I worry about the weather in the mountains while hiking the Dolomites, Uber-Oberland in Switzerland, and Chamonix. Packing light is hard enough, but with layering, too? Ugh.
You can have a light warm layer such as a sweater or light fleece that you layer under your rain jacket (with hood). You would be bringing a rain jacket anyway so you are only talking about adding one item, a sweater. Some people that tend to run cold may prefer a packable light down vest to a sweater. This compacts extremely small.
I assume you were packing a pair of pants anyway.
I literally just finished packing my suitcase for my My Way Alpine tour! For the high altitude hiking I’ve packed a North Face rain coat, a thin long-sleeved REI thermal, a thin short-sleeved polyester t-shirt, REI convertible pants, short Smartwool socks, and ankle high Keens boots. I have packed 3 different styles of hats for sun protection and different hiking settings. I have an extra 5 days pre-trip in Salzburg, and an extra 4 days post-trip in Chamonix. We are also attending multiple “dress casual required” concerts In Salzburg… I am definitely checking a bag. (Good luck with your packing!)
We just took this tour in June! You will have a wonderful time! Packing was hard because it is such an outdoor tour and there is such a range of temps. When going up to see some of the peaks, it was literally freezing. Our time in Chamonix was very warm. We laughed at weather graphics we saw on the bus in Lauterbrunnen - it literally showed sun, clouds, rain and snow in the area on the same day - it all depended on which elevation/level you were at in the valley.
Our family of 4 each had a Travel Pro Maxlite 22" suitcase and a backpack. Here is what I took -
4 pairs of pants. One was a knit comfy pant, I wore on the plane. The others were - a lightweight nylon travel pant, a pair of Kuhl travel jeans, a pair of Athleta knit cargo pants. I cam to appreciate having pockets that zippered closed in all but one of the pairs I brought. 2 of the 4 were very quick dry and I was glad. I didn't pack a base layer for my legs. I should have. A pair of Cuddldud leggings or something similiar would have been fine. It was quite chilly when we had our day in the Dolomites.
5 short sleeve shirts - 3 were quick dry material, 2 were cotton. One was my wear on the plane and as a pajama top shirt.
2 long sleeve shirts
Plus a lighweight fleece jacket, and a packable jacket I got from Costco - it was a 32 degrees brand with a hood.
If I could do it again I would bring a light packable rain jacket. It poured on our bike tour in Salzburg, that is a memory!
I brought 2 pair of shoes and I'm glad I did, because the day we were rained on our shoes were soaked!
I bought a quick dry baseball style hat in Lauterbrunnen and got some use out of that. It was good while hiking to keep sun off my face, and we had one drizzly day in Lautertbrunnen that it helped with.
I didn't bring an umbrella and wished I had. I bought one in Salzburg. Side note - I asked the hotel front desk clerk if there was a store nearby that may have one, and commented that I had checked the grocery and pharmacy that were across the street. He laughed at me, said of course there would not be an umbrella at those stores, and said I should have brought one from home! He apparently didn't get the Rick Steves memo about packing light and buying what you need along the way LOL.
We did laundry multiple times on the trip. Used laundromats in Salzburg and Lauterbrunnen. The hotel in Castelrotto had free laundry.
I will say that my family has no problem wearing clothese multiple times....but on this tour we found that most days the clothes we wore were either smelly or wet. We did a lot of hiking though. Just wanted to clarify why we did so much laundry. A lot of the time our clothes were just not in a state that we felt ok wearing them again. We did check our bags - mostly because we flew Icelandair and their carry on restrictions are very small, plus our tickets came with a checked bag. Our suitcases were the size of the usual "American" carry on. I would not take a larger bag if I were doing it again. With so many location changes we loved having the small suitcases, and everyone handled their own luggage.
My wife and I hiked the Dolomites a few days ago on a clear day. We wore shorts, t-shirts, hiking boots, and hats. We also brought our rain shells, but didn’t need them.
I love my puffer coat from north face for the cool mountain mornings:
It weighs just over a pound and takes up hardly any space in luggage.
We love our merino layers from Icebreaker. We were traveling from above the Arctic Circle to
several European cities on one trip and these layers took care of different weather conditions.
Packing light is hard enough, but with layering, too? Ugh.
Ah, first timer. Those two goals are mutually supportive, not exclusive. If you have successfully packed lightly, you already have a set of layers that will easily handle any but the worst imaginable weather conditions. The advice given here on the forum is usually sound but there are dozens of sites and video clips that describe and prescribe good resources.
The two big issues for newby go-light converts are faith and experience: trusting your gear to get you through the bad stuff and knowing when and how to layer up or down so you don't overheat or get soaked from the inside. Keeping rain out is as important as venting sweat out, especially if you are hiking.
You may need some new gear. You may not. However, you will need several days or weeks to evaluate your research, buy new stuff if necessary, run some trial packing, do some trial laundry, and learn to drive your new layers by going for a long uphill walk in wind and rain. If you don't have time to do the homework, try your local REI. Don't scrimp; be prepared to spend what it takes to fill the gaps in your layering system.
Silk long underwear! Check Land's End.
Agree with Suki that merino is the way to go. Lightweight, washes easily in the sink, and dries quickly. I got mine from Woolx, and they have several weights.
Not everyone can wear merino. Be sure you can tolerate it for several days.
Also, visit herpackinglist.com