Understanding the Hiking Difficulty Levels

Understanding the Hiking Difficulty Levels 2000 1333 TrekMI

To gain the best possible experience while minimizing risks, it is instrumental to match the technical grade of a trail to your experience and physical fitness level. The following grading system is designated by TrekMI to act as a guide to help partecipants choose the activity that best suits their capabilities. Please be aware that a certain degree of subjectivity is inherent in attempts to classify difficulty levels and therefore we suggest that you underestimate rather than overestimate your capabilities.

Based on a generally recognized elevation gain of 350 m/h (approx. 1,150 ft/h – calculated on an average physically fit hiker), TREKMI classifies the itineraries as follows:

Level Easy

Elevation gain is less than 400 m. (approx. 1,300 feet)
Distance is up to 10 kms (approx. 6.2 miles)
Suitable for people of all ages in fair health condition who enjoy walking
Hikers should be able to walk up to 3 hours.

Level Moderate

Elevation gain is up to 700 m. (approx. 2,300 feet)
Distance is less than 15 kms (aprox.10 miles)
Suitable for people of most ages who have a basic fitness level and novice hikers who want a bit of a challenge
Hikers should be able to walk up to 4-5 hours

Level Demanding

Elevation gain is up to 1.000 m. (approx. 3,300 feet)
Distance is less than 20 kms (approx. 12.5 miles)
Suitable for reasonably fit and enthusiastic hikers
Hikers should be able to walk up to 5-6 hours

Level Strenuous

Elevation gain is up to 1.500 m. (approx. 5,000 feet)
Distance is less than 20 kms (approx. 12.5 miles)
Suitable for frequent hikers with good physical fitness level and mentally motivated
Hikers should be able to walk up to 6-8 hours

Level Very Strenuous

Elevation gain is more than 1,500 m. (approx. 5,000 feet)
Distance is more than 20 kms (approx. 12,5 miles) Motivation and high physical fitness level are required as speed is important to complete the itinerary
Hikers should be able to walk over 7-8 hours

By choosing one of the Activities you declare  to understand the Hiking Difficulty Levels and to be capable of performing the Activity itself.


Things to bring on a hut-to-hut multi-day trek

Things to bring on a hut-to-hut multi-day trek 2000 1333 TrekMI

The majestic sceneries of the Italian Alps are also home to some of the world’s most unique mountain huts – called “rifugi” in Italian. Staying overnight in one of these mountain huts will grant you a far more immersive experience. Allowing you to enjoy delicious local cuisine, view amazing sunsets and spectacular clear, star-lit night skies. The Italian Alpine Club operates a significant number of mountain huts on the national territory and sets the rules and behaviors to be observed when approaching them.  

Mountain huts are intended to provide food and shelter to mountaineers, climbers and hikers. You’d be surprised to experience how  convenient and user friendly they are. Many huts have running water, offer showers (for an additional fee) and electricity. In general, the more frequented the hut, the more facilities you can expect. But make no mistake, due to the remote environment in which they are located, mountain huts are not to be compared to modern city hotels. 

That said, here is a list of suggested things to bring with you when choosing a hut to hut multi-day trek. Things (some of which required and/or not provided by the hut’s management) that will surely make your stay much more comfortable and convenient. A medium size backpack (approximately 40 litres of gear capacity) should be big enough to carry all of your needs for a few days.

– SLEEPING BAG LINER – Mountain huts normally come equipped with duvets and pillows which by no means can be washed every day. It is therefore mandatory to sleep inside your own sleeping bag liner in order to keep the sheets clean for the next hiker. We recommend silk liners due to the fact that they are compact and  lightweight. 

– QUICK DRYING TOWEL – Most huts are provided with running water and have showers (for an additional fee). You’ll want a quick drying medium size microfibre towel for your convenience. You don’t want to put something wet in your backpack! 

– PERSONAL TOILETRY – Toothbrush, toothpaste and shower gel. Wet wipes are handy if you decide to skip the shower. Remember however, the more you bring the heavier your backpack! 

– SLIPPERS – Slippers used to be provided in all mountain huts, but with the threat of covid-19, hikers are now required to bring their own. If you’re planning on taking a shower opt we recommend plastic ones. 

– CASH  –  Cash is king!  Not all mountain huts have credit/debit card payment systems and even when they do, it doesn’t mean they’ll get a good signal to make them work. Always bring enough cash to cover all expenses.  

– HEADLAMP  – Most mountain huts have electricity (provided by solar panels or generators). Having a headlamp is both useful and courteous. Especially at night if you need to move about or if you arrive and someone is already sleeping in the dorm. 

