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Basic Equipment Needed for Hiking In Italy

basic equipment needed for hicking in italy

Lago Misurina Hiking the Mountains of Italy

It is necessary, indeed vital, for the hiker to have good mountain equipment. These days the market offers a huge range and variety of all sorts of products and technical specialities for use in all seasons. A trained, professional sales assistant can help you to choose the best product for your needs, but we feel obliged to offer some advice of our own.

he choice of underwear is extremely important. The traditional cotton and wool garments have been replaced by products in polypropylene and other materials, often combined with polyester or newly-designed materials (the textile industry evolves continually, and by the time this guide is published, even more innovative products will probably be available), which have the advantage of expelling sweat and thus keeping the body dry.

The famous “grandma” style thick woolly socks are now almost a distant memory, and today hikers use products created with synthetic fibres of various types, which are warm and allow the skin to breathe. To protect their legs, many hillwalkers use very light nylon knee-length socks (women’s pop-socks), which give excellent protection to the skin and a fine natural wrap for the muscles.

Hiking boots must be chosen with particular care. In the southern part of the route, light trekking shoes are sufficient, but on the snow- covered mountains of the northern sector it is vital to have a more technical, robust type of footwear, specifically designed for that kind of terrain, and to which crampons can be applied if need be.
Sunglasses are indispensable at least when crossing areas covered in snow.

Knickerbocker type trousers, comfortable as they are, are rarely worn in Italy, although they are still popular in other countries. The kind of trousers normally worn these days are long, very technical (i.e. light, elasticised, with numerous pockets, brightly coloured to aid visibility, water-resistant, etc.); there is a vast range of choice, depending on individual taste and budget.

The old-style heavy woolen shirts have also been replaced by synthetic fabrics (fleece), but you can also find excellent models in breathable cotton or other fibres that the market offers hikers, who want to keep up with the times (and with fashion).

Fleece is an exceptional fabric, which has been used for years now and is continually evolving, allowing the hiker to wear a splendid sweater which is lightweight, breathable, warm, waterproof and comfortable.

The same material is also common these days for gloves and hats.

It is not difficult to choose a good wind-cheater jacket. Polyamide jackets are the lightest, the most waterproof and also breathable. Unfortunately the high price puts many people off buying this extremely useful type of technical jacket, but if you take advantage of the sales, and ignore fashion trends, you can save a lot.

Telescopic walking sticks, adaptable and extremely lightweight, are very useful in ascent because they save you about 30% of the effort; they are practically indispensable for anyone with any kind of knee problems because they lighten the burden of the rucksack, transferring some of its weight onto the arms, which should therefore be kept in good shape. Even this extremely useful piece of equipment has its limits, however: it should not be used when crossing on ledges or on steep paths half way up the mountainside, for example, because they can cause you to lose your balance and trip; it should not be used anywhere you need to use one or both of your hands on the rock; it is not recommended in steep descent; if they get stuck between the shoulder straps of you rucksack and your back, they can collide with the rock and cause you to lose your balance.

It is unadvisable to carry too big a rucksack, because it gets in the way on difficult stretches; an average size rucksack is sufficient, with a few useful pockets to carry recommended items: personal documents, cellphone (very useful; it has saved many lives, although it cannot be used everywhere), membership card of mountaineering associations, to get discounts in the refuges, topographical maps and guides, a pen and perhaps a diary, Swiss knife, water flask, compass and altimeter, camera, first aid items (especially common ones such as painkillers, vitamin C, saline integrators, plasters, gauzes, bandages, thermometer, and anything else the individual hiker might need) and all those little accessories that personal experience and requirements demand.

Never forget a change of underwear, socks, handkerchiefs, sheets in synthetic fibre (on sale in many refuges), sleeping bag-lightweight bivouac for emergencies (you can buy them at a reasonable price, and they weigh about 200g), something to shelter you from the rain (the old-fashioned cap is not often used these days, with hikers preferring a small umbrella, which must, however, be able to stay up in strong wind), lightweight climbing shoes or other footwear for use inside the refuges, a waterproof cotton hat (the “desert” type is best, as it protects you from UV rays and also covers the neck and ears). A length (about 20 meters) of lightweight rope is useful, as well as some snap-links.

On the vie ferrate it is compulsory to use a helmet, snap-links and a ferrata harness , so these should also be carried in your rucksack. Crampons are also necessary (on the market you can find an extremely lightweight model for hillwalking, which is quite sufficient.

To tackle the Europa High-Altitude Trail 6 it is not indispensable to have a rope, but it is certainly useful for some rocky stretches, ice-cove- red rock plates or other cases in which help might be required. In the case of groups walking together, members could take turns carrying the rope.

