Are you visiting Scotland for the first time, unfamiliar with the weather and landscapes, and unsure what to pack for a trip to Scotland?

Knowing what to pack for Scotland can be very difficult. Scottish weather is famously unpredictable – one day it could be cold and raining, and the next it could be bright with blue skies.

Therefore, it is important to pack with intention and avoid packing unnecessary clothes, particularly if space is limited.

What to wear for Scotland - me wearing green jacket and jeans overlooking Glencoe Lochan

This ultimate Scotland packing list will guide you on what clothes to wear in Scotland and how to organise your belongings to prepare for a successful Scotland road trip or weekend getaway.

It draws from my experience when visiting Scotland for the first time and everything I learnt about you need and what you do not need. Not only can I tell you what to pack for Scotland in September because that is when I visited, but I can also tell you what to pack for Scotland in summer from my experience as a travel agent dealing with local guides, and my research.

Do as I say, and not as I do. You will notice in many of the images on this article that I am wearing items of clothing that I do not recommend for your trip. Hence why I can suggest good clothing and bad clothing options.

I have been on numerous adventurous trips where active clothing is required, for example camping in Canada, hiking in Hawaii, and skiing in France; therefore, I know the best type of clothing to wear in numerous weather conditions.

Read on to find out what goes on this packing list Scotland edition and discover some packing tips.

What to Pack for Scotland on Active Holidays

One thing to consider when travelling to Scotland is that even if you are travelling to Scotland in summer, it will unlikely be warm. Do not get carried away with packing shorts and short-sleeve shirts.

Remember that Scotland is generally colder and gets more rain than England does. The average highs for parts of Scotland over summer is 17 degrees Celsius.

For example, one of the best times to visit Isle of Skye is in Spring because there is less rain.

1. Rain Jacket

A raincoat is the best jacket for Scotland, particularly from April until October. Sometimes when you leave your accommodation for the day, you do not return until the evening, so you need a jacket to last you the whole day.

A waterproof jacket is essential for your Scotland packing list. You cannot go to Scotland without at least a water-resistant raincoat. The rain jacket will need to keep you dry during a day-long drizzle or a heavy downpour.

The best raincoat for Scotland is from Berghaus or Arcteryx.

Berghaus MTN Guide Alpine Pro Jacket
I think this Berghaus shell is just as good as the Arcteryx shell, but available at a fraction of the price. Its GORE-tex material makes it reliable in the rainiest conditions.

Skier wearing Berghaus coat, Helly Hansen snow pants, SMITH helmet and goggles with mountain backdrop

The outer shells on Arcteryx jackets are durable and will keep you dry in heavy rain for a long time. The GORE-TEX material is also protective, breathable, and windproof.

Arcteryx products have a high price tag but are of an impressive quality and will last for years.

I recently bought this Berghaus shell made from GORE-tex and it works well for skiing as a top layer, but also as a standalone rain jacket.

Alternatively, buy North Face Women’s Jacket here or North Face Men’s Jacket, but they are less waterproof than Arcteryx or Berghaus.

2. Active-Wear Bottoms

Me wearing mositure wicking trousers and grey jumper on field near lake on road to Glencoe

On a chilly and cloudy day, jeans will keep your legs warm. However, as soon as the skies open, the jeans will become wet and stay that way for the rest of the day. Therefore, jeans are an example of what not to wear in Scotland when it rains.

You will unlikely wear shorts during your trip to Scotland, so do not pack more than one pair of shorts. (Yes, even in summer).

Lululemon has an excellent selection of trousers that dry quickly for wearing in the rain. They are also perfect for travelling, light exercise, hiking etc.

Another good option of active-wear bottoms for ladies is to wear some leggings because these also dry quickly and are comfortable for hiking and exploring.

For some more heavy-duty hiking trousers, check out these Columbia trail stretch pants.

3. Waterproof Hiking Boots

Walking boots for Scotland packing list. Walking in Quiraing

If you will be embarking on some hikes and outdoor activities during your road trip in Scotland, a pair of walking boots with a good grip are essential. The best shoes for Scotland are waterproof boots from Merrell.

Merrell is a reputable footwear brand. Many of their boots offer ankle and arch support and are fully waterproof. While in Scotland, the wet weather protection in Merrell boots will be a lifesaver.

Some activities that will require walking shoes include, walks around the Isle of Skye, photographing Glencoe, and a Highland Safari in Aberfeldy.  

