If you’re preparing to hike the Tour du Mont Blanc, get ready: one of the world’s most famous and beautiful treks awaits you! The Mont Blanc massif is located on the border of France, Italy, and Switzerland, and the Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) is a 110-mile trail that encircles it. At 15,781 feet, Mont Blanc is the tallest mountain in Western Europe, and each year, 10,000 hikers head to the trail between June and September to take in its beauty.
While the vast majority of hikers will not complete the entire trail and even fewer will do it while carrying their own gear, if you choose to go the hardcore route, like I did, you’ll need to pack light. Really light. Trust me, you don’t want to carry a single ounce more than you need to while hiking your way through 30,000 feet of elevation gain and similar descent!
General Packing Tips
One hiking outfit (or maximum of two)
If you don’t mind washing your hiking clothes nightly at the lodges, pack a single hiking outfit. I personally brought two outfits because I wasn’t sure how much time I would have for my clothes to dry and felt better having two. My hiking outfit consisted of KÜHL’s MØVA Skinny Pant, Harmony Tank, and a Glydr button down shirt for sun coverage. My friends hiked in shorts, but I prefer pants. Either option is fine!
Complete rain outfit
The weather on the TMB changes rapidly, and getting a completely sunny hike is virtually unheard of. While my friends and I lucked out with nearly perfect weather, many other people were not so lucky. Make sure you bring a COMPLETE rain outfit, including waterproof pants and a waterproof rain jacket. Do not mess around. A poncho is not sufficient. Take it from the many people I saw come into the lodges drenched at night after getting caught in a storm. I brought the KÜHL Airstorm Jacket and Jetstream Rain Pant.
One nighttime outfit
There’s nowhere to hang out on the trail besides the restaurant and bar at the mountain lodges, and no one else is dressing up! Save your back and just bring one outfit to wear when you’re relaxing after your nightly shower. I usually wore leggings and a t-shirt with my Firefly Hoody.
If you want any type of snack while on the trail, be aware that options are limited. You’ll generally find a limited supply of candy bars along the trail. If you’d prefer a protein bar or something a little healthier, bring it!
Bring a lightweight water bottle
Don’t waste valuable weight by bringing a heavy metal water bottle, no matter how much you love it at home. I did, and it was the wrong choice. Next time, I’ll bring a collapsible water bottle instead. There are plenty of spots along the trail to fill up your bottle with potable water, but pack a filter if you want to fill up more often.
No bedding required, but pack a sleeping bag liner
If you’re staying in the mountain lodges, as most people do, a sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and pillow are provided each night. However, all lodges request that you bring a sleeping bag liner for hygiene. Trust me, you definitely want to bring one! I also brought a small camping pillow and was glad I did.
It might seem like you won’t need a guidebook to hike a loop trail, but trust me when I tell you that you DEFINITELY do. The trail is not clear in all places, and while there are signs, there are many different routes and alternate trails that you can take. Purchase this guidebook and you will not go wrong. While it may seem unnecessary at first, pretty soon, you’ll be chatting with other hikers about “The Bible” and realize how grateful you are that you bought it.
Complete Packing List
- 2 pairs of hiking pants or shorts
- 2 tank tops or short sleeved hiking shirts, depending on preference
- 1 long sleeve button down hiking shirt for sun protection
- 4 pairs of socks
- 4 pairs of underwear
- 2 sports bras
- 1 hat for sun protection
- Trekking poles (a must!)
- Hiking boots (make sure you have broken them in first!)
- 1 quick-dry towel
- Rain pants
- Rain jacket, like the Airstorm Jacket
- 1 nighttime outfit – t-shirt, leggings or shorts, clean sports bra
- 1 jacket, suitable for temperatures around 40-50 degrees
- Water bottle(s) to carry 48 ounces (filter optional)
- Toiletries – include shampoo, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, etc.
- Charger for cell phone/camera and adapter
- Energy bars
- Sleeping bag liner – lodges offer bedding, but all require you to use a liner.
- Sandals or light shoes to wear at night
- Blister bandaids, just in case
- Multi-purpose soap or laundry detergent
- Ziploc bags (for dirty clothes – trust me)
I personally did not need a cap/beanie, gloves, or a heavy jacket, but I hiked in late August. If you have the space and weight to spare, a light pair of gloves and a lightweight beanie like the Skull Cap might be worthwhile.
Photos included in this post by Allison Dobbs Photography