Scotland is a paradise for nature lovers. It has mountains, rolling hills, wide-open moors, mirror-like lochs and a myriad of picture-perfect islands. And because of that, you can experience all types of weather in one day, whatever the season. So, what do you pack when you need to prepare for, well, everything? 

In this article, I’ve shared my top tips for what to wear in Scotland if you’re visiting in spring, summer, autumn or winter! I’ve also included links to products I personally use and travelled with, so each recommendation is practical too. 

I know how daunting packing for changeable weather can be. I backpacked around Scotland in autumn, so I had to pack light and with practicality in mind. There was limited room for ‘just in case’ items. 

It’s an eco-friendly packing list to ensure your travels have a lighter footprint. So, read on to discover your complete packing list for Scotland!

Editor’s tip: Use what you already have but if you’re in the market for a packing list update, I’ve included my eco-friendly recommendations. 

Weather in Scotland

Talking about the weather is a big part of Scottish culture.

They love to have a laugh about the prevailing wind, rain and cold. To be honest, they rarely exaggerate!

But don’t worry, with some careful planning and some key essentials, you’ll be well-prepared for Scottish weather. 

As the author Alfred Wainwright once said: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.”


Months: March, April, May 

Average temperatures: 7°C (45°F) to 13 °C (55°F)

Spring in Scotland is a lovely time to visit. While many activities are still closed for the winter during early March, towards the end of the month and into April and May, the weather is milder and flowers are in bloom. 

You can expect to see the likes of daffodils, bluebells, cherry blossom and rhododendrons! From March through to early April, the weather is still pretty cool.

March, in particular, is prone to lots of rain (more than 22 days!) and even snow. Pack for cooler weather during this time and warmer weather into May. If in doubt, layers will see you through.


Months: June, July, August

Average temperatures: 15°C (59°F) to 17°C (63 °F)

Summer is the warmest and busiest season. Although temperatures don’t tend to get scorching (unless there’s a heatwave!), Scotland benefits from long summer days.

In fact, Shetland gets four hours more daylight than London in summer.

You can really make the most of your days at this time. It’s still a good idea to pack for wind and rain even if it looks like a heatwave is planned – just to be on the safe side…


Months: September, October, November

Average temperatures: 8°C (46°F) to 14°C (57°F)

Autumn is another gorgeous time to visit as the landscape is awash with orange and red from the turning leaves. It’s a beautiful time of year for hiking. 

Daylight hours start to dwindle so be prepared for longer, cooler evenings. Pack for rain too. Towards the end of October and November, some attractions like the Jacobite steam train close for the winter – so that’s worth bearing in mind in case they’re on your bucket list. 

In September, you can get away with packing for cool summer weather.

Towards the end of October through to November, you’ll want to pack more layers. It’s essentially the spring packing list in reverse.


Months: December, January, February

Average temperatures: around 5°C (41°F)

Temperatures are certainly chilly during this time of year, and you can expect heavy snowfall in the Highlands. For this reason, winter is a good time to visit if you want to go skiing. Hiking is a lot more challenging, though. 

Although some attractions are closed, don’t let that put you off. Scotland is magical in winter. I visited Edinburgh in December, and the Christmas market was in full swing. 

In January, there’s Hogmanay and Burns Night too. In the remote Highlands and Islands, you can even have a chance to see the Northern Lights!

Best time to visit Scotland

The best time to visit Scotland really depends on what you want to get out of your trip. In fact, I would recommend any time of year to visit Scotland!

If you don’t mind the cold, winter is a lovely time to visit, particularly in December and January when there are plenty of cosy festivities to enjoy. However, you’re a little limited if you want to get out into nature due to snow and other weather hazards.

Summer is another lovely time to visit. Although temperatures can get quite hot in places, you have the benefit of lovely long summer nights – longer than the south of England! You just have more tourists around and accommodation gets booked up fast.

