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All things hiking Gear advice

Top tips: what to pack for a day hike in Scotland

We are frequently asked what to pack for a day hike in the Highlands, usually by our guests preparing for their guided walking tour with us. People often ponder on whether they should pack shorts, a sun hat, sunscreen. What gloves to bring etc – the list goes on.

Bear in mind, that if you are planning to head out on your own or at least without a guide, then you will also need to pack the following gear and be familiar with how to use it.

map & compass: you will need a good quality, local, walking map such as Harveys or Ordnance Survey (we stock the 1:50,000 OS map for our area). Do not rely on your mobile phone mapping.

You should also always pack some food (even small snacks) and some water. It is possible to refill your water bottle along the route, but take care if you are following a low level popular path. If there is a lot of livestock in the area, it would be best not to refill your bottle unless you have a water purifier with you.

Long or short pants (trousers)

Always tempting if you happen to strike the good weather to whip out the shorts to go for a hike. It is however worth bearing in mind that Scotland is not without its pests. There are ticks in Scotland which hang on the undergrowth, particularly at low levels waiting for someone or something to come past. Ticks are often carried by deer who rub them off on the vegetation. The ticks wait there for the next host to continue their life cycle. They can wait for years.

If you do pick up a tick it is not the end of the world. There is Lymes Disease in the UK which can be treated with antibiotics – but early removal of the tick is key to the prevention of the disease. We have tick removers here at Fraoch Lodge. Make sure you check yourself over at the end of the day. However, you can minimise the risk of picking up a tick by wearing long trousers and gaiters over the top of your boots. Generally speaking dog walkers and golfers are often at more risk than hikers of returning with ticks.



Long or short sleeves

Unless you’re going to be battling through particularly overgrown parts of the countryside, the length of your sleeves is not too vital and the rate at which you get cold will determine whether you think long or short sleeves suitable for the day.


Boots or approach shoes

There are not many well graded, smooth paths in the Scottish hills. Most tracks are relatively rough with loose stones and rocks. It is usually sensible to use over the ankle walking boots to protect your ankles from turning and also to keep your feet as dry as possible. Leather boots, though heavier, should provide the best protection and will be generally more waterproof than gortex lined fabric boots.

Cairngorms - LGL options


Gortex or Nikwax Analogue/Paramo waterproofs

Waterproof shell jackets are by far the most popular. Most shops stock a wide range of jackets designed with gortex fabric. Andy himself prefers to wear Paramo clothing or Cioch direct waterproofs. Both these companies use the same material. Cioch Direct specialise in made to measure clothing. The advantage that the Nikwax analogue material has over gortex is that it is designed to be reproofed after washing so is likely to last you longer. The jackets can also be returned for repairs at little or no cost. The disadvantage is that the material is heavier and can prove to be too warm in the height of the summer – though at an average year round temperature of 0oC, the Paramo jackets are usually suitable for the Cairngorm plateau.

Hat and gloves

Always useful to include a warm hat and gloves at the bottom of your pack as it can be cool on the hill tops even in August.

Base/Mid layers

The most sensible attitude to your clothing for hiking is to make sure you have several light layers which will provide maximum flexibility rather than one or 2 choices. Make sure that your layers are not cotton options as you could cool off very rapidly, should your cotton layer become damp whereas synthetic or wool layers will either dry more rapidly or stop you from cooling down too much.


The most useful size of packpack to bring with you is a 35 litre pack. This will be large enough to take all excess clothing, camera, packed lunch etc. Smaller than this may mean that you have to limit what you take on the hill, particularly in winter.

what to pack for a day hike

Wandering into the Cairngorms

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any queries about the clothing/gear you are intending to bring with you for your Scottish vacation.

Want to get more out of your hike?

If you’d like to book a guide for your day hike, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. Andy is extremely knowledgeable about the Highlands of Scotland from history to nature and everything in between. A hike with him is an introduction to everything you wanted to know.

Email: info at scotmountainholidays.com

Tel: +44 1479 831 331

winter munros

Typical Cairngorm scenery in the snow

What is a Munro?

We’re off Munro bagging on Skye next week. Does this sound like a foreign language to you? If so we thought we’d add a timely post to the blog just to make sure that our foreign visitors are clear what we’re talking about. What is a Munro? There’s a lot about the language of your home country which you take for granted. Some phrases can even be localised to your own district and even need explaining to your friends and family. “Munros” and “Munro bagging” are hopefully terms which most walkers in the UK are familiar with. If you’re new to hill walking and mountain climbing, here’s a wee guide for you below.

Dictionary definition: What is a Munro?

A Munro is “any of the 277 mountains in Scotland that are at least 3,000 feet high (approximately 914 metres).”

Unfortunately this is not all there is to defining a Munro. All sorts of convoluted rules about the distance between summits and the amount of descent between them are used to separate Murnos and “tops”. These are then regularly reviewed by the Mountaineering Council of Scotland when a new edition of the Munros book is due to be published. The number of Munros can go up and down as peaks are re-classified; or you can be a purist and stick to the list as defined by Sir Hugh Munro himself originally.

