Tips for Hut to Hut Treks

Tips for Hut to Hut Treks
Europe has it right with mountain huts (cabanes, refugios, etal) to keep you off the ground and fed after an arduous day on the trail. Whether you are in the Italian Dolomites of Switzerland, the Julian Alps of Slovenia, arctic plateaus of Norway, or Appalachia or the Rockies in America, huts offer beds, food and shelter for backpackers. But you must plan for a hut-to-hut trip just as you would for an evening of luxury.


Unless you are alone, reserve your hut nights before leaving home or call ahead as you advance along the trail route. You don't want to arrive to find all the beds full. That said, most huts won't turn you away, but you may have to sleep on the floor. With your reservation, sign up for "half-board," which includes a healthy, hearty dinner and breakfast.


Plan Realistically

Distances between huts vary. Balance schedule limitations against the difficulty of a route. Six or seven miles might be plenty for one day if you gain and/or lose 4,000 feet, while you can cover more ground on gentler sections. Pay attention to predicted weather changes and account for weather that could affect your progress.


Many huts don't take credit cards on site, and cash can be hard to come by in Shangri-La. If you reserve your huts ahead, pay for them online at that time. While hiking, carry enough local currency to pay for your food, lodging that you didn't prepay, train or bus bailouts, alcohol and snacks. You can often save money by joining a country's or region's alpine club, which offer reduced rates and meals in club-owned huts.


On long trips, you'll probably intersect with population centers or village grocery stores. Buy fruit, candy, bread, salami and cheese for lunches and snacks at local stores. Also, pick up purifying tablets for water. Water and additional snacks can be expensive at huts.

What to Carry

Pack light. Most established huts have blankets, so you only need underwear and a sleeping sheet or liner for bed. Silk liners are light and comfy. Take rain gear, one pair of long pants, maybe two pairs of shorts and two T-shirts, a sweater, a wool and a sun hat, light gloves, sunscreen, a map, bandaids, one paperback book, compass, portable binoculars and camera, moleskin, two pair of socks, underwear and light shoes for evening wear (Skechers or Crocs), and a lightweight knife. You'll need the capacity to carry about two liters of water each day.

Rules and Routines

Most mountain huts expect each guest to be considerate of others. Many require that you remove boots indoors, and they usually have slippers available. In dorm situations, lights and noise are frowned upon after about 8:30 p.m.


Article Written By Barry Truman

Barry Truman has published many outdoor activity articles in the past five years with International Real Travel Adventures, the Everett Herald and Seattle Post Intelligencer newspapers, Backpacking Light Magazine and He has a forestry degree from the University of Washington.

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