For quieter trips but with mild weather, the shoulder seasons of spring and autumn are perfect. In spring, the flowers are just coming out in bloom, and autumn paints the landscape a beautiful rusty orange.

Wondering what to pack for the season? Scroll down to find out!

Pack for the trip you’re planning 

The Fairy Glen on the Isle of Skye and a girl in a red coat in the background.

Discover your complete Scotland packing list below

Before you put your packing list together, think about what you’re planning to do in Scotland. The type of trip you want to take will influence what you need to pack. 

There are so many ways to explore Scotland – whether it’s backpacking, road tripping, wild camping, campervanning or using public transport. 

The packing list I’ve outlined below is primarily for those who want to get outdoors and explore nature during their time in Scotland. This means light hikes, island hopping, cycling and being fairly active. 

I’ve left out specialist hiking and camping gear to keep it simple. You can find places to rent that gear, though if you need to.

So on that note, here’s what to pack for a trip to Scotland. 

A quick note on how to dress in Scotland: I would always err on the side of comfort when packing for Scotland. You’ll be much better for it. That means layers, practical footwear and always a raincoat. There’s no particular dress code unless you’re staying at exceptionally fancy hotels.

General packing essentials 

I recommend taking these items below no matter what: 

  • Passport – of course (unless you’re from the UK!).
  • Visa – check if you need one here. 
  • Driver’s licence – for driving and proof of ID.
  • Credit / debit card – I use Monzo as you can track your spending in real-time, choose which currency you would like to pay in and there are no fees unless you take out more than £200 in cash!
  • Travel insurance – at the risk of sounding like a parent… you should always make sure you’re covered for any eventuality no matter what you plan to do. I use Battleface. It has great plans at affordable prices.

Backpacks I recommend for Scotland 

A good backpack is a must when travelling to Scotland – particularly if you’re going to be on the go and spending time outdoors. 

The brand that does it for me is Osprey. Its bags are comfortable, good quality and well-built for being on the road. 

Osprey Arcane Roll Top

Osprey Arcane Roll Top black backpack. A stylish daypack for your Scotland packing list.

For a small daypack, I recommend the unisex Arcane Roll Top which carries up to 22L. It’s practical but looks nice enough when you’re out and about sightseeing or going for dinner in the city. It’s also made from certified recycled fabric!

Osprey Fairview 40

Osprey Fairview 40 women's backpack in forest green is one of the best items to take on your Scotland packing list.

For a medium-sized carry-on, I love the Osprey Fairview 40 for women (Farpoint for men). I took this one with me on a 10-day trip to the Highlands and Islands and it kept my belongings safe even in the rain!  It has plenty of pockets to keep your items organised and comes in a range of styles and sizes (if you want more than 40 litres) to suit you.

Osprey Renn 65

Renn 65 Osprey backpack in grey product image.

For a larger backpack, the Renn 65 for women (Rook for men) has a ventilated backsystem so no sweat – and a rainproof lid to handle rainy days. Great if you’re camping or spending a lot of time outdoors!

Editor’s tip: Packing cubes are essential for keeping your bag in order. You can divide up your clothes into clean and dirty, keep them in one place and compress them to give you more space in your bag! There are some fancy ones out there but I think these ones do the job well enough. 

What to wear in Scotland 

Girl wearing a red coat, black jumper and black dress standing by the carriage of the Jacobite steam train in Scotland.

If I could summarise ‘how to dress in Scotland’ into one word, it would be – layers! 

Since you can experience all types of weather in a day no matter what the season, it’s a good idea to bring enough clothes to layer up or down. 

Build a capsule wardrobe of items that can be mixed and matched and worn in a variety of different ways so you have a range of outfits you can wear. A good capsule wardrobe can last you months!

As a general rule, try to pack clothes that can last several wears and don’t easily crease. Clothes made from materials like bamboo are perfect! 

Ideally, use what you own already, but if you’re looking for a few new clothes, I’ve listed some of my favourite ethical fashion brands to help. 

