All posts with the keyword ‘Trekking’

STANDING FREELY WITH YOUR CAMPER VAN – A JOURNEY THROUGH THE (CONFUSING) LAWS OF EUROPE

19. October 2020
Tips and Tricks

Recently I had an idea: Why not just pack the camper and drive across Europe? Just travel and stay where I like or love it. The idea is generally not a bad one, but there are a few things to keep in mind, because you cannot simply park your camper or motorhome at the roadside or on the next best parking lot in Europe. In some European countries this is completely forbidden, in others there are strict rules and other countries have time or regional restrictions. So let’s bring a little light into the darkness and share Europe!

Before we start, one more remark: The regulations for camper parking spaces within Europe are sometimes very complex and confusing. This blog post only serves to give a rough overview of the individual countries. Often, however, regulations that only apply to a small region, a community or a specific season are also applicable. It should also be clear that we can only present the official rules and laws here. How they are implemented in the different countries and locations often depends on many factors that can only be summarized in a few cases. So don’t assume that this article is entirely accurate and complete and recheck the exact rules before starting your trip.

So, enough talking, here we go:

BAD NEWS FIRST – WILD CAMPING IS ALSO FORBIDDEN WITH THE MOTORHOME

In many European countries, free standing is unfortunately strictly prohibited. This has many different reasons, which are not always logical. In principle, however, one should stick to the prohibitions here, as otherwise (and especially in vacation regions) disregarding can lead to expensive fines. Furthermore, it probably does not help to relax if you are woken up by a police patrol in the middle of the night and are asked to drive on or to visit a camping site.

Nevertheless, in most countries there are good alternatives to conventional campsites. In many places, municipalities have designated camping sites. These are mostly conveniently located parking lots where standing is allowed for one night. However, if you want to spend the night on a pitch, you should inform yourself in advance what facilities (electricity, sanitary facilities, etc.) are available there and what the basic rules of conduct are. For example, it is often not allowed to put up chairs or extend the awning.

Another alternative in some countries may be standing on private ground. So if you don’t shy away from contact with the local population and have some diplomatic skills, you might have the chance to persuade a farmer or landowner to camp on his land. However, be careful, because in some countries even staying overnight in a camper van or motor home is not allowed.

Netherlands and Luxembourg

My first thought was: “That cannot be true!” I mean, the Netherlands are the camping country par excellence. But in reality it looks like the rules are very strict. In the Netherlands it is not uncommon to be punished with heavy penalties for standing freely. Luxembourg is no exception, so that in good conscience only the camping site or an officially designated pitch remains.

Switzerland

Also in Switzerland free standing is not allowed. Although there may be regional differences with regard to the exact legal situation and its enforcement, standing freely is and remains prohibited. In order to lend additional emphasis to this prohibition, there are signs on almost every parking lot that prohibit the parking of motor homes at night. There is, however, one ray of hope: Switzerland has numerous good parking spaces, which are not only beautifully located, but also surprisingly inexpensive in price.

CZECH REPUBLIC

Unfortunately, there is no precise legislation in the Czech Republic that regulates overnight stays in vehicles. In principle, camping is only allowed on designated campsites or pitches, which in turn prohibits wild camping (even though there is no specific legal text on this). This regulation also includes free standing with the motorhome.

Whoever is just passing through and would like to spend a night in the car (the smaller and more inconspicuous the Womo the better) can possibly get away with the legal grey area of “overtiredness” or “restoration of driving ability”. However, this should really only be seen as an emergency solution and is no guarantee that the police won’t drop by in the middle of the night and ask what’s going on.

IBERIAN PENINSULA

In Spain, wild camping or free standing with the motorhome is generally prohibited. However there is no nationwide regulation, which makes the exact legal situation very unclear. In some parts of the country even camping on private property is forbidden, even if one can prove the consent of the owner. In other parts of the country, the ban on wild camping is seen a little more relaxed. Basically, however, you should visit official camping sites in Spain. It is also important to pay attention to the current rules and regulations, because also here a violation can lead to penalties.

The situation in Portugal is similar to Spain. Standing freely is generally not allowed. Instead, you can fall back on a very good network of camping sites there.
An overview of the sites and their facilities can be found on the website of Turismo de Portugal.

The Balkans

Basically it can be said that free standing and wild camping of any kind is forbidden in the Balkans. Nevertheless, each country has its own laws, which in some places even differ from region to region. What applies where and how is often not clear to outsiders. In Greece, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and Hungary you should look for a camping site or pitch. Otherwise, standing on private ground with the consent of the owner would also be an option.

If you already thought: “Damn, these are many countries with strict rules”, it could be even worse. In Bulgaria and Croatia not only the free standing is forbidden, also on private ground may not be spent the night in the camper, motor home or caravan. That is, even if you meet a hospitable population and for example a farmer gives you permission to stand on his meadow for one night, camping itself remains illegal and can lead to the fact that you are woken at night roughly by the police.

YES, NO, MAYBE – FREE STANDING IS POSSIBLE IN THESE COUNTRIES

There are countries in which free standing is neither really allowed nor really forbidden. Some countries allow free standing in principle, but then restrict it again strongly with regional or municipal bans. Others prohibit free standing by law, but do not prosecute it and thus tolerate the actually illegal behavior.

However, it is very important: If you want to stand freely in these countries, do it as unobtrusively as possible. I don’t mean hidden behind thick bushes, but rather that you behave impeccably. So don’t leave any garbage behind, don’t block a lot of parking spaces with your motorhome just because it’s more beautiful then and also hold back with loud music etc. Because one thing you should always keep in mind: One is often only tolerated here and a well-meant gesture quickly turns into the opposite if it is abused.

ICELAND

On Iceland, wild camping, as well as free standing with the camper is officially forbidden. However, this ban has often not been followed in the past, or in other words: free standing was tolerated for one night. In recent years, however, the volume of tourism on the island has increased significantly. This and the unfortunately not seldom inconsiderate behavior of some vacationers led however to the fact that the legal regulation was clearly intensified and is also implemented. In short: If you don’t want to get into trouble here, you should definitely go to a camping site.

FRANCE

Unfortunately, the legal situation in France is totally confusing. Here almost every place has its own regulations concerning wild camping or free standing. That means: First of all, wild camping is not forbidden in principle, but each community decides for itself how to deal with this issue. Each community can also designate special places, locations or areas where camping is allowed. Sometimes these are larger parking lots or the local Camping Municipal. However, camping is forbidden in nature reserves and in the immediate vicinity of springs, sights and monuments.

This does not mean that you cannot stand freely in France, you have to inform yourself on the spot.

