Normally, the amount of luggage we carry depends on the time of year we go on vacation and the length of our stay. However, this does not apply to a hike in the mountains. The motto here is: less is more. Even if your equipment depends on the type and length of your tour, you should pack as little as possible and as much as necessary. If you have no experience with what is part of the basic equipment, the following packing list will surely help you. What should not be missing in any hiking gear and what must be left at home is also explained in this article.
1. The hiking shoes
Special attention is paid to the shoes. It doesn't matter whether you only want to go on a day trip or go hiking for several days - in both cases you will miss good shoes sorely if you have walked for several hours over country and meadows, mountains and valleys. Ordinary sneakers cannot withstand the extreme stress of climbing up and down hills, nor can they compensate for bumps. You will notice this above all because poorly sewn seams tear quickly and sooner or later you will suffer from pain in your shins, balls of your feet and heels. Apart from the blisters on the feet caused by uncomfortable pressure points or friction.
Of course you don't need mountain boots for your first hike, but you should consider the following criteria when buying shoes:
In addition to the touchstones mentioned, you should think carefully in advance what you need the hiking boots for. Because the place of use is also an important criterion for buying shoes - which is why the different models are divided into four different categories:
A: Low shaft - suitable for hiking on easy and paved trails, i.e. in the city or in the forest.
B: ankle-high shaft - suitable for hiking on forest paths, in the low mountain ranges and in the foothills of the Alps.
C: High and stable shaft - suitable for hikes with bad paths in the high mountains and trekking tours.
D: High and stiff shaft - suitable for heavy trekking and mountain tours as well as via ferratas.
Tip: Although you see plenty of classic hiking boots in Germany, more and more long-distance hikers swear by light trail runners. There are suitable models for women and men.
2. The clothes
It starts with the underwear: If you normally prefer to wear cotton, it is better to use merino wool, polyester and blended fabrics when hiking. The materials consist of hard-wearing and elastic synthetic fibers, making them particularly breathable. This means that when you sweat, the moisture is transported away from the body - this means that your body does not heat up as much. The functional underwear also keeps you nice and warm on cold days. Especially if you've opted for a long-sleeved, long-legged version like this one:
Of course you can also get boxer shorts and underpants, t-shirts and tank tops as well as socks as functional underwear.
It continues with the outerwear: Fleece pullovers are best suited, as they are very light on the one hand and keep you nice and warm on the other. Underneath you can either wear a shirt or a blouse - both have the advantage that they are very airy and not too tight on the body. However, they only offer even more comfort if they are also made of functional fabric. Then they are both easy to care for and robust and dry very quickly if you sweat excessively while hiking. On particularly cold and windy days, on the other hand, soft shell jackets are also very popular outerwear, as they keep the body nice and warm and at the same time protect against rain.
Now it's the turn of the pants: never underestimate wind and weather when hiking. Even if you start in the valley at a pleasant 20 degrees outside temperature, it can suddenly get colder in the mountains. It is all the more important that you protect your legs adequately - for example with special zip-up trousers. In contrast to ordinary jeans, they are made of polyester or a mixed fabric and are therefore breathable. In addition, they can be converted into short or knee-length trousers at any time by detaching the trouser legs. It looks like this, for example:
Another tip: Even when hiking, the onion principle is a tried and tested method of arming yourself against all weather conditions.
Next up is headgear: the air can get cold quickly in the mountains, so it's always a good idea to carry a warm hat or fleece headband with you. The material does not necessarily have to be breathable here, as its primary purpose is to warm the head. You still have a hood in case it rains. Alternatively, the so-called buff is also enjoying increasing popularity - it is a kind of tubular scarf that protects the head from the wind as a scarf, balaclava or headband.
The right sun protection is still missing: Even if it is windy and cool high up in the mountains, you will still be exposed to the sun - and with it the harmful UV radiation. It is all the more important to protect your skin and eyes from the sun. Best with high-quality sunglasses including category two or three UV protection. In addition, your skin should always be sunscreened in the high mountains, even if it is cloudy. It is best to choose a high sun protection factor, as the radiation is significantly higher in high areas. Especially when there is snow.
