In May 2018, I spent six days walking the Hadrian’s Wall Path, an 84-mile trail that stretches across Northern England. The path follows Hadrian’s Wall, a 2,000-year-old Roman wall built by the emperor Hadrian. I absolutely loved my experience walking Hadrian’s Wall, and wanted to share my packing list as I haven’t found a Hadrian’s Wall packing list specifically for women.
When it came to packing for Hadrian’s Wall, I wasn’t too stressed, as I had completed a much longer walk (the Camino) the year before. In the end, what I packed ended up being fairly similar to what I packed for the Camino, but a bit lighter (no sleeping bag or travel towel) and with more waterproof gear. This is England we’re talking about.
This post is divided into several sections, so if you’re only interested in a particular section, you can jump straight to it.
Hadrian’s Wall packing list (for women):
For Hadrian’s Wall, I recommend bringing a hiking backpack around 20-40L in size. You can bring a smaller bag because you won’t need a sleeping bag (the accommodation along Hadrian’s Wall, mostly B&Bs and pubs, will have bedding).
I recommend getting a backpack with hip straps, as it will take the pressure off of your shoulders and back. I also recommend having your bag fitted by a professional in REI or a similar store, so you’ll be as comfortable as possible on your walk.
Here’s what you need:
- Osprey Women’s Tempest 40L Backpack – On Hadrian’s Wall, I used the Quechua Forclaz Air+ (which I also brought on the Camino), and as usual, it sucked. I will be upgrading to an Osprey backpack soon, specifically the Osprey Tempest 40L. Like all Osprey bags, it comes with a lifetime warranty. Compare prices on Amazon and REI.
- Rain cover – It tends to rain a lot in Northern England, so if your bag doesn’t come with a rain cover, make sure to buy one.
Tip – Your fully loaded backpack should weigh no more than 10% of your body weight. So, if you weigh 150 pounds, make sure your bag weighs 15 pounds or less. Without a sleeping bag, this should be easy.
I walked Hadrian’s Wall in hiking sandals (similar to these ones) and as a result, I struggled with the terrain at times. For the Hadrian’s Wall Path, I recommend wearing a sturdy, waterproof hiking shoe.
That being said, I don’t think you need hiking boots. At worst, the terrain is hilly at times – hiking boots would be overkill unless you really need the ankle support.
Additionally, it’s important to break in your shoes before your walking Hadrian’s Wall. if your shoes are too small and give you blisters, you may have to end your walk early.
Here’s what you need, footwear-wise:
- Lightweight, waterproof hiking shoes – If I could do Hadrian’s Wall again, I would bring the Merrell Siren Edge Q2 Hiking Shoes. They’re lightweight, comfortable, and waterproof — I used them for Havasupai Falls last May and loved them. Compare prices on Amazon and REI.
- 2-3 pairs of Merino wool socks – Merino wool is great for long-distance walks because it’s comfortable in any temperature and naturally resists odor. I used these ones on the Camino and Hadrian’s Wall Path and they were great.
- Reef Ginger Flip flops – I like to change into different shoes after hiking, so I loved having a pair of flip flops with me. I’ve worn the Reef Ginger flip flops since 2009 and they’re so comfortable — they mold to your feet.
Tip – Size up your hiking shoes. As your feet tend to swell throughout the day (especially when walking miles upon miles), it’s always a good idea to have slightly large shoes.
When hiking Hadrian’s Wall, you need to be prepared for all types of weather, including rain. (Though I got lucky and it didn’t rain once on my hike!)
You don’t need to bring a lot of clothes; you only need two hiking outfits, and maybe a pair of pajamas.
Here’s a list of the clothing you’ll need:
- 1 Arc’teryx Zeta SL Rain Jacket – My favorite rain jacket: breathable, waterproof, and windproof. It’s an investment, but so worth it for the quality, GORE-TEX material, and attractive design. Check current prices on Amazon and REI.
- 1 Patagonia Nano Puff Insulated Jacket – My favorite insulated jacket ever; packs down tiny, and insulates very well. Great for layering under your rain jacket or wearing on its own.
- 1 pair of REI Sahara Convertible pants – Water-resistant hiking pants are a must for walking in Northern England. I have these REI-brand ones in army green and they’re honestly the cutest hiking pants I’ve ever owned.
- 1 pair of yoga pants – Great for sleeping, layering under hiking pants, or lounging in after hiking.
- 1 sports bra
- 1 regular bra
- 3 pairs of ExOfficio hiking underwear – My favorite athletic underwear of all time. Super comfortable and they dry insanely fast.
