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These Boots Are Made For Walkin’…
When it comes to the question of what the perfect footwear for hiking looks like, opinions differ. Some insist that it has to go above the ankle while others prefer their shoes more airy and light. But no matter what shoe you pick, the most important thing is that it’s been worn in before you hit the mountains for several hours. After all, nothing can spoil the fun of hiking faster than a blister.
A good rucksack has a ventilation system and is rainproof. If you’re not so sure about yours, just pack a bin liner for the worst case scenario so that you can tuck everything away safely inside your rucksack. Tip: Cool badges that you can sew onto your rucksack can be a great way of snazzing it up!
The first thing to go into any hiking rucksack has to be a water bottle of at least 1 l. If you know where there are huts and springs along the way, you can adjust the bottle size but if in doubt, there’s never any harm in carrying more than you end up needing. There’s little worse than being thirsty in the mountains.
Weather can change incredibly quickly in the mountains, and the wind can also pick up out of nowhere. In such situations, a rain jacket can be a real lifesaver and so it belongs in your rucksack even during sunny weather. That can be a bit of a pain sometimes, but a necessary one!
Change of clothes (t-shirt and overnight socks)
You may be sitting on the peak bathed in sweat, but the fresh mountain air can cool you down quickly. In those cases, a new t-shirt can be a helpful remedy. For longer hikes and overnight stays in huts, packing a pair of warm socks is also a good idea (ladies, if you’re someone with chilly feet, this tip is meant for you! Merino is an example of a good thermal material).
A warm layer
The human body cools down quickly in rain and wind, and then a warm layer can come in useful: for example, a thermal fleece or a thin down jacket. Alternatively, PrimaLoft is cheaper than down and less sensitive to rain.
Accessories: Hat, scarf, headband
These take up hardly any space in your rucksack and are useful as a protection against cold in wind and rain.
Whether you’re cutting open an apple or going on a spontaneous McGyver adventure, you should always have a little pocket knife on hand.
Useful bits and bobs
Sunglasses, sunblock, sun lotion
Bin liners, hiking map, mini-towel, lighter
Mobile phone with full battery and emergency numbers
In Europe, you can use the international emergency number 112 – every child should know it and it can also be dialled even on locked phones. And a fully charged battery is a given. Tip: turn of your mobile data as this saves battery and you won’t need the function anyway during your hike.
Emergency kit and first-aid
Following my personal experiences, I would like to recommend packing the following items into a little bag: pen, paper, mobile phone, lip balm, deodorant, emergency blanket, first-aid kit with bandaging material, painkillers, plasters and special blister plasters. At the end of the day you will have to know what you need, but I personally have always found these worth bringing.
Cereal bar, fruit
I call it the Balisto break. The moment where I realise that I just don’t want to any more.
Of course, I do still want to, but my body is in urgent need of energy. A cereal bar can be just the right thing in such a moment, saving me and my companions a great deal of moodiness and frustration.
Barely any huts will accept credit card payment or offer an ATM. Here and there on the wayside you may even be able to buy fresh products directly from the Alpine herdsmen and dairymen.
Special: Overnight stays at a hut
Most huts require you to bring your own thin sleeping bag. An old sheet sewn together at the edges can also do in an emergency.
In the traditional mountain huts, you leave your footwear in a heated room and put on some slippers. This has the advantage of keeping the sleeping areas clean and letting your shoes or boots dry overnight (although the smell of the shoe room in the morning will make you really appreciate the fresh mountain air!)
I find crocs or similar shoes ideal because they are light, you can also wear them in the shower, and on flat stretches you can even use them as an alternative pair of shoes.
A headtorch has always proven its worth in dormitories, especially for early birds who already set out for the next peak before the sun has risen. A toothbrush and toothpaste are the classics which are easy to forget. You really shouldn’t forget earplugs, especially in dormitories. (Female-only rooms really do have their advantages…)
Last but not least…
Here I could repeat what I said about mobile phones: check beforehand that the battery is fully charged and that your memory card is empty. If you do all this, there’s nothing between you and your next hike!