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What do you think of this packing list?

Would love a few critical eyes on my packing list. Since traveling to Europe last year, we have invested in a bit more merino, and it seems to have helped in lightening our load. But I appreciate any input given.

Our trip (dh and I): 15 days in Scotland mid to end of May (3 nights/4 days on Orkney planning for highs of 40/50s F with wind; 4 nights/4.5 days on Mull/Iona, so land and water, highs 50s F; rest on mainland highs of 50/60s F, possibly warmer); flights on British Air and Loganair

We are using packing cubes for all; laundry available on Days 8-11; leaving from East Coast, where mid-May could be 70s+ F, so we will definitely have the air on in the car to the airport

Personal item bag (keeping with Loganair’s limit of 40x35x18cm/15.75” x 13.78” x 7.1” and 6 kg)

-1 ladies Chaps button down l/s shirt, blue/black print

-1 pr Amanda Gloria Vanderbilt poly/cotton stretch blue jeans

-1 nylon/rayon (“silky”) s/s polo, navy

-1 merino l/s baselayer, white

-2 silky quick dry undies

-2 pr merino crew socks, Smartwool and Icebreaker

-1 xtra bra

-3-1-1 toiletries and electronics (detailed below)

Wear on plane

-1 pr GV navy jeans

-1 ladies Chaps button down l/s shirt, blue/teal/green print

-1 merino medium weight quarter zip sweater, navy

-silky undies/bra

-merino crew socks, Icebreaker

-hiking shoes, water proof, ankle height

Carry on suitcase (checked on Loganair flight), 21” Travelpro spinner (really 22” measured, ok for BA carry on)

-1 “silky” s/s polo, teal

-1 merino l/s shirt: medium blue

-1 pr waterproof hiking pants, navy

-1 pr white sneakers, filled with 2 pr merino crew socks

-nylon bike shorts/thin ss tshirt for bedclothes

-puffer jacket, squishes very small, lightweight but warm (might wear on plane)

-waterproof raincoat in outer pouch of suitcase

-2 pr silky undies

-few non liquid toiletries

-1 pr fingerless merino/possum gloves, 1 fleece neck buff/hood combo

Dh is carrying/wearing almost exactly same in clothing: button down shirts, merino baselayers/quarter zip sweater, two pr sneakers, etc. His personal item will include his small drone, 2 batteries and recharger, though, so more items would go into his carryon.

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Toiletries (3-1-1): between the two of us – 2 small hair mousse, 2 small hairspray, 2 small toothpaste, 1 contact case with tinted moisturizer, small hand lotion (as you can see, I take up most of this with my stuff)

Toiletries (non liquid): 1 bar soap, 1 shampoo bar (dh just uses soap and shampoo at hotels), 2 travel size solid deodorant, 2 weeks meds/Aleve/pepto tablets in a 3.5 x 2.5 x 1.5” pill organizer, few rolls Tums, toothbrushes, hairbrushes, few bandaids, Olay dry face cloths, 1 solid stick sunscreen, 1 dental floss, nail clippers, emery board

Other (in luggage where packable): sunglasses, 1 pr readers, 2 cell phones/chargers, 1 ipad mini with charger, 2 charging bricks and cords, 2 adapters, 1 wall plug that includes 2 usb and 3 regular outlets, 2 string backpacks, 1 crossbody purse, 1 thin underclothes travel wallet, small notepad/pen, few printouts of tix etc where needed, few ziplocs assorted sizes, few laundry sheets, credit/ATM cards, leftover UK money, eye/ear mask with charger for dh, still debating over the fold-up keyboard (roughly 4.5” square folded) as I like to journal, few plastic grocery bags, 2 small stretchy phone lanyards

Currently, the personal items are coming in at about 4-4.5 lbs/2-ish kg, and the carry-ons at about 16-17 lbs/7-8 kg)

**As our carry-ons aren’t completely full, we might add one pr of light hiking pants (nylon/spandex) each, navy or black; similar to women’s LLBean Vista Trekking pants and men’s Cresta Hiking pants. Yes or no?

Posted by
27104 posts

I see two pairs of jeans. Will you be comfortable in those if you run into a lot of rain? That's totally possible in Scotland. I've been taking 96%- or 97%-nylon slacks on recent trips. They aren't waterproof, but they shed water pretty well. I've usually been completely comfortable with a layer of merino underneath them, but I haven't been farther north than Skye. Since your trip seems to be all-Scotland, I think the waterproof pants are a very good idea; I just wonder whether you'll get much (any?) use out of the second pair of jeans.

I'm cold-natured. I think I'd double up on the merino bottoms for Orkney. I'm remembering a really raw day on Mull.