Here’s what to wear in Scotland for every season: 


  • T-shirts – good for layering.
  • Long-sleeved tops – made from bamboo if possible as it’s a sustainable material that’s breathable and moisture-wicking! I live in these ones by BAM. They’re so soft and comfortable. They come in lots of different colours too.
  • Lightweight jumpers / fleece / hoodies / cardigans – whatever your style really.
  • Water and windproof jacket – the best jacket for Scotland for me is this one from Rapanui. It’s stylish, sustainable and it kept me warm and dry in the Scottish September weather and riding on boats around the Isle of Mull! It’s made from certified sustainable organic cotton canvas with a soft organic cotton layer inside.


  • Jeans – for casual sightseeing
  • Leggings – for light hiking, exploring and other activities. I practically lived in mine while travelling in Scotland. I love my bamboo yoga leggings from BAM for something looser and more casual that still looks stylish. These ones are also great for hiking and they’re durable too. 
  • Dress or skirt – for when you want to be smarter. A good idea if you want to take a photo on the Jacobite steam train!
  • Pair of trousers that are smarter than leggings and comfier than jeans 
  • Pyjamas 


  • Enough underwear for the trip – these ones are sustainable for extra points
  • Sports bra
  • Bras 
  • Enough socks for the trip – again, BAM does great bamboo socks!

Scotland packing list for each season 

Scotland’s climate is moderate but it can change depending on the region you’re in. You could get rain, drive 20 minutes down the road and get sun – and vice versa! 

In Scotland, it’s not uncommon to experience all four seasons in a day. That’s why I recommend packing layers so you can be prepared for any eventuality. 

With that in mind, here’s a breakdown of the seasons and what I suggest you bring with you. 

Simply combine the appropriate season with the clothes packing list above to get a complete packing list for Scotland. 

What to pack for Scotland in spring 

  • Light scarf
  • Hat 
  • Optional gloves
  • Hoodie to go underneath your raincoat 
  • A few warm jumpers  

What to pack for Scotland in summer 

On top of your essentials, you should pack: 

  • Sun hat 
  • Extra t-shirts 
  • Extra skirt or dress 
  • After sun – for sun burn 
  • Hiking sandals 
  • Light jacket for the evening 

Editor’s tip: What about swimwear? The seas around Scotland are jokingly described as ‘baltic’ so they can be chilly all year round. Having said that, there are some lovely places to go wild swimming in Scotland – including lochs and on the coast. If you do fancy a dip, I recommend packing a wetsuit unless you can handle the cold!

What to pack for Scotland in autumn

  • Light warm scarf
  • Hat 
  • Light gloves 
  • A few more warm jumpers 
  • Hoodie to go underneath your raincoat and make it warmer

What to pack for Scotland in winter

  • Super warm winter jacket this one from Jack Wolfskin has a vegan insulation that’s just like duck down. It’s also very breathable, lightweight and stretchy for when you want to stuff it away. There’s also a choice of four colours and it’s made from certified sustainable fabrics!
  • Hat
  • Gloves
  • Scarfthis one is made from cosy recycled merino wool
  • Thick socks – or even heated ones like these!
  • Warm jumpers 
  • Optional thermals 
  • Warm sleepwear
  • Optional camera equipment for photographing the Northern Lights! 

Best shoes and boots for Scotland 

Girl in a red coat and wearing a black bag and walking boots standing on rocks on the coastline of Scotland.

The best footwear for your trip to Scotland really depends on what you plan to do. At a minimum, you can get away with taking two pairs of shoes. One for casual sightseeing and walking about and one that’s more robust for hiking. 

You could take a pair of flats in case you want something dressier. It just depends on how much you’re willing to carry!

The shoes and boots I recommend are: 

For summer

Lifestyle image of a man and a woman sitting drinking tea wearing Tropicfeel shoes.

During the warmer months, I love Tropicfeel. Hailed as the ‘ultimate travel shoe’ the brand’s terrain sneakers are lightweight, comfy, breathable and water-resistant. It’s sustainable and perfect for day-to-day activities and light hiking. 