Those who want to experience the old-style climbing environment can experience the beauty and majesty of the mountains by spending the night in a tent, curled up in a warm sleeping bag, sometimes lulled to sleep by rain falling softly on the roof. The only price to be paid for such an unforgettable experience is a few extra kilos to carry!

Extremely important: NEVER forget to bring adequate water supplies and, of course, a little food for daily use, which you can buy in the various refuges, without weighing down your rucksack at the outset with all manner of urban delicacies

Basic Guidelines On How To Behave In The Event Of An Accident

BASIC GUIDELINES ON HOW TO BEHAVE IN THE EVENT OF AN ACCIDENT

  • Stay calm and do not act impulsively, try to evaluate the particular situation
  • Evaluate the general situation (environment) and the specific situation (the accident). Try to identify actual and possible dangers.
  • Immediately adopt measures to avoid and prevent further risks.
  • Request help by immediately calling 140 in Austria, or 118 in Italy. The European freephone emergency number is 112, which puts you through directly to the nearest police headquarters.

What to say when you call 140 in Austria and 118 in Italy

  • Supply precise information about the injured person/s (name, surname, residence) and the telephone number from which you are calling, if possible.
  • Give details on the location of the accident or visual references that can help identify the spot easily, such as: mountain group, side, path, via ferrata, valley, channel, ledge, rest, crest, gully, etc... Give a brief summary of the accident stating the time at which it happened.
  • Specify the number of injured and their condition.
  • Describe the weather conditions, especially visibility. Highlight any obstacles in the area with particular reference to power lines and cables, chair-lifts and ski-lifts and any other overhanging cables that could get in the way.
  • Give any other information that could aid the operation (peo- ple present, particular obstacles or difficulties etc.)
  • Explain precisely how to reach the place where the accident happened, or where the injured person is.
  • Indicate the presence of other people on the spot who witnes- sed the accident, and in particular, if they are able to help.
  • Search interventions for missing or lost persons
  • Specify date and time of departure.
  • Describe the method of transport used to reach the spot (if car, specify number plate, model, colour, appearance, characteristics etc.). Indicate destination and chosen route and/or probable or possible fixed objectives (hill walking, ferrata, climbing etc.). Give the number of walking or climbing companions and their hill-walking or mountaineering abilities and experience. Describe clothing (paying particular attention to colour) and materials and food supplies carried.
  • Inform of any psychological, physical, family or social problems.
  • Communicate information already given to other bodies and/ or organisations.
  • Supply any other useful information regarding the subject(s), location and general environmental conditions.

Interventions in case of avalanche

  • As for previous points 1 and 2.
  • Give the exact or presumed number of people swept away and the exact or presumed number of people buried.
  • Specify the brand and model of apparatus used for searching the persons swept away by the avalanche.
  • Identify the presence of any witnesses able to give an exact account of what happened:
  • If a visual-auditory- apparatus search has been carried out:
  • Provide a brief description of the avalanche (size and characteristics) and the exact point where the people were swept away
  • and/or disappeared (right, left, above, below etc.);
  • objects already extracted and their position, as for previous
  • point above.

other information and particulars that can help the intervention.

Dealing with Bears in the Outdoors

DEALING WITH BEARS IN THE OUTDOORS

Awareness is the first step in Surviving a Bear Attack

The best way to survive a bear attack is to never put yourself in a situation where you are likely to be attacked. When traveling through bear country, that means keeping your distance and being aware that you are in their surroundings; so tread lightly.

  • Always keep your distance: It may sound like common sense, but most people are attacked because they fail to give the bear room.
  • Never seek out a Bear: Unless you’re hunting them, there really isn’t a good reason to seek them out. Every year people are killed because they thought it would be cool to get that picture of a wild bear. These are wild animals; go take your selfie somewhere else!

What to do if you come upon a Bear in the Wild

If you travel through bear country, there’s a good chance you may eventually come upon a bear. Even in the Alps and Dolomites of Italy you could run into bears and other wild animals.

  • When hiking through bear country, you want to make noise. Making noise while hiking, will help make sure you don’t accidentally sneak up on a bear. Make noise, sing, talk loudly, or wear a bell when hiking.
  • If you spot a bear, and the bear is unaware of you, back away slowly and quietly. Once you’re out of the bears line of sight more out of the area!
  • If you see a bear when hiking and it notices you, shouting is usually enough to scare it away. If shouting fails to scare it off, back away slowly. NEVER turn your back to a bear; doing so will kick in it’s natural predator instinct. Bears run faster than 30 mph; You will not be able to outrun it.
  • Never come in between a cub and it’s a mother. This is a recipe for disaster.

