Hiking the West Highland Way (WHW) in Scotland is a breathtaking adventure, but it requires careful planning and packing. Here’s your ultimate guide to what to pack to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable trek. …And if adventure calls you, take a look at our 9-day trip proposal on the West Highland Way.



Choosing the right backpack is crucial for a multi-day hike. Opt for a backpack with a volume between 40 and 65 liters, depending on whether you’ll be camping or staying in accommodations along the route. Ensure it has a rain cover to keep your gear dry, as the weather in Scotland can be unpredictable​ 

Our Tips for Packing

  • Weight Management: Aim to keep your backpack as light as possible, ideally under 9 kg if you’re staying in accommodations and under 13 kg if you’re camping. This will make your hike more enjoyable and less strenuous​ 
  • Layering: The weather in Scotland can change rapidly, so dressing in layers is essential to adjust your clothing as needed throughout the day​ 
  • Foot Care: Break in your hiking boots well before the trek and consider bringing blister prevention tape or pads to protect your feet from blisters​ 

Packing smartly for the West Highland Way will ensure you have a comfortable and enjoyable hiking experience. Focus on lightweight, durable, and multi-functional gear, and always be prepared for the variable Scottish weather. Happy hiking!

Glen Coe scotland holidays
Glen Coe (©Leading Lines)

2.Footwear and Clothing

Proper footwear and clothing are essential for a successful hike on the West Highland Way. Here’s a detailed breakdown of what you need:

Hiking Boots or Shoes

Investing in high-quality hiking boots or shoes is crucial for your comfort and safety on the trail. Look for boots that provide good ankle support, are waterproof, and have a sturdy sole for traction. Ensure your boots are well broken-in before starting the hike to prevent blisters and discomfort​


Merino wool socks are highly recommended for their quick-drying and anti-odor properties. They provide excellent cushioning and help prevent blisters. Pack at least two pairs so you can rotate them daily, allowing one pair to dry while you wear the other​ 

Base Layers

Your base layers should be moisture-wicking to keep sweat away from your body. Synthetic materials or merino wool are ideal for this purpose. Pack a few t-shirts and leggings to wear as your first layer​ 

Insulating Layers

For warmth, especially during the cooler mornings and evenings, bring a fleece or down jacket. These layers can be easily added or removed depending on the weather and your level of activity​ 

Outer Layers

A waterproof jacket and pants are essential for protecting you from rain and wind. Look for breathable materials to avoid getting too sweaty underneath. Scotland’s weather can be unpredictable, so it’s best to be prepared for wet conditions​ 


  • Hat and Gloves: A warm hat and gloves are necessary for cold weather, particularly in the early mornings and late evenings.
  • Buff or Neck Gaiter: A versatile accessory that can be used as a scarf, headband, or face mask. It provides warmth and protection from the wind​ 

3.Camping Gear

For those planning to camp along the West Highland Way, here’s a list of essential camping gear:


Choose a lightweight, weather-resistant tent. A freestanding tent is ideal as it is easy to set up and can be pitched on various types of terrain​ 

Sleeping Bag

A 3-season sleeping bag is suitable for the varying temperatures you may encounter. Look for one that balances warmth and packability, ensuring you stay comfortable throughout the night​ 

Sleeping Pad

An inflatable sleeping pad provides insulation from the cold ground and added comfort. It’s lightweight and easy to pack, making it a great addition to your camping gear​ 

Cooking Equipment

  • Portable Stove: A lightweight and efficient stove for preparing meals.
  • Lightweight Cooking Pot: A compact pot for boiling water and cooking food.
  • Reusable Utensils: Durable utensils for eating your meals​

4.Food and Water

Proper nutrition and hydration are crucial for maintaining your energy levels during the hike.


Pack high-energy snacks such as trail mix, granola bars, and dried fruit. These will provide quick and easy energy boosts throughout the day​ 


Lightweight, non-perishable meals or freeze-dried options are convenient for multi-day hikes. Consider meals that are easy to prepare and require minimal cleanup​ 


Carry a filter water bottle (this one works very well) to safely drink from natural sources along the trail. Staying hydrated is essential, and having a reliable method to purify water will ensure you always have access to clean drinking water​.

5.First-Aid and Safety

Staying safe on the trail is paramount. Here’s what you need to include in your first-aid kit and safety gear:

First-Aid Kit

Your first-aid kit should include blister packs, bandages, painkillers, and any personal medications. Scotland is known for its midges, especially during the summer months, so pack a midge spray and headnet to protect yourself from these tiny, biting insects​ 

Navigation Tools

Navigating the West Highland Way requires a good map of the trail, a reliable compass, and a GPS device or smartphone with offline maps. These tools will help you stay on the right path and avoid getting lost​ 

6.Miscellaneous Items

In addition to the essentials, here are a few miscellaneous items that will enhance your hiking experience:

Trekking poles

Although the West Highland Way is not technically demanding, the use of hiking poles can greatly improve your comfort and safety, especially on the more challenging sections. They are recommended for those looking to minimize fatigue and protect their joints while fully enjoying the beautiful Scottish landscapes.

Hiking poles are particularly useful for uphill and downhill sections, helping to propel the body upwards and to brake during steep descents, such as those found around Rannoch Moor and the Devil’s Staircase. By distributing the effort between the arms and legs, hiking poles can reduce muscle fatigue and relieve joints, particularly the knees, which is a major advantage over long distances. Finally, the poles help to maintain balance, especially on rocky and uneven sections of the trail. This can be particularly useful in areas where the path is littered with roots and stones, such as along the shores of Loch Lomond.


A headlamp is invaluable for visibility during early morning or late evening hikes. Make sure to bring extra batteries​

Power Bank

To keep your electronic devices charged, a power bank is a must. This is especially important if you’re using your smartphone for navigation​.

Personal Hygiene

Biodegradable soap, a small towel, and baby wipes will help you stay fresh and clean on the trail. These items are lightweight and easy to pack, making them perfect for multi-day hikes​


Packing smartly for the West Highland Way will ensure you have a comfortable and enjoyable hiking experience. Focus on lightweight, durable, and multi-functional gear, and always be prepared for the variable Scottish weather. Happy hiking on the WHW, feel free to contact us if you need more information!

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