What Not to Pack

trek pack list

14 Items You DON’T Need to Bring on a Trek in the Alps

This will not be easy. But to make your trek more fun, you may want to pack light and leave some stuff behind. You may already have a pile of great stuff ready to go with you on your trek. Think again.

Take each item in your hand and consider its real value. Every item on a trek must “earn” its right to be in your suitcase or your backpack. Don’t let your travel gear weigh you down. The lighter you travel, you more you can enjoy your trek.

ALPENWILD ALPINE TREKS: Haute Route, Deluxe Haute Route, Via Alpina, Tour du Mont Blanc, Bernese Oberland Traverse, Eiger to Matterhorn

  1. Extra clothes. Your clothes and shoes make up most of the pounds in your suitcase. Start the elimination process now. You can do an entire 12-day trek with a backpack and a roll-aboard. Remove the duplicates and unnecessary clothing. Learn how to travel super-light. Leave that heavy travel monster suitcase behind, even if the airline will let you check it. Feel the freedom.
  2. Extra suitcase. That second suitcase you were planning to fill. Leave it behind. You can now easily jump on the next train as you have nothing to pick up in baggage claim. Glide through the train station, get on board, and settle in without a care in the world. You’re on vacation.
  3. Euros or Swiss Francs. Neither. Thankfully, there’s no longer a need to change money before you leave. Grab an ATM (open 24 hours) at the airport or train station upon arrival and you’re good to go. Most businesses accept credit cards. TIP: Charge purchases in the local currency, as you’ll typically get a better exchange rate that way. Cash (Euros or Swiss Francs) would be for street food vendors, drinks, taxis or crafts from local artisans.
  4. Blow Dryer. All the hotels on Alpenwild tours (except remote mountain huts) have a blow dryer in the room. You’re covered.
  5. Electrical Current Converter. No need for one anymore (since you’re not bringing a blow dryer). Most electronic devices (phone, tablet, laptop, etc.) are built to handle dual voltage (110/220v). All you need is a plug adapter, which Alpenwild provides (a 2-prong Swiss adapter).
  6. Formal wear. Or even dress-up clothes. Summer evening meals in the Alps have become noticeably more casual over the years. Clean is more important than snazzy. Relax and enjoy your meal.
  7. Camera. It’s heavy, bulky, and fragile. And you’ll probably get plenty of stunning photos worth posting without it. Trust your smart phone and the natural beauty of the Alps. Increase your smart phone photo skills instead of lugging a heavy camera around
  8. Rain gear. Keeping your rain protection hands-free is a safety issue, comfort issue, and enjoyment issue. Choose wearable rain gear (waterproof wide-brim hat with chin strap, waterproof jacket with pit vents, waterproof pants with foot strap). It never blows away or gets left behind. If you’re hiking in the rain for several hours, you’ll be glad you chose carefully.
  9. Hydration pack (or large water bottle). Switzerland is known as “Europe’s Water Tower.” Drinking water is available everywhere for FREE. By national decree, all water sources must provide safe drinking water or have a notice warming you otherwise. You’re rarely more than one liter between water stops, so a liter bottle is generally sufficient. Staying hydrated has never been easier.
  10. Maps and guide books. As tempting as they are, those maps and books are heavy. You’ve got a trip leader with a breadth of local knowledge—history, culture, plants, topography, wildlife, cuisine, weather, lore, and traditions. More than could be stuffed in any guidebook. 
  11. Heavy mountaineering boots. Not necessary when you’ll always be on maintained mountain trails. Most trail runners (low cut, feather weight) are surprisingly strong and light when compared to boots of just a few years ago. Consider trading-in those old thick-soled, heavy-duty, high-rise leather boots. If you replace them with some light high-tech ones you may find you have a bounce In your step at the end of the day.
  12. Make-up. Hiking in the alpine back-country is the place to simplify and go natural. Leave as much as possible behind, including your mirror. Relax and be yourself.
  13. Snow baskets. Your trekking poles (so valuable) come with “snow baskets” for winter walking. Even if the tour group crosses a mini-snowfield, your snow baskets are unnecessary. Leave them behind. Same for the plastic cap made for walking on pavement. Leave it behind. If the walkway is paved, it’s time to put the poles away.
  14. “Backup” of anything. It’s always tempting to bring a “backup” of some essential item. Trust me. If you lose your toothbrush, you can find a new one in the Alps. Don’t bring duplicates.

There you have it. Now you can trek in confidence knowing your pack is as light as possible and you’ve got what you will need. I hope you will enjoy letting go of so many material things go and connecting with nature on your trek.

Wondering what you should pack? Check out: https://www.alpenwild.com/staticpage/packing-list-alps-trekking-tours/.

Greg Witt
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