Remember to pack some thick wool socks to wear with those walking boots. Plus, make sure you test out the shoes before your holiday to Scotland to avoid blisters.

Other brands to consider for hiking boots for Scotland are Salomon and Columbia.

4. Merino Wool Layers

There are several reasons why long-sleeved layers will come in handy in Scotland. Firstly, long-sleeved t-shirts and trousers will help you cover up your body from biting midges.

If you are unfamiliar, midges (insects that bite like mosquitos) are out in full force over the summer in the Scottish Highlands. If you are wearing long sleeves, all you need to do is wear insect repellent on your neck, wrists, and ankles to stop bites on your body.

A net hat will also help shield your hat in high-density midge areas (see next point).

Secondly, the weather in Scotland will be chilly at times, so long-sleeve shirts with a sweater and coat will keep you warm. Merino wool clothing also works well for active scenarios where you are working up a sweat because it is breathable.

CRAFT Active Extreme Crew Neck Long Sleeve
This long sleeve is guaranteed to keep you warm and be breathable. I bought it for skiing, but it will come in handy for a chilly day hiking in Scotland.

CRAFT Active Extreme crew neck long sleeve base layer in white

Consider buying a merino wool thermal top from Icebreaker and a half-zip merino wool thermal top from Icebreaker. Otherwise, check out Patagonia’s long-sleeve options for men and women.

5. Midge Net Hat

Depending on what month you travel to Scotland, you will see a variable number of midges.

You can skip this item if you will be travelling to Scotland from April to May or from late September onwards. Otherwise, from June to mid-September, those travelling to the Scottish Highlands will be swarmed by midges.

Additionally, there are minimal amounts of midges in central and eastern Scotland. To check what the levels of midges are like in Scotland, visit Smidge’s midge forecast

One of the biggest hacks for travelling to Scotland during midge season is wearing a net hat. The netting will keep the midges off your face. Do not worry that you will look silly. People will be envious and wish that they had bought one too.

A midge net hat will come in handy when you visit the Glenfinnan Viaduct and are waiting on top of a hill for the Jacobite Steam Train. Midges are most prevalent in the Glencoe and Fort William areas.

Not all packing lists for Scotland include a net hat, but it can be a game changer.  

6. Bug Repellent Spray

Avon Skin So Soft Dry Oil Spray bottle for insct repellent
Avon Skin So Soft

Similarly, insect repellent should be on your packing list for Scotland from May until September. You will be wearing long-sleeved clothing often; therefore, you may only need to spray your head, neck, wrists, and ankles.

Do not underestimate the midges – you will get bites on your hands, head, or ankles if you are not careful. Some will attempt to bite through thin clothing layers too.

One popular brand of bug spray is Smidge insect repellent in the UK and OFF! in North America, which you can purchase on Amazon.

Alternatively, another brand that is not sold as an insect repellent but works well without the nasty smell is Avon Skin So Soft Original Dry Oil.

If you are usually a target to mosquitos or other insects when on holiday, it is best to bring some antihistamine to reduce swelling if you get bitten by a midge. You can buy allergy relief tablets in all pharmacies, such as Superdrug.

7. Tripod

Tripod to go on list of what to pack for scotland

One item you may not think to bring with you is a portable tripod for taking pictures.

A tripod can be helpful when visiting Glenfinnan Viaduct and waiting for Jacobite Steam Train. It is possible to record the train arriving at the viaduct with one of your devices on a tripod while taking pictures on another camera or phone. 

Check out this tripod that works for all kinds of mobile phones.

Alternatively, if you own a GoPro try out this extendable handle that turns into a tripod. Although, to film the Glenfinnan viaduct with the GoPro you should stand closer to the bridge because it has a more zoomed-out effect than a regular camera.

8. Fitness Tracker

Apple watch series 6 on my arm showing view of back yard
Apple Watch

It is by no means essential for a trip to Scotland, but if you have a Smart Watch, make sure you bring it. Conversely, if you have wanted to buy one for a while, now would be a great time to purchase it.

Going on a Scottish holiday involves lots of walking and being active, and one of these watches are an excellent tool to track this activity. My article about hiking the Isle of Skye shows some of the best hikes involved in a 10-day itinerary of Scotland.