Safety Precautions when Traveling Though Bear Country

  • Carrying bear spray is always a good idea when walking through bear country.
  • Wearing a pack, even when day hiking, can provide some extra space between you and the bear. (Keep in mind, I said space NOT PROTECTION). If the bear starts coming towards you, throw the bag onto the ground. Often times the bear will become distracted long enough to allow you to slowly back away and escape.
  • Check with the area Ranger Station for current bear sightings, locations, and any tips that they have.
  • Bears are Wild Animals, they are unpredictable. Even the best tips may fail when it comes to dealing with a wild animal. In Bear Country, carrying a high-power handgun on your side is something I think everyone should do.

Safety Precautions when Camping in Bear Country

Bears and other wild animals have an incredible sense of smell, so cooking or eating any type of food at your campsite increases your risk of an encounter.

In order to lower that risk there are a couple of things to keep in mind.

  • Bears have an awesome sense of smell. In general, dried and canned foods are going to have less of a scent than foods like fish, bacon, and sugary sweets. That being said, bears and other wild animals have an incredible sense of smell, so cooking or eating any type of food at your campsite increases your risk
  • It’s not just food you should worry about. Deodorant, lotions, toothpaste and other scented products can all attract bears and wild animals. When camping it’s a good idea to lay off these types of products, and NEVER leave these products open or stored inside your tent.
  • Your tent should be placed upwind, and at least 100 yards from where you are cooking and eating.
  • All cooking equipment, food and garbage should be sealed in airtight canisters, and if possible strung up high in a tree. If you’re campground offers bear proof garbage receptacles use them.
  • Pet food should never be left out in the open. People with pets often make the mistake of leaving their pet food out in the open; you need to treat this food in the same way you would any other type of odorous product.
  • Don’t sleep in the same clothes you cooked with. Standing over a campfire can infuse your clothes with smells that wild animals love. Before going to bed make sure you change into fresh clothes and store the old ones in an airtight container away from your sleeping area.
  • Don’t try to mask the smell. Spraying air freshener products on your garbage does nothing to mask the smell form wild animals; in fact, it probably will cause them to investigate the new smell from the air fresher.
  • Never eat inside your tent!

Dealing with Hypothermia

DEALING WITH HYPOTHERMIA IN THE OUTDOORS

Hypothermia is a medical emergency that hikers need to know about because it can hit you when you least expect it. Hypothermia happens when your body starts to lose heat faster than it can produce it, causing you body’s core temperature to drop to the point where normal function is impaired. We all know that a normal body temperature is somewhere around 98.6 F. Hypothermia occurs when your body’s core temperature drops below 95 F. When this happens, your heart, nervous system and other organs stop functioning normally and eventually completely shut down.

While most people think of hypothermia as something that only happens in the winter, it’s actually very common to see hikers suffer from it year round – even in the summer. A sudden change in weather is all it takes for someone to fall victim to hypothermia. Contrary to popular belief, temperatures don’t have to fall below freezing for hypothermia to occur. All it takes is weather cold enough to lower a person’s core body temperature below 95° F. When hiking, it’s not uncommon for the weather to drop 20-40 degrees at night. Throw in an unexpected thunderstorm and you have a recipe for trouble. Once those nighttime temperatures drop, a hiker wet from rain and sweat can be affected by hypothermia in a matter of hours.

Stages of Hypothermia

Mild    

  • Shivering
  • Unable to perform tasks with hands
  • Hands become numb

Moderate    

  • Uncontrollable Shivering
  • Mental changes – confusion
  • Muscles impaired
  • Breathing becomes labored

Severe    

  • Shivering stops
  • Skin Blue
  • Unable to walk
  • Muscles rigid incoherent
  • Irrational behavior
  • Semiconscious
  • Pulse and breathing decreases

Preventing & Treating Hypothermia While Hiking

  • Stay Hydrated: While it’s more important to stay hydrated during extreme heat, staying well hydrated during cold temperatures will help your body maintain its normal functions. This is especially important when your core body temperature starts to drop, and your organs are already struggling to keep you alive.
  • Keeping yourself hydrated and well feed can actually help maintain your core body temperature.
  • Stay Dry. It’s extremely important to start drying off once you get closer to the evening hours. If you have been swimming, or are soaked with sweat from a hard day of hiking, take the last couple of hours before sunset to dry off or change into a dry pair of clothes. Going to bed wet can be deadly.
  • Reduce Heat Loss: If you in the wilderness, one of the first things you need to do is reduce the amount of heat that your body is losing. Try to insulate your body from the elements by shoving materiel into your clothing. Everything from pine branches and leaves, to dry grass and fibrous plant materials can be used to help insulate yourself from the outside air.
  • Add Heat: If you have the ability to start a fire, do so immediately. Not only will the fire provide you with an immediate heat source, but you can also heat up water bottles or warm rocks that can use to heat your sleeping bag throughout the night.
  • Activity: Once your tucked away in your sleeping bag, periodically wiggle your toes, move your hands and arms, and try to move around as much as possible. If things take a turn for the worse, increasing your physical activity by doing things like pushups and jumping jacks can really help increase your core temperature.
  • Share body heat. If you are with someone who is starting to go into the danger zone, you can warm their body with your own body heat. Remove your clothing and lie next to them, making skin-to-skin contact. Then cover both of your bodies with blankets and insulating materials.

