How to prepare a hike in the mountains

Any hike in the mountains, especially if it is in areas that are little known or even unknown, must be prepared in good time and carefully so as to minimize unpleasant surprises along the way.

More and more people are attracted by the beauty of the mountain but many of them are unprepared to face all those aspects that make the mountain something to be reckoned with: a storm, a steep wet meadow, a path that is not very evident, the fog that disorientating … they are all things that can suddenly transform a serene day in the mountains into something more serious and dangerous for our safety.

Every year the statistics of the Alpine Rescue speak for themselves: most mountain accidents occur on hiking terrain. Land as easy as the paths that lead or connect shelters or lead to easy peaks where there is no need for mountaineering equipment.

It is true that unlike mountaineering, the catchment area of ​​hiking is much wider but perhaps it is also true that more than a few “Sunday hikers” leave for the mountains without having clear ideas about what they will do and of what he will meet.

prepare a hike in the mountains

Precisely to avoid being unprepared it is right to know that every walk in the mountains, in particular if you don’t know the area, does not start from the parking lot where you leave the car but already a few days before at home where you can calmly plan it to the fullest.

Prepare a mountain hike in 7 moves

Work out.

Knowing your training status without overestimating yourself is the first thing to take into consideration when choosing the excursion. Fatigue, negatively affecting the coordination of movements, is the first cause of injuries (sprains and accidental falls).

Hours of light available.

Each excursion must be chosen according to the hours of light available. As we know there is a noticeable difference in light hours between summer and winter. The time of departure cannot ignore this important aspect.

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Nutrition and sleep.

A good breakfast in the morning is important but it is even more important to make a fair load of carbohydrates (pasta, rice, cereals) the night before at dinner. Since nutrition and sleep often go hand in hand, my advice is to not dine too late to go to bed early with a stomach that is not too full. Many people underestimate these two important aspects without knowing that physical performance, reflexes, as well as cognitive abilities are closely linked to the quality of sleep and how they fed themselves in the days preceding the excursion.

Study of the itinerary.

A preventive analysis of the itinerary at a table with a map in hand helps to identify precisely where the path begins, the differences in height to travel, the distances, the slopes of the terrain and any points of support during the excursion. In the hypothesis of excursions in areas that are not well traveled or that have sections outside the path, it may be very useful to join the most significant points of the itinerary on the map (ruler and pencil) with straight lines. Each line will correspond to a different azimuth (angle formed by the direction of the north and to which we must head) calculated on the map using the compass as a protractor. In this way you will have already prepared a route sketch ready to be used together with a compass in case of bad visibility or in the case of a poorly traced path.


Carefully consulting the weather forecast at least two days before setting off for an excursion helps to avoid unpleasant surprises and to choose the itinerary based on the expected weather conditions. Except for the classic heat storms that can occur during the summer even in the presence of a certain atmospheric stability, I would like to stress that today’s weather forecasts have achieved a high degree of reliability especially in the short term (1-2 days). Even if the weather report is not exactly the best it is not said that nothing can be combined always if you know it beforehand. I have lost count of all the times that I have made some changes to the initial program due to the tripping of the weather.

Having a plan B, a shorter path, better marked, less exposed or less in altitude, will allow us to go out equally even in the case that weak / moderate rains are expected, as often happened to me during the rainy summer 2016.

Water situation.

To know with some precision the water situation (presence of springs or in any case points where it is possible to stock up on water) in the area where the itinerary develops

we are going to walk is very important especially in the hypothesis of trekking of several days. It is an information to be reckoned with that can save valuable time and energy as well as obviously lighten the weight of the backpack.

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Prepare the backpack.

The preparation of the backpack is a very important point that should not be underestimated. It must be prepared according to the length and the commitment of the excursion, the season and the forecasted weather. Inside the backpack there must be all the essentials and nothing superfluous.

Footwear and clothing.

Low trekking shoes or classic boot, light fleece or heavy fleece, goretex or light Kway jacket, short pants or long pants, the choice is often delicate. However, if we followed the previous points properly it should not be so difficult. With regard to the choice of footwear (boots or low trekking shoes) I want to focus on one thing: especially at the beginning of the season the paths at higher altitudes can be interrupted in several places by tongues of hard snow. To avoid unpleasant surprises and being unprepared with inadequate footwear, it is wise to inform yourself in advance about the state of the path we would like to take by calling the shelter managers in the area.
An excursion in the mountains can be done alone, in two or in more people but always with the awareness of what is going on and our limits. If in spite of all the precautions something should go wrong (accident caused by: slipping, illness, falling rocks or even loss of orientation, serious bad weather, etc.) keep calm and call the emergency number 118. Don’t abuse the call to aid is the “extreme ratio”.

Good excursions!

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