When I was initially deciding what to pack for Chamonix in the summer, my main concern was actually the Tour du Mont Blanc. This 10-day, 3-country hike was my primary focus as I only intended to spend a day or two in Chamonix.
Well, not everything went according to plan and I ended up spending much longer in Chamonix than anticipated. Luckily for me, I’d packed all the right stuff regardless since visiting Chamonix and hiking the TMB have many similar requirements.
(This post was originally published in June 2020 but has been updated for 2023.)
If you’re looking specifically for a TMB packing list, check out this post: Tour du Mont Blanc Packing List: What to Pack for the TMB and What to Leave Behind
At the bottom of this post is a printable packing list for you to keep. It covers what to wear from top to bottom, which shoes are best, what outdoor gear to pack, and all the other things you’ll need to bring to Chamonix, but check back to this post for all the details.
Having spent as much time in the area as I did doing so many awesome Chamonix activities, I can now give you great advice on what to pack for Chamonix in the summer.
Chamonix summer weather
Check out this graph of Chamonix’s average annual temperatures (in Fahrenheit). As you can see, Chamonix in the summer is warm during the day and cool at night.
Chamonix in the summer is indeed an ideal alpine escape but, just because it’s July or August, don’t expect intense summer heat and humidity or warm temperatures at night. What the graph doesn’t show you is how Chamonix is warm during the day in the sun but still cool in the shade.
The graph above shows average monthly sunshine with July coming out the clear winner.
The first of the previous two graphs shows average monthly rainfall. In inches that’s:
June: 5.4 inches
July: 5 inches
August: 5.2 inches
And the second shows how many days of each month you can expect rain. For June, July, and August you can bet on about 12 or 13 days of rain. That doesn’t mean it’s going to rain all day, but it does mean you’ll need to consider this when choosing what to pack for Chamonix in the summer.
Chamonix summer weather averages
To summarize, here’s what you can expect from Chamonix in the summer as far as weather goes:
June: the wettest month (even snow still at some of the higher elevations)
July: the warmest month with an average temperature of 75°F
August: fewest rainy days and great temperatures
Personally, I spent 1 day in Chamonix in July and 7 days in Chamonix in August. During that time I had beautiful sunny weather the vast majority of the time. It rained for a couple of hours one single day in the late afternoon and that’s it.
When deciding what to pack for Chamonix in the summer, be sure to check local weather as close to your trip as possible as mountain weather is always unpredictable. (As seen in this mashup photo taken at the Tour du Mont Blanc sign.) Some great sites for that are:
- Weather-and-climate.com 10-day Chamonix forecast (You can toggle back and forth between °F and °C at the top.)
- Chamonix.com 8-day Chamonix forecast with illustrated, easy-to-read graphs
- Aiguille du Midi mountain forecast – for planning your trip to the top of Aiguille du Midi
One important thing to remember when researching Chamonix summer weather: these averages are for Chamonix itself. And while most of the city sits in the valley, many of your activities will take you to higher elevations where snow and much lower temperatures are likely possibilities.
For everything else you need to know to plan your trip to Chamonix, be sure to check out my full Chamonix summer travel guide. It’s got everything you need to know from where to stay and eat, what to do, how to get there, and much more.
Alps packing guide: my top tips
When visiting Chamonix in the summer or for virtually any trip to the Alps at this time of year, here are my biggest tips for deciding what to pack:
1. Prepare for all temperatures
All those pretty graphs aside, even if you’re visiting Chamonix during the warmest part of the year that doesn’t mean you’ll only need to pack warm clothes. You’ll find those warm temperatures during the day and in the sun. In the shade and after the sun goes down equal a whole new world of chills, shivers, and goosebumps.
But don’t think of this as a bad thing. After those day-long mountain hikes you’ll be begging for relief. Plus, those chilly alpine nights are ideal for cozying up in a chalet with some fondue or raclette. Yes, even in the summer.
If you were visiting Chamonix in the winter, all you’d have to pack for would be cold, colder, and wtf was I thinking when I decided to visit the Alps in the winter? But in the summer you’ll need to pack for hot, warm, chilly, wet, sweaty, and cold, among others.
2. Prepare for all sorts of weather
In the winter it may just be: snow or no snow, but probably a lot of snow. When deciding what to pack for Chamonix in the summer you’ll need to prepare for dry, heat, rain, wind, clouds, and, yeah, maybe even some snow too.