How to Pack and Organize Your Backpack

HOW TO PACK AND ORGANIZE YOUR BACKPACK FOR LONG HIKES

Loading a backpack is pretty simple. If possible, first load your backpack at home. You can spread out your gear on a clean floor, visually confirm you've got everything and feel less rushed as you load up.

Use a checklist to ensure you've got everything you need. This lessens the chance something gets left behind.

THE BASIC WAY TO PACK YOUR BACKPACK FOR LONG TREKS

As with anything this suggestion is a good starting point.  Most individuals tend to find this method works well, each hiker may wish to make adjustments based on their body shape and individuals likes.  However, I would suggest packing close to this method for the first days of walking to get a good feel of your equipment and how to make best use of your backpack. 

The Bottom of the Pack

Virtually all backpacks have large openings at the top and are known as top-loading packs. A seldom-seen alternative is a panel-loading pack which uses a zippered sidewall flap.

Most backpackers shove their sleeping bag into the bottom of the pack. On some packs, there is a zippered opening at the bottom of the packbag, known as the sleeping bag compartment, for this purpose.

The bottom of the pack is also a good place for other items you won't need until you make camp at night: long underwear being used as sleepwear, for example; a pillowcase; maybe a sleeping pad, if it's the kind that rolls up into a tiny shape.

Any other needed-only-at-night items can go down low except a headlamp or flashlight. Always have your light source in a readily accessible space.

The Pack's Core

Your heaviest items should be placed 1) on top of your sleeping bag and 2) close to your spine. Usually these items will be:

  •  Your food stash, either in a couple of stuff sacks or in a bear canister.
  •  Your water supply, either in a hydration reservoir or bottles.
  •  Your cook kit and stove might also go here,though both could be wedged into the periphery of the load if small and light enough.

Carrying a hydration reservoir? Most newer packs include a reservoir sleeve. This is a slot that holds a reservoir close to your back and parallel to your spine. It's easier to insert the reservoir while the pack is still mostly empty, so that leaves you 2 choices:

  • If you prefer efficiency, insert it at home. You'll have a loaded pack ready to go as soon as you reach the trail head.
  • If you want the coldest water possible, carry the reservoir in a cooler and load it and your other middle- and upper-pack contents at the trail head.

Heavier items should be centered in your pack—not too high, not too low. The goal is to create a predictable, comfortable center of gravity. Heavy items too low cause a pack to feel saggy. Too high and the load might feel tipsy.

In the past, traditional pack-loading advice recommended that for trail-walking, heavy items should be carried a little higher in a pack. Today, with most packs designed to ride close to the body, it's best to simply keep heavy items close to the spine and centered in the pack.  If you have an older style of pack with external frames you might wish to move heavy items a bit higher.

On the Outter sides and Outsides of the Pack

Wrap softer, lower-weight items around the weightier items to prevent heavier pieces from shifting. What items are these? Your tent body,rainfly, an insulation layer, a rain jacket. These items can help stabilize the core and fill empty spaces.

Stash frequently used items within easy reach. This includes your map, compass, GPS, sunscreen, sunglasses, headlamp, bug spray, first-aid kit, snacks, rain gear, pack-cover, toilet paper and sanitation trowel. Place them in the pack's top pocket or other external pocket, if one exists. Some packs even offer tiny pockets on the hip-belt.

If carrying liquid fuel, make sure your fuel bottle cap is on tightly. Pack the bottle upright and place it below your food in case of a spill.
Other Tips

  • Fill up empty spaces. For example, put utensils, a cup or a small item of clothing inside your cooking pots. Fill up your bear canister.
  • Split the weight of large communal items (e.g., tent) with others in your group. You carry the main body, for example, and your friend can carry the poles and rain-fly.
  • Tighten all compression straps to limit load-shifting.

The Desired Result

Ideally, a well-loaded pack will:

  • Feel balanced when resting on your hips.
  • Feel cohesive, a whole unit, with nothing shifting or swaying inside.
  • Feel stable and predictable as you walk, at one with your upper body.