A good alternative is also the “France Passion” system. This is a directory that lists over 2000 free parking spaces on private land throughout France. It is not uncommon to find farms or wineries that officially offer one night’s free parking for self-sufficient mobile homes.

GREAT BRITAIN

While free standing is possible in many places in Scotland, different regulations apply in England and Wales. So it is important to know the regional differences for Great Britain. In Scotland, if you keep a reasonable distance (of about 15-20 meters) from public roads, do not disturb or obstruct anyone and (if necessary) get the landowner’s OK, you are absolutely on the safe side.

In England and Wales the rules are much stricter. Nearly all parking spaces there have signs that explicitly prohibit standing overnight. Whoever stops here, however, must expect to be approached by the local law enforcement officers. But if you have the permission of the owner to camp on his private property, there should be no further problems.

AUSTRIA

Similar to France, municipalities and communities in Austria often cook their own little soup. Unfortunately, there is therefore no generally valid regulation. Depending on the area, standing for one night is tolerated. In the regions of Tyrol and Vienna, however, wild camping is prohibited throughout the country. How it behaves with the respective regulations exactly, one inquires best locally. In Austria there are also two large camping clubs, which can provide information.

YAY, THEY STILL EXIST! – THESE COUNTRIES ALLOW FREE STANDING

First of all: The fact that free standing is allowed or at least not prohibited does not mean that you can do whatever you want. Not breaking anything, not leaving any garbage behind, not disturbing anybody and behaving inconspicuously are only the basic rules, which one should actually always keep to anyway. In addition, many countries have additional regulations concerning free standing.

BELGIUM, ITALY, DENMARK AND GERMANY

In Germany you are allowed to stay with your motorhome for one night (and no longer) wherever it is not expressly forbidden. Whoever does this, however, should be aware of the exact legal situation, because this “interruption of the journey” officially only serves the “regeneration of fitness to drive“. Concretely: Whoever feels too tired to continue driving, no matter what time of day, should be allowed to stop in a suitable parking lot and rest until they can drive on again.

However, it is always difficult to define where “restoring fitness to drive” ends and where “camping” begins. If you make use of this regulation, you should never put out chairs, extend the awning, start a great barbecue or any similar activity. It is also recommended to “arrive” as late as possible and continue early the next day. As a rule, a standing time of no longer than 10 hours is assumed. So if you are passing through or want to spend one or two days in areas where the official campsites are clumsy, you will certainly get along well with this regulation.

This regulation applies in principle also to Belgium, Denmark and Italy. Unfortunately, in reality, many parking lots are equipped with prohibition signs. In Italy, this is especially the case in regions with a lot of tourism. It is also not uncommon for motor homes to be banned from entering these areas.

NORWAY AND SWEDEN

Also in Sweden and Norway, free standing is subject to certain conditions and should not be equated with the well-known ‘Everyman’s Right’. Staying overnight at a place outside an official camping or parking site is generally limited to one night. It is also not allowed to drive on forest roads, pathless terrain or nature reserves. In many places there are also regional regulations and bans. However, if you set up your caravan near the road away from populated areas in such a way that you do not obstruct anyone and do not damage the ground, you can easily camp here for one night with a motor home.

CONCLUSION

For many countries it is difficult to make clear and generally valid statements. If you are not sure which regulation applies to your vacation country or region, the tourism associations of the individual countries often help. The ADAC also provides a lot of useful information on this subject.

But no matter which local rules apply, one thing always applies in any case: Take your garbage with you and don’t bother or hinder anyone. After all, if you’re traveling in foreign countries, you’ll usually get more out of your vacation if you can make good time with the locals. And in this way it already worked sometimes that after a purchase of fruit, vegetable or wine from the regional producer, the camping permit on the property was given.

If travelling with a motorhome seems a bit too tricky to you and you are still considering switching to a tent, we will gladly forward you to the corresponding article about wild camping with a tent. In this sense “on the road again”…

Modal fabric: What is it?

12. October 2020
Equipment

In a nutshell, modal fabric is a mix of both synthetic and natural fibres.

But, let’s first take a look at how modal came about: It was created in the 60s during a search for new textile materials whose raw materials can be grown in central Europe.

For a long time, the textiles that emerged were used for specialty garments. However, ever since the interest in both an outdoor-lifestyle and sustainability grew, the demand of such fabrics (such as modal) has grown exponentially.

Synthetic or natural?

Modal is a fibre obtained by beech tree pulp, is chemically processed and is one of the nine regenerated fibres distributed in the world that consists of naturally renewable (“regenerated”) raw materials. Some other known regenerated fibres in the outdoor industry include viscose and Tencel. Plus, these fabrics are made of wood’s cellulose and are therefore called “chemical natural fibres” in contrast to pure natural fibres and synthetic fibres.

Modal is a “structurally-modified viscose with a higher degree of polymerisation (above 400 to 700) compared to normal viscose“. Due to this molecular “update”, modal obtains more functional advantages compared to viscose and is sometimes referred to as “the better viscose.” One of its advantages includes its amazing tensile strength when wet, which is especially useful for outdoor use. Also, modal is more durable, abrasion-resistant and is less prone to shrinkage compared to viscose.

In addition, two types of modal with slightly different functional emphases have been developed: a Polynosic (PN) type that can be optimally blended with cotton and a HWM (High Wet Modulus) type, which features a higher breaking strength and tensile strength. You can read more about this topic in the properties section.

How is it manufactured?

As already mention, modal consists of a raw material called beech wood. And, while viscose can be produced from various basic materials, beech wood is specifically used for modal. Now, let’s take a look at the production process: the wood is first debarked and chipped. Then, these chips are processed using a multi-stage chemical solution process and are then spun mechanically with a spinneret to form the fibres. As a result, cellulose fibres are produced.

Properties

Modal has the ability to combine the advantages of natural and synthetic fibres, without taking on any of their disadvantages. So, modal is a lot more durable than cotton, but still offers the equivalent amount of comfort. And, in comparison to other synthetic fibres, such as polyester, it provides just as much moisture management and feels even softer on the skin.

Both comfort and a pleasant microclimate are modal’s greatest advantages thanks to the fabric’s ability to absorb water and to quickly wick away moisture. Plus, modal absorbs 50% more moisture than cotton. Another advantage: the fabric is super breathable, which now brings us to modal’s amazing functionality. Here, many properties can be mentioned, for example, modal is very stretchy, durable, dimensionally stable, insensitive to heat and easy to care for. In other words, you can throw it into the washing machine and in the dryer without fear of damage, shrinkage or change of colour. And, no matter how many times the modal gets wet, it won’t affect its durability.

