I recently undertook the challenging Alta Via 1 trek through the stunning Italian Dolomites. The complete itinerary takes 11 nights, 10 days and 9 days of walking and involves classic hut to hut hiking along one of Italy’s most loved long-distance trails. The magnificent, sometimes historical huts are located in the most picturesque locations, often on the top of a rocky pinnacle. The isolated location of the majority of the huts means that the luxury of bag transfer is not possible on this trip, which of course means having to carry your belongings for the duration of the walk! I decided to embrace this and figured that it would only add to my sense of achievement, and I knew from experience having done the West Highland Way with all my gear on my back that with a bit of careful packing, this was totally doable. I opted for a 40-litre backpack and would recommend 35-40 litres max. Here’s a packing list of what I crammed in there- I hope prospective Alta Via 1 walkers find it useful!
- Convertible lightweight, quick-drying trousers/shorts. As we were walking in heatwave temperatures- the convertible aspect was very useful!
- 2 lightweight, quick-drying t-shirts (wash one wear one)
- 2 pairs of good walking socks (one pair on, one dry pair in a bag)
- 1 lightweight fleece layer
- 1 pack away lightweight waterproof jacket
- 1 pack away lightweight thermal jacket (We didn’t need to use this when walking, but I found it very comforting to have it in the mountain huts once it cooled down in the evenings)
- Cotton leggings and a t-shirt to wear in the huts in the evenings. (This isn’t strictly necessary - but I really appreciated having clean, dry and comfortable clothes to change into when arriving at the huts)
- Gloves (despite our boiling weather I did use these on one particularly chilly morning)
- Sun hat
- 1 pair of good quality walking boots
- 1 pair of flip flops for wearing in the huts
- Walking poles- are absolutely vital for a successful trek!
- Sleeping bag liner- it is compulsory to use one of these in the dorms
- Travel towel
- Lightweight emergency shelter- luckily we didn’t need to use this but I found it very comforting knowing it was there
- 2 litre water reservoir
- Dry bag
- First aid kit including deep heat cream and sunscreen- both turned out to be essential and plasters and painkillers
- Limited toiletries- a small tube of toothpaste, toothbrush, a small bottle of shampoo
- Phone charger
- Guide book and maps
When embarking on a long-distance trail like the Alta Via 1, the last thing you want is a heavy pack slowing you down and making those mountain forcellas (mountain passes) even more difficult to conquer. A 35 litre - 40 litre pack is all you should need for your trek. Anything bigger than this is unnecessary and will not only slow you down but can also be considered a safety issue as it can affect your balance. Luckily all the mountain huts provide blankets, evening meals and packed lunches (or there are quite often huts that you pass on your walk where you can stop by for lunch). This means that you don’t need to carry a sleeping bag, cooking equipment, days of snacks and lunches. I know I was quite surprised how well equipped the huts were and how the food could be so good at 2750m! I had a 40-litre backpack for my trip and the largest I spotted on the trail was a 45 litre.
Walking a trail like the AV1 with all your gear is absolutely doable, you just need to be prepared to go back to basics and say goodbye to some of your creature comforts! You will soon find that you don’t actually need a lot of things and you’ll be having such a great time that you won’t be missing them. ‘Roughing it’ a bit is all part of the adventure and everybody you meet will be in exactly the same position as you.
I hope this is useful- and perhaps it has inspired you to get on the trail! Our team of specialists are here to help you plan your Alta Via adventure, contact us for advice & inspiration.