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 The traditional cotton and wool garments have been replaced by products in polypropylene and other materials, often combined with polyester or newly-designed materials (the textile industry evolves continually, and by the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The old-style heavy woolen shirts have also been replaced by synthetic fabrics (fleece), but you can also find excellent models in breathable cotton or other fibres that the market offers hikers, who want to keep up with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

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