What To Pack For A Hike In Scotland

Pap of Glencoe walk in Glencoe, Scotland

Just look at it! Scotland is beautiful.

With hundreds of walking trails, hills and Munros for all abilities, anyone visiting Scotland needs to get in on some of this action.

During my week in the Highlands I walked the Pap of Glencoe and Buachaille Etive Beag in Glen Coe, and Coire Lagan, Old Man of Storr, Fairy Glen and the Quiraing on Isle of Skye. Check the links for more photos and details on each of the scenic walks. *Isle of Skye posts coming soon.

If you’re not familiar, Munros, like Scotch, are unique to Scotland. Any Scottish mountain over 3,000ft (914m) is considered a Munro and people travel from all over the world to go “Munro bagging,” an attempt to “bag” or walk all 282 of them.

Munros Bar Isle of Skye
Group from the Skywalker Hostel on Isle of Skye entering the nearby Munros Bar. You can’t tell me this doesn’t look like the cover art for the Kook’s “Konk” album.

All of the beauty comes with a price, Scotland is fairly cool and wet all year round; but don’t worry too much about trying to plan around poor weather, it rains, you deal with it.

Keep your plans loose in case you lose half a day to really heavy rainfall or poor visibility, have some alternate adventures in mind, and remember, it’ll clear up soon!

While you could cruise around and take in the views from your car, if you really want to experience Scotland’s great scenery you’re going to have to work for it.

Are you ready for this?! Let’s find out, make sure you have these things ready to go on your bod and in your daypack before you head out.

The Lowdown:

  1. Smidge
  2. Hiking boots
  3. Rain jacket
  4. Wool socks
  5. Waterproof pants
  6. Snacks!
  7. Layers
  8. Gloves
  9. Dry bag
  10. Anything to beat the wind
  11. Map
  12. Tell a buddy or accommodation staff your plans for the day

Smidge

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the midges (bitey gnaty monsters) are not to be taken lightly!! Little bastards are the worst. So get some Smidge spray or another kind of repellent for your sanity’s sake.

I found Smidge at an outdoors store in Glasgow, but I assume you can find it an any of the shops around where you’re staying.

Honestly not too sure if there is a difference in regular bug spray and Smidge, but I figured it’s better to be on the safe side.

Hiking boots

Rain, rocks, mud, sheep poo, nuff said.

I’m on the clumsy side, I actually managed to brake my foot going up stairs two years ago, so I opted for some quality boots with ankle support.

I got these waterproof guys from REI and have had no troubles.

It’s all about that ankle support

Nice rain jacket

You’re going to get wet, but try your best to get less wet. 

Be careful not to get water resistant jackets, you want that “proof” otherwise you’ll be a soggy sob.

On exceptionally cold days I wore a nice long jacket I stole borrowed from my mom, and on warmer days, this one from North Face was perfect and comes in a bunch of colors.

Wool socks

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of hiking in soaking cotton socks, so unless you’re a masochist get the wool. 

Merino wool socks were recommended to me and they ended up being a total game changer. Talk about blister city the one day I hiked with regular socks.

You can get different thicknesses depending on what time of year you’ll be there. I was there in fall so I bought these thick guys from Gander Mountain for cold days, and Darn Tough’s lighter wool socks for warmer days.

Waterproof pants

If you’re feeling especially outdoorsy and ready to do the most you could even get the guys that unzip into shorts. I try to be somewhat loyal to my dignity so I opted for spandex leggings (truth is outgrew my zippy pants :/ ).

I love love love these Nike tights, they’re a little high wasted and extremely flattering. Whatever leggings you go with, make sure they’re dry-fit.

If you’re looking for something more industrial, check out the specs on these bad boys – Columbia Women’s Storm Surge Pant. “Omni-shield, fully seam sealed, drawcord adjustable waist.” Jokes aside they’re nice, you’ll be warm, dry and comfortable, that’s all I ever want (plus a full stomach).

Snacks

One time I was ¾ up a Munro and I had a banana and this girl was looking at me like a starving kitten. I didn’t share. That was my encouragement banana. It’s also weird to share bananas.

I eat like a hobbit so your girl never goes anywhere without an adequate amount of snacks. I usually have a pb&j, some fruit, a protein bar and some raisins ready to go at any moment.

I found that a lot of stores in the Highlands have different protein bar brands than I’m used to, so if you have a particular favorite make sure to pack them.

I’ve always been loyal to crunchy peanut Cliff Bars, but since going gluten free I opt for Quest Bars. If you’re on the keto diet along with what seems like half of the United States at the moment, they’re only like 4-6 net carbs per bar which is absolutely insane, and the raspberry white chocolate one literally tastes like desert.

Hobbit diet aside, for me protein-rich snacks are essential on hikes. The difference in how I feel hiking without adequate nutrients vs with is unreal. I get into it a bit when I talk about my first walk in Scotland, the Pap of Glencoe on just some oatmeal. Since then I’ve made sure to eat a plentiful breakfast with plenty of protein.

Layers

I went from easy breezy beautiful to a sweating frizzy abomination to a crying snotty freezing thingy as I increased altitude.

It sucks at the start of a hike, carrying all of those layers and jackets (and heavy camera), but at the top when it’s windy and cold you’ll be glad to have all of that stuff. At least I was.

Then there are the people that hike only in shorts and t-shirts.

You’ll think, “Oh wow you’re really fit, huh? Totally immune to the cold, huh?”

I saw this clip of “Family Guy” the other day and giggled.

Be practical, have a light bottom layer, and layer up from there with a waterproof top layer. Try to avoid cotton, quick-dry athletic ware works great. 

If you’re interested, here’s one of my exact outfits for ya:

Gloves

“Oh I won’t need gloves.”

Bring gloves if you have them. I was wearing wool socks over my hands when I got cold.

Just cheapo guys like these with touchscreen fingers will work just fine for your picture taking, warming needs.

Dry bag

I used big plastic ziplock bags.

Anything to keep the goods: phone, camera, wallet, keys, etc., nice and dry when it rains. I luckily had a rain cover for my whole pack (came with my bag).

If you’re looking for peace of mind you can get actual dry bags, they’ll keep your stuff right and are perfect if you ever go camping, kayaking or tubing.

Anything you have to bring to beat the wind

If you have a head of hair like mine that means hair ties, back up hair ties, and back up back up hair ties.

Definitely consider brining a hat along as well. I wish I had one when the cold wind was blowing into my ears. Such a pleasant sensation.

Map

I didn’t, but it certainly wouldn’t have killed me to bring a map along. Sometimes I had no idea what I was looking at, and as I learned well on this trip, smart phones are not entirely reliable… or durable. They’re also a bother and get in the way of the experience, but I’ll stop there before I begin a rant.

Basically…

Just avoid cotton like the plague and you should be ok. Or you could be like the guy I saw when I was hiking up Buachaille Etive Beag and just run up the mountain like it’s nothing in shorts and a tank top while I’m fighting back an asthma attack. 

I told myself not to feel too bad about guys like him and the many, many old men that briskly passed by me each day, they have a home field advantage. I’m not weak and out of shape they’re just made for this…

Buddy system

Make sure you’re letting a hostel buddy or staff know where you plan on going for the day because you never know what could happen. Despite the relatively well-established paths it’s easier than you think to get turned around. And hurt!

Great stuff, now you’re ready to get walking. Let me know if you think I’ve missed anything!

Stay cozzy out there.

This is your hike speaking.

Pin it!

What to pack for a hike in Scotland, Pinterest

 

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