Skye Cuillin

Popular view of the Cuillin mountains from the Sligachan area.

What is a Munro & how to “bag” one?

Munro bagging is an addiction which afflicts many dedicated hikers in the UK. As a visitor it may not be immediately obvious what it means. Unlike “train spotting” or “birdwatching” also known as “twitching”, it’s not all in the name. To bag a Munro is to reach the top of the hill then you’re able to tick it off your list. The ultimate aim is to complete a “round” of the Munros. This means that you will have reached the top of all the Munros. What happens when they reclassify though? Do you then have to complete extra routes? Or do you stick with the list as it was when you started your “round”.

A Munro (see definition above) is one of the higher hills in Scotland. Ben Nevis is a Munro so is Cairngorm, Ben Macdui, Sgor Gaoith & Schiehallion among many others. Some are very well-known, some less so. All now have defined paths to the top, usually the most efficient path, rather than the most attractive route as the goal is just to reach the top, not necessarily to take your time doing it.

The sheer quantity of people now “bagging” Munros has created path erosion on the more popular Munros. So much so that a lot of path maintenance has had to be undertaken in places such as Schiehallion.

 Negative: worn paths

The best thing about Munro bagging is that if you are intent on completing the whole list/round, then you will visit parts of Scotland you may never otherwise have gone. There are Munros all over Scotland, not just in the Highlands. Some are more accessible than others. Some require camping to reach them (or very long walks/cycles); others (a minority) require climbing skills, like the Innaccessible Pinnacle on the Cuillin Ridge (Isle of Skye)

Positive: visit parts of Scotland you might never otherwise see.

walking holidays scotland

The spectacular sandstone peaks of Torridon, over 2500 million years old

It doesn’t necessarily pay to be too focused on an arbitrary list. Not all Munros are interesting peaks. Some are boring, rounded lumps. Some efficient routes to the top ignore the more interesting features on the hill (eg Bynack Mor). There are also some peaks in Scotland which are spectacular – but are far less well-frequented because they are not high enough to be Munros. Check out the pictures below and tell me that you wouldn’t want to climb any of these.

lochs and mountains Scotland

Spectacular Scottish coastline, Assynt (Scotland)

Hiking holiday in Scotland

Spectacular views abound in Assynt even though the mountains are not the grandest in height.

Of course, seeing as there is a list for the highest peaks (all those over 3000ft) we couldn’t miss any of the others out, so there are lists for peaks between 2999 – 2500ft (Corbetts) and 2499 – 2000ft, (Grahams) and all those below or alternatively your favourite routes (Marilyns).

What is a Munro? Munro bagging holidays with Scot Mountain Holidays

Skye Cuillin Munros

Autumn Munros

Highland Munros

Winter Munros

Glencoe Munros

Kintail Munros – details available from Scot Mountain Holidays directly

Private trips: Munro blast weekends – please contact Andy for bookings.


Related blogs:

Why go Munro bagging in Autumn?

How to bag all 12 Skye Munros in a week

Why come to Scotland in winter?


Useful resources:

Redbull article: Munro bagging – the best Scottish adventure you’ve never heard of

Mountaineering Council of Scotland: The Munros

Get off the Beaten Track with Scot Mountain Holidays

In May 2015 we were asked to organise a trip for 2 days and 3 nights which had to end at the Craigellachie Hotel and needed to include a hike in the Cairngorms National Park.

We ran a tailor-made trip including a guided ascent of Ben Macdui, which was far more than could have been accomplished without Andy’s guidance. Even in May the temperatures on the high Cairngorm plateau are not much above freezing level. It is essential to wind proof clothing and plenty of warm layers. Fortunately Andy always has spare clothing to loan to walkers in his group and though his supply of hats may not be too flattering, at least they are warm.


On day 2: Diana and Ted walked through to Aviemore along theSpeyside Way, one of Scotland’s waymarked long distance routes. This was a contrasting walk with the previous day on a wide relatively level track facing the mountains they had been exploring the previous day. A wee bit of a warm down walk was needed after the exertions of the previous day.

On day 3: we had very limited time before meeting up with some of the wedding party at the Craigellachie Hotel for a private whisky tasting at the Macallan distillery. Fortunately we left promptly and headed straight out to Culloden Battlefield visitor information centre (Diana was anOutlander fan, keen to see the battle sight and experience some of the atmosphere).

We also hit the Speyside Cooperage to see the Coopers (who make the whisky barrels) at work. The Cooperage is only around the corner from the hotel, but would still have been a wee bit of a challenge to get to on their own.


Without the help of Scot Mountain Holidays, Diana and Ted may well not have been able to hike to the summit of Ben Macdui, despite their previous hiking experience in the States. They would also probably have needed to hire a car and may never have got to Culloden Battlefield.

Vacations organised by Scot Mountain Holidays

Guided hiking vacations

Multi-activity adventures

Self-guided Mountain Biking breaks


Useful links for planning your trip to Scotland

Email us if you think we can help plan your vacation in Scotland – we can hit all the Highland hotspots and include some off the beaten track surprises you might not know about.

For inspiration check out our Pinterest board and our Flickr account.

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