3. Have a general idea of your plans beforehand
Obviously you’ve checked this list of the best things to do in Chamonix in the summer and narrowed down your itinerary, right? You may be keen on winging it but deciding on a general plan is necessary. For some of the things you’ll do there, you may need to pack some specialized items.
For instance, activities like hiking, climbing, rafting, and loads more will require you to bring certain things you may not normally pack for your travels. And all that cheese-eating is sure as hell going to require some elastic waistbands.
4. Always pack a bathing suit
This is a travel tip I swear by regardless of the destination. Even if you aren’t near a beach or have any plans to enter a pool, you never know when the need for a bathing suit will pop up. And I guarantee it’s more often than you think. Plus, if you don’t have one with you, you have very few options otherwise.
In Chamonix in the summer at least there are a number of activities that require a bathing suit, and many other elective opportunities to wear one. Even if you don’t see yourself partaking in any of this, I’d still always pack a bathing suit.
What to wear in Chamonix in the summer
For a destination like the French Alps where you have to share space with sun, heat, and nightly chill, you always want to stick with light layers. If you’re anything like me you’ll be layering on with every cloud and de-layering with every extra sun ray. All the live-long day.
Based on my highly scientific research of going there and doing all the things, here are the tops you should bring when deciding what to pack for Chamonix in the summer.
Fleece or light down jacket
I actually brought both a fleece and a light down jacket with me, though I only wore one. Fearing I wouldn’t bring enough layers with me to the Alps, I opted for packing too many.
For the cold nights and high altitudes I encountered in Chamonix I only wore my fleece jacket. However, either one of these would have been sufficient. The nights are chilly but not wintery cold; all you really need is something warm but on the lighter end of the spectrum.
Personally I love any kind of high-quality fuzzy soft fleece. Specifically:
- The North Face Women’s Osito jacket – this is the coziest jacket ever
- Columbia Women’s Sherpa Jacket – also so cozy
- Columbia Lake 22 Down Hooded Jacket – not a fleece, but still recommended
While your hikes and your daytime adventures down in the Chamonix valley may be warm, you’ll really need the extra cozy layers for:
- After the sun goes down
- At the top of the Aiguille du Midi. This is Chamonix’s #1 summer attraction and, at an altitude of 12,602 feet, the temperature up there is much, much colder.
For everyday wear in Chamonix I stuck to simple t-shirts. It’s not so hot that I felt I needed tank tops, and t-shirts seemed the perfect option.
I get all my casual tops from Lulu’s. They’re super basic but always really comfortable with the ability to dress up or down.
Additionally, don’t forget to bring t-shirts to sleep in (or whatever you use).
Hiking tops & sports bras
I had planned on a lot of hiking during my time in Chamonix so I made sure to stock up on hiking-appropriate shirts. This means: moisture wicking, light fabrics, quality brands. I brought along a couple of hiking t-shirts and some hiking tank tops – all HeatGear by Under Armor.
For the chilly parts of my hikes, I brought light long-sleeved layers to wear over my t-shirts. These are super light tops but they’re great for when the temperature drops just a little (like under clouds or in the shade) but you’re still active. I also love Under Armour for these–here’s an example like the ones I wear.
And don’t forget to pack a few sports bras, the best bras of them all. And yes, I wear Under Armour sports bras too. Apparently I have a type.
If hiking hiking hiking is in your Chamonix plans, be sure to check out my post on the best day hikes in Chamonix. You won’t believe these views! The wildlife! The food!
A light rain jacket/windbreaker is a must when visiting Chamonix in the summer. There’s a good chance you’ll experience even a little bit of rain while you’re there and a light rain shell can really take away some of the annoyance.
You won’t need a heavy raincoat, just something thin to wear over your clothes will work. Chances are you won’t encounter full-on hurricane force wind and rains, but it may drizzle enough to soak you otherwise.
A thin rain shell that doubles as a windbreaker is a real bonus. Chamonix in the valley isn’t all that windy, but as soon as you go up, the winds can be fierce. Two extremely windy spots in Chamonix are the top of the Aiguille du Midi and especially Le Brévent.
I love my Columbia rain jacket (and rain pants that I didn’t need to wear in Chamonix but did have to wear hiking in Vermont and Iceland).
