I’ve walked up Snowdon quite a few times now. I’m very lucky to live less than an hour and a half from Pen-y-Pass, which is a popular spot to begin a walk up Snowdon. I’ve done it in the rain, in the snow, in the blazing sunshine and, more often than not, in the chilly Welsh drizzle! I’ve also climbed up Snowdon at sunrise once before – something I 100% recommend as you get to the summit at the most beautiful time of day and it’s less likely to be shrouded in cloud.
When you’re deciding what to wear to climb Snowdon you could honestly be as prepared or unprepared as you like. I’ve seen some people walk up in Converse trainers, jeans and a jumper with nothing more than a bottle of water in their back pocket. I’ve seen other people hike up in the fanciest walking boots with enormous backpacks filled with all the latest survival gear and hi-tech clothing! The season you’re hiking will make a big difference to what you wear but I do not recommend hiking up in the winter. There may be snow and ice near the top and this is when you need the specialist equipment which is a whole different ball game!
I’d recommend hiking up Snowdon in the summer and opting for clothing and equipment that’s somewhere in the middle. You’re not exactly hiking Everest so you don’t need anything majorly specialised but this is more than a stroll around the park so you do need to be prepared.
The hike up Snowdon is challenging but it’s something most people will be able to do. You see people of all ages up there and, last time, I even met a little girl who was 5 and her grandma who was 72. It looked like they were having plenty of tea and snack stops along the way but they’re definitely proof that most people can do it if you take your time.
Here’s what I recommend wearing and packing when you walk up Snowdon.
If there’s only one piece of ‘proper’ equipment you go for when you walk up Snowdon, make sure it’s a decent pair of shoes. You don’t want to get a blister half way up as that’s going to totally ruin your hike.
Personally, I’m not a big fan of hefty hiking boots as I often find them to be too heavy. If you have ankle or knee problems you might benefit from the extra support and stability of an ankle boot.
I like to feel lightweight and bouncy on my feet so I prefer sports style walking shoes such as the Merrell Sport Siren Q2’s. These are almost like trainers with really good grips. They’re comfy and lightweight but give you the grippy support you need for those steep and slippy surfaces.
Starting from the bottom up seen as we’ve already covered shoes…
Socks – Sam swears by good quality walking socks and pays a small fortune for them. Personally, I don’t see much benefit to wearing thick socks unless it’s really, really cold. I just wear my normal trainer socks.
On your legs – I’d recommend wearing sports leggings to hike up Snowdon. They’re comfortable and flexible and if you’ve ever been to a gym you probably have a pair already. If it’s hot then any kind of shorts will do. I just wore normal cotton leggings last time I did the hike and they were fine but lycra ones would have been warmer and better when it rained.
Base layers on top – Start with a normal vest and then add a thermal style long sleeve top. I like the thermal base layers from M&S because they’re great quality but much cheaper than the outdoor brands. Then take a sweatshirt for on top of this but keep in mind that you’ll probably take this off pretty quickly and it will be stuffed in your backpack or tied around your waist. I usually wear my sweatshirt at the bottom of Snowdon when I’m first warming up and then again at the top when we stop for a rest.
A waterproof jacket – This is an absolute must! Take a thin, lightweight waterproof with a hood. In these photos I’m wearing a North Face jacket.
Waterproof trousers – I know they’re ugly but you’ll thank me when it starts raining. I prefer the waterproof trousers you wear on top of your leggings or shorts so you can slip them on and off if you need them.
Hat and gloves – Any hat and gloves will do unless you’re walking in the winter when I’d recommend wearing ski gloves
A SMALL backpack – You don’t need to pack a lot to hike up Snowdon. Most people are up and down in less than 5 hours so leave the kitchen sink at home!
What to pack in your backpack
- About 1 litre of water
- Blister plasters
- Snacks – Include a few high energy options in case the walk takes longer than you think and you get really tired. Personal favourites include bananas, cereal bars and jaffa cakes.
- Packed lunch – an optional one. I like to stop at a café for a big breakfast on the way to Snowdon and stop again at the pub on the way home for some hearty pub grub!
- Ibuprofen – You may find you need some painkillers for the way down. This is when my knees start to hurt.
Other tips for walking up Snowdon
Take a thermos for tea or coffee and leave it in the car. There are cafes around but you might want a hot cuppa as soon as you get back. The café at Pen-y-Pass closes early so it might be closed by the time you get down. I wouldn’t bother taking a thermos in your backpack as it’s unnecessary extra weight to carry.
Don’t wear mascara – either the sweat, drizzle or rain will wipe it all off. You always see girls walking back down the mountain with mascara smeared across their cheeks.
If you’re not much of a hiker then wait for good weather and go in the summer. I love hiking in all weather but hiking up Snowdon is much more enjoyable when it’s sunny.
It gets busy – really busy! Between about 11am-3pm the tracks are crowded and in the places where only one person can pass at a time you’ll need to constantly wait to allow people to pass. I definitely recommend an early morning hike!
Leave little dogs at home – unless you’re happy to carry them. Towards the end of the hike there are lots of steep sections and rocks you need to climb up. Bigger dogs can usually jump these but little dogs struggle and you always see them being carried. Little, lightweight dogs seem OK being carried but my little chunk of a pup is too heavy.
If you’re going to be camping in the area, I recommend staying at Llyn Gwynant Campsite. It’s lovely and very close to Pen-y-Pass carpark. It’s next to the lake, has gorgeous views, allows campfires AND has a pizza oven food truck!
Photo taken at Llyn Gwynant
Pen-y-Pass carpark gets full very quickly and if you don’t get a space in there you may need to park quite a long way away or on the road. DO NOT park in an area where you’re not meant to because they do give out parking fines. I’ve seen a row of about 50 cars before, all with parking fines slapped on their windscreens. This isn’t a huge issue but when you’re tired on the way back it’s torture walking past the car park while you walk another mile to get to your car. Once again, go early to get a space!
After your hike, stop for a pint at Pen-Y-Gwryd Hotel. It’s a real old fashioned pub and filled with history because it’s where Hillary and Tenzing stayed when they were training to climb Everest in 1953.
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And if you needed any more inspiration to visit Wales…