The benefits of a Fitbit Charge watch include that it is an affordable price, and the battery lasts several days. However, it sometimes struggles to connect to GPS and cannot read the heart rate. If you are looking for a watch to track your steps, the Fitbit would suffice.

If you are looking for something a little more advanced, consider purchasing an Apple Watch.

While Fitbits are less expensive, they tend to malfunction within a year or so, as I experienced. An Apple Watch is more likely to work well and for longer. Although, the battery on an Apple Watch only lasts around a day and a half.

9. Reusable Water Bottle

Nalgene water bottle - great for Yurt Camping in Ontario

Tap water in Scotland is drinkable. There is no need to buy bottled water while visiting Scotland.

You will, however, need to bring water with you on day trips and hikes in Scotland. Thus, you should pack a water bottle to put in your backpack.

If you do not own a reusable water bottle, check out the Nalgene On The Fly Bottle available on Amazon. Its lid makes it easy to carry by hand, and it also does up tight so there will be no spillages in your bag.  

If you are looking for a water bottle that keeps the water cold for a long time, consider purchasing an insulated Chilly’s water bottle. Although, your water is unlikely to get too warm throughout the day in Scotland. It is a purchase that would work well on other trips around Europe.

10. Baseball Cap

Baseball cap Mountain design in blue

A baseball cap can come in handy from April to October in Scotland. The cap will keep in some of the heat from your head when it is on the colder side, plus it is handy to keep the rain off your face.

11. Power Adapter

If you are travelling to Scotland from outside the United Kingdom, be aware that Scotland requires a three-prong plug to charge devices. Also note, this is different to the ones used throughout the rest of Europe.

Find suitable adapters for Scotland on Amazon, such as this universal power adapter.

12. Driving Tools

You may be spending a fair amount of time in the car while in Scotland; therefore, ensure that you have the right equipment for driving. For example, you may need a phone mount if the car does not have car play.

Additionally, if you are renting a car and do not know its features, you may want to bring a USB car charger or a portable phone charger to keep your phone topped up with charge while in the car.

Downloading offline maps to drive around Scotland will be a lifesaver because many parts of Scotland do not have cell service. You can also bring a Scotland road map if you prefer to be a little more traditional.

13. Cash

Many destinations are now cashless and encourage the use of credit cards, except for parts of Scotland.

Make sure you have some cash and coins (GBP) to use at car parks around Scotland. Many machines only accept cash, so you can avoid this nuisance if prepared.

14. Quality Camera Equipment

FUJIFILM X-T30 II camera
FUJIFILM X-T30 II

The scenery around Scotland is out of this world and you want to be able to capture it well.

A mobile phone can capture good photos of Scotland, but it may not perform as well in certain scenarios in Scotland. For example, photographing fast-moving objects like deer or other wildlife, or low lighting situations will be better using a camera rather than an iPhone.

While DSLR cameras offer exceptional quality for taking photos, mirrorless cameras are more lightweight and compact for on-the-go use.

Research the best mirrorless camera for your needs or check out the highly-rated Fujifilm x-t30 ii camera.

How to Pack for a Scotland Road Trip

One of the most common ways to explore Scotland is on a road trip. It usually involves moving to a new location every few days to see as much of the country as possible.

Therefore, to stay as organised as possible while unpacking your clothes during the trip, you should consider using the following items.

Packing Cubes

Clothes rolled into 4 packing cubes

To some people, packing cubes may seem like an inessential purchase. However, until you have used them for yourself, you will not realise how helpful they can be. There are several ways to organise your clothes using packing cubes.

The first is by grouping all types of clothing; for example, keeping t-shirts in one cube, trousers in another cube, and jumpers in a final packing cube. It makes it easier to find clothing items when you are getting ready.

Another way to use packing cubes is to group the clothing by intended use, such as active-wear clothing, comfortable clothing, and city exploring clothes. 

This 5-Piece Packing Cube Set from CALPAK (USA only) is a worthwhile purchase and it is the packing cubes I use. Alternatively, you could buy these packing cubes from Osprey or Amazon.

Duffle Bag

Black:grey Daylite Duffel bag from Osprey on floor in house

As suggested previously, your trip to Scotland may include moving from one location to another and lugging your baggage in and out of the car. Therefore, a good option would be to bring a smaller weekend bag or duffle bag, in addition to your main suitcase (where your packing cubes go).

The duffle bag allows you to pack a few wardrobe options in a bag if you will only be at one accommodation for a night or two. You could leave your suitcase in the car or bring it into the hotel and keep it zipped up.