– EAR PLUGS  –  Although some mountain huts offer private accommodation, rooms are normally arranged as mixed dorms with bunk beds. Sometimes you can hear noise through the walls. Also expect the possibility of sharing a room with a person who might snore as well as the person next door!

– CLEAN AND COMFORTABLE CLOTHES FOR THE HUT – You’ll want a clean shirt, clean underwear, warm socks and a pair of comfortable trousers to change into once you arrive that you can use also as pajamas. 

– SPARE BATTERIES/POWER BANK – Charging stations, normally located in common areas will be limited. Depending on the number of guests, there may be a cue of people waiting to use them to charge their devices. To avoid fighting for them and saving time, bringing spare batteries for you and/or a power bank is definitely a good idea! 

– ALPINE CLUB MEMBERSHIP CARD – No matter which country you’re from, if you’re registered by any international Alpine Club, bring your Membership Card with you as that may grant you special discounts on accomodation and food prices.  

Last but not least, bring with you plenty of… 

– COMMON SENSE! –  According to the Mountain Huts General Regulations, people visiting or staying in a hut shall, at all times, behave as considerate guests. They should do whatever is in their power to avoid disturbing others (for example silence must be observed from 10 p.m. to 6.a.m. unless otherwise specified and playing music is not allowed) nor should they be asking for more than what the hut, its manager or its caretaker can offer. It is also the guest responsibility to keep the hut and its surroundings clean (for instance hiking boots should be removed before entering the sleeping areas and your trash removed with you when you leave) and not to waste any water. Furthermore, in all mountain huts, smoking is not permitted and animals are not allowed.  


Things to bring on a day hike

Things to bring on a day hike 2000 1333 TrekMI

Day hikes are the perfect way to explore Northern Italy’s great outdoors. Regardless of the degree of difficulty of the hike that you’ve chosen and your fitness level, the better prepared and equipped you are, the easier it’ll be to enjoy a stress-free experience. Having a list of what to bring and what not to bring will aid you in packing in the most efficient manner. Remember, you pack it, you carry it! You want to cover your basic comforts and maximize your safety on the trail by keeping your load light.

– APPROPRIATE FOOTWEAR – High-cut hiking boots are required for all itineraries unless otherwise specified. Happy feet make for pleasant hiking! Make sure your hiking boots (or hiking shoes when allowed) are well-fitting, supportive and provide good traction (Vibram-like soles are preferred)

– BACKPACK WITH RAIN COVER – A 15 to 25 litre backpack is ideal for most day hikes. As a general rule, the longer the hike, the more comfort you’ll want from your pack. Make sure there’s sufficient padding on the shoulder straps and back panel. A backpack with hip belt and sternum strap is preferred as it plays an important role in stabilizing the load on the go, stopping it swinging from side to side during active use. A rain cover that suits your backpack will keep your belongings dry in case of wet weather

– WEATHER/SEASON-APPROPRIATE CLOTHING – The best choice is always to dress in layers. This will allow you to add or remove clothing to a point where you are comfortable and where perspiration is able to evaporate readily helping you to stay dry. Wicking synthetic fabrics are preferable to cotton as cotton readily absorbs and retains water leaving you wet and uncomfortable for longer periods of time. When hiking in warm weather, bringing an insulating mid-layer lightweight fleece sweater or a lightweight wind jacket would be preferred. Long or zip-off legs pants are advisable even during summer months for protection from exposure, scratches, nettles and ticks

– RAIN PROTECTION – A season/altitude-appropriate outer layer (or shell layer) such as a waterproof or water-resistant jacket will protect you from both wind and rain. Weather on the mountains is unpredictable and even when starting off on a hot sunny day conditions can change quickly and you’ll want to be prepared

– DRY SPARE CLOTHES – An extra base layer and a pair of hiking socks are a welcome treat if the ones you are wearing get wet

– INSULATING LAYERS FOR THE EXTREMITIES – Head, hands and feet will be the first parts of the body to lose heat in cold conditions causing your whole body to feel uncomfortable. A warm hat that covers your ears, liner or lightweight gloves and a buff to cover your neck and face can become essential during all seasons. Have them with you even if you don’t think you’ll need or use them just in case

– SUN PROTECTION – Sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher), lip balm, sunglasses (that block UV rays) and sun protective clothes, such as a wide-brimmed hat or a cap with brim, should be carried in every season regardless of temperature or cloud covering

– BUG SPRAY – Bugs and ticks aren’t really a problem on the Alps but when you’re hiking at lower altitudes or in some specific areas they may be found. DEET or Picaridin-based insect repellent is good for exposed skin. Permethrin-based spray can be used on clothes and shoes

– PERSONAL MEDICATION – If you’re suffering from any health condition or you have any allergies, make sure you bring with you all medications that you may need to use in case of emergency. At the time of booking and before starting your hike, inform your guide about any condition that may be personally relevant

– HAND SANITIZER AND TISSUES– Having a runny nose while hiking is quite common, so bring tissues (also convenient for going to the toilet!). Sanitizing your hands before eating and after toilet use goes without saying!