For winter

Product image of Timberland women's waterproof boots.

Timberland waterproof boots are a safer bet for winter as they’re sturdy, practical and warm. They’re suitable for light hiking too. 

Hiking boots

Product image of Will's Vegan Shoes - walking boots. An essential on this Scotland packing list.

If you’re planning to get out into nature then a pair of good hiking boots are a must! My personal favourite pair is WVS Waterproof Hiking Boots from Will’s Vegan Store. 

I wore them during my own trip to Scotland and they saw me through hiking, island hopping, riding electric bikes and more! 

In fact, I wore them new during my trip – which isn’t recommended as you should break boots in first. I didn’t get a single blister though!

These hiking boots are also ethically made, carbon neutral and vegan. A win for ethical outdoor gear. You can read my review of them here. 

Scotland hiking packing list 

Planning on getting outdoors and hiking in Scotland? Make sure you stay safe and follow the principles of Leave No Trace to protect the environment. 

Here are some of my favourite outdoor gear I use: 

  • Lightweight hiking trousers – I love these ones from BAM. They’re comfortable, come in a range of colours and look stylish too.
  • Lightweight raincoat – Rapanui still works, otherwise, Jack Wolfskin is a good option too!
  • Vegan walking boots – did you know that a lot of hiking boots contain animal derivatives in them? These ones are ethical, vegan and waterproof. I hiked all over Scotland in them, and they’re still going strong! 
  • Walking socks these ones are super comfortable, breathable and stop you from getting blisters!
  • Daypack 
  • Water filter bottle 
  • Optional walking poles – to give you an extra push up those hills! These ones fold up so you can easily stash them away when you’re not using them. 

Note: you wouldn’t think outdoor gear could harm the environment. Sadly, a lot of gear with durable water repellency contain perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), synthetic chemicals which are toxic and non-biodegradable. They get washed or brushed off your gear and contaminate the environment. All gear in this Scotland packing list is PFC-free. 

Zero waste toiletries 

One of the easiest ways to be sustainable in your Scotland packing list is to bring zero waste and eco-friendly toiletries. This means avoiding products with excess plastic packaging like mini toiletries. After all, the last thing we all need is more plastic! 

This also means staying clear of products with damaging chemicals like chemical-based sunscreen that harms aquatic life. 

If you want to limit liquids, choose solid versions. They last longer, there’s no excess packaging, and you don’t have to worry about liquid allowances – easy! 

It’s important to make sure your footprint in Scotland is a positive one. Here are my recommendations to help: 

  • Shampoo bar – I’m a massive fan of solid shampoo bars, but I know it’s not easy finding one that works for you (I’ve tried a few dodgy ones in my time!). I use this one from Ethique and haven’t looked back since. This one is also a conditioner rolled into one! For the record, my hair is fine so I avoid heavy products.
  • Conditioner bar this one, also by Ethique, is great!
  • Cleanser bar – I use Gallinée. For an excellent liquid version, I use Faace! Its range of no-nonsense cleansers are great for on-the-go. 
  • Soap bar – I use Dr Bronner’s as a body wash
  • Soap tin – handy for all your solid toiletries. They will help keep them in good condition and prevent them from turning to mush in your bag!
  • Moisturiser – go for a bar like this one. 
  • Face cream Beauty Kitchen is my go-to.
  • Natural deodorantthis brand is my favourite eco-friendly deodorant. It’s natural AND works. Plus the scents are lovely too!
  • Shaving soapthis one gives you smooth skin. 
  • Reusable razor – ditch single use plastic and go for a stainless steel razor instead. It’s travel-safe too. Extra razors will need to be stored in your checked luggage though. 
  • Sunscreen – no matter what time of year you travel to Scotland, it’s always important to wear sunscreen. I love Green People. It’s natural, organic and reef-safe. Plus it rubs in well without leaving streaks.
  • Reusable containers – for liquids in carry-on luggage. Fill these up from your full-sized toiletries rather than buying mini versions. 
  • Reusable face cloths – much better than single-use wipes!
  • Your fave makeup – whatever you like to use. Great eco makeup brands are Zao and Odylique. 
  • Bamboo toothbrush – banish plastic and go for a bamboo toothbrush. They’re effective and cleaner for the environment!
  • Bamboo toothbrush case – keep your toothbrush hygienic in your bag by stashing it in a bamboo case.
  • Toothpaste tabs – if you really want to keep liquids to a minimum, Brushd does toothpaste in tablet form which you nibble on and brush as normal. There are fluoride and fluoride free options. 
  • Hairbrush 
  • Lightweight microfibre towel – super quick drying and always handy to have!
  • Insect repellent – for midges… 
  • First aid kit – a basic kit with plasters, bruise cream and something for an upset stomach is always handy to have. Make sure you have blister plasters in there too! 