You won’t need to pack a ton of bottoms for your trip to Chamonix, just pick a few items you can get the most versatility out of. Here are a few bottoms to consider when choosing what to wear in Chamonix in the summer:
Hiking pants and/or shorts
If you’re doing Chamonix right, a good chunk of your time will be spent in the mountains. Be sure to pack some good quality hiking pants and/or hiking shorts. You’ll want some that feel sturdy and can withstand scrapes on rocks and trees. You’ll want some that you can wear all day, in all sorts of environments, doing all kinds of out of the ordinary things with your body, and still be comfortable in. Plus, pockets!
Yoga pants from Target are simply not going to cut it. They’re going to rip, ride up, and possibly ruin your hike. Maybe your style is traditional hiking pants, but it’s not mine. I prefer something tighter and stretchier.
Unfortunately, the REI hiking tights I’ve become obsessed with are out of production, but these Eddie Bauer Trail Leggings come pretty close. What makes them great are the reinforced areas (knees and rear), map pockets, thick waistband, and much more.
I also brought along a couple pairs of compression-style athletic shorts for warmer days. They pack up real tight so even if I didn’t use them they wouldn’t be a burden.
Casual pants or jeans
For the time you spend chilling down in Chamonix, a pair of casual pants or jeans is perfect. You won’t need anything too fancy, but wearing your dirt-covered hiking gear to a nicer restaurant isn’t the quickest way to make amis.
I wear nothing but these black fleece-lined leggings. They’re simple, comfortable, can be dressed up or down, and HAVE POCKETS. I love traveling with these pants because they’re so light and easy to pack but keep my legs warm on chilly nights in the Alps.
There won’t be anything much more than “casual” happening during your time in Chamonix–maybe some nice dinners, a hockey game, going to some museums. These pants will do it all for you.
Sleep pants and underwear
If you’re not one to sleep in the buff, don’t forget to pack some pants to sleep in. Even in the summer it can get chilly so I packed a super thin pair of leggings to sleep in that are also great to just wear around the hotel room.
And please, don’t forget your underwear (something I almost always do). Bring what you’ve got or pick up some of these recommended underwear for hiking and similar activities.
What shoes to pack for Chamonix in the summer
A good pair of hiking boots is the #1 must-pack item for a trip to Chamonix. Chamonix is huge on hiking and the terrain ranges everywhere from paved roads to rocky cliffs, muddy slopes, pine forests, and more.
Personally, I prefer actual hiking boots to trail runners, and I prefer a higher boot to a lower-cut one. My go-to pair is the Oboz Bridger B-Dry Hiking boot. These shoes are solid and I didn’t even have to break them in—they were perfect right out of the box.
They’re waterproof, comfortable, and I’d recommend them to anyone. I’ve been able to wear them hiking everywhere and it’s obvious they’re going to last me a decade.
(Also, Zappos has free shipping and returns so you can try on multiple sizes. And I love the Zappos videos!)
Don’t forget to pick up some proper hiking socks. I go with Darn Tough because there really isn’t a better brand out there. (I bought some of the Target version because they were on sale but they’re terrible. You really do get what you pay for.)
I love Darn Tough hiking socks because they:
- Are durable
- Are moisture wicking
- Don’t bunch up or slip down between your toes (omg this is huge)
- Are unconditionally guaranteed for life. If anything should happen to your Darn Tough socks at any point in time, they will replace them for free, no questions asked.
As with almost all my travels, I highly recommend packing a great multipurpose shoe. I wear my Chacos everywhere but also love my Keens for all the same reasons. These shoes are great for:
- Wearing about town – sightseeing, outdoor dining, shopping
- Light hiking – yes, these shoes are even made for hiking
- Other outdoor adventures – These shoes are durable, comfortable, and waterproof. They’re great for all water sports and activities like rafting, kayaking, boating of all kinds, and especially exploring caves.
- Wearing around the mountain refuges if that’s where you are staying during your time in Chamonix.
My Chacos are easy to pack and I can and do wear them for such a variety of activities. They make an all-around great travel shoe, Alps or otherwise.
Another option to consider when deciding what shoes to pack for Chamonix in the summer is a casual, comfortable, non-sandal sneaker. For instance, I love my Suavs. Not only are these shoes made with 100% post-consumer materials (yay earth!), they’re the most comfortable sneaker I’ve ever worn.
Suavs are perfect for traveling because:
- They’re insanely cushy and comfortable
- They weigh practically nothing
- They can be rolled up and squished into a suitcase taking up virtually no space at all – they’d even be perfect for your trekking backpack
- You can just toss the whole shoe into the washing machine when you get home!
