A 10-Day Tour du Mont Blanc Gear List

The Tour du Mont Blanc

If you’ve ever dreamed of hiking throughout Europe, the Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) needs to make it to the top of your “to-hike” list. Covering 170km, the trail loops around Mount Blanc massif itself. Fair warning: despite what the dreamy TMB YouTube videos portray, the TMB is a doozy. The constant ascents and descents will have your knees begging for mercy. Though it is a challenging trail, completing each stage makes it that much more rewarding.

Over the span of 10 days, I was able to hike the entire trail, traversing mountains, crossing rivers, and dodging local cattle throughout France, Italy, and Switzerland alongside my parents. The TMB is the ideal hike for those who love both grit and comfort. We camped in some of the most scenic locations of our lives, though we also had to opportunity to sip on wine and be catered to in a handful of mountain refugios and hotels (the specially curated cheese plates at a mountaintop refugio were always a highlight!). I highly recommend this trail to anyone looking for a challenging hike that leaves you filled with accomplishment for the climbs you crushed, astonishment for the mountains that constantly surround you, and an appreciation for the rich culture that you will experience along the way.

Kendra’s TMB Gear List

*This hike was sponsored by Osprey. Much of the gear I used was provided by Osprey for the purpose of filming a short film about my time on trail.*

Countless melting glaciers contributed to the flow of gushing rivers all throughout the hike, while dozens of refugios were strategically placed along the trail providing food, drinks, and accommodation. Because of this, I didn’t often carry a ridiculous amount of food and water. In exchange for food and water weight, I was able to pack extra camera equipment as my goal was to create a short film about my time on trail. My gear list is not ultralight by any means, though I do try my best to keep the weight down where I can. My camera set up might have been overkill, but I felt happy with my choices and don’t regret the extra weight I had to carry in doing so.

Start date: June 24, 2022

Finish date: July 3, 2022


Backpack

Osprey Lumina 60 (1.874 lbs)

I am absolutely in love with this pack! Sponsorship aside, Osprey is one of my favourite outdoor brands because of the quality, longevity of their products, and their fair prices. For a framed pack, this pack is lightweight! It comes in just under 2lbs for a women’s small and still has all the features I’m looking for in a pack (i.e. tons of space in the brain, roomy side pockets, decent padding in the shoulder straps, etc.). Full disclosure: I’m a super sweaty hiker, so having a framed pack that allows for airflow between my back and the pack is super important. Osprey provides!

Tent

NEMO Dragonfly 2P (3 lbs, 2 oz. Includes stuff sack, stakes, poles, etc.)

I’m a huge fan of NEMO products. The Dragonfly 2P tent has been a staple piece of gear in my set-up for the past 2 years. This is the second major hike I’ve brought this tent on and it has served its purpose. It’s fairly lightweight, quick to set up, and rather spacious. It has doors on both sides of the tent, inside mesh pockets that I use to air out stinky/damp clothes, and enough space to lay out my sleeping pad, as well as all my other gear next to me. I never experienced a leak with this tent and was very happy with how many guyout points the tent had, allowing me to make the fly tight and secure during heavy wind/rain storms.

Sleeping Bag

NEMO Aya 15 (2 lbs, 1 oz)

This sleeping bag is my babyyyyy! I’m not sure if I’ll use a different bag ever again. Coming in at 15 degrees, I find this bag easy to use in all seasons. During colder nights, I simply zip up the gills on the front of the bag, sinch the hood around my face, and hunker down for the night. During hotter nights, I unzip the gills, unzip the bag totally, and use it like a quilt. The down keeps it warm, fairly lightweight, and easily packable.

Sleeping Pad

NEMO Astra Ultralight Sleeping Pad (1 lbs, 3 oz)

Can you tell I’m a fan of NEMO products? I can’t help it… they make quality gear! I’ve used the Astra on multiple backpacking and camping trips over the past year and haven’t experienced any punctures. Paired with the pump sack, this pad fills up quickly and stays inflated all throughout the night. I do find that it makes some noise when moving around, but it is far quieter compared to competitor sleeping pads (this is a major perk, especially for light sleepers!).