- 1 pair of pajamas – 1 pair of athletic shorts and 1 cotton t-shirt
- Baseball cap
- Sunglasses with UV protection
- Wool beanie
Tip: Don’t pack cotton, as it takes forever to dry and stinks like crazy.
As I was staying in B&Bs, I packed the bare minimum of toiletries:
- Toothbrush & toothpaste
- Body sunscreen
- Elta MD Sunscreen SPF 46 – Even though England can be cloudy, it’s still important to wear sunscreen. I love Elta MD because it goes on like lotion and has zinc oxide.
- Dr. Hauschka Rose Day Cream – After hiking in the wind and sun all day, I love treating myself to a luxurious, heavy-duty moisturizer. It’s the little things.
- Wet Brush – for detangling your wild, wind-whipped hair.
This is the standard first-aid kit I bring for long-distance walking trips. I recommend bringing the bare minimum for Hadrian’s Wall; there are plenty of pharmacies along the path, so you can pick up anything else you need.
- 1 small tub of Vaseline – To prevent blisters, liberally coat your feet in Vaseline every morning. While you’re walking, stop and take your socks off every few hours for at least ten minutes to dry out your feet, and then apply even more Vaseline. Once I started doing this on the Camino, I never got blisters again. It worked well on Hadrian’s Wall too!
- 1 large needle and 1 spool of thread – If you do end up getting blisters, I recommend threading them – here are instructions on how to do so safely.
- Anti-inflammatory cream – massage your calves with this every night after walking. It will save you from experiencing muscle pain down the road.
- Medical tape
- 1 small pair of scissors
- Hand sanitizer
- OB tampons
Snacks and Water
The food on Hadrian’s Wall walk is delicious and hearty — I seriously love full English breakfasts and pub food. That being said, it’s important to pack snacks as well. I found several of the pubs and restaurants were unexpectedly closed, so I was grateful to have my own food. I also recommend bringing your own water supplies.
Here’s what I recommend:
- RX Chocolate Sea Salt Energy Bars – seriously the tastiest energy bars out there.
- Jerky and cheddar cheese (or other non-perishable, high-protein snacks)
- 3L Camelbak water reservoir – I LOVE having a Camelbak on long-distances walks — it’s so nice to take a drink whenever you need one. I usually filled it up halfway in the morning and refilled as needed during the day.
I didn’t bring much technology-wise, but here’s what I packed:
- Kindle – It’s nice to be able to read after a long day of walking.
- 1 UK plug adapter – buy a plug adapter with two USB ports so you can charge two devices at once.
- 1 iPhone cable and 1 Kindle cable
A few more items I brought and enjoyed:
- Ultra-lightweight Black Diamond Hiking Poles – I know not everyone likes hiking poles, but I loved having them on Hadrian’s Wall. They support you going downhill, propel you forward, and take the pressure off your back by better distributing your backpack’s weight. Highly recommend.
- 1 small crossbody purse – Useful for having your phone/money handy. Mine is cheap (from H&M), so I don’t mind if it gets wet or dirty.
- 3 large Ziploc bags – I used these to separately store my toiletries, medical supplies, and food.
- 1 large Eagle Creek packing cube – I used a lightweight packing cube to organize my clothes. It makes packing and repacking so much faster.
- Notebook and pen
- A guidebook — I didn’t bring a guidebook, but the guys I met on the trail luckily had a copy of the “Hadrian’s Wall Path” guide by Trailblazer. It’s a fantastic guide, so I’d recommend packing it. It has hand-drawn maps and useful information about prices, accommodation, and itineraries for all types of walkers. The most recent edition is from 2017, which was what we used.
Travel insurance is crucial for any trip, but especially a long-distance walk or hike. No matter how prepared you are, can never fully prevent the chance of getting injured or ill. Worst case scenario, you’re stuck with buying a last-minute flight yourself or paying medical bills out of pocket. I have used World Nomads for the past five years and made sure to buy it for this walk as well.
What Not to Include in Your Hadrian’s Wall Packing List
Travel towel – As any traveler knows, quick-drying travel towels are the worst. Thankfully, you won’t need one on this hike, as you’ll most likely be staying in B&Bs or pubs that will provide towels.
Sleeping bag – You don’t need to bring a sleeping bag on Hadrian’s Wall, so all you’ll need is an eye mask and earplugs.
Laptop – I brought my laptop on my walk, as I was doing freelance work at the time, and ended up cracking the screen. If you can avoid bringing your laptop, do it!
Have you ever walked Hadrian’s Wall? What was the most essential item in your Hadrian’s Wall packing list?
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