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Tour du Mont Blanc Packing List

27/02/2024by Charlie0

TMB Packing List

In this guide, we’ll talk you through our Tour du Mont Blanc packing list. We’ll look at how necessary each item is, and we’ll give tips on how to pack your bag and make it lighter. All the information in this post comes from our local guides, who have hiked the Tour du Mont Blanc many times! We’ve written this guide to help Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) hikers, but the information is relevant for anyone planning a multi-day hike in the Alps or Dolomites. Ultimately, our goal is to help anyone planning to visit these amazing mountains, and to ensure you have a safe, enjoyable hike!

About the TMB

The Tour du Mont Blanc is typically done over 10 days, and is around 170 kilometres (105 miles). On average, each day is 15 – 20 kilometres (12 miles), with 1000 metres of ascent. The terrain is technical, so most hikers are out for between 5 – 9 hours per day.

Because of this, it really is important to consider the importance of each item in your bag. When planning your Tour du Mont Blanc kit list, you’ll have to go through a painful selection process! Do you really need your most comfortable hoody? How much of your book will you get round to reading? When you’re nearing to top of Grand Col Ferret – the highest point on the TMB classic route – all these small sacrifices will feel worth it!

 

Tour du Mont Blanc packing list

Multi-day Hike Essentials 

For a multi-day hike like the Tour du Mont Blanc, the Haute Route or the Alta Via 1, it’s essential that you have the right equipment. This can really make or break a trip! And it’s tricky to get the right balance… you want to be well-equipped, but you don’t want a bag that’s too heavy. How much you should pack will depend on the following :

  • How many days you’ll be hiking for
  • Whether you’re staying in mountain refuges or hotels
  • Whether it’s possible to buy food on the trail / whether you’ll want to buy food on the go
  • How often you’ll pass reliable, safe water sources
  • Whether you’ve booked a luggage transfer

Below we’ll share our Tour du Mont Blanc packing list, which is designed for 10 days of hiking the classic route. Most of the accommodation is in mountain refuges or simple hotels, and hikers do not carry all their food for the entire 10 days. That is, they get a new lunch pack each day.

Tour du Mont Blanc packing list

Tour du Mont Blanc Packing List Equipment

The following equipment is essential for the Tour du Mont Blanc, and any other multi-day hike in the mountains :

  • A 35 to 40 litre backpack with a waterproof cover
  • Durable, waterproof hiking boots or trail shoes with good tread
  • Lightweight footwear for the evenings (for example sandals, trainers, crocs)
  • Water bottles or a water bladder, with a minimum capacity of 2 litres
  • A sleeping bag liner, made from silk or cotton
  • Dry bags to keep your spare clothes in

Though not “essential”, we would recommend packing hiking poles, too. They are especially helpful for hikers with injuries, but most of our guides use hiking poles themselves. Hiking poles encourage good posture, so they reduce the risk of injury and limit fatigue. We recommend buying lightweight, collapsable poles that you can put away when you don’t feel like using them. Likewise, we’d recommend carrying micro-spikes (small, light-weight crampons) if you’re hiking the TMB in June of early July. This is because there are often patches of snow, and the higher passes can stay snowy late on.

You can find information about 2024 trail conditions in this post.

How necessary is all this equipment?

Backpacks : If you’re using a luggage transfer, you can get away with a much smaller backpack. Use a lightweight day pack to carry just your daily food, water, hiking layers and first-aid essentials. However, make sure your bag still has a waterproof cover, or at least pack your spare layers into a dry bag. It’s also important to note that some mountain refuges are not accessible by road, so even if you are using a luggage transfer, there will be days when you’ll have to carry two days worth of kit. Make sure your day pack is big enough to carry 2x lunch packs, plus all your overnight items for the refuge.

Water :
It is necessary to carry at least 2 litres of water per day, especially in the warmer months (see this post about weather on the TMB). If you’re doing the classic route, you’ll pass a safe, reliable water source at least once a day. On a Guided Tour du Mont Blanc, your guide will tell you how much water you should carry at the start of the day, before setting off.

Sleeping bag liners :
All mountain refuges require guests to use sleeping bag liners. This is to reduce the spread of bed bugs, and to generally promote better hygiene. A sleeping bag liner is therefore necessary if you’re staying in a mountain refuge, even if you’ll be staying in private rooms. Additionally, you’ll likely find that having your own sleeping bag liner will add comfort to your night’s rest.

Tour du Mont Blanc kit list

Tour du Mont Blanc Packing List Clothes

When planning your hiking clothes, it’s useful to categorise them into “base layers”, “mid-layers” and “outer layers”. Base layers are those that sit closest to your skin, and you would not normally change these during the day. Mid- and outer layers protect you from the elements. We recommend packing these at the top of your bag, so that you can easily layer up or down.

Base layers :

  • 1 thermal, long-sleeve top
  • 2 technical t-shirts, plus 1 comfortable top that you can wear in the evenings and sleep in
  • 2 to 3 pairs of hiking socks
  • 2 pairs of hiking trousers
  • 1 pair of comfortable trousers or leggings that you can wear in the evenings and sleep in

Mid- and Outer layers :

  • 1 fleece or warm sweater
  • 1 insulation coat, such as a light down jacket or a PrimaLoft.
  • 1 water and windproof jacket with a hood (see this post for help choosing a quality waterproof)
  • 1 pair of waterproof trousers
  • 1 warm hat or buff
  • Light-weight gloves
  • Sunglasses and a cap

How necessary are all these layers?