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382 posts

Just two thoughts. We did a similar trip to Norway same time this past year and experienced similar weather. 1. nothing white (too easy to get dirty and/or get ruined in washing in water with unexpected mineral content) and 2. silk long underwear bottoms at least one (I wore mine under very lightweight and soft waterproof pants almost the entire trip, I tried to see if what I bought was still available at Amazon as I think it was recommended here on RS forum by someone else, but afraid not).

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acraven - yes, I thought that might come up, with the jeans. Sadly, dh and I are very much jeans people at home, most comfortable in them over anything else. Makes for a bit more trouble when traveling light though. I just remember reading how someone (I think it was Pam) spent time crawling through sites (cairns?) on Orkney, and needed jeans for the rough spots. That will be us, too.

Plus, I was hoping that past experience and historic weather might play into our favor here. The last time we were in Scotland (ten days, including four on Skye, same time frame) we only had a day and a half of rain, and only moderate rain at that. And everything I've read notes that April and May are the least wet months. (Fingers crossed.)

But, because we don't like uncertainty we wanted to pack the waterproof hiking pants, too. The old problem of trying to pack light but cover all of the "what-ifs," I'm afraid. Like, maybe we should each add a pair of those LLBean hiking pants I was unsure of, as they are mostly nylon and should shed water well, as you mentioned. Or maybe we should just throw in another pair of waterproof hikers? Since you were there in May, too, what do you think?

As for warmth, I guess we're just not as bothered by the cold so much. We've been making note this past winter, of how we fare when doing long outdoor hikes with our jeans (no bottom base layers), in even colder temps than we expect in Scotland, and have done fine. Again, though, jeans seem to cut the wind more and hold in heat better than nylon pants. Of course, they weren't wet either. If we take the nylon pants, then, maybe we should throw in a pair each of our lightweight base layer Cuddl Duds bottoms as well. Augh! I just don't want to overheat! Or overstuff our bags!

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Laurie Ann - good point on the white. I didn't really think of that for traveling. We can just swap out our white merino base layers for another color. We have more that will mix and match well.

As I mentioned to acraven, I might just throw in a Cuddl Duds light bottom base layer for each of us, for if we get really wet weather. We tried silk long johns in the past, and never had luck with them lasting more than a few months, before getting holes. If you liked the kind you had and can find a brand name, please let me know!

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27104 posts

I agree about the fragility of silk underwear--at least the inexpensive stuff I used to buy.

I need to clarify that I wasn't in Scotland in May. It was in July, which is on average warmer but probably somewhat less wet than May, as you said. Personal preferences make a lot of difference, and it sounds as if you know what you're comfortable with during outdoor activities, so you will probably be fine.

I was a lot colder on the worst days in Scotland (July 2019) than on any day in Norway (June and early July 2022), but the issue was only on the wet days with low clouds and no sun.

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7354 posts

Looks like a lot of thought went into the list, and it’s well thought out. My biggest reaction, along with what Laurie Ann said about white, was the sneakers. I just bought a pair of Nike shoes for the gym yesterday, on sale, and while the color I got wouldn’t have been my first choice (first pick wasn’t on sale ;-) ), the only other available color was white, which I see getting grungy quickly, even just indoors. Add rain and mud, and the shoes will be more than just grungy. I’m taking Allbirds waterproof shoes, kind-of a funky blue, to England this spring. After this week’s snowy weather, they’ve proven to be waterproof, and shed (or hide) dirt exceptionally well.

What acraven says about cotton jeans has merit. Wet cotton is cold, and jeans take time to dry. Maybe you don’t want to do a bunch of shopping, but Kuhl makes extremely durable, attractive, and non-denim pants. They worked well on mainland Scotland, Skye, Orkney, and Shetland, on a trip with its share of heavy rain in each place.

Nylon hiking pants don’t take up a lot of space, don’t weigh much, and would be excellent to bring.

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Cyn - Thanks! It's been a lot of trial and error over the last few overseas trip, but we're getting there!

I should have been more specific in talking about our shoes!! For the most part, when we are in any rain or mud, we will only be using our hiking shoes. Both pair waterproof, well broken in, and tested for a while now. Dh has his Merrrells he loves, but my very picky feet are only happy in Orthofeet. (I have their Moravia hikers currently, super comfy! Wore them all around NYC for five days as a test - flying colors!)

We will take the sneakers to wear only on non-hiking days or at night to give our feet a rest. Dh has his Avia fabric -y type sneakers, supportive enough, and can even go through the wash, if necessary. My (white) Talya Orthofeet sneakers are slip/stain resistant and water repellant. I wore them all over London, where they would pick up a greyish tone from the Tube, but at the end of the day, a damp rag and they were as good as new. I wish I could wear Allbirds, as I've heard good things, but unfortunately they offer almost no support for my feet.