Footwear

HOKA Speedgoat 5 (17 oz)

HOKA Speedgoats are the best shoes ever. Don’t try to fight me on this, because you’ll lose.

Teva Original Universe (1.72 lbs, worn as a camp shoe)

I don’t normally bring town shoes with me on a hike, but most refugios don’t allow you to wear dirty hiking shoes into the building/sleeping quarters. I’m not mad at this requirement though. It was nice having sandals to wear at the end of the day to give my feet a break.

Fanny Pack

Osprey Ultralight Waist Sack (2.9oz)

I’m a sucker for a good fanny pack. The ultralight waist sack is super light, has tons of pockets, and is the perfect easy access snack compartment. It gets a 10/10 from me.

Trekking Poles

LEKI Cross Trail Carbon 3 (206 g/per pole)

I am a massive fan of these trekking poles! I loved how these poles were incredibly lightweight, while also still being able to handle the heavy load of my pack/weight I placed onto the poles. I was also surprised that I loved the gloves that attach to the poles vs. the standard trekking pole strap. I found that I was able to pull myself up steep ascents much better with these gloves and was still able to quickly take them off when needed.

Clothes

Sports bra/top: Girlfriend Collective Paloma Bra

I wore this as a top. I would throw on my funky Old Navy printed shirt if I wanted to protect my shoulders/neck from the sun.

Secondary sports bra: NIKE Sports Bra

Secondary top: Gymshark Tank-top

As stated before, I’m a super sweaty hiker and I get hot really easily. I tried to wear things that were airy to combat overheating. I tend to wear just a sports bra when I hike in hotter climates. Either that, or I throw a cropped tank over top to keep things a little more “modest,” especially when hiking through towns/villages.

Shorts: Aerie 7-inch Bike Shorts

These are a staple in my workout/hiking closet!

Leggings: Aerie Offline Leggings

I dabbled with the thought of bringing an extra change of hiking clothes, especially considering I was trying to keep my weight down to offset all of my camera equipment. Thank god I decided to bring an extra set! I rained (and I mean rained!) a handful of times while hiking and I was so thankful to have a dry pair of clothes to change into once we finished our trek that day. These were great to wear during the rainy days. They kept me warm-ish and dried super fast once the rain lifted.

Puffy: MEC Puffy

Mountain Equipment Co-op no longer sells this jacket. Which is sad, because this jacket is incredible!

Windbreaker: Cotopaxi Teca Half-Zip Windbreaker

Rain jacket: On Running Waterproof Anorak 

I had used this jacket on multiple long distance hikes and didn’t have any issues. It wasn’t until I hiked through a handful of torrential downpours on the TMB that I realized this jacket isn’t as waterproof as I had thought… The Anorak didn’t stand a chance against getting pounded by multiple hours of serious rain in the Alps. Safe to say the rain soaked through the jacket and I found myself cold when stopping for a short moment to grab water or a snack from my pack. This is a great jacket for hiking and running in normal levels or rain. I would suggest finding something a bit more durable if you plan on hiking during the rainy season throughout the Alps.

Socks: Wright Sock Double Layer Socks (x2)

Electronics/Camera Gear

Camera: Sony A6400

This is my baby! It’s a perfect lightweight, durable camera if you’re planning on doing any hiking/adventure filming. It’s also priced fairly, so you’re not absolutely busting the bank when purchasing this bad boy. It came along with me on the Bruce Trail, Sunshine Coast Trail, the Tour du Mont Blanc, and a handful of shorter adventures. It’s been through the ringer and still performs amazingly well.

Lens: Sony 18-105mm f4 Lens

This lens was perfect for those close up shots of the mountains I was aiming to get, while also having a decent wide angle range that allowed me to grasp the vastness of the environment around me.

Lens: Sony 16-50mm kit lens

This is the kit lens that came with the Sony A6400 upon purchase. It’s a great lens and small enough to carry along on a backpacking trip.

Tripod: Manfrotto Element 

Well… This tripod worked well until it didn’t. Coming in at 2.65lbs, it fully extended to 56.3 inches, giving me a great range to work with. It also had a center ball head, allowing me to tilt, move, and position the camera in any direction that I needed. I used it quite a bit until one of the legs stopped collapsing and one of the nobs at the bottom of the foot had fallen off. Huge bummer.