Editor’s tip: as beautiful as Scotland is, it’s plagued by midges, a small biting fly. They’re often found in the Scottish Highlands and islands and come out at dawn and dusk. Although no time of day is safe – except maybe night time. Discover more about midge season in Scotland. I recommend stashing repellent in your bag just to be safe, even when travelling in winter!

Eco-friendly travel essentials 

These items listed below are standard travel essentials that make your packing list a little bit more eco-friendly without much effort. They can even help you save money too!

Take the filtered water bottle, for example, you can safely use it at any freshwater source around Scotland, so you never have to buy a plastic water bottle. It’s a win for your wallet and the environment. 

Eco-friendly travel products for Scotland I always travel with: 

  • Filtered water bottle – time to ditch single-use plastic water bottles for good now that you can easily get safe drinking water wherever you go. I love Water-to-Go as it’s a great bottle for an affordable price. Read my full review here. 
  • Reusable tote bags – these are always handy for shopping, laundry, shoes etc and are much better than plastic!
  • Reusable cutlery set – great for eating on the go if you’re hiking or on a road trip. This one has a bamboo straw, and cleaner included and is kept safe in a handmade cotton pouch
  • Stainless steel lunch box – this one is great for packed lunches and leftovers!
  • Reusable coffee cup – enjoy a cuppa on the go without using a disposable cup. This silicone one is collapsible so you can stash it away when you don’t need it.
  • Menstrual cup – it’s zero waste, eco-friendly, and you don’t have to stuff your bag with tampons!
  • Period pants these are an absolute game-changer! They’re comfy, odour-free and effective. Super easy for travel too. Have a few pairs with you and stash them in a bag to keep them separate from your other belongings until you’re able to wash them. Read my WUKA review to find out how they work when travelling.
  • Guppyfriend wash bag – if you’re doing laundry, it’s good to have a Guppyfriend as they catch microplastics and fibres that your clothes shed in the wash. 
  • Hand sanitiserthis one is gentle and moisturising on your hands. 
  • Reusable and washable face masks – much more eco-friendly than disposable ones!

Electronics to pack 

Here’s a list of the electronics I recommend taking to Scotland. You can pick and choose which ones you take depending on what type of trip you’re planning to take. Just make sure you bring the right chargers for them!

  • Camera – a good camera is essential for making the most of Scotland’s breathtaking scenery. I use my mirrorless Sony A6000. It’s lightweight and a good quality camera at an affordable price. These days, phone cameras are also pretty good too. It really comes down to preference. 
  • Camera protector – keep your camera safe when shooting in wet or drizzly weather!
  • Camera bag – good for keeping your camera safe on the go. 
  • Gorilla pod and remote Gorilla pods are small portable tripods you can stash in your bag (better than a tripod). These are great for long-exposure shots and solo travellers!
  • GoPro – optional but handy if you want to do some cool water shots. 
  • USB cable – a very handy piece of kit to have. 
  • Portable charger – I always have one of these with me and keep it fully charged, so I’m not caught out with a phone drained of battery. 
  • Universal travel adapter – always essential. Scotland follows the UK plug type. Nevertheless, I like this one
  • Earphones – for listening to music or podcasts when on a road trip 
  • Chargers – for all your electronics! 