Other Packing Tips

  • Tent poles: If your pack offers elasticized side pockets, place the poles down one side of the pack, behind one or more compression straps, with one end of the poles in the pocket.
  • Sleeping pad: You may need an extra set of straps to attach it to a lash point on the top of the pack or near your waistline on the outside of the pack. Another option: Put it beneath your top pocket (lid) and the top opening of the pack, then tighten the lid to the pack. The pad may be vulnerable to slipping out either side, so secure the pad to the pack with an extra strap or 2. Note: It's fine to carry tent poles and a sleeping pad inside a pack if you have the space.
  • Trekking poles: Same deal; just put the grips in the pocket and the tip pointing upward.
  • Ice axe: External tool loops make it possible to carry an inverted axe on your back until it's needed.
  • Crampons: Carry them inside your pack in a protective case. Or, lash them to the outside of the pack as long as you use protective point covers.
  • Other tools: Some packs offer a series of external stitched loops called a daisy chain. Use it to clip or tie small items on your pack.

Note: Minimize the amount of gear you attach to your pack's exterior. External items can potentially get snagged on brush in areas of dense vegetation. Too much external gear could also jeopardize your stability.

  • Carry a pack cover. Though some backpacks are made with waterproof fabric, they have seams and zippers that are vulnerable to seepage during a downpour. A pack cover is worth its weight when rain becomes persistent.
  • Bring a few repair items. Wrap strips of duct tape around your water bottles or trekking poles; in case a strap pops or some other disaster occurs, a quick fix could keep you going. Take along a few safety pins in case a zipper fails.
  • Consider a camera case. The need for one depends on your camera and your desire for quick access when shooting.

How to Read Map Symbols

HOW TO READ THE SYMBOLS ON A MAP

Whenever you’re heading out on a hike, a hunt, or a trip into the wilderness – especially in remote or unfamiliar areas – carrying a map and a compass is a must. Even if the area is known to you, or you plan on staying on marked trails, you should still always carry a map and compass.

Every year thousands of hikers and outdoorsman are lost in the wilderness in areas they thought they were familiar with.

Topographic Maps & Compass

Topographic maps are created from aerial photography and satellite imaging; they describe the shape of the land, allowing you to see three-dimensional landscapes on a two-dimensional map. The maps define natural and manmade features like hills, valleys, vegetation, waterways, trails, bridges and roads.

To be able to use these types of maps out in the wilderness, you need to learn how to read a topographic map. When reading a topographic map, you need to visualize a 3-dimensional view of what the symbols and contour lines on the map are showing.

topomapsymbols1

topomapsymbols2

topomapsymbols3

How To Use A Compass

HOW TO USE A COMPASS

compass

A compass can be used in many ways, from telling which way is North to finding hidden treasure or following an unmarked path over wilderness terrain. But, you've got to take baby steps, so let's talk about how the a compass is laid out.

There are four cardinal points on a compass - North, South, East, and West. When reading a compass, and telling other people directions, you need to wipe "right" and "left" out of your vocabulary. Right and Left are relative directions and differ depending on your location and direction, but the cardinal points are constant.
compass cardinal points

The direction halfway between North and East is an inter-cardinal point and is called NorthEast. The other three inter-cardinal points are SouthEast, SouthWest, and NorthWest.

Finally, there are secondary inter-cardinal points halfway between each cardinal point and inter-cardinal point. These are North-NorthEast, East-NorthEast, East-SouthEast, South-SouthEast,... and so on. With these directions, you can give someone a fairly good idea of what direction they need to go. We could add additional points, continuing to break each section in half over and over, but telling someone to go East-EastEastNorthEast-EastNorthEast would not be fun.

Since there IS a need for more precise directions, the circle of a compass face is split into 360 marks called degrees. For rough directions, go ahead and use North or NorthWest. But, for finding your way or locating destinations in the wild, use degrees as you'll see in a bit.

Two Types of Compasses

We will be discussing the mountaineering compass, also called the orienteering compass. This is the type that has a needle that always points north and you need to move a dial to find directions.
orienteering compass

You've seen compasses in cars or toy compasses - neither of these have a noticeable needle and are called "Card Compasses". Actually, there is a magnetic piece like a needle, but it has a paper disk (card) glued to it or has a plastic ball around it that is free to rotate. As the vehicle turns, the card (or ball) remains fixed so the part you see changes. These are fine for general directions, but not helpful for what we want to do.
compass point

Italy Trail Markings and Difficulty Levels

TRAIL MARKING AND DIFFICULTY RATING TO KNOW WHEN HIKING IN ITALY

Hike Italy, Trail Marking and Signs

TRAIL SIGNS USED IN ITALY

Along the mountain hiking trails in Italy, the hiker can find three types of signs at all the main points.

  1. Painted triangle with the High Altitude Trail number inside; this type of sign is a little less common than the following;
  2. Path sign consisting of two horizontal red stripes with a white stripe in the middle on which you can find the path number in black. Along paths that require more frequent signs, in between those above you can find simple red or red and white signs.
  3. Wooden chart signs on fixed poles (old types in metal).

