Our tour starts September 1. I know we need to wear clothes in layers, but how heavy a jacket should I pack? What shoes are best for wet weather? We only take backpacks, so space is at a premium! Any advice on expected weather would be greatly appreciated.
Where are you going?
All the places on the Rick Steve’s tour of Scotland...Edinburgh, Culross, St. Andrews, the Highlands, Oban, Iona, the Lochs.
Expect mild (to me) temperatures and plan it will rain. Thin layers of clothing with a light wind/water resistant works for me. Ultrafine merino wool underwear helps keeps me comfortable despite the weather. Enjoy.
I think you'll be okay with a light rain jacket, fleece, a long sleeve pullover shirt (silk or synthetic), gloves, and a hat. Waterproof your boots. You might also want to get some Nikwax wash in waterproofing and treat the fleece and a couple pair of pants. It helps a lot.
Of course, I'm in Seattle, so what do I know...
We just did this tour in July 2018, first of all, your going to have a great time!! The tour starts in Edinburgh where it will be a nice temperature but you will need a fleece at night. In the Highlands a good fleece (like a Patagonia better sweater) and a Rain shell (like a Marmot Precip) is all you need. The weather this summer in Scotland has been hotter than normal and less rain than normal so we lucked out and only had rain one day and it was only a light mist so we were very lucky. Just make sure that the rain shell is waterproof not water resistant!! I have a small umbrella that I carry in a small day pack (Davek mini) and it came in handy a couple of times. Most importantly, every time you get the chance to chose a dessert go for "Sticky Toffee Pudding", you can thank me later. On your first night in Inverness have the guide help you get reservations at the Turkish Restaurant 3 blocks from the hotel, the food is amazing and a nice change from Hagis!
If you don't already have waterproof shoes, I'd not get them now to try and break in in 2 weeks. I did this tour in June and we did have a lot of rain. I just had on my regular Altra athletic shoes and they were fine. The only day they got soaked was in heavy, blowing rain the day we did Mull and Iona. I took out the insole and put them under the towel heater in the bathroom and they were dry by the morning. I had a back up pair of shoes but never needed to pull them out of the suitcase.
There are some really interesting stops on this tour! My favorite day was the full day in the Inverness area seeing Clava Cairn and Cawdor Castle. Wow.
Who's your guide?
I'd also go with a waterproof jacket as well. The Marmot Precip which was mentioned altho I have a Cabela's waterproof that worked well. We had a bunch of wind and the people who were trying to manage with either an umbrella or poncho found them less than useless.
editing to add: Where you are from will also dictate how much of a jacket layer you'll need. If you are from the northern tier you'll do fine with your rain jacket and a long sleeve shirt. From the deep south, you might need a puffy vest.
If you can't find what you need in the U.S., there are many outdoor type shops (Nevisport, Graham Tiso, Black's, GO Outdoors, etc.) in most of the major cities in Scotland. They have a wonderful selection of waterproofs and layering garments, and with the pound currently trending at $1.27 and dropping, you may be better off waiting until you get to Scotland. Plus you'll feel good about contributing to the Scottish economy.
As summer is ending, you should be able to find whatever you need on sale!
Just returned from the Inner and Outer Hebrides - here's a rundown of what I packed and we do carry on only. Overall, I was very pleased with my clothing choices. We had some sunny afternoons on Skye but we also had a fair bit of rain and some wind.
2 pairs Kuhl hiking pants
1 pair of jeans
1 pair black ponte knit pants
2 long sleeved columbia shirts
3 short sleeved t shirts
1 thin blouse for dinners out
black quarter zip dry fit pullover
3 arism camisoles
4 pairs underwear
3 pairs hiking socks, 3 pair socks for boots
2 lightweight cotton scarves
1 pair merrell siren edge waterproof hikers
1 pair low black boots
1 waterproof REI shell
Lands End primaloft jacket
Wore ponte knit pants, boots, t shirt, grey cardigan on plane and carried on the shell with the primaloft layered in as a liner.
