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    What to Wear Hiking in Scotland

    10 min read

    By Rupert Shanks
    More by Rupert

    They say in Scotland, if you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes

    Although this cliche raises a smile, it also gives a slither of insight into how to prepare for hiking in Scotland.

    We have been taking folk on hiking holidays in Scotland for over 16 years. Our combined hiking experience amongst the team must stretch out to over 750 years! So we feel qualified to give some sartorial advice. Here’s our essential gear list for summer hiking in Scotland.

    We are going to explain our clothing choices below and how these items can work together to keep you warm, dry and happy while hiking in the hills. We are also going to recommend some clothing and kit from outdoor manufacturers that we love. Disclaimer – we do have a partnership with Haglofs so there are quite a few nods in their direction. However, we truly believe they make fantastically comfortable, high-performance and durable outdoor gear.

    Our Essential Walking Gear List


    hiking in Scotland what to wear

    Hiking boots with good ankle support.

    Socks – the best hiking socks are wool based or synthetic, avoid cotton socks as they don’t wick away moisture.

    Boots – you may feel used to hiking in trainers in your local hills. But for Scottish hill-walking, we really recommend waterproof hill-walking boots with good ankle support. Even on easy-graded hiking trips, you will likely encounter wet and rocky terrain. We would also advise getting your boots properly fitted at a local store. It’s a good idea to try and break in new boots with a good few longer hikes before taking them for a week of daily walking.

    Leg Gaiters – we recommend these for keeping you warm and dry on those wetter days. They can also do a great job of keeping things from getting into your boots that shouldn’t!

    Lower Body

    hiking in Scotland what to wear

    Lightweight hiking trousers and merino base layer. Whitewells, Cairngorms National Park.

    • Lightweight, quick drying trousers. Jeans or heavier trousers can get pretty uncomfortable when wet against your skin. They will also take a long time to dry.
    • Fully waterproof and breathable shell over-trousers. We recommend over-trousers with adjustable ankle cuffs to make getting them on over your boots nice and easy.

    Upper Body

    hiking in Scotland what to wear

    Heavier mid-layer or softshell and waterproof hiking overtrousers. Cairngorms National Park.

    • Moisture-wicking base layer. Ideally in synthetic or merino wool.
    • Light insulation layer such as microfleece. 
    • Heavier insulation layer to add in colder weather or when stopped (heavy fleece or lofting insulation such as down or synthetic down).
    • Fully waterproof and breathable shell jacket. We particularly like the hood design and high collar of these jackets which are very adjustable without being too claustrophobic.

    Head and Hands

    hiking in Scotland what to wear

    Woolly hat and gloves for those colder moments at higher altitude.

    • Wool hat – as we lose half our body heat through our head it makes sense to carry an effective woolly hat.
    • Gloves – Cold hands can have a massive impact on your comfort levels out hiking.

    Additional Equipment to Take Hiking

    Essential Equipment to Have While Walking Read More
    • Water bottle or hydration bladder – 1-2L total capacity
    • Small ‘day’ rucksack to carry clothes, equipment and food (25 – 35L capacity)
    • Waterproof rucksack cover, or ‘drybags‘ to pack inside your rucksack
    • Midge net just in case!
    • Read on… Ultimate Guide to the Highland Midge.
    Recommended Optional Items Read More
    • Sun hat
    • Sunglasses
    • Sunscreen and lip balm
    • Personal blister kit
    • Personal wash kit
    • Comfortable clothes for evening wear (casual dress code)
    • Walking poles. Read on for our Guide to the Benefits of Walking Poles.
    • Camera
    • Binoculars
    • Thermos flask
    • Lunchbox
    • Buff or Neck Gaiter
    • Foldable sit mat
    • Head torch (if you might like to do a night hike)
    • Spare laces

    Meet the Author: Rupert Shanks

    “After a spell in the corporate world in London Rupert decided to find a more rewarding way of life involving a closer connection to the outdoors and to his camera!”

    View profileMore by Rupert

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