I like the look of the Kuhl pants, but they don't seem to have my size (18.) Too bad, because the inseam lengths are more generous than many, something I struggle with in other brands (5'9). I'm almost afraid to get pants that are polyester, though. I've had several polyester shirts that hold odors terrribly. Did you ever find that to be an issue with your pants? I think I'll add in a pair of the LLBean nylon pants for both of us; still debating over adding another pair of waterproof hiking pants as well.

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13934 posts

Yes, I am the crawling thru the passage into the chambered cairn person who WISHED she had packed a 2nd set of jeans. I wear the GV Amandas as well and even though the fabric content seems to vary they do have some stretch and dry pretty well. I sink wash my jeans and did so on both Orkney and Shetland and had no problem with them drying in 24 hours. They were not totally dry in 24 hours except on Orkney where I had a heated towel rack and got the thicker parts mostly dry to start with on there.

I'd have no qualms about taking the Gloria Vanderbilt Amandas and when I go to Orkney and Shetland again in Summer 2025 I'll take 2 pr of them!

The only things that I would add for myself are a beanie hat to wear under my rain hood and a waterproof ball cap also to wear under my rain jacket hood to keep the rain off my glasses. The beanie is easy to buy on Orkney, though. Nearly every heritage site's gift shop had them and yes, I just had on my Orkney hat while I was out shoveling snow!

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2073 posts

I was in Scotland several years ago mid to late May. We had several days of 28C and the rest was miserably wet and cold. I suggest to look at the weather just before going to get a bit of an idea what the weather might be like.

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206 posts

Your packing list looks a whole lot like mine, I like jeans for the plane, and I like them for a change of pace from nylon hiking pants.

We are doing RS Best of Europe in April and then Best of Scotland, we will be there early May to mid-May. I’m concerned about wet feet so I have waterproof low hikers from Oboz. A new wrinkle for me is plantar fasciitis in the left foot, so I got Brooks Ghost running shoes (gore Tex water resistant). Usually I don’t bring a second pair of shoes, but will do this time.

I bring Smartwool merino hiking socks, two winter weight, and this year found thin, light smartwool ankle socks for hot days in Rome.

I like white shirts, they feel cooler on hot days, and I run hot. They can be bleached, whereas other colors can’t. So far, my whites wash well, they are cheap cool shirts from Hanes.

Toying with bringing overshoes for Scotland. They pack flat.

We do what you do- when we are out and about in our daily routines, we wear the items that we’d have on the trip and see how they do. Very helpful.

Because of my heel, I’m considering a rolling carry-on, but we usually carry small backpacks and do ultralight packing, about 15 pounds total. I don’t think I can beat that bringing a second pair of shoes.

Hope you do a trip report and tell us which items you were glad you brought, and otherwise. Enjoy Scotland, we can’t wait!

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4044 posts

No hat for the sun/rain? You could be sorry. Any time except the middle of summer, a scarf gives a zip of sass to your outfit, women or men. Makes a nice souvenir, if bought after arrival.
I wear chino-type pants rather than heavy jeans that take a dreadful amount of time to dry out. Six hours cramped into an airplane seat may dissuade you from tight jeans or anything else confining.
For decades I have worn a single pair of black sneakers (male) for walking and everything else. Black because the logo can be hidden and the shoes can pass for dress. Clunky dress, but my feet don't care about fashion. They can be fairly moisture-resistant too.
One cosmetic hint: Many European hotels do not provide washcloths with their towels. Take your own, in a Ziplock for packing while still damp.

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7354 posts

willyk5252, synthetic fiber pants are fabulous in wet situations. Nylon, rayon, polyester, even if they’re not waterproof, they’ll dry so fast they’ll be good rain gear. Whatever brand and design you choose, definitely each bring a pair. They will be your go-to outdoor pants in Scotland.

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Pam - aha! So my memory isn't quite shot yet! I remembered reading your trip report (and I just re-read it again last night!) and lots of it stuck since it was so detailed about Orkney, one of the places we wanted to go. (plus it was just really fun to read.) Very helpful and now I'm excited for our trip all over again! :)

You listed 2 pair of Costco/Eddie Bauer travel pants you brought - were they the nylon hiking type? I really like ours, so seeing that you fit them in kind of reinforces my decision to add ours for our trip. And it's nice to see not everyone steers away from jeans. As I mentioned earlier, we just about live in them 24/7 (when not in work attire). I figure we could probably get two to three wearings out of each (barring any serious mud!) and by the time they need to be washed, we will be in our apartment for a four-day stretch, more than enough time for them to dry. Even dh's Levis. My Gloria Vanderbilts dry overnight.