Sorry but yes, we think all these items are necessary! When hiking at altitude, you need to be prepared for all weather conditions, which means carrying multiple layers and good-quality waterproof shells. However, you can reduce the weight of your bag by choosing light, technical clothing and by being really strict with yourself. Of course, you could save weight by not bringing a spare top for the evenings, or spare clothes in general, but in our experience these small luxuries make a big difference! Once you arrive at your accommodation, there is nothing better than changing into a fresh pair of comfortable clothes. This is particularly true on super hot, sweaty days, or if you have been caught out in a storm.

Tour du Mont Blanc Packing List Toiletries 

What toiletries you should bring will depend on your own needs, but we suggest the following :

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Soap
  • Deodorant
  • 1 small, quick-drying towel
  • Ear plugs to wear in the shared dormitories of refuges
  • An eye mask (or use your buff!)
  • 1x full pack of blister plasters, such as Compeed
  • Sunscreen (SPF +50)
  • Lip balm with sun protection

Sunscreen is essential! On the TMB, you’ll be hiking above the tree line at high altitudes. The sun rays are much stronger at altitude, and as a result you’ll find that you burn much easier than normal.

Tour du Mont Blanc Packing List Miscellaneous  

Finally, don’t forget to pack these important items :

  • A mobile phone, a charger, and (if necessary) the correct plug adaptor
  • A small first-aid kit, which includes bandages, antiseptic cream / spray / wipes, and tweezers
  • Cash to buy food / snacks / drinks / souvenirs, as some refuges and small shops won’t accept card payment
  • Any specific snacking items that you particularly like
  • A map, guidebook or both (for self-guided hikers)

 

What about food and snacks? 

Most Guided Tour du Mont Blanc trips include lunch packs, and the guides provide fresh packs every day. This is certainly the case for our guided tours. If you’re doing a Self-Guided Tour du Mont Blanc, we recommend buying a lunch pack from your accommodation. Most of the villages have small convenience shops and bakeries, where you can buy basic lunch essentials. The only villages where this isn’t possible is Les Chapieux and Trient.

On most days, you’ll pass a mountain refuge or “buvette” (a small mountain restaurant) while you’re hiking. If you have enough time, dropping into one of these places can be a real treat, as you’ll get the chance to try a range of local alpine dishes. Given all this, most hikers do not find they need to pack additional food in advance.
You can buy snacks from the villages and along the trail, but if you have specific dietary requirements, allergies, or preferences, bring along your own snacks. For more information about hiking snacks, read this post.

 

How to pack efficiently?

If you’re an experienced hiker, you might already have all these essential items at home. However, if you can, it’s worth assessing each item and updating any that are especially heavy. Look for soft-flask water bottles or water bladders, as these are much lighter than traditional bottles. Only bring the toiletries that you really need. For example, bring a travel tube of toothpaste and a small bar of soap. Pack every item into your backpack and take it for a test-hike; ensure it sits snuggly, is not too bulky, and that all of your kit fit comfortably inside. Doing a test-hike is also a good way to learn how best to use all the pockets in your bag.

Tips on organising your backpack

Organising your bag properly will save you time and a good deal of stress. Here are our tips on which items to put where…

At the bottom of your bag…
Pack your spare clothes, socks and evening items (toiletries, sleeping bag liner, etc.) all into a dry bag. It would be sad if any of these got wet!

At the top of your bag… 
Pack your first-aid kit, water bottles, sunscreen, sunglasses, cap, plus your mid- and outer layers. Most multi-day hiking bags will have bottle pockets, plus small zip-pockets for storing smaller items. You can then place your mid- and outer layers inside your bag, where you can easily get to them. Pack your lunch near the top of your bag, and snacks could go in side pockets so that you can access them while on the move.

In summary…

Here is our full Tour du Mont Blanc kit list, all together :

Equipment 

  • A 35 to 40 litre backpack with a waterproof cover
  • Durable, waterproof hiking boots or trail shoes with good tread
  • Lightweight footwear for the evenings (e.g. sandals, trainers, crocs)
  • Water bottles or a water bladder, with a minimum capacity of 2 litres
  • A sleeping bag liner, made from silk or cotton
  • Dry bags to keep your spare clothes in
  • Hiking poles

Clothing 

  • 1 thermal, long-sleeve top
  • 2 technical t-shirts, plus 1 comfortable top that you can wear in the evenings and sleep in
  • 2 to 3 pairs of hiking socks
  • 2 pairs of hiking trousers
  • 1 pair of comfortable trousers or leggings that you can wear in the evenings and sleep in
  • 1 fleece or warm sweater
  • 1 insulation coat, such as a light down jacket or a PrimaLoft.
  • 1 water and windproof jacket with a hood
  • 1 pair of waterproof trousers
  • 1 warm hat or buff
  • Light-weight gloves
  • Sunglasses and a cap

Toiletries 

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Soap
  • Deodorant
  • 1 small, quick-drying towel
  • Ear plugs to wear in the shared dormitories of refuges
  • An eye mask (or use your buff!)
  • 1x full pack of blister plasters, such as Compeed
  • Sunscreen (SPF +50)

Miscellaneous 

  • A mobile phone, a charger, and (if necessary) the correct plug adaptor
  • A small first-aid kit, which includes bandages, antiseptic cream / spray / wipes, and tweezers
  • Cash to buy food / snacks / drinks / souvenirs, as some refuges and small shops won’t accept card payment
  • Any specific snacking items that you particularly like
  • A map, guidebook or both (for self-guided hikers)

We hope you’ve found this post useful. If you have any questions or suggestions, please leave us a comment below.

For more information about what to pack for the Tour du Mont Blanc, watch this You Tube video by Happy Tracks guides, Grant and Joel!

Charlie

Charlie works as a Content Writer for Happy Tracks. As a child, Charlie visited Chamonix during every school holiday, and she moved here permanently in 2013. She hiked the Tour du Mont Blanc with her family in 2019, and this summer she'll hike the Haute Route and Alta Via 1!

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