Nearly every time I’m on an iconic tour in the Alps I see it. A hiker, ski tourer, or trail runner laboring up some massive climb beneath too much weight and in the wrong gear. Americans, I’m talking to you. And yes, I have been there too and just hope my advice here can help you avoid the carnage.
It’s a fact, the Alps require enormous climbs, sometimes one after another. How you attack them, and how many you do a day is often your choice, but no matter what you will be gaining a lot of vertical. That favorite fleece you look so good in sounded like a good idea at the hotel, but with 1000 meters to go, it’s not so cool. Somewhere along the lines, the outdoor industry convinced people that more stuff is better for the mountains. While that may hold up for short & easy, here in the Alps you’ll appreciate my candid words – dump the junk.
The Alps offer an experience not possible in the US. Multi-day hiking, running, biking, or ski tours with overnights in huts, in huge mountain terrain. This is what you come for, and if your goal is to run, maximize your experience by not hauling freight around. The huts are what make the difference, and it’s the hut concept that needs to be understood. These aren’t cabins or shacks, they are staffed mountain hotels & restaurants, in places you won’t believe, serviced by helicopters. They are wonderful!
Thanks to these huts, you don’t have to carry much. You can enjoy the mountains without the burden of stuff. Just how much stuff, you ask? No… how little! Let’s take a look at my pack for a multi-day summer trail & mountain running tour with a forecast that could include some thunderstorms. Imagine this is for a warm summer day and you are already wearing your shoes, shorts, shirt and visor. In the Alps, early starts are advisable to avoid being caught out in thunderstorms. Always check the forecast via MeteoSwiss.
Trail Running Tour Summer Packing List
Packing Tips for the Alps
- Make what you carry work for multiple uses.
- Huts sometimes have soap, sometimes not. Take your own soap that can also wash clothes. If possible, wash that day’s running clothes in the afternoon that become the next day’s hut outfit. Rotation!
- Keep one outfit in a dry bag until it is absolutely needed.
- Euro hut fashion can be pretty horrific, do not be concerned that you’ll look like a knob in your running shorts or tights in the dining room. Odds are someone will be wearing skin tight 25 year old long underwear full of holes, in all the wrong places.
- Accept the fact that you don’t have clothing changes, but at least you can clean up at the huts. The light pack is going to be worth it.
- Kindle app on your phone – in case of hut downtime
- Some phone app with ambient sounds, in case of snoring or if cabbage was served at dinner. I use Ambiance and the rain on the roof soundtrack. Zzzz….
Do you have some of your own tips to share? Or insight into some great ultralight running gear – feel free to share your experience in the Comments.
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