Up to now, modal has mainly been processed in fibre blends, where it often has a positive effect on the other fibres’ properties. For instance, cotton becomes softer, silk becomes more durable and linen becomes more stretchy.

Feel and comfort

When it comes to comfort, modal is super impressive. Its fibres’ smooth surface ensures not only softness but also comfort and a silky sheen. Speaking of silk, when touching modal, it’ll feel as if you’re touching silk.

So, it’s not surprising that modal is pleasant to the skin and great for both allergy sufferers and individuals with sensitive skin. As a result of its softness, you’ll mainly find modal in your underwear and other garments that are worn close to the skin. And, despite its softness, garments made of modal and modal blends don’t “sag”, but rather provide a great fit. This is due to the fact that the fabric is elastic, maintains its shape and remains comfortable even after several washes.

Modal for outdoor use

Modal is typically used to make underwear, shirts and long sleeves. And, its functionality really shines through with these garments.

Since modal is cooling rather than warming, it isn’t very windproof and weatherproof. So, modal will boast its amazing properties during strenuous activities and in hot temperatures. However, to create warm outdoor base layers, modal can be combined with merino wool to balance the temperature inside the garment (like an air conditioner).

Classification and comparisons

When comparing modal to natural fibres, such as cotton, or synthetic fibres, such as polyester, you’ll notice that modal stands-out in terms of functionality and eco-friendliness. Plus, in the field of synthetic/natural regenerated fibres, modal is a close-second to TENCEL Lyocell. However, the latter fabric is produced exclusively by the Austrian company called Lenzing AG. As a result, modal is likely to be more readily available in the long term and a tad cheaper. In addition to the TENCEL Lyocell, the company also produces a particularly eco-friendly modal fibre called “Modal Edelweiss”.

In terms of sustainability, the eco-friendly modal is better-than-average in terms of water consumption, energy consumption, land use, use of pesticides and pollutants and waste products compared to natural and synthetic fibres. And, unlike synthetic fibres, the production of modal doesn’t involve the use of fossil raw materials, such as petroleum and natural gas. It’s even more sustainable than natural materials, such as organic cotton, because less water and energy are needed to produce and process modal. As an example, the above-mentioned “Modal Edelweiss” from Lenzing was produced in a closed cycle, where 95% of the chemicals were recovered.

Care

As always, when buying a new garment made of modal, you should keep and read the instructions indicated on the care label. Plus, although modal is very easy to care for, you’ll get the most out of it with the right care. So, here are a few simple tips:

  • Washing the garment with the quick wash cycle prevents unnecessary stress.
  • Reducing the spin speed to a maximum of 600 rpm will also reduce stress.
  • Modal can also be ironed at a low or medium temperature. But luckily, ironing is usually not necessary, since the fabric doesn’t crease.

Hotel Europe – Where is wild camping permitted?

1. October 2020
Tips and Tricks

Simply grab your tent, get outside and set up camp anywhere with a nice view. That would be amazing… but it’s unfortunately not as easy as you might imagine. Because in many European countries, wild camping is prohibited or is subject to strict regulations. Plus, since there is no single Europe-wide rule, you may get into some trouble with the local law enforcement agents. So, we’ve decided to take a closer look at Germany’s extended neighbouring countries and will give you a few tips on how wild camping is regulated in the individual countries.

In some cases, however, the legal situation is unclear and it’s sometimes hard to keep an overview without having spent years in law school. In addition, different municipalities or regions within individual countries have different regulations. So, in extreme cases, what was clearly allowed is now completely forbidden and vice versa. Our list is by no means complete. And, if you don’t feel like ruining your vacation budget with a hefty fine or locked up for a night, you should definitely inform yourself before your trip on your destination’s rules.

Camping or bivouacking?

This question is often the heart of the matter. As our colleague Anni has already mentioned in her article on wild camping in Germany, there’s often a considerable difference. For example, setting up a tent for one night in a field, forest or meadow in Germany is prohibited (with some exceptions). However, setting up an (emergency) bivouac, i.e. staying overnight only with a sleeping bag, a sleeping mat and, if necessary, a tarp, is not explicitly regulated by law in Germany. So, is bivouacking permitted or forbidden? But, we’re only talking about bivouacking here, not camping!

The promised land – where wild camping is allowed

Hurray, they still exist: Countries where wild camping is generally permitted. But, there is an exception to every rule. The statement does apply to these countries, but you should properly inform yourself about the special local specificities before travelling.

Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania

Wild camping is permitted in the Baltic States. But, camping is only allowed outside of national parks, nature reserves and private properties. However, there are a few things to be taken into consideration. Noise is taboo and animals shouldn’t be disturbed by it. And, you should avoid harming the nature around you. Although wild camping is generally permitted throughout the Baltic States, regional or temporary restrictions may apply. And, it’s prohibited to camp or bivouac in both national parks and nature reserves.

Finland, Norway, Sweden

Scandinavia is probably an absolute paradise for many wild campers. Bivouacking and camping is allowed there based on the everyman’s right. Plus, this rule also applies to private property, but not to agricultural areas and you should also make sure that the tent is not set up near individual homes. For example, it’s permitted to pitch your tent on private land for up to two days at a distance of at least 150 m from inhabited houses in Norway. However, stricter rules may apply in nature reserves and national parks. Here, camping is permitted for up to two nights in all areas that fall under everyman’s right. And, the same applies here as everywhere else: Don’t break anything and take your rubbish with you. You can find more information here: Finland, Norway, Sweden.

Scotland

In Great Britain there is no general regulation on wild camping. This means that England, Wales and Scotland have completely different laws. However, wild camping is only explicitly permitted in Scotland. There, wild camping is regulated by the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. This code states all important do’s and don’ts. And, there are places like nature reserves or private land that are subject to special regulations, of course. But, outside these areas, camping and bivouacking are allowed for one night.

Yes, no, maybe – wild camping is partly tolerated here

In countries such as Germany or France, wild camping is actually prohibited and is punishable by fine. But, there are legal (!) ways to go around these rules.

Denmark

For the time being, wild camping is also prohibited here. So, you can expect controls and possible fines in touristy areas. However, you can camp at some places (outside typical campsites) without a problem. For example, there are many forests in Denmark where camping is legal. But, it’s important to follow the rules that apply there. Here are the rules at a glance:

  • You can only stay one night in the same place
  • A maximum of two small tents (with a maximum of 3 persons each) may be set up in the same spot
  • The tents must be set up out of sight of houses, streets, etc.
  • If at all, fires are only allowed at designated fireplaces.
  • Due to the risk of forest fires, only very safe storm-proof stoves may be used. And, individual areas can be closed if there’s a high risk of forest fires.

