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Everything About Traveling the Mountains Part 1

Updated on September 4, 2015

The Weather Change

The mountain weather is a mess - it changes all the time. It can change so many times in one day you can grow frustrated by how many times you will have to put on or take of clothes. Do you know why is that?

Let`s just think for a moment. What are the differences between the city and the mountain? Usually the altitude and the geographical relief (the terrain). Because of the altitude there is the temperature change - when you`re higher you are further from the center of the Earth (the Core), which means the ground in the mountains is colder. Besides, the city is full of so many things that are cause for it being warmer. Like the cars, the concrete in the buildings and the roads absorbs warmth from the Sun, and, of course, the many factories. Now you would say that the closer you are to the sun, the more warmer you get. That`s not actually true, but it does have an effect on you (more on that later).

The second thing that effects the weather in the mountains is the terrain. The higher you go, the less a barrier you have that can stop the wind. And let`s face it - you can get really cold if you are not in lee. And on the other side the wind is the one that controls the clouds, therefor the rain, too. Cities are usually placed on a place where there`s no wind, but if it has wind, it`s not a cold one. On the other hand it`s predictable.

There you go: the higher you go, the colder it gets. So when you go in the mountain you have to think like there aren`t seasons in the mountains. Even if it`s summer it can get so cold you will think it`s winter. But what do we do, you ask. That`s simple - you pack for all four seasons.

Clothes for the Mountains

When you pack you have to think of every possibility of the weather and the route you will walk. So let's start at the basics.

This checklist is optional and for people who are going hiking for days and will carry all luggage on their backs. If that's not the case with you, then feel free to add whatever suits you better.

  1. You will need 2-3 T-shirts and i recommend you wash them every time you have the opportunity. just a tip: don't use cotton.
  2. You need is 1 long-sleeved shirt. It's really useful for protecting yourself from burning.
  3. You will also need 1 sweater, as lighter as you can find (regarding weight).
  4. A rain- and windproof jacket (only 1 jacket with those characteristics) is essential for surviving. And when I say surviving I mean it - if you get sick in the mountain it can get really hard in no time.
  5. No matter what the weather is you will need hiking pants. If you want other kind of pants, get them, too, but do NOT forget the hiking pants. They are usually made of specific fabric that dries quickly and they keep you warm if it's cold and they "breath" so if it's warm the long pants don't bother you. On the other hand they protect your legs form the sun, the bugs and the rocks.
  6. Socks! Long ones! It is very important. I usually get 3 to 5 pairs.
  7. The underwear is something you can figure out yourself. I have only one tip for the girls - try not wearing one, or if you do, then try a sports bra. From personal experience: after 4-5 ours of constant movement it starts itching. It's not pleasant.
  8. I recommend a pair of simple and warm leggings. It can be useful when one's asleep or gets cold. I wear them under the pants.
  9. A hat and/or scarf are very important. You don't want to get a sunstroke, right?

Very Useful Tools

  1. WATER. It is one of the most important things. Drink often. Fill up your bottles every time you can. I recommend taking two bottles of 500 ml each.
  2. Sun cream. No need for explanation. Just try to find a little bottle - take only as much as you will need.
  3. Repellent, you will only need it if your hike will be in the forest where there are mosquitoes and other bugs.
  4. The gloves are something you should try and see for yourself if you need it.
  5. You will certainly need a flashlight, I recommend a headlamp.
  6. The Swiss knife is also very useful.
  7. Sunglasses. I lost mine the last time and i regretted it afterwards.
  8. A lighter is useful in the woods for starting fire.
  9. Last but definitely not least is the First Aid Gear. Take pain relievers and bandages. Last time I went on a big hike I needed them everyday. Take some medicine for the immune system. You will use it. Every night on that same hike I had a temperature and my medicine helped me a lot to recover from the fatigue from the all-day walking.

What kind of trip are you planning in the mountains?

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Equipment

This, by my opinion, is the most important thing. If you have the wrong bag or uncomfortable shoes, your whole trip can go wrong.

Let's start with the shoes. You're asking what in heaven can go wrong? First of all, you can get blisters. And let's face it - walking all day with blisters is like walking through hell. The second thing, that could happen, is that you can tear your shoes apart just by walking. Believe me, it is not fun. How? Well, when your shoes are not specifically made for hikes, they could rip open or brake or the sole could fall off the shoe itself. And you don't want to turn out in the middle of nowhere, where the civilization is hours away with no shoes whatsoever.