3. The equipment
Once you have packed your shoes, clothing and accessories, it's time to gear up for the next hike. For this you use a hiking backpack including rain protection, in which the following items must be stowed: telescopic poles for the ascent and descent, a drinking bottle (at least 1.5 liters) and a GPS device. You will also need suitable maps for the region in which you want to go hiking, a pocket knife, handkerchiefs, a lighter or matches, as well as some cash and an EC card.
Tip: You can read a detailed and up-to-date hiking pole test here.
It is always advisable to save offline map material on your smartphone in case of an emergency. You should not rely 100% on local maps or plaques as both can sometimes be outdated. If you need urgent help, you should also carry a whistle – in case you have to make a loud noise and the technical equipment fails. It is also helpful if you write down the number of the mountain rescue service in case you need to contact them in an emergency. For the same reason you should also have a first aid kit with you!
Tip: If you run out of water on the way, you can also fill up your drinking bottle with mountain water. To ensure that you don't ingest any germs, we recommend a mobile water filter for on the go that cleans your drinking:
Even if you like to read on vacation: your books unfortunately have to stay at home. Since you carry your backpack with you all the time, heavy objects are off limits. The same applies to your photographic equipment - such as tripods and lenses, it's just unnecessary baggage. When packing, make sure that your backpack weighs no more than ten kilograms. Even if most manufacturers advertise that you can carry a weight of up to 25 kilograms without any problems, you will notice in the mountains at the latest that you are carrying far too much ballast with you. A light backpack, on the other hand, has several advantages:
In addition to the hiking boots, your backpack also gets special attention - after all, you have to wear it for the entire route. It is all the more important for you and your back that it is adjusted correctly in advance. And in such a way that its weight is evenly distributed over your entire body. This is only possible with the right size backpack. You can determine this by measuring your back with a measuring tape. Proceed as follows:
Stand up straight and tilt your head forward a little to feel your seventh cervical vertebra (the bottom one in the row). From this vertebra, measure the distance along your spine to the top of your hip bone – the resulting length is crucial when purchasing a hiking backpack. Once you have decided on a model, adjust the backpack to your back before the hike.
Step 1: Once you have evenly distributed the weight in your pack, loosen all the straps at the shoulders, waist and chest and place the packed model on your back. The first thing to do is adjust the hip belt correctly - because your hips will later carry up to 80 percent of the weight of your backpack when hiking.
Step 2: Put the packed rucksack on and lean forward slightly, take the two hip straps in your hands and position them so that they are centered over the hip bones. Close the buckles and pull the straps so tight that your stomach is not constricted. Otherwise you have to loosen them a bit.
Step 3: Now it's the turn of the shoulder straps. Tighten them so that they're carrying just under 20 to 30 percent of the weight of your backpack on your shoulders. This is the case when the shoulder pads are positioned squarely on your shoulders and the shoulder straps are centered between your shoulder blades. If they have a kink, you have to adjust the height.
Step 4: Now it's time for the position of the backpack. This is adjusted correctly using the upper position adjustment straps - these are slightly tightened until the backpack tilts slightly towards you and the shoulder straps are slightly raised. Then the position adjustment straps are tightened slightly at hip height so that the backpack is forged against your back.
Step 5: Then we continue with the chest strap. Its job is to hold the two shoulder straps together so they don't slip. The belt is simply closed for this purpose - in such a way that it does not press uncomfortably on the chest. Adjust it so that it can do its job without being noticed.
If you notice the first blisters on your feet, for example because you didn't break in your hiking boots beforehand, preferred a cheap model or just had bad luck, you have to act quickly. As long as the skin in the affected area is only reddened and no liquid has yet formed underneath, you can counteract the upcoming blister in good time with the help of a tape. Simply stick this over the irritated area to avoid further rubbing. However, if the blister is already filled with liquid, you must never tape it, otherwise you would tear off the skin when removing it.
In this case, classic blister plasters are the better choice: They cushion the wound and protect the area from friction. The band-aids usually fall off on their own, giving the blister underneath enough time to heal and the skin not being torn off. What you should never do is pierce the blister if there is fluid in it. This is an endogenous protective mechanism of the skin that is supposed to keep dirt and infections away. However, if it bursts on its own, you must first disinfect the open wound before sticking a plaster over it.
In addition to the right footwear, you can also take a few safety precautions to prevent blisters from forming on your feet in the first place:
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