In addition, Denmark also has designated natural campsites with (occasionally) running water, a simple toilet and fireplaces. This map shows you, where these areas are (only available in Danish). Further information on this subject is also available (also only available in Danish) by the Danish Nature Authority. Here, you can also find a link to the list/map of the approved-for-wild-camping forest areas.

Belgium and the Netherlands

In both Belgium and the Netherlands, the situation with wild camping is similar to that of Denmark’s. Camping is also not allowed anywhere on the plains and you may even get fined. But, the good news is that especially in the Netherlands, but also in parts of Belgium, there’s a legal way to set up your tent city in the wild: the Paalkamperen, literally “pile camping”. Although it may sound like it, it doesn’t require you to set up your tent or bivouac on poles. Rather, it says something about the legal campsites themselves. Whenever you see a pole with a special sign that isn’t in the vicinity of a campsite, that means that you can camp. So, just set up your things at around a 10-metre radius around the pole. But, there are some other important rules that must be noted:

  • The stay may not exceed three days or 72 hours. In some areas, you’re only permitted to stay for one night.
  • A maximum of three small tents may be set up at the same time.
  • You must take your rubbish with you.
  • Open fires are absolutely prohibited. However, you may use a gas stove.

These are the basic rules, but you’ll find specific regulations that apply to the site you’re at on the pole. Here, you can also find overview maps for Belgium and the Netherlands (only available in Dutch).

Germany

As already mentioned, the legal situation in Germany is quite confusing. However, those who only bivouac (i.e. stay overnight without a tent) usually don’t violate any laws. But, you should always inform yourself in advance on the regulations of the specific state. More detailed information can be found in our blog post on wild camping in Germany.

France

The situation in France is just as confusing as in Germany. Basically, wild camping is forbidden here. And, the authorities especially control tourist centres and borders and may give out some hefty fines. Some communities do however have designated areas for wild camping. Signs that say “Camping reglementé – s’adresser à la mairie” indicate exactly this. This means that you should contact the town hall/mayor’s office for more information about wild camping. Then, you should receive a list or a small plan with information on where to put up your tent for one night in the extended urban area. However, camping is absolutely prohibited in national parks. So, it’s similar to Germany, but not when it comes to bivouacking. In other words, bivouacking at an adequate distance from the exit of a National Park (at least one hour on foot) is tolerated between 7 pm to 9 am. And, you can usually find a list of information about bivouacking at the entrances to the national parks.

Austria

In Austria, wild camping is regulated differently from state to state and you can even receive extremely high fines. Plus, the tent can theoretically also be confiscated. For this reason, it’s very important to know the local rules. As a rule of thumb: Camping in forest areas is not allowed under any circumstances. Camping on private property is also prohibited without the owner’s consent. However, there are exceptions to this rule, especially on barren alpine land above the tree line. Plus, in some states, such as in Burgenland, small groups may camp for up to three days, but in other states, such as Lower Austria, it’s strictly forbidden to set up tents outside of designated campsites. Also important to note: unplanned, emergency bivouacking (for example in the event of an injury or bad weather) is tolerated everywhere, but deliberate bivouacking is punishable by hefty fines, just like camping. A detailed overview with information on where, how and what can be found on of the Austrian Alpine Club website (only available in German).

Switzerland

Even in Switzerland, wild camping is not uniformly regulated, so different restrictions apply from canton to canton. In addition, entry restrictions or stricter nature protection laws may apply to individual areas and may automatically exclude camping. But, in general, camping and bivouacking becomes less problematic with the height of the location, so you should follow the below mentioned rules:

  • Camping and bivouacking is prohibited in these nature reserves: Swiss National Park, federal hunting reserves (game reserve), various nature reserves, quiet zones (during the closed season).
  • These areas should be avoided: Forests, meadows and wetlands.
  • In these areas, special consideration is required: In the vicinity of mountain huts (consultation with the owner required) and close to climbing areas (note the breeding season of cliff-breeding birds).
  • Wild camping is safe here: above the tree line, alpine pastures, rocky terrain.

Important information on wild camping in Switzerland as well as how to behave can be found on the SAC’s homepage (only available in German).

Caution whilst choosing a site – wild camping is prohibited

Wild camping is generally banned in Europe. And, in some countries, punishments are only to be expected at the borders and in touristy areas, while others are subject to stricter controls. In general, camping, etc. is not allowed outside designated campsites in most countries. However, things look a little different when it comes to private property. For example, you can camp on a farmer’s meadow after consulting with them. A little tip: Either knowing a few words in the local language or gifting a good bottle of wine can work wonders. And, if you’re staying on a self-sufficient farmer’s land for example, it’s both practical and helpful to buy some milk, eggs, fruit, etc. from them. Not only does this help break the ice but you’ll even receive something tasty in exchange.

Here are two more examples of how prohibitions are dealt with.

Italy

In Italy, wild camping and bivouacking are strictly forbidden and are subject to hefty fines. Plus, borders and touristy areas are strictly controlled for this reason. So, anyone who decides to set up a tent or bivouac should expect to be fined. Plus, the fine usually costs as much as a good-quality hotel room. In the backcountry, things are a bit more laid-back. However, this does not mean that it isn’t also prohibited there. But, if you know a few words in Italian and have money left to buy a good bottle of wine, then simply ask the next farmer. With these small tips, you’ll increase your chances of success and can then camp legally.

Poland

Wild camping is also prohibited by law and can be punished with a fine of up to 150 €. This is taken very seriously in national parks and regular controls are carried out. However, outside these areas, things are a little different. Here, wild camping is also prohibited by law, but many places don’t take it too seriously. So, there shouldn’t be a problem if you want to camp for only one night out in the wilderness. Plus, wild camping is also widespread amongst locals. But if you want to be on the safe side, you can also contact the respective landowner and ask for their permission. Farmers are usually very helpful, especially outside of touristy regions.

Conclusion

Luckily: It’s still possible to set off and spend the night somewhere in Europe’s wilderness. But, you should inform yourself beforehand about the “somewhere”. In some cases, the legality is not very clear. So, this blog post is by no means complete. Now, we’d be super interested in knowing: What is your experience with wild camping in Europe? Have something you’d like to add/share with us? Then leave us a comment!

Bannock bread – the classic of the outdoor kitchen

27. August 2020
Tips and Tricks

Since the Middle Ages in Europe, bread has been the quintessential food. It’s not only at the bakery that the options are endless – there are also undreamt of possibilities for making it yourself, both in terms of the style and the preparation. A real classic of the camp fire and the gas stove is bannock bread. Bannock comes from the Scottish Highlands, and is a kind of flat bread that can basically be made from two ingredients. Hanna from the Alpinetrek online editorial team is here with some tips on how to make it taste the best and what you should pay attention to when preparing it.