So what do we do to prevent that? We buy the right shoes. Go to the best sports store you know, or if you don't know any, then ask or search the web, and ask there to show you their hiking shoes. It is very important that your shoes are water-proofed. If they're not, then probably by the first rain you're gonna be ill. Next thing you need to look out for is that the shoes are actually hiking boots. That way when you tie them, you will secure your ankle and it will be much harder to sprain it. And about the ties, I recommend if your boots don't have long ties, to buy a pair. It is much easier to tie with long ties and it is more firm and tight. I personally prefer that I get one size bigger than my usual - my toes don't get crushed on a downhill. But you should experiment and try if it works for you. It is preferable the the sole has a good grip. For that you should ask the shop assistant. Besides that, the shoes/boots should be comfortable and as light as possible.

Preventing blisters by tying your shoes right
Preventing blisters by tying your shoes right

The second thing from the equipment that you need to consider is the backpack.

Now where can I go wrong with that? You'll be surprised if you actually go with a backpack that doesn't fit the type of trip you are going on. If you have too much space you could take more stuff than you need and add unnecessary weight on your back. The opposite is possible, too. If you don't have enough space the you will leave something that unfortunately at some point you will need. Besides that, if you carry the wrong backpack your back will hurt and it will be uncomfortable.


(click column header to sort results)
Length of trip  
Pack capacity (liters)  
Weekend (1–3 nights)
35–50
Multiday (3–5 nights)
50–80
Extended (5+ nights)
70+
  • Weekend (1–3 nights; 35–50 liters)

    Efficient packers using newer, less-bulky gear can really keep things light on 1- to 3-night trips by using a pack in this range. Be aware that packing light requires self-discipline and careful planning. If you can pull it off, though, the light-on-your-feet rewards are fantastic.


    Extended-trip (5+ nights; 70 liters or larger)

    Extended trips of 5 days or more usually call for packs of 70 liters or larger. These are also usually the preferred choice for:

    • Winter treks lasting more than 1 night. Larger packs can more comfortably accommodate extra clothing, a warmer sleeping bag and a 4-season tent (which typically includes extra poles).
    • Adults taking young children backpacking. Mom and Dad wind up carrying a lot of kids’ gear to make the experience enjoyable for their young ones.
  • Climbing Packs

    REI also carries packs designed primarily asclimbing packs. Most have modest capacities that are appropriate only for day trips or overnighters. Common features include:

    • The ability to strip down the pack to its minimal weight (removing the lid, framesheet and possibly the hipbelt) for use during a summit push.
    • A narrower, sleeker, sometimes higher profile than a usual packbag, permitting unencumbered arm movement.
    • Several lash-on points for external tool attachment.
    • A daisy chain—a length of webbing stitched to the outside of a pack—to provide multiple gear loops for attaching a helmet or tools.
    • A reinforced crampon patch (to prevent crampon points from gouging holes in the packbag).
    • Gear loops on the hipbelt or low on the pack body, useful as clip-on points for gear or possibly as attachment points for skis.

Backpack Fit

Once you’ve chosen the type of backpack you want, the next step is to ask a shop assistant to expertly fit you to your pack.

The right fit is one that offers:

  • A size appropriate for your torso length (not your overall height).
  • A comfortably snug grip on your hips.

Torso Length

Some packs are available in multiple sizes, from extra small to large, which fit a range of torso lengths. These ranges vary by manufacturer and by gender. Check the product specs tab for size details of a specific pack.

Other packs may feature an adjustable suspension, which can be modified to fit your torso, especially if you’re in between sizes. The drawback: An adjustable harness adds a little weight to a pack.

Waist Size

The majority of a backpack’s weight, 80% or more, should be supported by your hips.

Backpack hipbelts usually accommodate a wide range of hip sizes, from the mid-20 inches to the mid-40 inches.

People with narrow waists sometimes find they cannot make a standard hipbelt tight enough and need a smaller size. Some packs offer interchangeable hipbelts, making it possible to swap out one size for another.

Women-Specific Backpacks

These are engineered specifically to conform to the female frame. Torso dimensions are generally shorter and narrower than men’s packs. And hipbelts and shoulder straps are contoured with the female form in mind.

Youth-Specific Backpacks

These typically offer smaller capacities and include an adjustable suspension to accommodate a child’s growth. Women’s backpacks, with their smaller frame sizes, often work well for young backpackers of either gender. So do small versions of some men’s packs.


Packing right

Cast your vote for The Mountains

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      kate 2 years ago

      is there going to be a part 2?

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      jake martinson 2 years ago

      this is really helpful and i'll definitaly use some of the advise. thank you, deleka :) hope to see more of you here ;)

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