What To Wear While Hiking In Switzerland: Complete Packing List

Planning what to wear hiking in Switzerland? You’ve come to the right place. 
When embarking on a hiking adventure in the breathtaking landscapes of Switzerland, careful consideration of your clothing and gear is paramount. The weather conditions change rapidly, especially when you’re in the country's mountainous terrain. So, you need to be prepared.
At Skyhook, we offer a range of hiking tours in Switzerland. From this experience, we understand exactly what you should wear for a comfortable and safe hiking experience in the country.
Here's an extensive guide to help you prepare for any Swiss hiking adventure.

Layered Clothing

When planning what to wear for hiking in Switzerland, getting your clothing layers right is the most important part. The key to this is layers. 
The best time to hike in Switzerland may be summer when there’s maximum sunlight and warmth.
However, even during the peak of summer, you can still expect surprise rain and cold weather.
This is especially true when going on an Alps hike in Switzerland or going on a hiking tour to the St. Bernard Hospice in Switzerland. So, being prepared for this with the right layers is essential.
When packing your layered outfit for hiking, plan it in three layers.

1. Base Layer

Start with a moisture-wicking base layer to manage sweat effectively. Choose a long-sleeved shirt and comfortable hiking pants. This layer helps regulate your body temperature and keeps you dry.
While you could just wear a regular T-shirt and shorts, it’s best to wear specialized activewear. This is made from fabric that breathes better and manages sweat and moisture more effectively. 
And if you’ll be doing some of the best multi day hikes in Switzerland, having base layers that manage sweat and moisture efficiently is important, as it helps you cut down on your packing load. The last thing you want is to be carrying around heavy wet clothing in your pack. 
This layer is lightweight and won't keep you warm, but it should be cool and comfortable to hike in. If the sun is out and the weather is good, then this base layer is all you need to wear. However, this layer won’t be enough for hiking through snow, rain, cold winds, and high altitude conditions.  

2. Insulating Layer

Depending on the season and altitude, add an insulating layer for warmth. A fleece jacket or down vest is a versatile choice, providing additional insulation without compromising mobility.
This is especially true if you're also thinking of doing sledding in Switzerland as well as hiking.
The insulating layer is your emergency layer for warmth when you unexpectedly reach somewhere cold. Packing this layer can be tricky, as warmer clothes are often bulkier and heavier to pack - something you need to be very careful about when you’ve only got a backpack.
The best thing to do is to look for insulating layers designed for alpine hiking. There are plenty of thin and flexible fleece or wool layers that provide maximum warmth without weighing you down. Merino wool insulating layers are particularly effective. 
Having a good down puffer jacket is also always a great choice to bring along. The right jacket shouldn't take up too much space and can offer superior warmth while still being incredibly lightweight. While down jackets aren't always the best choice for active hiking, they’re ideal for warming up at base camp after a long day on the trail.

3. Outer Layer

This is possibly the most important layer to bring. While it’s possible (but not recommended) to leave behind the insulating layer on summer hikes, you should never go on hikes in Switzerland without a good rain jacket.
Invest in a waterproof and windproof jacket. This outer layer protects you from rain and strong winds, ensuring you stay dry and comfortable during unexpected weather changes.
You can get extremely lightweight rain jackets that provide a waterproof layer but don't offer any real warmth.
These are great for summer hiking, but be cautious with them if you plan to reach high altitudes, as you’ll need something a bit more robust to protect you against strong, cold winds at the tops of mountains. 
The other option is a thicker outer layer that provides better protection against rain, wind, and cold. While this will take up more space in your pack, the importance of a reliable outer protective layer cannot be understated.
Make sure that you invest in a quality protective layer when hiking in Switzerland, as you never know when you’ll need the weather protection.
hiking in picturesque switzerland
Hikers in their summer gear.

Hiking Boots

On your list of what to wear hiking in Switzerland, a strong and reliable pair of hiking boots is absolutely vital.
Choosing the right footwear is paramount for a successful hiking experience. Sturdy hiking boots with robust ankle support are essential, offering stability on uneven terrains. Prioritize waterproof or water-resistant boots to combat wet conditions, especially considering the potential encounters with streams or rain showers during your hike.
If you’re going on one of the best hikes in Switzerland for beginners, that doesn't involve ascents or descents, it’s possible to wear quality walking shoes or trainers. However, you’ll be very grateful for the added support from hiking boots when you climb up or down mountains. 
Plus, you’ll likely be walking through streams, muddy sections, and possibly over snow and ice. Having thick boots with excellent grip is key to managing this safely and comfortably. 
If you do a multi-day hike through Switzerland, you’ll be extremely grateful for a comfortable pair of boots that keep your feet feeling fresh over the course of your hike.
hiking through swiss meadows
Well-prepared hikers in Switzerland.