Bannock breadWhat you need for bannock bread:

  • Must-haves
    • Flour (2 parts)
    • Water (1 part)
  • Nice-to-haves
    • Salt
    • Oil
    • Baking powder, bicarb or dry yeast (in which case, some sugar, too)
  • Practically decadent
    • Spices (helpful here: the spice shaker with 6 compartments!)
    • Herbs (wild garlic, dandelion…)
    • Chopped nuts (hazelnuts, walnuts, beechnuts…)

Tipps for the bread dough

Know your cup. Nobody takes a measuring cup or scales with them on tour – but you’ve always got a cup. You can check at home what quantity it holds. You might even want to mark where 100 ml of water or 250 g of flour come up to.
Don’t knead in all the flour at once, always leave some extra in case the whole thing sticks to your hands. If the flour/water ratio is correct, your hands will be clean when you’ve finished kneading.
It’s easier to knead with oil. Well-organised bread bakers have a plastic bag (preferably zip-lock) of oil with them. You can even knead the dough in it without touching it with your skin at all – just put all the ingredients inside and then knead the bag.
When all the ingredients have been mixed together a bit but the whole thing hasn’t yet been kneaded until it’s soft, you can divide it into portions and knead smaller pieces – this makes it super quick to get the first loaves into the oven.
To do this, press the dough as flat as possible and fill it into the “baking tin” properly.

Caution when baking

The classic method for the gas stove is to cook it in a pot or a pan. If possible, use a lot of oil so the bread doesn’t burn. It’s best if it’s moved around constantly. And don’t let it get too hot!
If you make a fire, you have more options. The original bannock bakers simply pushed the dough into the hot ashes and dug it out again a few hours later. An incomparable aroma! Like with a gas stove, a pot can also be placed in the embers. In that case, it’s best to lay rocks beneath the pot so that it doesn’t all get burnt (but something will always burn). If you’ve had some tinned food and you can wash out the empty cans, you can also bake rolls in them. This is best with lots of oil inside so that the bread practically fries, and so it doesn’t stick. For a fire, there are of course also specialities like the Dutch oven and the ranger’s oven (ultralight for touring – you build it yourself). An interesting in-between is the bushbox, which can be folded up.

A few pro tips

The possibilities are endless. Hardcore survivalists make their own flour and use white, cold ashes as leavening. For home-made flour, you need a dish cloth or cotton t-shirt, a stone, patience and your choice of beechnuts, roots, clover or acorns (all gluten free). You have to leach the latter a lot, though, until they are usable, so either boil them out several times in hot water or put them in running water for 24 hours (e.g. in a stream in your socks).

Two boots und four paws – hiking with your dog

20. August 2020
Tips and Tricks

Whether in the lowlands, on the coast or in the mountains – walking with your dog is a great experience and really enriching for both the human and the hound. To ensure that dogs and their masters or mistresses can enjoy rambling without a care in the world, it’s sensible to consider and prepare a few things before dog owners set off into the mountains with their four-legged friends.

The following ten questions, frequently asked by dog owners and hikers with an affinity for the great outdoors, show what you should think about and look out for when hiking with dogs.

How old does my dog need to be to go walking in the mountains?

There is no universal answer to the question of how old a dog should be to go walking in the mountains. Longer hikes can lead to increased stress on joints and knees for very young dogs and puppies. With older dogs, the dog’s general fitness and any ailments it may have will decide the type and length of the walks. Older dogs with back or hip problems in particular should be looked after in this respect.

Of course, it’s not just age and physical condition that play an important role, but also the breed and disposition of the four-legged fellow.

Which breeds are best for mountain walks?

Some dog breeds are, generally speaking, more active than others. Dogs are also different in terms of their frame, size and constitution, so not all of them are suitable hiking companions. In this respect, it is not necessarily recommended that a sausage dog, pug or Chihuahua accompanies you on your upcoming hut tour or Alpine crossing.

Working or hunting dogs, on the other hand, are better qualified. They are also readily used in alpine farming to help with sheep, goats and cows. Others help people as trained rescue dogs, search dogs or avalanche dogs.

Dog breeds with a medium to high shoulder height and good physical condition are ideal companions for strenuous mountain touring. Whether the Australian Shepherd, Siberian Husky, Bernese Mountain Dog or the Labrador Retriever – many thoroughbred dogs make perseverant and intelligent hiking dogs.

How do I prepare my dog for longer hikes?

Through long strolls and short hikes, dog owners will soon get a first impression of how fit their particular dog is, and how much it likes walking. When doing this, it is of course important not to overextend your dog and to ensure that there are enough breaks with plenty of fresh water, especially at the start. Really high temperatures should also be avoided if possible so that the soon-to-be hiking dog isn’t stretched to an unhealthy extent.

How long you can hike for with your dog depends on many different and very individual factors.

Which hikes are good for dogs?

Dog owners have to adapt their hikes to the condition of their dogs so as not to endanger their health. In addition, the planning of the tour always requires some care and caution: passages that are too narrow where there is a risk of falling and especially via ferrata must of course be avoided.

Steep and stony paths are no problem for many dogs. Of course, steep ascents are just as challenging for dogs as for human hikers, but they are doable.

Summer hikes with shady passages and running water to cool down in and to drink from are also optimal.

What food is suitable for hikes?

Because of its shelf life, dry food lends itself better to longer or multi-day hikes than wet food. The dog should be fed the usual quantity and in the rhythm that it is used to.

Nevertheless, it’s better not to feed your dog right before a strenuous hike in the mountains. When hiking, dog owners should plan in at least a one hour break for their four-legged friends for digestion and regeneration.

With the increased exertion, getting enough fluids is extremely important. Plenty of water for the dog, a water bowl in your walking backpack and regular drink breaks are therefore of utmost importance. Especially in summer heat, dogs quickly run the risk of getting heat stroke. Some hikes are therefore better done in spring or autumn.

What equipment is important for hiking with a dog?

On stony paths, sharp rocks can cause uncomfortable lacerations and cuts to the paws. A first aid kit for dogs should therefore always contain a disinfectant, the most important bandaging materials, and tweezers. A pair of tick tweezers and an extra towel so you can dry your dog if necessary should also be packed for any longer hikes. The low weight and packed dimensions of microfibre towels make them especially suitable for both dogs and people.

Food, a drinking bowl and enough water are likewise indispensable when hiking with dogs. A dog toy and perhaps a light dog blanket will of course also find their way into your pack on longer tours.

Dogs can even carry a few small things themselves with the appropriate dog panniers. Of course, whether the panniers disturb them while they’re walking and how much weight they can carry varies from dog to dog.

