What usually comes after booking a long-distance walking tour as epic as Mont Blanc? The never-ending tally of what you need to do before you go, with packing igniting the most stress-induced, head-scratching headaches. Thankfully, we’ve provided the ultimate Tour du Mont Blanc packing list, hopefully easing the need to reach for the headache-reducing Advil sitting in your cupboard. So grab your notebook, pen, or open another tab on your computer, and take note of the following items to pack to ensure total comfort on your trekking adventure. Soon enough, you’ll kiss all packing stress goodbye while the wonderment of Mont Blanc envelops you.
Passport or ID
Your passport (if you’re travelling internationally) and ID (for those within the European Union) should sit atop your ultimate Tour du Mont Blanc packing list! And while you’re here, pause reading this article, and check if your passport remains valid for at least three months after your trip. If so, you’re good to go. If not, you need to update your passport as soon as possible!
We recommend keeping your necessary documents, passport/ID, health insurance information, proof of immunization and important emergency numbers, which you can find via our article on how to prepare for trekking Mont Blanc. Of course, you can keep this information on your phone, but it’s always helpful to have everything recorded if something were to happen to your phone (knock on wood).
For proof of immunization, check your government website and that of the country you’re visiting to make sure you have the right documentation and vaccinations.
If you’re carving through the Alps with a luggage transfer, feel free to skip this section, but if you’re carrying everything mentioned on this Mont Blanc packing list, you’ll want a high-quality backpack. First things first: comfort. You’ll traverse around 6.2mi–17.4mi a day, so put comfort first. Consider the following when shopping for your hiking backpack:
- Ventilated back
- Padded hip strap (this will help take the weight off your shoulders and put it on your hips)
- Seek an internal frame over external
- Get a rain cover
If you have a luggage transfer, you’ll need a microcosm of the typical hiking backpack. Look for a daypack bag with a waistband, a chest strap to help spread the weight evenly, and a rain cover.
Does anyone else stress hard when it comes to packing clothes? More often than not, knowing which clothes to bring and leave behind can be the most hair-pulling part of packing. You want to ensure you have comfortable, presentable clothes when you’re in the charming villages, but you also need trek-friendly attire on the trails. Then, there’s the weather to consider. Is it going to be hot? Cold? (Thankfully, our article on the best time to hike Mont Blanc unveils more details on the weather sweeping Mont Blanc throughout the year.) Will you need waterproof boots? Clothes? Before you spiral further, pause, and take a look at the list below, which will hopefully help point you in the right clothing-related direction:
- 3-4 t-shirts
- A couple of long-sleeved shirts to put under your short-sleeved shirts
- A lot of underwear—make sure they are breathable, quick-dry, and won’t aggravate your skin (test them out before!)
- A couple of sports bras for the ladies
- 1 or 2 fleece or wool sweaters
- A couple of leggings or outdoorsy pants tailor-made for activity or designated hiking
- At least 4 pairs of merino wool/high-quality hiking socks
- 1 or 2 wool or fleece toque/hats
- Mittens or gloves for extra warmth
- A hat for sunny days
- A change of non-sweaty, non-hiking clothes for the evenings—you want to be comfortable
- A change of casual clothes for the villages if you’re stopping in these en route
- Waterproof pants
- Flip-flops or comfortable, easy-to-pack shoes to slide into in the evening—you may want flip-flops for the hostel showers
What you pack for clothing may vary depending on which Mont Blanc tour you decide to take! For example, if you go on the self-guided Tour du Mont Blanc Highlights in Hotels, you may want to pack an extra casual shirt or pants, but only if you have space!
Hint: look for quick-dry and lightweight material and avoid cotton and denim. These materials can cause blisters and chafing—just the worst. If it’s frigid out there, Merino wool is also a good choice as it holds warmth well (and it can be odour-resistant—bonus).