Hiking Socks

The often-overlooked but equally important element of your footwear ensemble is the choice of socks. 
Opt for moisture-wicking, breathable socks to keep your feet dry and reduce the risk of blisters. Always go for longer socks designed for hiking, as this will protect your ankles and calves while you walk. 
Consider bringing an extra pair to ensure you can switch out damp socks if needed. There's nothing worse than starting a day of hiking in a pair of cold, damp socks.


Protecting yourself from the sun's rays is crucial, particularly at higher altitudes where the sunlight can be intense. 
A wide-brimmed hat or a cap provides effective shade, while sunglasses shield your eyes. Additionally, if you're venturing into higher elevations, lightweight gloves and a warm beanie can be a valuable addition to your gear, offering protection against cooler temperatures.
Packing headwear can be tricky, as hats often take up a lot of space. Try to get lightweight headwear that you can compress, fold up, and pack down. Avoid hats with large stiff brims that can't fit into your backpack.
high altititude trekking in switzerland
You need to be prepared for all kinds of conditions when hiking in Switzerland.

Hiking Pants/Shorts

The versatility of convertible pants becomes apparent as you encounter fluctuations in temperature throughout your hike. 
These adaptable pants allow you to transition seamlessly between different climates. If you prefer shorts, ensure they are suitable for the trail conditions, keeping in mind the potential for rough terrain.
It’s always best to opt for hiking pants that can deal with moisture. If you’re hiking through the snow, waterproof, snow-friendly pants are essential. And even if you don’t plan on reaching any snowy trails, you’ll want pants that can quickly dry after any rain.


Selecting the right backpack is crucial for a comfortable and organized hiking experience. 
Consider one with adequate capacity to carry essentials such as water, snacks, a first aid kit, a map, and additional layers. The backpack should distribute weight evenly to prevent strain on your back during extended hikes.
Always know what gear you’ll need to bring along first, then choose a backpack that can comfortably hold this gear, without being too big or too small.
clear hiking trails in switzerland
Hiking conditions in Switzerland.

Rain Gear

Even during the summer, unexpected rain showers can occur. 
Prepare for such instances by carrying a lightweight, packable rain jacket. Additionally, investing in a rain cover for your backpack ensures the protection of crucial items from the elements.


If you’re hiking alongside a lake or river in Switzerland, you’ll probably be tempted to jump in and have a swim. Make sure you’re prepared with your swimming gear.
You could always wear your hiking shorts if they manage water well. You could also just go skinny dipping. However, you will want to dry off after your swim. This is why it's a good idea to bring along a thin, packable microfiber towel. A lightweight towel can be a real game-changer on any hiking trip.

A Dry Change of Clothes

You’ll be extremely grateful for a fresh, dry change of clothes to get into after your hike. If space allows, it’s always a good idea to have a dry outfit change tucked away at the bottom of your pack. Ideally, this should be packed away in a waterproof bag, or even a plastic packet.
swimming in-between swiss hiking
It’s always a good idea to bring along swimming gear for any lakes you encounter.

Extra Hiking Equipment

We’ve covered the most important items to bring when planning on what to wear for hiking in Switzerland. Although, your clothing is only the first consideration. You’ll also need to bring along the right gear for a safe and enjoyable hiking experience. 
Here are a few essentials you should never leave behind.

Navigation Tools

Before embarking on your hike, familiarize yourself with the trail map and terrain. Carry navigation tools such as a map, compass, or GPS device to ensure you stay on course.
Checking local trail conditions and weather forecasts beforehand provides valuable insights for planning your journey.

Water and Snacks

Staying hydrated is paramount, especially during physical activities like hiking. 
Carry a sufficient amount of water, and consider using a hydration system or water bottles for convenience. Pack energy-boosting snacks like trail mix, energy bars, or fresh fruit to maintain your energy levels throughout the hike.

Sunscreen and Bug-Repellent

Protecting your skin from the sun's harmful rays is essential. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen to exposed skin, and reapply as needed, particularly during extended periods outdoors. 
In areas where insects may be prevalent, bring a reliable bug repellent to ward off potential nuisances.

Emergency Supplies

Lastly, prepare for unforeseen circumstances by packing a compact first aid kit. Include essentials such as bandages, pain relievers, and any personal medications you may require. 
A well-prepared hiker is equipped to handle minor injuries or discomfort, ensuring a safer and more enjoyable hiking experience.
landscape around st bernard hospice
Always pack for the cold when hiking in Switzerland!


By packing the right clothing and gear, you'll not only be well-prepared for the dynamic conditions of Switzerland's hiking trails but also enhance your overall enjoyment of the stunning natural beauty that awaits you.
It’s all about being comfortable and being safe. So, go through this list before you go hiking in Switzerland, and you should be well prepared for any adventure.

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