A leash and a comfortable harness or collar are also important for dogs when you’re hiking.

Which leash is right for hiking with dogs?

In many situations, a lead is very helpful when you’re hiking, and in some regions it’s even mandatory. Nature reserves and cow pastures are particularly sensitive mountain areas when it comes to this.

Whether your dog can or should in general run free when hiking depends on many different factors. To do this, the dog must be very obedient and reliable. Depending on their breed and character, some dogs might look ahead more, while others are rather clumsy. Surefootedness and the ability to recognise and assess danger are not possessed by every dog to the same degree.

When hiking, dog owners can choose between flat leads and flexible leashes. Flat leads are only suitable for hiking in the mountains to a limited extent because they aren’t comfortable to handle for a long time, and the leash tends to get tangled and caught.

To keep your hands free when you’re hiking with a dog so you can use walking poles, for example, flexible leashes can be attached to your backpack’s harness. If you do this, though, both dog and hiker should be equally sure-footed and experienced.

In dangerous areas, hikers are best advised to undo the fixed connection to the harness in order to avoid accidents.

What should be considered if dogs and cows come into contact?

Again and again, you hear reports of incidents where cows have attacked dogs. If walking paths lead through cow pastures, caution is advised, especially in spring. At this time, mother cows are bringing their calves into the world, and are very concerned for the safety of their young. From the perspective of a cow, a dog poses a threat to their offspring, which must be protected by any means possible.

When travelling through cow pastures, hikers should cross quickly with their dogs on a short leash. The hiker should neither run, nor lose sight of the mother cow (but don’t stare them directly in the eyes, either, so as not to further alarm them). If it’s possible, grazing cows can be walked around with a wide berth.

If a cow does attack hiker and dog, the dog should be let off its lead immediately. This way, both human and animal will have a better chance of getting away quickly.

Can you stay overnight in a hut with a dog?

As a general rule, dogs aren’t allowed to stay overnight in the sleeping quarters or rooms of a hut. But, if dog and owner don’t want to be separated even in the mountain hut, dog owners should get in contact with the manager of the hut in advance. This way you can ask whether there is anywhere to sleep that is appropriate for dog owners. Especially in the low season, good, mutually agreeable solutions can be found.

What else should be considered when hillwalking with dogs?

Targeted training and particular commands help the human-dog team to travel through the mountains as safely and efficiently as possible. When going uphill, dogs usually walk in front. At confusing or dangerous points, the dog should be tightly secured by the collar, harness or on a short lead.

When climbing downhill, it’s often helpful for the dog to go behind the walker. This means that difficult passages can be negotiated together, and the stress on the dog’s joints isn’t as high as when it’s running and jumping quickly.

Conclusion

Whether a day trip, a weekend of hiking or a walking holiday with a dog. With the right equipment and a bit of training and preparation, the days in the mountains will turn into an unforgettable experience for hiker and hound. Many camping sites and holiday rentals are specially equipped for the needs of dog owners.

Additional information about hikes suitable with dogs, as well as current regulations, can be found at the local tourist office, information point or the town hall.

If dog owners are not sure if their pet is fit enough for a longer walk, they should consult their vet beforehand just in case. Only when both dog and human are motivated and in good physical condition is walking in the mountains fun!

How to pack your rucksack

Flyweights for the back –  the world of ultra-light backpacks

17. August 2020
Equipment

Can you still remember your first trekking tour or multi-day hike? For me it was like this: I borrowed the backpack, and it was actually much too big for the tour I wanted to do. But since you famously can’t set off with your backpack only half full, I ended up managing to pack in a load of bits and pieces, so in the end the backpack was full to the brim. This of course had nothing to do with being ultra-light; in fact, it was ultra-heavy! This meant that the backpack – despite having a good carry system and many other comforts – became not just a burden, over time it became a real problem.

Anyone who has had a similar experience has surely sworn: “Next time I’m taking less and lighter equipment in my backpack!” How do you do this sensibly, though, if you don’t just want the contents to be lighter but to reduce the weight of the backpack itself? To answer this question, let’s dive down deeper into the world of (ultra-)light backpacks.

What makes a traditional backpack different from an ultra-light backpack?

The ultra-light class is characterized by one thing above all: minimal material usage. In the trekking field, for example, to make a backpack with approx. 70-litre capacity that weighs under a kilo, everything that isn’t absolutely necessary is discarded. This includes mainly the internal frame along with thick padding. Another important way of reducing weight is the materials used.

This is now starting to sound really crass and like a really crappy backpack that can’t do anything. But of course, this isn’t really true. So let’s take a look at where weight can be spared in backpacks, and what the details might look like.

The frame and the carry system

Backpacks from the ultra-light segment usually have no frame. The reason for this is remarkably simple: the less is in it, the lower the weight. Because of this, sophisticated frame designs and the carry systems that often go with them are intentionally forgone. To make sure it’s still comfortable to wear, it’s therefor important that the rest of the backpack isn’t loaded too heavily and, for good measure, that it’s packed perfectly. We’ve put together the most important dos and don’ts of packing a backpack in a separate article. But I’ll give a simple trick away right now:

Your sleeping mat (in the ultra-light world, foam mats are usually used) can be used to reinforce the back panel. Not only does this ensure the backpack is well stabilised, the mat is also stowed away neatly. Companies such as Exped also offer conventional backpacks, like for example the Mountain Pro 40, that can be slimmed down as required, and can be lightened by nearly a third of their own weight.

Compartments and pockets

It is indisputable that having several compartments in and on a backpack make it more organised. At the same time, though, the compartments themselves also add more weight and often cause the backpack to be packed according to its own organisational system rather than from a functional perspective. This is why the majority of ultra-light backpacks mostly do without extra compartments. This means that the backpacks often come with only one large main compartment and 1-2 smaller compartments or pockets. Many ultra-light backpacks also have a roll closure, so there’s no lid compartments or anything similar. Depending on the model, ultra-light backpacks may also have ways of attaching pieces of equipment to them. A holder for trekking poles or ice tools has practically become standard here. You won’t have to do without compression straps on most larger ultra-light backpacks, either. Especially in the region of volumes of around 45 litres, this is a time-proven construction. Backpacks of this size are usually also absolutely enough for multi-day touring.