Sure, clothing may be the most stressful when it comes to plotting your packing list for Mont Blanc, but choosing the right hiking boots may be the most essential. Your hiking boots must fit well, be equipped to carry you through the alpine terrain sweeping three European countries and survive the weather.
Before you go, lace up your boots and head out on a few walks before you go to break your shoes in and help prevent blisters later on! Not sure where to start when sifting through the endless brands and styles of hiking shoes? Open our article on how to choose the best hiking boots for you in another tab and look through it after piecing together your packing list. The research never ends, does it? Don’t worry! You’ll be exploring Mont Blanc soon enough!
Big fact: most refuges don’t take credit cards. While this may be an inconvenience, it’s also kind of cool to think that you’re so deep in the mountains that not even credit cards will work (at most locations). So be sure to calculate how much cash you’ll need before you go. The kicker? You’re travelling to three countries; therefore, different currencies are necessary. Take Euros for Italy and France, and Swiss francs for Switzerland. However, several accommodations in Switzerland do accept cards, so you may only need Swiss francs for snacks or transportation if you need to use them.
There are ATMS in Chamonix, Les Contamines, Les Houches, Argentière, La Fouly, Courmayeur, Champex-Lac.
If you’re travelling from North America (or various countries outside of Europe), don’t expect your phone and computer charger to fit in a European outlet as they use a different voltage. Bring a couple of adapters along to keep your electronics charged.
First aid kit
Uh, oh, you feel a blister forming, now what? Act fast! Go into your hiking first aid kit, pull out your RockTape Blister Kit, and stop the blister in its tracks. Other things to pack into your small first aid kit are painkillers, sanitizer, tweezers, topical antibiotics, tensor bandages, and any personal medication.
2L water bottle
While streams en route require a water filter, it’s safest to fill up your bottle before you go to your refuge or buy a 2L bottle if available to take with you for the day. Make sure it’s leak-proof when you buy it! Test it out by filling it up, shutting the lid, and shaking it as hard as you can. Nothing sucks more than a leaking water bottle, especially on a trekking adventure when a) you need water b) damp clothes are never fun.
A collapsible water bottle is also an excellent idea for saving space.
Some series of events or intentional timings may propel rising with the sun or traversing the trail while the daylight dips below the mountainous peaks. In this case, you’ll need a headlamp to light your path as you make your way.
Have an older phone? Obsessed with taking photos and capturing the moment? Bring a solar-powered or any type of battery pack along with you to ensure your phone produces enough juice throughout the day.
Warning: the refuges and hostels along the Tour du Mont Blanc can be loud. Avoid moaning at those still awake while you try to sleep by wearing earplugs to bed. The sleeping quarters can be tight in some refuges, so earplugs may prevent you from snapping and hitting a nearby snorer with a pillow (don’t do this even if you have earplugs—fight the urge!). Our article on Tour du Mont Blanc accommodation shares a ton of information on the refuges—check it out to learn more!
Sleeping bag liner
While you’re paying for refuges, you may encounter beds with slept-in sheets; in this case, a sleeping bag liner will help you rest easy knowing you aren’t sharing a bed with old skin cells—sorry for the gross image) Bring a sleeping bag liner or lightweight sleeping bag to snuggle into at night. The accommodations will likely provide blankets, granting extra insulation if the temperature drops significantly during the night.
Another thing to bring is a microfibre towel, one that barely adds any weight for showering or whatever else you use a towel for. It’s always nice to have one!
Other items to pack:
- Hiking poles
- Water filter—if the sign along the trail says eau potable, you can drink the water
- Energy bars—However, you will have a lot of chances to enjoy tasty food along the way, as our Tour du Mont Blanc guide reveals in detail
- Small camping pillow (same reason as the sleeping bag liner)
- Multi-purpose soap
- Bags to store dirty, sweaty clothes
Your ultimate packing list for Mont Blanc should be planned well in advance to break in your boots and ensure the utmost comfortability as you carve through the wild landscape painting parts of Italy, France, Switzerland on the ever-so incredible Tour du Mont Blanc.