The Walker’s Haute Route: Packing List

If you’ve been following along for a while, you know that I spent two weeks hiking through the Alps of Switzerland this year, on a trail called the Walker’s Haute Route. Sometimes knowing what to bring for these trips can be almost as big of a challenge as the physical preparation. Luckily, I’ve done a lot of backpacking and “slackpacking” so I have bins full of outdoor gear and I no longer need to rush out and buy new items for a hiking trip like this. (Which is good, because I also quit my job this summer!)

I call this trip “backpacking lite” – other than 1 night in a mountain hut, I slept in hotels and inns every night. There was no camping or cooking on this trip, which makes packing considerably easier (and lighter!) than a typical wilderness backpacking trip. (For my wilderness packing list, click here) While daily luggage transport is available for a trip like this, it is very expensive, so I carried everything I needed on my back. (I did pay $250 for non-hiking gear to be shuttled from Chamonix to Zermatt)

Finally the pass! The fun was just beginning...

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Here’s the rundown of what I carried on my Haute Route hike.

Packing List for Hiking in Switzerland

The Ciccerone guide was invaluable throughout the hike, and was all that I needed for navigation. (That’s right! I did not have maps on this hike…which felt super weird, but once you get there, you realize you really don’t need them) I highly recommend purchasing this book before you even start planning your route as it gives really detailed information on routes and transit alternatives.
Osprey Sirrus 36 Backpack – the one thing I bought for this trip was a new pack. My usual backpacking pack is a 65L, which is much too large for a trip like this. I loved this pack, and will probably only buy Osprey packs from now on! They’ve really got backpacks down to an art, especially when it comes to extra pockets, and comfort!

Clothing

  • Rain Gear – I wear Marmot Precip Rain Jacket and Pants (they are one of few rain pants that come in a petite length)
  • Patagonia R1 Fleece Jacket
  • Patagonia Nano-Puff Hoody
  • Hiking Pants – Mountain Hardwear Convertible Pants
  • Skort – Athleta Metro Skort – this was usually my “dinner” attire
  • Shorts – Prana Hiking Shorts
  • Leggings – Ex Officio Reversible Leggings – for sleeping and flights
  • l/s button down shirt
  • l/s wool t-shirt
  • 2 quick dry s/s t-shirts
  • 1 cotton t-shirt (for sleeping)
  • 4 pairs quick-dry underwear (I prefer Patagonia, but many travelers swear by ExOfficio)
  • 2 Sports Bras
  • 4 pairs socks (Injinji socks are my favorite!)
  • Merrill Moab Ventilator shoes

Accessories

  • 2 Buff headbands
  • Glasses: Eyeglasses, Rx Sunglasses, regular sunglasses (oy!)
  • Hat
  • Bandana
  • Fleece hat and gloves
  • Headlamp – I have this cool Vitchelo model that some Grand Canyon friends sent me
  • First Aid Kit – basic necessities such as band-aids, gauze (which I used!) and various medicines like ibuprofen, aspirin, Pepto-Bismol, etc.
  • Hand Warmers (I personally did not use these, but they came in handy during a medical emergency along the trail – I always have a few in my First Aid Kit)

Toiletries

I’m a bit of a princess when it comes to toiletries, and this is easily where I could cut some weight if needed. But at the end of the day, it’s nice to smell good and not feel like you’re abandoning your usual beauty routine just because you’re on the trail. Very few hotels along the way provided shampoo or conditioner, so I was glad to have those. As you can see, I’m a big fan of Kiehl’s products for my face and body, and I never go on a hiking trip without Aveda Foot Relief lotion.

Food

Most of the inns where I stayed included breakfast and dinner, and I bought my lunches along the way. (I purchased snack food in grocery stores, but most inns will also pack you a sack lunch to carry if ordered ahead of time) As a backup, I brought along a few snacks from home: 2 Kind bars, 3 Clif bars and some Gatorade G2 powder.

Electronics

  • SLR Camera – I don’t usually backpack with my SLR either, but it’s freakin’ Switzerland! I can’t not bring it. But I brought only 1 lens (18-55mm) to keep it as light as possible.
  • iPhone and Lifeproof case – for on the go photos and social updates
    • International Data plan, which I used (and exceeded)
  • Power Bank
  • Loop power adapter – perfect for charging everything, including USB ports

Extras for Hiking in Switzerland

Most packing lists for a trip like this will tell you to bring a sleep liner or sheet. If you are staying in a lot of mountain huts, this is definitely recommended. I only had 1 night in a mountain hut so I couldn’t justify carrying something to be used for only one night. It was a tough hike to get there, so the “ick factor” didn’t cause me to lose any sleep! But I have no idea if they wash those comforters or not…I’m guessing they don’t get washed daily!

Sleeping room at Cabane de Louvie

I should note that I did sink laundry at least once on this trip (just using body wash/hand soap – I find those little laundry soap leaves to be pretty worthless) and I went to a laundromat in Grimentz once as well.

Day 8: rest day in Arolla

Planning a trek in the Swiss Alps? Here's what you should pack! #hauteroute Click To Tweet

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3 thoughts on “The Walker’s Haute Route: Packing List

  1. I love Swiss alps, but not yet fit enough to hike those, but one surely I’ll do 🙂 I love these useful things which one must bring in their backpack. I agree with your SLR tip, how can one not bring a cam to swiss alps 🙂

  2. My husband and I have been wanting to do this for a while. Life just keeps getting in the way. This is going to be a priority next year though! I had no idea the huts were just mats like that, good to know. We just do day trip hikes, so this post will help us get in gear for what is next!

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