– WATER AND FOOD – Pack a 1-ltr water bottle per person. Energy bars, dry fruit or any calorie-dense food to help fuel your body (plan on a small portion for every hour of hiking). Packing a lunch will only be required if specified.

– CAMERA/PHONE – For personal use and taking pictures

– MONEY, ID AND TRAVEL INSURANCE DETAILS – Before, during or after the hike you may want to get a coffee, buy lunch, get a drink or some other local products. So, having some local currency or a credit card is recommended. An identification document should always be carried as well and may be needed in case of emergency as well as the details of your travel insurance. An emergency contact number is also advisable.

– TREKKING POLES – The growing popularity of trekking poles doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily need to use them. However, if you suffer from knee issues or simply feel more comfortable having them, you are welcome to bring them along


4 reasons why you should hire a qualified hiking guide

4 reasons why you should hire a qualified hiking guide 1600 1066 TrekMI

Exploring Italy can be a big mission, especially if you have a limited amount of time and you want to inculde in your travel plan a hiking trip to the mountains. Hiring a local qualified hiking guide (i.e. Mountain Leader) is the best investment you can make to enhance your experience and make it even more enjoyable. Here are four reasons why: 

1. Safety first! Minimize risks 

The Italian Alps are a wonderland of incredibly beautiful places that should be in every traveler’s bucket list. However, for their nature, the Alps can be a challenging and, at times, hostile environment. Being prepared about the route to follow, aware of the weather conditions, well equipped and phisically fit are all essential requirements to lower the risks connected to outdoor activities but sometimes not sufficient to keep you safe. A qualified Mountain Leader is a professional who has undergone a year-long course and trained to provide a higher degree of safety. A Mountain Leader is educated in multiple subjects, including First Aid (BLSD certification), land navigation, risks management and evacuation proceedures. The expertise of a Mountain Leader, their knowledge of the areas and capacity to assess and prevent risks, are key in ensuring a safer and more enjoyable experience of the mountains. 

2. Customize your experience 

Not knowing the areas that they’re going to explore makes it quite difficult for firt-time visitors to choose the best itinerary that suits their needs. A local guide can work with you to come up with the best possible plan based on your desires and capabilities. For instance, when heading to the mountains it is fundamental to match the hiking difficulty of a trail (technical grade) to your fitness level. Based on your answers to a few simple questions, considered your target (for example whether you’re a family with kids, a couple or a group of friends) and your interests, an experienced Mountain Leader can taylor your hike choosing from a variety of itineraries that you may not even know they exist. Whether a one day hike, a multi-day trek or a mix of hiking, biking and sightseeing, a private guide can customize your travel plan and make it your perfect getaway experience! 

3. Optimize your time and money  

When you travel to a new country it can be hard to know how to move around. That happens in a city you’re not familiar with and gets even more challenging when it comes to mountaineous regions. The Alps are never too easy to reach. Public transportation is not so frequent nor always available and driving a car along steep winding roads in a foreign country is an challenge you may not want to face. Quite often the trailheads are not easy to find and the signs tough to understand (especially if you don’t speak the local language). When you’re on vacation every minute counts and you don’t want to waste time, money or even risk getting lost. A local guide can help you make the best out of your visit by taking care of all the logistics such as organizing transport and making reservations at local prices. Also, a local guide will have a backup plan in case the conditions are not good for carrying on the first programme. This will help you save time and energy while making your trip a much better and more relaxing experience 

4. Get an insider knowledge and live like a local! 

The best way to explore a destination is always with a local. A certified local guide, born and bred in the area, is a great source of knowledge. She can teach you about the history, geography, geology and wildlife of the areas you’re visiting. A local guide is person who knows the places you’re exploring inside out, who can tell you stories that are not written in any guide book and to whom you can ask any question that sparks your curiosity. A local guide can take you to places that you would never know about, will show you things that you would never notice and teach you all about the culture and customs of her country from a local’s perpective. She can take you off the beaten path and provide you with additional information to enrich your experience and make it even more immersive, more local! Chances are you’ll learn something new and much more than you could do on your own. Last but not least, a local guide knows where they serve the best food and that’s something fundamental when it comes to a country like Italy! A local guide is a new found friend in a foreign country and a contact you may rely on any time you’re coming back.  

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