I currently have the Women’s Legacy but my next purchase is a pair of the Women’s Zilker.
What to pack for Chamonix in the summer: outdoor gear
Chamonix is an outdoor-lover’s paradise! The list of outdoor adventures to get up to here is all-encompassing and nearly endless. And I did as much of it as I could during my week in Chamonix.
Here’s everything you’ll need for your outdoor adventures in Chamonix in the summer:
Hiking day pack
Unless you want to do your day hikes with your full-size backpack, be sure to bring a small hiking day pack with you to Chamonix. You’ll only need a little bit of storage but make sure it has space for a hydration bladder! Something like:
- Osprey Daylight Daypack – I love my Osprey backpack. This one is perfect actually.
- Sunhiker lightweight daypack
- Teton Sports 18L daypack – It actually includes a hydration bladder so that’s a great bonus if you don’t already have one.
Needless to say, there won’t be that many places to fill up with water in the middle of the mountains. I personally carry a Platypus water bladder with me on all my hikes and LOVE it.
For so many of the hikes in and around Chamonix, trekking poles are huge helpers. They really do make hiking easier in terms of effort and easier on your knees.
If you check a bag on your flight over, you can bring your own. If not, you can always pick up an inexpensive pair in Chamonix like I did. (Find out where to shop for outdoor gear in Chamonix here.)
However, I do recommend having a pair on hand anyway – they’re a great thing to have when training for much more serious hikes (like the hikes in Chamonix).
Backpack travel cover
If you are indeed planning to check your trekking backpack and all its contents when you fly in and out of Europe, I highly recommend picking up a backpack travel cover.
These covers pack up small and secure your entire backpacking pack for travel. The thought of checking my pack made me really nervous because of all the pockets that can easily be opened and all the loose hanging straps and buckles that could potentially get ripped off or broken.
I purchased a travel cover for backpacking packs and I love it. I’m able to fit my entire 46-liter backpack in it. It’s got one simple zipper and the ability to lock it up for security. This thing is such a game changer. A couple of options would be:
- 60L Deuter Flight Cover for bigger packs
- Osprey Airporter Backpack Travel Cover for packs < 50L
Snacks and bars
Whatever your go-to hiking snacks are, be sure to bring some as they may not be available in Chamonix. I always travel with a pack of Clif bars and energy chews for when I need a little pick-me-up.
I talk more about sunscreen in my Chamonix summer travel guide but I’ll reiterate here: it was a struggle finding sunscreen in Chamonix. For this reason, I highly recommend bringing your own if you can!
Many of the hikes and outdoor adventures take place in the open sun and protecting your skin during these activities is crucial.
Quick dry towels
I have this multi-size 3-pack of quick dry towels and I take them everywhere, especially when outdoors. These are great for keeping in your day pack for tons of uses, for after showering in the refuges, for wiping off your sweat, for keeping the sun off you, to sit on, and more.
I hope this is a given in your packing list as it is, but don’t forget all the uses for when you’re hiking. Let’s say… maybe… if you have to pee or poo in the great outdoors? I always keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer in my day pack.
Which brings me to…
Toilet paper is great to have for hiking, but it’s great to pack for Chamonix for other reasons too. In many of the spots I visited, Merlet Animal Park and Refuge Bellachat for two examples, there were only the most basic of toilets. (If you can even call a hole in the floor a ‘toilet.’) Let’s just say I’m so glad I always travel with my own toilet paper.
Hot weather gear
When deciding what to pack for Chamonix, I made sure to bring a basic baseball-style cap for sun protection when hiking (though sun hats are the better way to go!). And don’t forget polarized sunglasses—always a must, especially in the summer. Depending on where you’re hiking, you could encounter blazing sun or even snow—the Alps are cuh-razyyy.
Cold weather gear
But you’ll also need something to keep your head, ears, hands, and face warm as well. (Even in August!) For ears, this year I’m bringing my Bäist beanie for full-head coverage and an ear warmer for ponytail days.
I’m adding this cute Bäist buff to my pack to keep my face warm. And this year I’m bringing along a pair of gloves for those high mountain hikes. But I’m opting for these thin glove liners instead to get all the warmth without having to deal with bulky winter gloves.
