Summer in the Alps: The Essential Hiking Gear
In life we overcome mountains everyday, but if you are actually trying to conquer an actual mountain through hiking – then you need to make sure that you have packed the right items and gear before you go on your hiking adventure in the alps. The hiking gear you bring also highly depends on the weather you will be planning on conducting your hiking adventure - for instance, you would bring thicker pieces of clothing in the winter months, or more waterproof materials when it is the rainy season - but in this case, we will be focusing in what you will need to bring for the summer! Summer is an awesome time to go walk in nature, the skies are clear, the warm sun is hitting your face and there is no sign of rain. If you are looking for great hiking spots particularly in areas near the Italian Alps check out our blog post on the ‘Top Hiking Spots in the Italian Alps’.
Don’t even consider walking in normal trainers or gym shoes - if you are going to be having a hike in the rough, rugged terrain of the alps then you should invest in proper hiking boots. Hiking boots are specially designed to be able to withstand the sharp rocks, slippery surfaces and the steepness of mountains, therefore, it is very important for your sense of safety when you are performing your hiking adventure. We honestly think that hiking boots makes or breaks your trip, the last thing you would want is to be constantly thinking about how awfully uncomfortable your shoes are, so, do yourself a favour and grab yourself some hiking boots. It is all up to you about what kind of shoe you want - depending on your budget, your type of terrain, the purpose of the boots, etc. There are popular technologies such as Goretex which can improve your waterproofing, Vibram Megagrip for enhanced traction or even Nestfit for enhanced comfort.
As obvious as it seems, you need to make sure that you are wearing appropriate clothing to go hiking. In reality, you could wear whatever you want to wear - but if you want to be wise, then you should invest in good clothing with the sufficient materials like merino, wool, polyester as they are specially made to provide the stretch and comfort to do such an active activity. For instance, we would suggest you to go for short-sleeved hiking tops due to the hotness of the summer like the Icebreaker Cool-Lite short sleeved shirts in which they also have their ‘Cool-Lite’ technology, helping you to cool down in the warm conditions of summer. Then for bottoms, you could choose to wear leggings or shorts - not anything too heavy because you do not want to be dragged down by the weight of the clothing.
Socks are almost as important as the hiking boots. You should put the same importance of sock choice as with the boots, it is essential for reducing the wear and tear and also protect your feet from becoming extra sweaty, develop blisters or even cuts. The right sock needs to feel snug but not constrictive, a sock that perfectly rests above the top edge of your hiking boots and with the right type of cushioning depending on the weather and the difficulty of your hike. Our best recommendation for socks? You can not go wrong with a soft-blend Merino wool hiking sock, Merino wool socks have fantastic properties such as water resistance, softness and breathability.
AVOID DEHYDRATION: WATER! WATER! WATER!
If you are hiking for long hours in the heat - climbing, pushing and walking right under the sun - then of course you are going to sweat and lose all that moisture. So one of our must-haves for hiking in the Alps in the summer is to bring several bottles of water because it is so important for the regular functioning of our body. An interesting fact is that our body is made up mostly of water, the water helps carry nutrients and oxygen to our cells; moistens our oxygen while breathing, cushions our joints and even more! Thus, if you want to increase your hiking durability - then bringing water is for sure, an essential.
THEN IN YOUR HIKING BAG…
The summer brings in the strong rays of the sun so make sure to bring in the sufficient SPF to prevent any possibilities of burning under the sun. It would not be great if you came back to your hotel being as red as a tomato. Sun protection is important to protect your skin from damage from sun exposure - the higher the SPF - the better.
This is a no-brainer, make sure you bring food that can help supply your energy all throughout your hike. If you decide to do an even longer hike and with considerations of staying over night - it is even more important to keep food in your bag even when you are not hungry. Bring snacks like nutbars! Within small packaging, they have a lot of calories to keep you going.
it is best to be prepared for any unexpected accidents when you are high up on the mountains. First aid kits usually come with the basic materials like band aids, tape, dressing, wound wash and etc. Another piece of survival gear is a knife, it has multi-purpose usage for food, kindling a fire or any other emergency needs.
Do you want to get lost in the mountains? Sometimes, you could become carried away by the beautiful and abundant natural beauty that the Alps has to offer that maybe, you could lose yourself in the nature. So, it is important to bring any sort of navigation device or support - even something as basic as a simple map will help a lot. Think; compass, GPS device, personal locator beacons or even a satellite messenger.
Extra clothing, extra water, extra food - will be important. Particularly with extra clothing, the weather could be unpredictable when you are up in the alps, sometimes, in high altitudes you could still get a chance of snowfall or even rainfall. It is better to be prepared for the unexpected and bring a raincoat or an extra layer to keep you warm. Furthermore, your socks could end up tearing, so at least, you know that you will have extra socks at your disposal.
AND LASTLY, DETERMINATION
As Terri Guillements puts it, “You need special shoes for hiking – and a bit of special soul as well”
You can’t put the gear to use if you do not have the tenacity, excitement and determination to pursue your hiking adventure. At the end of the day, it is up to you whether you want to finish conquering the mountains. Once you reach the top of the mountains is the best part as you get the most spectacular views - check out our iPhone Travel Photography tips if you want to know how to maximise your mobile photography skills. Therefore, make sure you do not forget to bring your inner passion for hiking.
We hope that this has been a useful guide for the most essential items for your summer hike in the alps. If you are going to have an adventure in the wonderful Italian Alps, come stay at our Alpine hotel and you can have easy access to the most picturesque and idyllic scenery of Northern Italy. Then after your hiking day is over, you can come relax your muscles at our Spa.
Want to know more articles about the Alps? Check out our blog.