The coordination of signposts on the network of alpine paths in most Regions of Italy is constantly monitored, sector by sector. Where the triangles, path signs and charts are found to be in poor condition and thus difficult or impossible to see, the hiker should pay careful attention to the indications from guides, local maps, and have a good knowledge of land navigation skills.

RATING THE TRAIL DIFFICULTY OF HIKES IN ITALY

A scale of difficulty for different mountain routes has also been introduced for hiking.  All hiikers, should learn the rating scale and take seriously so that they are able to avoid unpleasant surprises.  The Trail Difficulty Scale involves four distinct grades of difficulty:

T: Tourist path. Easy path or forest road, not very long, very evident not posing problems with bearing.

E: Hiking, Path without technical difficulties on variable ground, even rough and bumpy and at time steep; can sometimes include prepared crossings which do not require special equipment; most of the paths in the Dolomites belong to this category.

EE: for Expert Hikers. Marked path, over more treacherous ground, at altitudes even elevated, with open stretches which call for sure footing and no dizziness. Prepared stretches call for the correct equipment (karabiners, metal friction plates, harness and ropes).

EEA: for Equipped Expert Hikers. These are routes and prepared paths with frequent open stretches , difficult also because they are long and high up; they call for the know how of safety measures (helmet, metal friction plates, ropes and karabiners). Using these aids must not make you forget that you are moving in a high mountain environment.

With all these rating and understanding it is still necessary to remember that if you feel unsure you should undertake the route with an Alpine guide.

Minimum Impact Hiking In the Dolomites

MINIMUM IMPACT HIKING IN THE DOLOMITES

Hiking is one of the most pleasant and healthiest outdoor pursuits, but it also requires increasing awareness of the negative impact that it can have on nature and on the landscape. High in the mountains the mantle of humus is often very thin and the vegetation is extremely vulnerable to the damage caused by people walking over it: 3000 crossings of a stretch of alpine field in a year are enough to turn a grassy area into a barren terrain.

Hikers on the High Altitude Trail must do their best to avoid shortcuts to limit the effects of washing away of the waters and prevent unsettling the ground; they must also try not to go off the paths so as not to disturb wildlife, and to reduce noise pollution, particularly when crossing protected areas or biotopes of particular scientific importance. They should not leave rubbish behind, gather mushrooms, berries, flowers or fossils. If you have to light a fire, do so with extreme caution and only in appropriate areas.

leave no trace hiking

REMEMBER THE LEAVE NO TRACE SKILLS

  • Plan Ahead and Prepare
  • Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  • Dispose of Waste Properly
  • Leave What You Find
  • Minimize Use and Impact from Fires
  • Respect Wildlife
  • Be Considerate of Other Visitors
  • Other Leave No Trace Considerations

Outdoors Skills for Active Travel

OUTDOORS SKILLS NEEDED TO TRAVEL

sardinia-region-1

Most of us love outdoor pursuits such as hunting, fishing, camping, hiking and canoeing. Yet even though we consider ourselves “outdoor types,” few of us possess the survival skills and knowledge to be considered a true woodsman. Could you, for example, gather and cook wild foods without modern accoutrements? Do you know how to improvise or repair tools in the backcountry? Would you be able to find your way back to a vehicle or camp without a GPS or map? If your life depended on it, could you start a fire with a single match?

Unfortunately, knowledge of these “woodsman’s ways” is increasingly uncommon. If forced by calamity into a survival situation, many people would find it difficult to stay warm, well fed and healthy. Some might even perish.

Learning the woodsmanship skills presented in this section is a way of getting back in touch with nature. It can be an adventure in which the adventurer discovers not only how to survive in unexpected situations, but how to live well whether bike touring in the Dolomites, climbing with friends in a wilderness area, or camping with family in a park near home. Those who study these tips will discover they can do things they never dreamed they could do. And at particularly high moments, they will feel a real connection to the natural world around them.

Outdoor Adventure Skills are are even more important to Enjoy a Safe active vacation in Italy. Even though sun, history, food and wine are first things that come to mind when thinking of Italy, but with all theOutdoor Sports andRecreation available and ever changing world you should not forget to brush up on a few skills before you head over.  Making sure you review your Outdoor Skills is extra important when you travel away from home since many of your surrounding andresources are unfamiliar to you.  

TRAIN HARD AND PLAY HARD, Challenge yourself with a Adventure

  1. First Aid and Medical Emergency's in Italy
  2. Survival Skills for Italy
  3. Better Climbing
  4. Bike Tour Italy Travel Prep
  5. Hiking and Walking in Italy
  6. SCUBA Review
  7. Ski and Snowboarding Tips
  8. Italy Travel Planning
  9. Fitness for the Outdoors

Safety While Hiking In The Italain Mountains

SAFETY WHILE HIKING IN THE ITALIAN MOUNTAINS

st bernard dogs

Hiking in the Mountains of Italy can be very tiring at times and many times you are above 2000 meters, experience, good equipment, sure footing, absence of vertigo and good physical condition are indispensable to ensure safety.