Books about Scotland 

Get a deeper understanding of Scottish history and culture by reading about it as you travel – or before you go! Below are a few of my favourite fiction and nonfiction books about Scotland: 

  • The Lost Queen Trilogy by Signe Pike – if you’re a fan of historic / Arthurian literature, you’ll love this series. These books follow the story of Queen Langoureth, twin sister of Merlin, back to a time before modern Scotland. They’re brilliantly written, and you can still visit some of the locations they’re set in today. 
  • Outlander by Diana Gabaldon – the hugely popular book and TV series deserves a mention here as they’ve been instrumental in inspiring many trips to Scotland! Claire, from the 1940s, finds herself travelling back in time to 1740s Scotland, where she meets a Highlander named Jamie. The rest is history (or thereabouts).
  • Rebus’s Scotland by Ian Rankin – for some nonfiction, this book is a guided tour of Scotland and highlights the locations that inspired the author’s famous Inspector Rebus novels. 
Person's hand holding a book with a woman on the cover - The Lost Queen Trilogy by Signe Pike.

Optional extras 

Some non-essential extras that are always handy: 

  • Sleeping mask – I can’t sleep without mine!
  • Earplugs – to arm yourself against snorers or noisy hotels.
  • Torch – always handy 
  • Oversized scarf – for extra warmth and comfort. Essentially, a portable blanket.
  • Sunglasses – handy for both summer and winter. 

What NOT to pack for Scotland 

And here’s a list of things you definitely don’t need to take with you: 

  • Mini travel toiletries – expensive, and all single-use plastic make these hard avoid. Opt for solid toiletries or use refillable containers if you want to cut down on weight and liquids. 
  • High heels and fancy clothes – it depends what sort of trip you’re planning but generally speaking, if you’re travelling to Scotland, then you’ll want to get out and enjoy the outdoors where heels and fancy outfits aren’t needed. This also includes places like Glasgow and Edinburgh, where cobblestone streets make wearing heels a risky business! I’d pack one dressier outfit if you want to go somewhere nice. 
  • Expensive jewellery – leave this at home too. 
  • Wheely suitcase – if you’re going to be on the go a lot, a wheely suitcase will only annoy you. 
  • Hairdryer – most hotels already have one, so save your suitcase space. If you’re not sure, check your accommodation’s amenities at the time of booking. 
  • Umbrella – honestly, one gust of wind makes umbrellas more of a pain than their worth. A raincoat is a much better choice, particularly when you’re out in nature!
  • Loads of cash – even in the remote Highlands, most places accept card payments. Use a bank card rather than lugging wads of cash around. It’s safer, too. 
  • Heavy books – as much as I love them, books can be cumbersome. If, like me, you’re tempted to pack half a library, take a kindle instead. Your back will thank you. 
  • Expensive electronics – it’s just not worth the risk. Unless you’re working remotely, leave your laptop at home. Take a tablet if you don’t want to be completely without. 

Scotland packing list: Final thoughts 

Girl wearing a red jacket, shoes, bag and leggings jumping over the rocks on a Scottish coastline.

So that concludes my packing list for Scotland that will keep you covered for every season. The key takeaways to take from this guide are layers are your secret weapon. A raincoat is a must and arm yourself with midge repellent. Wear a good pair of shoes too. 

Scotland is a top sustainable travel destination. You can help it stay that way by keeping single-use plastic to a minimum in your packing list, leaving nature exactly the way you found it and avoiding PFC gear. 

And if you’re planning your Scotland trip, be sure to check at more of my itineraries and guides below packed with tips, must-dos and more!

Planning a trip to Scotland? Check out these posts!

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Wondering what to wear in Scotland? Check out this complete packing list for every season, featuring top tips and essentials you need to help you be prepared.

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