Most days a t shirt, quarter zip dry fit and rain shell were plenty. Did wear the primaloft and shell combo on a couple of days when it was windy and rainy and wore the primaloft a couple of nights when we walked to dinner.
As for expected weather, it really can vary quite a bit - but plan that you will have rain! As for jackets, you are definitely better off with a rainproof shell and a fleece or a primaloft type jacket (I took the primaloft because that's what I had). Heavy jackets aren't as versatile and versatility is definitely the key when packing light!
One trick I learned in Japan for wet shoes was to tightly stuff them with newspaper. It draws out the water and the shoes are dry by morning. You could even change the newspaper after a few hours if they are totally soaked.
...wet shoes was to tightly stuff them with newspaper....
The balled up newspaper in boots was a common method to speed drying at B&Bs on our English and Scottish walking tours. (Mud rooms would have a box of dry newspapers for that purpose.) Pull out the insoles before stuffing with the newsprint. We tour with trainers to use as hut shoes and for walking to the pub for dinner while are boot are still drying.
I did not know about the newspaper trick for wet boots. Thank you for posting this! :-)
Thanks to everyone who posted. It is all very helpful information! We’re really looking forward to visiting Scotland!
When out and about in Scotland, we always have a pair of dry socks in our day bags. In a real downpour you might wind up with wet feet even with good shoes. There are times when having a pair of dry socks is heaven.
Yes to the extra dry socks! Make sure you carry them in a Ziploc bag, though -- rain got through my daybag during a summer downpour in China so my good planning went for naught. On a later trip to Pisa I remembed the Ziploc so I had dry wool socks in wet shoes for the train ride back to Florence. Much better.
Yes to drybags to keeping your extra socks and other items dry in a downpour. Pack covers only work in a gentle mist. Gallon size Ziplock (I perfer the slidelockversion), plastic garbage bags or lightweight backpacking dry sacks are handy to keep your stuff dry. The lightweight dry sacks are watgerproof coated nylon with rolltop closures. Since they are carried in your pack they don't need to be abrasion resistant.
Here's an example of a lightweight drysack (20L 1.8 oz):
I usually take my hiking boots with me . They re fine for all weather. Well, for all the bad weather, id like to add. I usually have an addional pair of hiking sandals with me. But that depends strongly on the predicted weather, so make sure to check that first. For this, i usually use https://www.sunpope.com as there website has been kept simple and everything is easy to find. Also the actuall weather predictions are usually pretty good, i do not from where they get it, though.
Lightweight gloves can be good to have in wet weather anywhere. I like to use the kind that runners wear, or glove liners.
They sell really wonderful wool sweaters in Scotland. If you get cold, buy one! It's a very functional souvenir. Also, spray your shoes with silicon before you leave if you don't have waterproof boots. It will help. Have a second pair of shoes so that you can change at the end of the day for dinner and let the day shoes start to dry out sooner.
Late to the discussion. I have not seen waterproof socks mentioned. Several brands available. I wear a polypro or wool liner and carry an additional pair of dry socks in a ziplock.
Are you planning on hiking through the wilderness? If not, then pack what you would for rain conditions around home. Water proof hiking boots and special hiking clothes are a waste unless you are actually hiking. Walking the city streets is not hiking the wilderness.
Do you always feel cold? The pack warmer things. If you are comfortable in 60 degree weather, pack like you would for that.
When I was last in Scotland in September couple years ago, it rained most every day -- for about 5 minutes either in the morning or evening. It was sunny and mild the rest of the day. Never wore more than jeans and a t-shirt. But then I am someone who likes the room temperature at 60 F and sleeps with the windows open at home until the nightly temps get below 50.
Check the weather reports the day before you leave. While it is only a prediction, the reports can assist you in what clothes you will need. Adjust your packing to suite the expected conditions.
Your tour must be almost over by now! I hope you had a wonderful time. How did your packing measure up?
I was in Scotland the week before you and definitely needed some waterproof layers, one warmer layer, and some short-sleeved t-shirts as well, a real mix.