Battery Pack: Anker 10,000 (x2)

I ended up not needing both considering how often we came across a power source.

Extra camera battery: Sony NPFW50 Battery

Memory cards: SanDisk 128GB Extreme (x2)

Misc.

Rain cover: Osprey Ultralight Medium Rain Cover

Filtration System: Sawyer Squeeze Filter & Cnoc 2L Water Bag

I freaking love Sawyer! I’ve used their filters for years and will continue to use them. Their customer service is incredible as well.

Water storage: 1L SmartWater bottle

Stove: Pocket Rocket Deluxe Stove

Pot: TOAKS Titanium 750ml Pot

Spork: Sea to Summit Alpha Light Long Spork

Stuff sacks

First Aid Kit

  • Bandaids
  • Blister bandaids
  • Alcohol wipe
  • Ibuprofen pills
  • Iron pills
  • Toothbrush & toothpaste
  • Mini hairbrush
  • Sunscreen
  • Chapstick
  • 1/2 bar of soap
  • 1/2 shampoo and conditioner bars
  • Travel towel
  • Wipes

And that’s it! Not ultralight by any means, but I love my gear and feel that I’ve dialled in my set-up exactly where I’d like it to be. Though the TMB is over and the post-trail depression has heavily kicked in, I’m currently dreaming up my next trip and I’m excited to see what trails I can crush with my parents next.

Feel free to pop over to my instagram (@kendraslagter) to check out some more pictures and updates from my hike.

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Comments 5

  • pj : Jul 15th

    Great read, thanks Kendra!

    If all goes well, i’ll be setting off on the TMB next week – super excited!

    I was wondering if you might be willing to share you hike tinerary with me?

    I haven’t really nailed down anything too specific at each stage as yet, but would be interesed to know what yours consisted of, and how well that worked for you.

    Thanks

    PJ

    Reply
    • Kendra Slagter : Jul 15th

      Hey, PJ! Super stoked to hear you’ll be heading out on the TMB. It was seriously the best long-distance hike I’ve ever done. Planning can be a bit of a challenge, especially if you don’t have anything booked in advance, but it’s still doable! The refugios book up months in advance, so most refugios are booked up for the season. Though you may be able to snag a few beds along the way because most refugios have “emergency” beds available. Here’s what my parents and I did:

