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Packing for Scottish Highlands
You typically do not require special equipment when trekking in the Scottish Highlands. This is because none of its peaks reaches 4,500 feet. The highest of them sits only at 4,413 feet above sea level. Compared to Kilimanjaro’s 19,341 feet, and Everest’s 29,029 feet, Ben Nevis is practically a child; and an effortless hike for experienced mountain climbers. In addition, many of the Highland’s trails are essentially walking paths that welcome folks of all skill levels.
That said, there is still a few necessary pieces of equipment you will find useful, especially if you plan on camping at night. Keep in mind, however, that what you’ll need for summertime hikes differ from those you’ll require for winter treks.
Your Scottish Highlands Packing List
- Wool thermal base top, to keep warm.
- Quick-dry hiking pants, as you might find yourself dealing with rain or peat bogs during your hike.
- Warm fleece, which you can put on or peel off depending on the current temperatures.
- Insulated, waterproof jacket, for light rainy days.
- Raincoat or rain jacket, for heavy rains.
- A beanie, to keep your head warm, which is very important.
- Gloves, as your hands will be exposed to the elements while you’re hiking, especially if you’re using trekking poles.
- Wool socks, to keep your toes and feet warm during colder months.
- A backpack to carry all your stuff. To ensure you’re using a pack with the correct capacity, check with your tour company. It all depends on how long your trek is, and whether or not you’re choosing to camp for the night.
- 1-litre water bottle and filter. The filter is important when filling up your water bottle in rivers and streams, as these sources are not necessarily clean enough for human consumption.
- Mountaineering ice axe and crampons, especially if you’re expecting climb Ben Nevis in winter.
- Emergency whistle
- Head torch
- Waterproof phone case
- Walking or trekking poles
Scottish Highlands weather
Seasonality and Climbing Requirements
How do I prepare for the Scottish Highlands?
Though many of the Highlands’ great walks and trails are accessible for most skill levels, a strong fitness level is certainly preferable. To prepare, build up your stamina and strength by doing some practice uphill and downhill hikes before your trip, perhaps with your backpack on. Learn more.
When should I climb the Scottish Highlands?
Some trails are manageable in the wintertime, some are best in the summer. Generally, the Scottish Highlands are excellent from May through August, when the days are long and warm. September might be too wet for long-distance treks, but October is drier, and stunning with fall foliage. Learn more.
What permits do I need?
Though wild camping in Scotland is permissible in many unenclosed areas, there are camping bylaw-covered areas in which a permit is necessary for camping. If you plan on camping in such areas, obtain a permit for £3 per tent before your trip. Learn more.
Do I need a guide to climb?
Scotland’s trails are self-guided treks, easily navigable and never too far from civilization, so a guide is not necessary. However, there are guided treks and hikes being offered by tour operators if you prefer to travel with one. Learn more.
How do I get to the Scottish Highlands?
Since the Highlands' network of trails start in different places, where you fly in depends on which route you would like to take on. Travellers from NYC and Sydney have the option to fly into Glasgow, Edinburgh or Inverness, while those from London can hop on a train to those cities. Learn more.
What should I pack and what equipment do I need?
There are some gear and equipment that every hiker will find necessary, and these include mountain gaiters, a raincoat, quick dry pants, water filter and trekking poles. Summers are notorious for midges so a midge head net is also important, as are tweezers for removing ticks. Learn more.
The Scottish Highlands routes
- West Highland Way. Distance: 154 km, average duration: 6-8 days
- Great Glen Way. Distance: 126 km, average duration: 5-6 days
- Southern Upland Way. Distance: 341 km, average duration: 10-20 days
- Great Trossachs Path. Distance: 48 km, average duration: 1-3 days
- Three Lochs Way. Distance: 55 km, average duration: 3-4 days
- Cowal Way. Distance: 92 km, average duration: 3-5 days
- The Great Glen Canoe Trail. Distance: 96 km, average duration: 3-5 days