Going several days without showering, sleeping on the ground, eating meals of beans and jerkey, physical exercise from dawn til dusk and no wi-fi far and wide. What motivates people to hike long-distance trails? Exactly that.
Whether they are leading up into the mountains or across flat plains, whether they are remote or busy in the high-season – long distance hiking helps you discover yourself. If you don’t feel it, you simply haven’t walked far enough yet. Oh hi, there you are.
The best part is that you don't have to be a pro or spend a fortune to do it. Simply mark the days in your calendar, wear in your hiking boots, throw a few supplies in your backpack and off you go!
Long-Distance Hiking Trails For You
Choose from our ready-to-go Collections with handpicked Tours and lots of handy information, created by passionate people like you.
The right season
The best time to trek a long-distance hiking trail depends on where it is. In the mountains, you can easily build your routine around the opening times of the Alpine huts. Depending on the altitude, these are often only open for a few months a year due to the snow. Naturally, it’s always a little cooler at the beginning and end of the season, and while this might be a reason not to go for some, the reduced crowds make it a dream for others. In this regard, it depends on how important solitude and warm temperatures are to you. If your long-distance hiking trail is situated in a warmer climate, the season is automatically extended. As ever, for a good idea on the best times to go, check with your accommodation.
Tips For Your Feet
Wear In Those Boots
Your mom and the salespeople were right – make sure you can comfortably walk in your hiking boots for several hours before you hit the trails.
A Variety Of Socks
Your feet will change with the miles you hike. If you get pressure sores, thicker, thinner or simply different socks can make all the difference.
Take them with you. Just do it. If you start feeling a pressure sore, apply one immediately. Don't wait until the skin is coming off.
Kick off your socks and shoes and submerge your feet in cold water. You'll feel like you just entered paradise.
Cut Those Toe Nails
Keeping short nails prevents pressure sores and other pains. But be careful not to overdo it – an unfamiliar length of nail can cause inflammation, too.
Check Your Laces
Every now and then check whether your shoelaces are rubbing each other too thin. Before they fray (and you having to walk in untied shoes), adjust them so that a different part is being rubbed.
Your Place For The Night
Every long-distance hiking trail is different. Some have accommodation and warm meals along the way; others only campgrounds. Some have pre-determined stages and are well-marked; others are completely overgrown. The most important rule of thumb: Do your research ahead of time. This will help you plan what to bring and impact the weight of your backpack. It will also help you plan whether to reserve a spot ahead of time. Finally, make sure to test your setup and equipment before you hit the trails. Experiencing a night out in your own tent or in a hut is more valuable than any online guide (like this one). Over and out.
List of all cabins in the Alps
- Hiking clothes for all weathers (code word: Layering)
- Sun protection for your head
- Sleeping bag liner / sleeping bag (depending on your accommodation, make sure to check temperature statements)
- Blistering band-aids (we can’t say this enough)
- First aid kit with band-aids, tick tong and just-in-case meds for headaches, nausea, and diarrhea
- Emergency energy bar (small snacks for quick energy)
- Containers for a lot of water
- Water treatment (chlorine or silver nitrate)
Safety In The Mountains
Just like a hearty breakfast, checking the weather forecast is an important part of your daily mountain morning routine. Often you will experience extreme heat, snow and thunder in the same day. When packing, check the weather and take equipment for every possible condition. During your trip, hut keepers are the most reliable source of information, as well as the alpine club website. When in doubt, asking people you meet on the trail can be helpful, too.
Rough terrain, narrow and steep paths, falling rocks – all are risks when traversing the Alps. Thorough preparation, suitable equipment and an honest evaluation of one’s skills are key to staying safe. If you don’t have any experience in alpine environments, it's best to bring someone who does.
Whether you are on a popular trail or off the beaten path, make sure to show respect toward other people and the environment. Beware of other people around – below steep slopes there can always be other trails, so don't kick down any rocks. Always leave a place as you found it and show responsibility towards your companions, people you meet and the environment.
Research and bring with you the phone number of the local mountain rescue. Make sure you aways have some battery left on your mobile device and be cognisant of where you are at all times so you can accurately communicate your location in case of an emergency.
- Mountain rescue Germany: 112
- Mountain rescue Austria: 140
- Mountain rescue Italy: 118