Walker’s Haute Route Packing List: What I Took

Emily Woodhouse Gear, Practical Advice

Well hello there! I’m just back from the Walker’s Haute Route – a classic hiking trail from Chamonix to Zermatt. It was all pretty last minute, tacked onto the front of another trip. But here is what I took with me, in case it’s helpful for you planning your own Haute Route. Or if you just love a good nosey into other people’s gear choices.

The flat-lay photos are in a slightly strange selection order (sorry) not quite so thematic as normal. But hopefully still plenty good enough to be useful. Don’t forget to read the notes about my kit choice too – there are some things I would have definitely changed. Especially since I did my Haute Route in the second week of June. Snow levels are definitely something to consider.

Mostly External and Carrying Things

The bits on the outside:

  • Exped Lightning 60L rucksack – great but squeaks
  • 750ml Chilly’s Bottle (I needed this for an onward trip, my first 4000er. But it came in handy the night everything froze!)
  • 2L Camelbak
  • Dry bags: Poc and Ortlieb – Ortlieb one is actually waterproof
  • Suncream – swore by Soltan Once but they’ve changed their formula this year
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Compass Silva Expedition
  • B2 Boots: La Sportiva Women’s Trango Tower (more about footwear for snow conditions at the end)

Sleep System (Camping)

Maybe you would call this bivvying. My bivvy friend calls this bag my “tent” because it has two poles. Either way, it’s much much smaller than my actual tent.

  • Exped Synmat HL
  • Mountain Equipment Helium 600 sleeping bag (in unrelated compression sack)
  • Cocoon cotton liner (I lost the bag in Wales, then refound it inside my sleeping bag!)
  • Ex-SAS bivvy bag – a work in progress of mine, with two tiny fibreglass poles

Haute Route Clothing

The only clothes I had for the eight days I was on the trail. You really don’t need much.

  • Rab Photon synthetic insulated jacket
  • Mountain Equipment waterproof jacket
  • Berghaus Deluge waterproof trousers (with some diy modifications)
  • Craghoppers walking shirt
  • Mountain Hardwear fleece
  • Montane Terra Pants (yes, they’re men’s – buy them anyway!)
  • Odlo sports bra
  • Mountain Equipment guide gloves
  • Sungod sunglasses (not as adventure proof as they claim, but with a lifetime guarantee at least)

Techy Bits and Pieces

  • Notepad – A4 feint margin narrow rule, thanks for asking
  • National Geographic Great Treks 1:50k map book (I do NOT recommend, see bottom of post)
  • Garmin GPS66i for emergencies
  • Lifesystems titanium spoon
  • Pencils, OHP pen and spare pencil lead
  • Charging cables
  • PowerTraveller Extreme solar panel and pack (newly fixed)
  • Passport
  • Tissues for loo roll
  • Ortlieb map case
  • Sony Handycam and case (a DMM chalk bag)

Miscellaneous and Accessories

  • Exped dry bag
  • Rab hat
  • Led Lenser head torch – used it once, for a tunnel
  • Assorted spare batteries
  • Underwear
  • Socks x2
  • Liner gloves
  • Half a hairbrush
  • Whistle
  • SPF 50 lip salve – so worth it for snow
  • Buff
  • First Aid kit (See What I Put in a First Aid Kit)
  • Steri tabs
  • Spare medical gloves
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Luggage tag
  • Watch (in this case Garmin Instinct Solar II that I had for test)

What I wish I’d done differently

Doing the Haute Route was part of a bigger trip that I couldn’t go home for in between. Although I used all of the kit listed, I would have done a few things differently. Here are the big ones:

Better Route Planning

The map book I ended up buying, the 1:50k Trails Guide from National Geographic was, quite simply, wrong. At best it was irritating – a short section before Mont Brûlé was clearly not a maintained footpath any more and caused some backtracking. At worst it was dangerous. The route marked on the map includes the high level Europaweg that has been permanently closed since 2019 due to rockfall. They are literally sending you up a mountain that is falling down, with retracing your steps the only option. And it was reprinted in 2020. Get a better guide.

Footwear Choice for Snow Levels

At the end of the day, I didn’t really have a choice about my boots. I needed these B2s for my next trip, climbing a 4000er, and there was no way I was carrying them. In the end, I was rather glad of them. Most of the trail was completely clear of snow. But there were a couple of moments where I really needed them to kick steps. There was 100m where I would have felt a lot happier with an ice axe in one hand. But it was June and early in the season. Maybe trail shoes and microspikes would work. But definitely consider your experience on snow, the expected conditions and your footwear choice. It’s a long old walk around if you can’t pass safely.

Other General Thoughts

Most of my kit worked great. There’s a reason I use the same thing over and over. I did get quite sunburnt because Soltan Once have changed their formula and it simply doesn’t last 8 hours any more. What used to go on thick like paint or foundation is now like any other suncream. I’d rather have it stain my clothes and know I’m covered thanks.

Things would have been more comfortable in a slightly bigger tent. Or even something that wasn’t single-skin. One night my bivvy bag froze solid and I wondered why I felt a bit cold. I’m experimenting in the tent department so knew what I was getting myself in for. Don’t feel like it’s sensible to copy me!

And finally, I just really wish I’d brought my polarising filter for my camera. It would have made such a difference on those mountain views. It’s really hard to expose for sunlit snow patches and dark rock in the same image. At least it would have made it a little more like what I could see through my sunglasses.

Hope that was some help! If you want to read more like this, these are all my kit lists. How about some wild camping or some adventure stories while you’re here? Or join my Adventure Squad newsletter to hear about my adventures as their happening. If you’re new to the blog (hello!) you might want to start here first. I’m a female adventurer based in the UK.