I'm seriously not a hat person - my hood/neck gaiter my only concession to a head covering - since they make my head look weird. But your mention of a waterproof one got me thinking. My raincoat has a good hood, but it does tend to droop down over the eyes a bit. I might spring for one. Dh likes the idea, but then again he's a guy - don't they wears ball caps everywhere anyway? ;)

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Diane - fingers crossed it doesn't get that hot this May! Last time we went we had two nice almost-70 degree days (about 20 C) and that was perfect. But I'm trying to cover all weather, hence the two s/s polos we will each bring. I figure s/s if it's warm, and adding a l/s baselayer if not.

I've been checking historic weather as well, as a guide for packing. I went back several years on timeanddate dot com to get the averages I used. However, the closest I could get to where we will be was Edinburgh. I just took off a few degrees to try and account for being further north in Orkney. I did find weatherspark dot com as well, and used that as a generic guide for spring weather in Orkney. But with global warming, who knows how the weather will be this year! I will certainly look at local reports as we get closer to get some sense of the way its trending.

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Pastel - that's a great way to look at it - jeans as a change of pace from hiking pants! For us, it's just the other way around :)

We keep talking about doing a tour - RS or otherwise - but we are just too darn independent! I drove dh mad last trip to Scotland, asking him to pull over to the side, for yet another picture, every ten minutes or so! (He only complained a little bit.) But really to date we've only gone to places in Europe that we feel comfortable doing on our own. Now, were we to go to say Egypt or on safari in Africa (two bucket list places), I think I would only feel safe doing a tour. Future plans!

As I've read here time and again and you mentioned, too, the right shoes are just so important! Took me a long time, but I finally found my brand. I need a wide toe box, but not a humongous shoes. On the other hand, dh can just step into whatever works for the situation, expensive or not. I'm jealous. Of course, he's also the guy who routinely complains to me asking why can't we just go naked and forget all this packing stuff. While he goes along with it, he's not a fan of planning. I just tell him it's a bit drafty up north that time of year. And I'm loving the various merino socks I've gotten to date.

Dh and our son did backpacks when they came over one summer for Tankfest in Bovington/Dorset, but they are big guys and can handle them. I probably could as well, but as I get older I much prefer my luggage to travel serenely by my side when walking. Last visit to the UK, I had a two wheeled Travelpro, while dh had his spinner. By the time we got home, I was looking to get a spinner of my own. But even with where we will be going this trip, I think it will be fine, as we have no issues lifting them up and over things a bit if need be. And 15 pounds is a great weight! Even our 16-17 might go up by a pound or two before we travel, but I'm ok with that.

Will try and do a trip report, and I'd love reading one about your two tours as well!

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Southam - nah, I'm just not a hat person. As I mentioned, though, we will have the hoods on our rain coats and our fleecy neck buff/hood combo if it's really cold. But Pam has put the idea of a waterproof ball cap into my head, and I'm going to research further. Dh likes the idea. The neck buff is as far as I go for something around my neck, and its just for warmth. My neck gets too itchy and warm if I wear any scarf for very long, sadly. Which is why I'm bringing my patterned button down shirts for a pop of color.

We're used to jeans on the plane, as its what we've worn every trip over. We do make a concession, though, and book business class at least on the way to Europe, as the ability to stretch out fully really helps. I agree black sneakers would go well for most situations, so I'm glad you found a pair that works so well for you!

Ah, yes. The washcloth dilemma. I once saw a post that had over 150 replies, mostly between those from North America and those in Europe. The North Americans asked how the Europeans washed without one, and the replies covered a wide range. Very humorous at times! We both bring the poufy "scrubby sponges," as I like to call them, with Ziploc to travel; they lather up quick, dry fast and are very lightweight and squishable. Although, if one were available, dh wouldn't mind using a washcloth.

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13934 posts

"You listed 2 pair of Costco/Eddie Bauer travel pants you brought - were they the nylon hiking type?"

The one pair of Costco travel pants are from several years ago, before the pandemic maybe and they are not branded. They are polyester and were a short length but workout fine for regular pants for me.

The other pair are the Eddie Bauer travel pants they had last summer. They are very lightweight polyester and were not heavy enough for Orkney/Shetland but were my back up pants in case of a disaster with one of the other pairs. A few years ago someone (Wray maybe?) had 2 pr of pants and the zipper broke on one when she was in a rural area so had to depend on just one pr. I just went and looked at them and they are pull on elastic waist, 2 side pockets in the front and 1 zipper back pocket. I THINK they are the same as the Eddie Bauer Departure pants but not the ankle length ones, the full length ones which I don't see on the EB website. They are also not on the Costco website but may be back when they get their summer gear in.

TBH, for jeans, unless it's muddy or I'm a slob with my food, I wear jeans for 4-5 days. In Orkney you will not sweat, hahaha!!

Thank you for your kind words about my TR. I loved that trip so much!