Materials

It’s also possible to spare some weight when it comes to the materials. Lighter, which often also means thinner fabrics don’t always have to be worse than their heavier colleagues. Through the use of materials such as Dyneema, a good and, above all, durable result can also be achieved in the lightweight segment. It’s important here, though, that the backpack isn’t overfilled, but that would render the concept of the ultra-light backpack absurd, anyway. Sharp and pointy objects have no place in your backpack, either, and, unless they’re packed well enough, should be fastened to the outside of the pack. If you want to see a good example of a large-yet-light walking backpack that’s made to last, we recommend the Radical from Ferrino. With this large walking backpack, it’s not only that everything that adds extra weight has been discarded, lightweight materials such as Cubic-Tech and Dyneema have also been used, making the backpack robust and hardwearing despite its low weight.

Prejudices and misunderstandings

Sometimes it seems like the world has been divided into two camps: the ultra-light disciples and those who have a fetish for robustness. At least, when exchanging experiences with friends and acquaintances and also when researching this article, I keep coming across countless prejudices, half-truths and open questions. This is why I’ve presented three of the most frequent topics of discussion below. In doing so, I do not wish to take sides with either the “ultra-light” faction, nor the “ultra-heavy” club.

  • Prejudice 1: ultra-light = ultra-expensive

The short story: this isn’t true. The somewhat longer story: it’s not always true. In the ultra-light sector, there are of course pieces of equipment that, because of the materials, the design, or the innovative technologies, come with a heavier price tag – excuse the pun – than other comparable pieces of equipment. But this also happens in the realm of “standard weight” equipment. Especially with backpacks, though, because the design is usually rather simple (no elaborate carry system etc.), ultra-light backpacks come off well in terms of their price compared to their conventional counterparts.

  • Prejudice 2: ultra-light = ultra-flimsy

This prejudice must also be contradicted. But the following question also needs to be asked: what do you actually want from the backpack? If you’re looking for a super robust backpack for spelunking and chimney climbing, then, admittedly, it’s going to be difficult to find something in the ultra-light backpack range. Especially for (multi-)day hikes and trekking tours, though, there are many ultra-light backpack models that can compete with their heavier cousins when it comes to durability.

  • Prejudice 3: ultra-light = ultra-uncomfortable

Admittedly, adjusting from a backpack with a sophisticated carry system to one with a simple contact back was a bit strange at first for me, too. This was, however, also because I had always imagined that you had to carry a lot of weight. But this is not what ultra-light backpacks are designed for. It wouldn’t make any sense at all to first remove every possible gram of weight from the backpack itself, and then to carry a lot of weight on your shoulders anyway because of the heavy equipment you’re taking with you. You have to make a clear distinction. If you want to set out with lightweight and minimalistic gear, and if the planned tour allows for this, then an ultra-light backpack is definitely a good choice. But if your tour is such that, along with a considerable amount of equipment, you also need to take e.g. food and water (which is crazy heavy since unfortunately they haven’t managed to dehydrate it yet), a backpack designed to carry larger loads is definitely needed. In this case, it’s better to try to keep the weight of the contents to a minimum.

Conclusion

Ultra-light backpacks certainly have their place. Depending on what you’re using them for and what you put inside them, they can make a significant contribution to a carefree and successful tour. If you want to get into the ultra-light game, the backpack is certainly the piece of equipment where you can save the most weight. But it’s also important to make sure that the desired model is suitable for what you’ll be using it for and your own personal needs, too. So what are your experiences with lightweight backpacks? Are there any other misconceptions that you would like to clear up once and for all? Write a comment and let us know!

What does breathable mean?

10. August 2020
Equipment

In the outdoor sector, it often feels like you hear this word all the time, and it always seems like the egg of Columbus when it comes to the functionality of outdoor apparel.

But what is actually behind the term breathability? Does the clothing actually breathe? And what does it breathe? The outside air, or perhaps our sweat? Why is it so important?

We’ve collated the most important information on the subject of breathability for you.

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Walking day trip checklist

Hiking clothes: the basics

16. July 2020
Alpinetrek-Experts

Which socks should I wear with my walking boots today? The striped ones or the ones with the flowers? Should I take the red or the blue jacket? I mean, it should match the shoes and socks. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the topic of the right sunglasses, okay?

Yes, these things are really important. After all, on the mountain, everything has to be perfectly coordinated. All kidding aside, the choice of the right hiking clothes should be well considered. One moment you might be hauling yourself over the mountain top soaked, through with sweat, while the next you’re freezing cold. What’s to blame? The wrong clothes.

The different elements of a hiking outfit should all complement each other. If, for example, you wear cotton underwear, the entire chain of breathability is broken from the very beginning – but you probably already know that. No? We’ll help you, then!

So, what are the right hiking clothes like? When you’re hillwalking or trekking, how do you deck yourself out from head to toe in a way that is both stylish and functional? We’ve got to the bottom of it.

Practically decked out from head to toe for hillwalking and trekking

When in the 18th and 19th centuries people in Europe gradually started to discover their enthusiasm for hikes through different cities, countries and landscapes, they wore completely ordinary everyday clothing. The clothes of the first hikers were trousers and shirts made of linen or hemp fabrics, shawls made of wool and, later, jackets and coats made of cotton, too. Partly for pleasure and partly out of scientific interest, they began to explore the world on foot. Their leather shoes may have been comfortable, but it took several decades until the invention of waterproof membranes and non-slip soles.

This made the hikes difficult and gruelling from today’s perspective, for the clothing was very heavy even when it was dry, and, after a solid downpour, it was even heavier. Windproof and well ventilated at the same time? No chance! Small packed dimensions yet still robust? No way! Functional layer system? No such thing!

Far from any of the comforts that modern hikers are loathe to sacrifice, the pioneers covered considerable routes over several hundred kilometres that even with today’s trekking gear would be challenging. They thus sowed the seeds for a popular sport that has spawned many functional innovations and which in the 21st century has experienced a downright boom with its outdoor companies and hiking tourism.

Comfortable walking boots with good grip

Instead of analysing hiking clothes from “head to toe”, this description starts with the feet and then works its way slowly up the hiker. Without doubt, walking boots are the decisive “garment” in distinguishing between those going on a hike and those taking a stroll, as well as people in everyday and leisure clothing. There are many different kinds of walking boots, but they all have one important thing in common: a grippy outdoor sole that guarantees secure footing and perfect grip on hiking trails and terrain.

Soles for walking boots have a strong tread and are made of rubber compounds, which also ensures good grip on muddy forest paths, loose scree and slippery roots. Alongside many different inhouse designs and rubber compounds, many companies draw on proven sole technology from Vibram or Michelin. Some walking boots can also be resoled, providing an even longer life span.

There are big differences in the design and construction of hiking boots and outdoor shoes, from lightweight multisport shoes with permeable mesh fabric, to low-cut approach shoes with pronounced rock guards, through to hiking and trekking boots with high shafts and multi-zone lacing. For quick hikes on easy terrain, lightweight walking shoes are ideal. On challenging tours with a heavy backpack, high walking boots provide ankles with the required stability and protection against injuries.