It is best to purchase a waterproof and durable duffle bag that can handle any weather.

Check out this duffle bag from The North Face and this duffle bag from Osprey.

I used the Daylite Duffel for my safari in Kenya and now I use it for every weekend trip.

Backpack

When setting off for a day of adventure in Scotland a backpack will become your new best friend. You will need many items during a day trip; therefore, a backpack that can fit all these items is essential for a Scotland packing list.

Osprey sells excellent backpacks that are water-resistant and can be packed up small when not using.

Style of Travel

It can be hard to know how to dress in Scotland. In order to create your own packing list for Scotland, you should consider your itinerary and the type of activities you will be doing.

Hiking in Scotland

If you plan to spend time in the Highlands and hike far and wide, your Scotland packing list will look very different to someone going on a spa weekend.

Hiking in busy areas of Scotland, such as the Isle of Skye, can mean early starts to beat the crowds and chilly mornings. Therefore, you will need to wear layers you can take off over the day as the weather warms up slightly.

If you want to wake up early to catch the sunrise, take into consideration summer daylight hours. In June and July, the sun typically rises at 4:00 AM. It will be easier to capture the sunrise in Scotland in late August to mid-September or Spring when the sun rises later.

Clothes for Eating Out in Scotland

Think about if you will be staying in self-catering accommodation and will be cooking all your meals, or if you will be going out for dinner. In the Scottish Highlands, the dress code is casual in most restaurants. Jeans and a knitted jumper would be suitable.

However, some fancier restaurants require a smart dress code or provide the perfect setting to dress up. Examples of this type of restaurant are The Three Chimneys, a Michelin star restaurant on the Isle of Skye, the Gleneagles restaurants (The Strathearn or The Birnam Brasserie), and several restaurants in Edinburgh.

Learn more about restaurants on the Isle of Skye in this Skye itinerary.

Do some research to know if you need to bring a posh outfit. Ladies, consider looking at Never Fully Dressed for some lovely dresses, blouses, and skirts.

If you are going to bring any smart footwear with you to wear to dinner or walking around a city – bring some leather boots. These leather boots from Vagabond for women are comfortable and stylish.

Packing List for Scotland City Trips

No matter what time of the year you visit a Scottish city, you want to be wearing comfortable footwear. You will likely be covering much ground by foot and racking up steps.

These leather boots from Vagabond or Hunter rain boots are best. Blundstone also sell boots that are great for the rain; however, they can take several weeks of wearing to align to your foot shape. So, make sure you prepare for this.  

In addition to wearing appropriate footwear, certain styles of jackets work better for rainy city breaks. For example, for ladies – a raincoat that comes down lower than your hips will be advantageous to cover more of your legs from the rain.

Arcteryx sells city-style rain jackets.

Finally, it can be cold walking around a city in bleak weather. Uniqlo sells a good range of clothing called HeatTech, a collection of thermal layers and thickly lined leggings and trousers. The prices are hard to beat and are good for chilly spring, autumn, or winter days. 

Check out the HeatTech range here.

Packing Tips for Scotland

Fairy Pools in Isle of Skye with mountain and waterfall and greenery
Fairy Pools

If you are staying at an Airbnb or VRBO in Scotland, find out what items are already included.

Some rental houses will supply everything you need, including towels, hairdryers, and shower gel. Other rental houses are more basic, not even supplying items such as salt and pepper.

It is worthwhile bringing a pair of sunglasses and a swimming costume. Your hotel may have a swimming pool, or you may want a dip in the Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye.

Make sure you have travel insurance for your trip to Scotland. For UK residents, visit Travel Supermarket to check a range of quotes.

What Not to Pack for Scotland

Shorts

Even if you are travelling to Scotland in summer, a suitcase full of shorts will not come in handy. Bring one versatile option if you are travelling in peak summer (June to August). Otherwise, it is unlikely you will wear shorts at all in Scotland.

The same goes for bringing too many short-sleeve t-shirts. A few may come in handy in summer under another layer, but long sleeves will go a long way the rest of the time.

Jeans

Jeans are a staple piece in many people’s wardrobes; however, they are not the most practice item when it is heavily raining. A pair of smart jeans for evening meals and another pair for exploring a city on a day without rain would be fine.

Quick-dry material options are best for the other occasions, such as leggings or active-wear trousers.

