing list. From getting your stinky shirt clean to keeping your phone charged, these items help your trek run smoothly. Make sure to use this list in addition to the other categories to complete your personal Haute Route packing list.
Whether you are camping or sleeping indoors, we can almost guarantee there will be some noisy nights on your Haute Route trek. From people inexplicably setting up camp at 11:00pm to international snoring contests in the mountain refuges, there’s an endless array of things that can sabotage your much-needed sleep. That’s why these earplugs are one of the most essential items to take along on a trip like the Haute Route. Mack’s makes good quality silicone earplugs that are more comfortable and effective than the standard foam kind. Trust us, you’ll be glad you packed them!
|Item||Our recommended gear|
|Guidebook||The Walker's Haute Route (Cicerone Trekking Guide)||This is the best guidebook available and a truly essential item to bring.|
|Ear plugs||Mack's ear plugs||Essential for the more crowded campsites!|
|Camera||Sony a5100 mirrorless camera||Ian loves his Sony mirrorless camera!|
|Tripod||Joby GorillaPod||The perfect travel tripod.|
|Unlocked phone||Moto G Play||A simple, budget-friendly phone to use for navigation and local calls with a SIM.|
|Battery backup||Anker PowerCore 20100||There are many long sections without access to outlets on the Haute Route.|
|Laundry Soap Sheets||Sea to Summit Trek and Travel Pocket Soap||These are the greatest travel hack ever! The best way to clean your clothes on-the-go.|
|Travel adapter||Joomfeen All-in-one adapter||Great for all of your travels.|
|Plastic Bags- quart, gallon, and garbage bags.||We used these constantly for everything from storing trail mix to keeping our sleeping bags dry. A must-have for backpacking.|
When you’re wearing the same clothes for roughly two weeks in various weather conditions and while doing some serious trekking, it is imperative that those clothes are comfortable and high quality. Although your individual preferences may look a little different, this list is an excellent starting point to ensure you’ve got all the essentials. Plus, if you’re anything like us, you have no idea how many pairs of socks to bring. This list is also a handy (and experience-backed) guideline for quantities of items such as shirts and socks.
This shirt was absolutely perfect for layering under my down jacket on frosty mornings on the trail, as well as nice and cozy for hanging out at camp and sleeping in. It’s light enough that I could wear it for added sun protection on hot days, too. Since it’s merino wool, I could wear it for days without it getting stinky at all. When it did need washing, I simply washed it out at the campground and it was dry in no time. This is the ideal clothing item for the demands of the Haute Route.
|Item||Our recommended gear|
|Underwear (3-4 pairs)||ExOfficio Women's Sport Underwear||Very packable and easy to wash on the go!|
|Socks (3-4 pairs)||Darn Tough Micro Crew Socks||In our opinion, these are the best hiking socks available. Your feet will thank you!|
|Sports Bra (1)||Brooks Rebound Racer Sports Bra||This is the most versatile, comfortable, and high-quality sports bra that Emily has found on the market.|
|Long sleeve base layer (1)||Smartwool Women's NTS Mid 250 Crew|
|Short sleeve hiking shirt (1)||Mountain Hardwear Wicked shirt|
|Leggings (1 pair)||Nike Power Essential Running Tight|
|Running shorts (1 pair)||Lululemon Run Speed Shorts||These shorts are so comfortable, packable, and quick-drying, that Emily didn't even feel the need to buy hiking-specific shorts.|
|Down jacket||Patagonia Down Sweater||Lightweight, super warm, and packs down small. This jacket was perfect for this kind of trip!|
|Rain jacket||Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket||A high-quality all-weather jacket that packs up small.|
|Rain pants||Columbia Storm Surge pants||For those heavy downpours!|
|Hiking boots||Keen Targhee II Mid Hiking Boot||Emily has had these boots for five years and hundreds of muddy, snowy hikes, and they are still going strong!|
|Sunglasses||Suncloud Loveseat Polarized Sunglasses||Good quality sunglasses are essential when you're in the mountains all day. And these are stylish too!|
|Hat||A hat with a wide brim provides valuable protection for sun and rain.|
|Sandals/Camp shoes||Chaco Z1||The perfect camp sandals!|
Part of what makes the Walker’s Haute Route so incredible is the variety of terrains and conditions it allows you to experience. From climbing steeply up to a wet and windy mountain pass to walking through a flat and sunny valley, you’re unlikely to get bored on this hike. Unfortunately, while the dynamic nature of the Haute Route can be great for the senses, it can wreak havoc on your feet, causing blisters and other nasty ailments. A good pair of socks can greatly reduce your chances of suffering from foot issues. This is one of those times where you really do get what you pay for. We love Darn Tough socks because they keep our feet dry and comfortable in a variety of conditions. They have just the right amount of cushion without being too bulky in boots. Plus, the Merino wool keeps them smelling fresh for days. Check them out here:
|Item||Our recommended gear|
|Underwear (3-4 pairs)||Exofficio Give-N-Go boxer||Highly recommended! You can bring 4-5 pairs and wash them easily in sinks or showers. A must!|
|Socks (3-4 pairs)||Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew||In our opinion, these are the best hiking socks available. Your feet will thank you!|
|Long sleeve base layer (1)||Smartwool Men's NTS Mid 250 Crew||Very versatile mid-weight base layer|
|Short sleeve hiking shirt (1)||Columbia Tech Shirt|
|Hiking pants (1)||Prana Brion pants||These are great for hiking and also look great walking around town!|
|Hiking shorts (1)||Prana Brion shorts||Awesome shorts that are great for hiking.|
|Running shorts (1)||La Sportiva Aelous shorts|
|Down jacket||Patagonia Down Seater Hoodie||Super warm and super packable|
|Rain jacket||Outdoor Research Helium II jacket||A good rain jacket is a must!|
|Rain pants||Marmot Precip Pants|
|Hat||Outdoor Research Performance Trucker hat||A hat with a wide brim provides valuable protection for sun and rain.|
|Sandals/Camp shoes||Chaco Z1 sandals|
|Hiking boots||Salomon X-Ultra 3 Mid||Super comfortable and super waterproof!|
|Digital watch||Casio Classic Sports watch||All you'll ever need|
|Sunglasses||Suncloud Mayor Polarized sunglasses|
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Be sure to read our entire series on the Walker’s Haute Route to learn everything you’ll need to know to prepare for your trip!
- Guide to Camping on the Haute Route
- Haute Route Trip Report: Know what to expect!
- Walker’s Haute Route Logistics: Don’t forget the small details!
- How Much it Cost Us to Hike the Haute Route-Make it work for your budget!
- Haute Route Photo Gallery: Get inspired!
- 10 Essentials for the Walker’s Haute Route: The need-to-know basics.