Often dangers are undervalued in the mountains: a rapid change in weather, an unexpected storm, a premature snowfall, an icy patch of ground, and fast-moving rivers all can turn a pleasant, light-hearted trip into a ordeal, even on well-marked stretches of path. Good self control is perhaps one of your most valuable skill sets.

A fundamental condition for trekking along the High Altitude Trail paths is good weather! Therefore you should find out weather conditions first from the available sources. If, despite all the above precautions and excellent equipment, an accident nevertheless happens (a slip, twist, fracture, injury from falling rocks, lightning, illness, vertigo etc.), try not to panic (difficult though this is) and follow the recommended indications where possible.

EMERGENGY REPSONSE ORGANIZATIONS IN THE ITALIAN MOUNTAINS

The CNSAS (National Speleological Mountain Rescue Organization, a special section of the CAI, Italian Alpine Club, whose emergency telephone number is 118, active 24 hours) and the Austrian Mountain Rescue normally operate in so-called hostile environments and in all inaccessible areas of the province. This does not only mean, areas such as, cliff faces or vie ferrate (equipped paths), but also above all snowfields and glaciers, ice falls, avalanches, cable cars, ski slopes, caves, ravines, gorges and gullies, rivers and all other types of environment not necessarily at high altitude (hills, woods, etc.), that due to access or movement problems, or in special weather conditions, require the intervention of qualified personnel that have expertise in all areas of mountaineering and speleology techniques and rescue.

Keep in mind that the refuges located along the mountain trails are equipped with public telephones (except the fixed bivouacs); in addition, all refuge managers are trained to help send correct and quick requests to Mountain Rescue.

Selecting A Sleeping Bag For The Outdoors

SELECTING A SLEEPING BAG

Many people spend all sorts of money on the latest and greatest outdoors gadgets; but for some reason when it comes to sleeping bags, these same people seem to pick the cheapest bags on the market, totally ignoring the importance of choosing the right bag. Sleeping bags shouldn’t be looked at as a last minute thing you grab on your way out of the local sporting goods store. Picking the right sleeping bag can mean the difference between having a good adventurous expedition, or suffering through a cold miserable camping trip that you just want to forget.

Things to Consider when Buying a Sleeping Bag

Consider the Weather: One thing you need to keep in mind is the weather, and how cold it might get when you’re camping. Keep in mind, it’s harder to stay warm in an insufficiently insulated bag than it is to cool off by venting a bag made for colder temperatures.

Consider Your Comfort: Your sleeping habits need to be considered when picking the right bag. A bag that’s too snug can make your body feel constricted, and can actually compress the filling making the bag less effective.

Moisture Proof Bags: If the area you plan on camping is a moist environment, you need to take that into account. When picking your bag, look for one that can help wick moisture away from your body. More often than not, these bags are made with synthetic materials.

Weight:  If you’re hiking, then the weight of your bag should also be a major consideration. The last thing you need is to carry any extra weight, especially if there was a lighter option available.

Sleeping Bag Fillers

Down Sleeping Bags

The Good – Down Bags are often used on high mountain expeditions, because it’s often warmer than synthetic options. Down is one of the lightest and most compressible insulation available. It’s also an excellent option to keep your pack weight down.

The Bad – If you’re going to be in an area where moisture’s a problem, you should know that Down is very poor insulator when it gets wet.

Synthetic Materials

The Good – Synthetic materials are probably a better option, especially if you’re going to be in wet environments. Synthetic-filled bags also cost less, and are a good alternative for those who are allergic to down.

The Bad – Synthetic materials usually weigh more, and will take up more room in your pack. They’re also not as warm as Down filled bags.

Sleeping Bag Temperature Ratings

A temperature rating is given to each bag to let you know how cold you can actually go. Just be aware that this rating can differ from manufacture to manufacture, and can also depend on the person using the bag. The Temperature Rating of a bag should only be used as a rough guideline.

Other Features and Considerations

Bag Hoods: A sleeping bag hood can trap heat and hold it inside the bag. If your claustrophobic they kind of suck, but they will keep you warm.

Draught Tubes: Draught Tubes are filled with Insulation, and usually run along the side of the sleeping bag zipper to keep warmth from escaping. This is a must for cold weather camping environments.

Vents: Some bags have vents that can be opened when temperatures start to rise. If you’re camping in an area that has wild fluctuations in temperature, then a vent is something that you probably want to consider.