During days that it was not raining in Scotland, I was able to wear my jeans and they kept my legs warm.

High Heels

You will find cobblestone streets in many destinations around Europe, and Scotland is no different. Even if you are going out for a fancy dinner, heels are impossible to walk on cobblestone. Bring a smarter pair of leather boots instead.

Suede sandals will be no good in Scotland either. In case you must walk through any puddles to get to dinner, the suede will get ruined.

Trainers

A pair of trainers is usually a practical item to bring on holiday that involves a lot of walking. However, it must be the right kind of trainer.

Trainers with a mesh top will get soaked through within minutes. Bring a waterproof pair of walking shoes or hiking boots, from Merrell for example.

What is the Weather like in Scotland Throughout the Year?

The time of year for your visit to Scotland will dictate what clothing and other items you will need with you. However, some items will be essential all year round.

Read on to find out more about each season in Scotland and discover what type of weather you may experience in Scotland at certain times of the year. 

What to Wear in Scotland in April and May?

Fairy Glen rolling hills on sunny day Isle of Skye Scotland
Fairy Glen

Spring in Scotland is a favourite time for some people to visit Scotland for several reasons.

Scotland will frequently see blue skies in April and May, although the temperature will be chillier than during its summer period.

Snow usually falls in Scotland from November to April, so if you are travelling to Scotland in April, there is a chance of snow. However, the snow can add to an already magical backdrop.

Just make sure you have the correct clothing. Include on your packing list for Scotland in April to May: merino layers and thermals, fleece sweaters and a warm coat, or an extra layer and a windbreaker.

If you are wrapped up warm in numerous layers, you can enjoy a quieter visit to Scotland. There are generally fewer tourists in Scotland in April and May.

What to Pack for Scotland in Spring

  • Thin beanie hat
  • Thin wool gloves
  • Scarf
  • Sunglasses

What to Wear in Scotland in Summer?

Silver Sands of Morar beach near to Mallaig ferry terminal Scotland
Silver Sands of Morar

There is no denying that the busiest time of the year to visit Scotland is from June to August. Scotland is full of families with children who want to enjoy a family trip to Scotland during the school holidays.

Scotland will see long daylight hours in summer. The sun will rise as early as 4:30 AM and set as late as 10:30 PM on the Isle of Skye in late June.

When you are considering what to wear in Scotland in June, July, and August, keep in mind you still could experience some rain, wind, and chillier temperatures than where you are coming from. Nonetheless, there will be slightly warmer temperatures, so you can get away with packing a couple of short-sleeved t-shirts (to potentially wear under a sweater).

As mentioned previously, summertime in Scotland is consistent with an influx of mosquitos. Therefore, you need to come prepared with an array of mosquito-repellent items, such as – insect repellent sprays and light long-sleeved layers.

Packing List for Scotland in Summer

  • Avon Skin So Soft Body Oil – pleasant-smelling insect repellent spray
  • Insect repellent spray – more of a heavy-duty bug spray
  • Net hat – available from Amazon
  • Lightweight long-sleeved t-shirts – purchase from Lululemon, Under Armour, or Patagonia
  • Antihistamine – in case your skin swells with insect bites (like mine does)
  • Swimwear
  • A couple of short sleeve t-shirts
  • Baseball cap
  • Light jacket (alternate jacket for days without rain)

What to Wear in Scotland in September and October?

Heather on field taken from window of jeep while on Highland Safari in Scotland
Heather on the Highland Safari

Early September will still see the remainder of midge season; however, from mid to late-September onward, the midges clear out. The majority of Scotland will instead be covered by purple heather and orange leaves that frame the already beautiful landscapes.

The mornings may see a chilly start compared to the mid-day temperature. So, ensure you have a backpack filled with other clothing options and put the extra layers in the bag as it warms up.

What to Wear in Scotland in September and October?

  • Knit hat
  • Touchscreen gloves
  • Scarf
  • Warm socks

What to Wear in Scotland in Winter?

You will experience cold temperatures during the Scotland winters. A ski jacket is best. Otherwise, a down jacket would work for colder days without snow or rain. This down jacket from UNIQLO is a reasonable purchase and works well on mild Canadian winter days.

Alternatively, a windbreaker with a thicker sweater may work too.

Scotland Winter Packing List

  • Thermals
  • Ski coat
  • Snow boots (for the Highlands)

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