1) Always start with your shoes
A great packing tip is to start with the essential shoes for your trip as these form the foundation of every outfit.
Walking shoes suited to the terrain and conditions are key (make sure they have been broken in!). When relaxing and dining in the evening you will want to let your feet breathe so opt for a pair of comfortable, lightweight flats in a neutral colour that will go with everything – these can also be worn for travelling!
Ladies, if your trip has one or two nights where you want to feel “dressed up” but don’t want to add the weight of additional shoes, invest in a pair of shoe clips (see Dune, FrouFrouz or Amazon) which clip onto the front of your flats and instantly add some low-key glamour.
To stay as comfortable as possible, pack a layering system suited to the weather conditions of your destination.
Merino wool is well-known for being thermoregulating and antibacterial making it the perfect base-layer as it won’t smell and can be worn on multiple days. Three base-layer tops should work for one week though if you choose synthetic materials, be prepared to give them a handwash halfway through the trip.
Pack a couple of additional mid-layer tops that are breathable, sweat-wicking and lightweight so you can add/remove and carry them easily. Even if your destination is sunny, consider long sleeves to reduce your UV exposure, especially when walking at altitude.
If your destination is cold, consider investing in a cashmere sweater for your top layer as this super soft, non-itchy wool has been shown to be eight times warmer than merino. Cashmere carries a timeless elegance so choose a sweater in a favourite colour and it can easily be dressed up for the evening with a necklace, brooch or scarf.
For evenings, pack two shirts or tops that you feel great in and simply alternate.
3) Trousers & shorts
For long days of walking, comfort is a priority when it comes to trousers and shorts. Check before packing that the seams and hems don’t rub and look for features such as stretch panels on the knees and hips for extra comfort. Look for breathable fabrics and ventilation zips, too, if you know that you get hot legs. To maximise temperature control and minimise packing, choose a pair that zip off to shorts; you can also hand rinse the lower leg sections at night to remove mud.
Use colour to show your personality and have fun with your hiking trousers. Brands such as Revolution Race make high performance trousers in a huge range of colours, including camouflage, zebra and leopard print!
For evenings, one or two pairs of smart/casual trousers or shorts in your best neutral colours will be sufficient for a capsule wardrobe and you can try turning up the cuffs or adding a belt for variety across the week. These can also be worn to travel in.
4) Outer layers
A jacket (ideally windproof and breathable) is a useful outer layer and one you can easily wear to travel in, too.
Waterproofs come in different weights so pack those suitable to the conditions you expect; a winter set for cold, heavy rain, and something lightweight if you’re facing summer showers.
Waterproof ankle gaiters can also come in handy for wet or muddy destinations.
5) Socks & underwear
Invest in good-quality, well-fitting walking socks suited to the climate (they are often rated for the seasons), and pack several pairs, including spares for your daypack. Look for merino wool or a wool/synthetic mix that will wick sweat away and keep your feet dry.
For long walks, choose comfortable and supportive underwear in natural fibres. Ladies, two low-impact sports bras should be sufficient for a week when worn on rotation, but don’t forget to pack a normal bra for the evenings.
Consider the climate and pack a hat (wool for cold, with a brim for sun), gloves and a buff or scarf. Sunglasses are a MUST, and an easy way to add some personal style to your walking outfit (always go with the highest UV protection you can find). A waterproof cover for your daypack can also be a good idea to keep cameras and phones dry.
A silk scarf can be used to keep your neck warm during the day, and then on an evening be tucked into a shirt pocket (men) or tied in your hair, through a belt loop or bag strap (women) for easy elegance.
Style accessories are not a frivolous addition to your suitcase. Studies have shown that what we wear directly affects our mood, so if taking a favourite necklace, scarf or belt for evenings is going to bring you joy then go for it; that’s what holidays are for!
If your holiday includes coastal walks, lakes or overnight stays with a pool, don’t forget your swimming costume, goggles and a travel towel for those memory-making spontaneous swims.
The minimum capsule wardrobe for a 7-day walking holiday is:
- Shoes: 1 walking pair and 1 evening pair (+ shoe clips for dining out)
- Tops: 3 base layers, 2 mid layers, 1 sweater (that also works for evening), 2 evening shirts/tops
- Trousers/shorts: 1 walking pair and 1 or 2 evening pairs
- Outer layers: 1 jacket and 1 set of waterproofs
- Socks: 5 pairs or more
- Underwear: enough for 7 days, walking and evenings
- Accessories: hat, gloves, scarf, sunglasses and a few items that add a stylish point of interest to your evening outfits (brooch, belt, earrings, necklace, scarf etc.)
- Swimwear: 1 costume & travel towel
If packing light isn’t your forte, don’t worry! All Inntravel hotel-to-hotel walking holidays include luggage transfers so that you only need to carry a rucksack during the day – check your individual itinerary for full details.