Draft collar:Make sure you Bag fits securely around your shoulders. This will help prevent your body heat from escaping. A draft collar is designed to prevent heat loss from your neck and shoulders. They are usually found in colder weather bags, and not available in most summer bags.

Taking A Bearing

TAKING A BEARING WITH A COMPASS

compasses

A compass makes wilderness navigation possible by enabling you to accurately gauge directions from your current position to identifiable landmarks throughout the terrain that surrounds you.

The most basic function a compass provides is pointing north (magnetic north, that is). An orienteering-style compass allows you to assign a numeric value (a "bearing") to any direction in the 360° circle around you. This means you can head toward a specific spot rather than simply ambling "south-southwest" or "due east."

The rotating bezel of a compass is used to convert general compass directions into specific bearings. A bezel's outer edge includes index (degree) lines that breaks down the 360° circle into 2° or 5° increments.

A bezel measures the direction towards a given object in terms of an angle—specifically, the clockwise angle between a straight line pointing due north and a straight line pointing toward the object. This bezel allows you to express any specific direction as a number between 0° and 360°.

Why is it useful to know that your campsite lies on a bearing of 40° instead of "to the northeast"? Because precise navigation results in efficiency, safety and speed.

Following a bearing off by just 1° can translate into almost 100 feet of error after 1 mile. That means that after a 5-mile hike, you could miss your target by almost 500 feet. In the wilderness, a few dozen feet can mean the difference between spotting a campsite or other landmark and missing it completely.
Transferring Bearings

On most backcountry excursions, especially those planned by beginners, compass navigation is seldom necessary. Simply following the trail carefully and checking your map from time to time should get you from campsite to campsite safely.

But if you become disoriented, or are just feeling confidently adventurous, a compass becomes a splendidly useful tool.

For example, if you know your location on the map, you can take a bearing on an unseen target elsewhere on the map and head toward that destination simply by following the bearing—even though your objective is not yet visible. Check out our video for a visual demonstration of how to transfer a bearing from map to compass:

  • Identify your position and your objective on the map. Connecting those two points creates a line on the map (which you can either visualize or physically draw on the map).
  • Align the edge of your compass with that line.
  • Rotate the bezel so its orienting lines run parallel with the map's orienting lines (which point to true north). This means the actual bearing have been captured at the front of the compass.
  • Take the compass and turn your body until the magnetic needle lines up with the orienting arrow on the compass. At point, you will be facing the direction that will lead to your chosen objective.

You can rearrange the process and use a compass to take a bearing off a real-world object (one that is known to be on your map) and transfer that information to the map to identify your location even if you are uncertain of your whereabouts in the field. Our companion video illustrates these steps:

  • Hold the compass level and aim the front of it at an object.
  • Rotate the bezel until the magnetic needle is aligned with the orienting arrow of the compass.
  • Locate the object on the map and place the edge of the compass on that object.
  • With the edge still tight against the object, and without touching the dial, turn the entire compass until the orienting lines within the bezel line up with the orienting lines on the map.
  • The edge of the compass forms a line on the map, and you now know you are somewhere along that line.

Weather and Climate of the Italian Dolomite's

WEATHER AND CLIMATE IN THE ITALIAN DOLOMITES

cinque torri, hiking in the Dolomites

The Dolomite Mountains offer some of the best weather in all of the Alps and are perfect for year-round active adventures. As a mountain range, the Dolomite's receive less precipitation on an annual basis than do the majority of the Alps. The southern Dolomite's (the Brenta Group and Lake Garda area) tend to be struck with cold spells created by storms that have pushed up from the south, and more fog created when the cold air mixes with the warmer air from nearby Venice. The Northern Dolomite's (Sudtirol / Alto Adige) have the least amount of precipitation, as the southern Dolomite groups break up the big storms from the south, leaving the north with more desirable conditions.

The summer months (mid-July through September) have warm temperatures and plenty of sun – perfect for hiking, climbing, via ferrata, and cycling trips!  While the average maximum temperature may reach some 80 °F / 25°C on the valley floors, the gentle wind of the Dolomite's guarantees refreshing moments in the shade of rich green woods.

In fall the temperature drops, but weather conditions remain stable and pleasant, making the Dolomites a perfect place to plan a “late summer” adventure!

Winter snow usually begins to accumulate in December, lasting through March, and sometimes April. While temperatures fall below freezing, and snowfall is ample, the sun shines an unparalleled 8 days out of 10 in the Dolomite's – more than any other range in the Alps! The sunny winter paradise of the Dolomite Mountains make skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing adventures here unbeatable!

Spring returns in with warmer weather and longer days, but also with rain. But this too is welcomed, as it clears the air for spectacular vistas and brings beautiful green valleys and pastures overflowing with wildflowers!

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