First aid kit
Anytime you’re out in the mountains you should bring at least a small first aid kit. Make sure it has the basics:
- Bandages, gauze, antibacterial cream
- Alcohol wipes
- Safety pins (although I prefer “diaper” pins instead)
- An emergency blanket would be great
- I add moleskin to mine for hiking trips
- Disposable gloves
I travel everywhere with a safety whistle. Yes, even to Target. Even on walks around my neighborhood. Even to dinner. And I prefer the kind that’ll deafen a grizzly bear if need be.
When hiking or spending any kind of time in the mountains—with its challenging terrain and unpredictable weather—you must bring a safety whistle and know how to use it. (And pray you never have to.)
Pro tip: There will be a built-in safety whistle on the straps of your hiking backpack (surprise!), but that should only be used as a backup. Make sure to purchase an actual safety whistle that’s at least 100 decibels. And make sure it’s easily accessible at all times.
Well, that’s only if you care about spotting local wildlife and literally nothing else in the world. If that’s the case, as is often with me, then be sure to bring some binoculars. I spent a good, oh, 80% of my Chamonix hiking searching for wildlife. This small, lightweight pair is great for day packs.
Unfortunately, things can and do go wrong when you travel. World Nomads offers coverage for more than 150 activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation and more.
Other things to bring to Chamonix
Here are a few more must-haves you should pack for your summer trip to Chamonix.
European outlet adapter
If you (are from the United States and) plan on plugging anything in while in Chamonix, you’ll need a pack of European outlet adapters.
This pocket-sized French phrasebook is helpful and convenient and sometimes absolutely necessary. (The menu guide especially; nobody wants to accidentally eat brains.)
You can also pick up a bigger France guidebook for all your other French sightseeing. I’m a big fan of Rough Guides, Fodors, and Rick Steves.
I also highly recommend packing the Culture Smart guide to France customs and culture. These handy little guidebooks are so useful when it comes to navigating foreign countries!
If you’ll be staying in the mountain refuges or just wish to wash your hiking clothes in your hotel room (like I did), don’t forget to pack some travel laundry soap. Dr. Bronner’s is the popular favorite for this.
I always have a few Ziplock bags handy in Chamonix and I use them mostly for carrying food around with me, to be honest. You can also use them on your hikes to carry trash or keep things from getting wet.
Camera + tripod
Chamonix is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been in my life. Bring the best camera you’ve got, or at least a decent point-and-shoot. Also, don’t forget a tripod to get great shots of yourself as well. I never head out with at least my cell phone-sized Gorillapod.
I talk more about staying in the refuges in my Chamonix visitor’s guide, but basically, if you stay in one of the mountain refuges they will provide a blanket. However, you’re required to bring your own sleep sheet. It’s the same concept as a sleeping bag, but just a silk sheet. I’ve actually used this a handful of other times and I love it.
Pro tip: If you translate any of the refuge’s websites from French to English, the sleep sheet is what they’re referring to when they say “meat bag.” It took me a while to figure this out as I couldn’t imagine what they were requiring me to bring! They were not, in fact, demanding I bring the Ziplock bag of charcuterie I’d been carrying around. “Meat bag” = sleep sheet. You’re welcome.
Because honestly you just never know. Maybe you’ll decide to hydrospeed after seeing all the people speeding down the river. Maybe you’ll spend a rainy day inside one of the spas on a day trip to Courmayeur. Perhaps you’ll want to take a dip in an alpine lake.
What to Pack for Chamonix In the Summer: French Alps Packing List
When packing for Chamonix, keep in mind that in the Alps in the summer you'll need to pack for it all: sun, rain, chilly nights, wind, and maybe even snow.
Here's what you need to pack for Chamonix in the summer.
Shoes & Socks
- Hiking day pack
- Hydration bladder
- Backpack travel cover
- Trekking poles
- Hiking snacks
- Quick-dry towels
- Hand sanitizer
- Toilet paper
- Beanie or ear warmer
- Safety whistle
- First aid kit
- Travel insurance
- European outlet adapter
- French phrasebook
- Laundry detergent
- Ziplock bags
- Camera + tripod
- Bathing suit
- Sleep sheet
- Personal toiletries
- Passport, IDs, Money
- Phone + Charger
- Book to read
- Print out this checklist.
- Look up Chamonix weather forecast.
- Pack everything in a set of packing cubes.
I hope this Alps packing list has helped you narrow down what to pack for Chamonix in the summer. The French Alps are stunning this time of year–have an amazing time!
Will this be your first time packing for the Alps?
Let me know below!
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