      Day 1: Took the cable car from Les Houches to the start of the hike. We ended up camping about 1-2km past the Nant Borrant Refugio. It was such a dreamy spot! You hike up the hill past the refuge and take a left at the fork. It’s free to camp here. There’s a camping area right next to a river with incredible views of the mountains and it’s super secluded. I highly recommend camping here vs. the next more “popular” camp spot just another 1km down the trail. That location gets filled up with hikers and in my opinion, it’s not as nice.
      Day 2: We ended up camping outside a tourist office next to another refugio in Les Chapieux. It’s a huge, grassy field and the camping here is also free. This was a great spot to stop for the day and the views were equally as incredible the night before.
      Day 3: It was a pretty short hike for the day. We walked from France into Italy and stayed at Refugio Elisabetta. I highly recommend trying to get a bed here. This refugio was UNREAL and my favourite location on the entire trail. We got here around 1pm, so there was tons of time to enjoy a free drinks, have some food, and connect with other hikers.
      Day 4: We hiked into the town of Courmayeur. I highly recommend staying at the Hotel Bouton d’Or. It’s a little pricey, but it’s family run and one of the coolest hotels I’ve ever stayed in. The breakfast in the morning is incredible. They have a full spread of fresh breads, cheese, meats, yogurt, and everything else you could possibly think of. You definitely want to fuel up on breakfast, because the climb the next morning is pretty intense.
      Day 5: We intended to camp at during this stage, which is difficult because there is no camping along the trail, so you’ll have to take a side trail down from Refugio Bonatti and hike down the road to the camp ground. You’ll have the climb back up that trail in the morning to get back to where you started (which is a bit of a drag, because it’s a decent climb). Unfortunately, we didn’t camp this night. There was a torrential downpour and the road actually closed down due to flooding. We ended up hitchhiking back to Courmayeur and stayed at the Bouton d’Or for another night (which was super lovely considering how cold and wet we were!)
      Day 6: We took a bus back to the trailhead, though we decided to not climb up back to Bonatti. We went to the last possible bus stop, which shaved off 5km. We were dropped off right at the bottom of the mountain, which took us into Switzerland. We ended our day camping at Camping des Glaciers in La Fouly which was INCREDIBLE! If I recall correctly, it was 11CHF to camp in an open spot with other hikers. It was the dreamiest camp ground and the views getting there were amazing.
      Day 7: This was a fun hike because it was drastically different compared to the other days. It takes you through small Swiss towns, which almost felt like walking through a Swiss postcard. We ended the day camping at Camping Les Rocailles, which is right at the edge of town in Champex.
      Day 8: Still in Switzerland. I hiked solo this day and really went for it. I finished my day at Hotel de la Forclaz. I finished around 12:30. This is a super nice hotel to stay at and the food was great! Beware: it is super expensive in Switzerland, so it was fairly pricey to stay here. You could choose to push forward another 4km or so to a campground at the bottom. I believe it’s called Le Peuty camping in Trient.
      Day 9: We hiked back into France this day. We camped outside of a refugio (I forget the name!) in Tre-le-champ and ended up paying for the dinner and breakfast. It was delicious and the vibe at this refugio was very communal. It was only 8 CHF to camp.
      Day 10: I decided to combine the last two stages. I hiked for about 10 hours from the refugio back to Les Houches. A lot of the people I had hiked with decided to call it quits at Flegere, where you can take a cable car down to Chamonix. A lot of hikers actually choose this option because the descent into Les Houches is known to be tough. Honestly, I didn’t find it to be any harder than other descents we had already hiked (the descent into Courmayeur might have been more challenging, in my opinion). If you do decide to combine the last two stages, make sure to pack lots of water! Unlike the rest of the trail where water is frequent and abundant, there was rarely water in this section.

      Anyways, that’s it! If you have any more questions, feel free to reach out to me on instagram (@kendraslagter). I’d be more than happy to help! 🙂

      Reply
  • Noam Gal : Jul 16th

    thanks for sharing your experience and your gear list with us.

    i think it should be noted that many hikers do it by using the huts exclusively, for both food and shelter. it is a more expensive option, but by doing that, hikers can just skip carrying a tent, mattress and sleeping bag all together (maybe just a bag liner, or a light summer bag for the huts), as well as stove and fuel. all this, without needing to get any expensive “ultralight” stuff. it might also change the pack selection, now that the trek only requires clothes and some minimal water carry gear.

    i just think the people reading the article should know about this option, before carrying hiking equipment they might not end up using at all on the trail.

    Reply
  • Durena Bridegroom : Jul 26th

    Hi Kendra: a group of 7 ladies are hiking the TMB starting August 28. We are staying in hotels, but loved reading your notes. We are so excited. We are between the ages of 45-65. We have been training hard so hoping we can do it all. That’s the plan. I’m wondering, did your mom complete it? Loved reading your suggestions. Best wishes on your future hikes. Indiana Ladies

    Reply
    • Kendra Slagter : Jul 27th

      Hi, Durena! I’m so excited to hear you’ll be taking on the TMB with other ladies. How fun! 🙂 My mom completed 7 out of the 10 days. Truthfully, she had a pretty difficult time. She typically experiences some knee pain when she hikes, so the steep descents on the TMB were super challenging for her. She decided to take a few days off to rest her knees because of the pain she was feeling. Definitely considering carrying a knee brace and lots of ibuprofen. Though you ladies should be okay considering you won’t be carrying as much weight as we did (no tents, sleeping bags, etc.). The extra weight was definitely a factor.

      I just finished up another article about the TMB! Feel free to check it out for some more inspiration: https://thetrek.co/6-reasons-why-you-should-hike-the-tour-du-mont-blanc/

      Let me know if you have any other questions. Happy to help!

      Reply

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