Thinking of visiting the Alps? If you’re planning your first trip to one of the Alpine countries, then first, I’m really envious! The Alps are an amazing place to visit, and the available activities are endless; mountaineering, climbing, via ferrata, trail running, mountain biking, skiing, paragliding… Not to mention thermal baths at the end of the day when you’re tired and aching!
However, there are a few essential items to making sure you enjoy every second trip to the Alps, particularly if you are visiting a mountain hut along the way:
Hiking or running footwear and other gear essentials
Depending on what you’re doing in the Alps, your gear needs will vary. Whether you’re running or hiking up the Col de L’Iseran pass, the Tour du Mont Blanc, or any of the favorite via ferrata or Alpine peaks, you’ll need to have the proper gear when visiting the Alps. If you’ll be running or speed-hiking, a waterproof trail running shoe from Merrell’s Verterra collection could be the perfect fit. If your trip to the Alps involves more mountaineering Alpine adventures, make sure you have the proper winter hiking boots for men or women, like our Wilderness Original or Polarand 8, and the cramp-ons to match. You’ll need them when hiking in deep snow and over ice. If you’re going in the summer, you’ll want something waterproof and lightweight to handle the change in terrain and weather as you get up on the mountain.
Other gear you’ll need to invest in or rent when visiting the Alps includes trekking poles, a waterproof pack, thin layers, wool hats and socks as well as gloves to accommodate ever-changing weather conditions and finally, make sure you have quality waterproof outerwear. These are the essentials, but the other items in this list will make your trip infinitely more comfortable.
Earplugs and an eyemask
These are not a luxury; find room in your pack for both. Trust me, a 4am alarm in advance of your first peak is no fun at all when you’ve spent all night awake listening to the people in your room snoring or turning on the light when they come in after you or get up in the middle of the night. You WILL have murderous thoughts, you WILL mutter to yourself and you WILL find yourself in the desperate position of folding your stinky socks over your eyes and ears or wrapping your down jacket round your head in attempt to muffle the racket and light. It won’t work. Pack the earplugs and the mask.
Ever tried peeing while wearing a harness and roped together with your team to cross a glacier? Easy for men. Not so easy for women, and it’s guaranteed you will pee on your hand while trying to hold your harness, pants and rope out of the way. Even if you don’t find yourself in this extreme position, mountain huts are basic places. They don’t include hand-washing accommodations in the bathrooms.
And I don’t mean just any sunglasses. The Alpine summer boasts beautiful blue skies and sunshine. When that sunshine bounces off the snow and hits your eyes, it’s painful and can be damaging. You need to ensure your sunglasses have the correct level of UV filter to avoid burned retinas and a blinding headache. Depending on the weather when you’re visiting the Alps, you may want to consider ski goggles, which will offer UV protection as well as cover a more substantial portion of your face, protecting it from the elements.
Souvenir shopping is limited in the Alpine mountains. However, the opportunity to purchase overpriced goods is not. The water at a lot of mountain huts is undrinkable because of the high level of minerals in it. Therefore, bottled water is flown in by helicopter and that helicopter fuel bill is passed on to you in the price. €8.50 ($10.68) for a 1.5l bottle of water is not unusual and you literally can’t afford to not drink enough water at altitude. Plus, the villages in the valleys will give you plenty of opportunities to find something to bring home to remember your trip to the Alps (or make other jealous they weren’t there).
So, there you have it. The Alps are very special and an amazing place to visit and experience. Whether you’re off on your own, with friends or with a guide, these five items will ensure you’re in the best shape to enjoy your trip to the Alps!