Light hiking shoes and durable trekking boots are usually available with or without a waterproof membrane. Walking boots without a membrane are usually very well ventilated. At the first wet meadow, though, they quickly become soaked through. With walking boots that have waterproof Gore-Tex membrane or another comparable laminate, on the other hand, your feet stay reliably dry even in sustained rain and on snowfields in the mountains. Despite this, water vapour can still escape through the microporous membrane, ensuring they feel comfortable to wear. Since breathable membranes require a certain temperature gradient to best transport the moisture away, breathability may be restricted in hot and tropical areas. This does not, however, impact on how waterproof they are – that’s always a given.

Different companies and shoe styles use different lasts. This means that some walking boots have a somewhat wider design, while others provide the perfect fit for narrow feet. The cushioning and footbed are also optimised to do what they’re designed to do best, so the shoes might feel very close fitting and firm or particularly soft and comfortable. When choosing walking boots, it’s therefore worth considering the terrain in which you’ll be using the shoes the most. When trying on shoes, it’s best to put them on for a while in the afternoon or evening (on account of the fit, since feet are often somewhat swollen then) and walk around in them in your home. After about an hour or two, you’ll quickly be able to tell whether the walking boots fit nice and comfortably. When you’re going out into the country to wear your shoes in, you should do the first few kilometres on easy terrain before going on your first big hike. Over the course of the first few hikes, the shoes will keep adjusting better to the shape of your feet, and will usually become a bit more soft. This process is a little faster for walking boots made of synthetic materials than for pure leather shoes. Once they have adjusted perfectly to your feet, though, leather walking boots have a particularly comfortable fit. To make the choice of shoe even easier, here is an even more detailed buyer’s guide for walking boots.

Well-fitting walking socks

Without the right walking socks, even good walking boots are only half as good. It is only through the interplay between shoes and socks that you can achieve a high level of comfort and a pleasant microclimate around the feet. The choice of walking socks depends on the choice of walking boots. If there is a low shaft and for sporty shoes, the socks can also be shorter and more sporty. For high hiking boots, on the other hand, you want longer socks with cushioning reinforcements on the shaft, heel and around the toes. In any case, the walking socks must reach past the top of the boot to prevent pressure points forming.

Walking socks are either made of synthetic materials, which allow for a particularly good fit, merino wool, or a blend with merino wool and synthetic fibres. Merino wool creates a particularly comfortable climate for the foot, and provides warmth when it’s damp or even wet. Merino wool is also naturally odour resistant. After a multi-day tour, though, you’d rather stick your nose in socks made of synthetic fibres than in merino socks. Socks made of synthetic material have the advantage that they dry more quickly than walking socks made of merino wool. Whatever choice you make in terms of the material, the walking socks need to fit perfectly or pressure points and blisters can form. A good walking sock shouldn’t slip down, wrinkle up, pinch or squeeze, and still feels great even after a challenging tour in the mountains. You can also find all the important criteria explained in detail in the buyer’s guide for walking socks.

Comfortable base layers

Base layers serve various purposes when you’re hillwalking or hiking. They keep you nice and warm in cool weather, and on hot days they dry fast and quickly wick moisture away from the body. And they always fit comfortably, never chafe and don’t leave behind any pressure points. According to what’s required for the weather conditions, base layers for hikers are available in long-sleeved and long-legged versions, as boxer shorts, practical briefs, t-shirts or tank tops.

Alongside a good fit with comfortable elastic and stretchy materials, high-quality workmanship with flat seams is always strongly recommended. Sport shirts und base layers are predominantly made of merino wool, polyester, and blends with other durable und elastic synthetic fibres. Merino wool feels really great on the skin as the bottom layer of clothing, and provides comfortable warmth in the cold while also cooling you down when the outside temperatures are warm. Even when wet, merino wool keeps the body warm and, thanks to its natural odour-inhibiting qualities, base layers made of merino wool are still comparatively fresh even after a multi-day hike.

Synthetic sport shirts and underpants, which are often a little lighter, can wick moisture away even more quickly. This is why they often feel a little cooler against the skin. Some t-shirts and trousers come with odour-resistant technology that imitates the natural effect of merino wool. Both pure materials and a range of blends are popular with hikers, and it largely depends on which material feels best to you. It’s better for hikers to avoid underwear made of pure cotton and t-shirts made of cotton, though. Cotton gets saturated quickly and takes a really long time to dry out again. This means that it cools the body down unpleasantly and is uncomfortable to wear. To this add the fact that breathable hiking jackets and trousers can only wick moisture away properly if the base layer is also good at conducting dampness away from the body. With cotton underwear, the entire chain of breathability is broken from the very beginning. If you are not sure whether synthetic fibres or merino wool is better for you, you can find additional information and suggestions in the blog article on base layers.

Walking trousers, zip-off trousers and hiking shorts

Good functional walking trousers are characterised by good freedom of movement, a comfortable fit, and durable materials that are fast drying and quickly wick moisture away from the body. A range of materials is used for this, from cotton and various synthetic fibres through to Tencel, true hemp and elastane. This makes some walking trousers particularly elastic and others extra robust. Mountaineering trousers with Schoeller fabric and the robust G-1000 material from Fjällräven are just two examples of well-known, high-quality blended materials. Sometimes, walking trousers are specially reinforced at the knee and in the seat so that stressed areas are well-protected from abrasion and damage while keeping the trousers very breathable and flexible. Ergonomically preformed knee areas, elastic gusset inserts and individually adjustable waistbands round off functional walking trousers. To make it easier to choose the right walking trousers, you can find even more information on the different outdoor trousers available here.

Zip-off trousers, that is, walking trousers with detachable legs, are very popular with hikers because they offer a lot of flexibility. When it’s still cold in the morning when you’re starting out on a hiking tour, but the temperatures will keep climbing around midday, practical zip-off trousers can be transformed into short or knee-length hiking shorts in less than no time. Usually you don’t even need to take off your walking boots. These flexible trousers are also perfect for multi-day tours in variable temperatures and weather conditions, making your backpack much lighter since you can avoid having to pack extra pieces of clothing.

On warm summer’s days, hikers prefer to reach straight for short or knee-length hiking shorts. In terms of their material and their design, they’re similar in every respect to walking trousers with long legs. Breathability and freedom of movement are also the most important criteria for shorts. With elastic designs and practical crotch gussets, they support the sporty hiker in any terrain.

Weather protection is also an important factor for hikers. Many walking trousers provide good protection against the wind and have a water-repellent DWR treatment (Durable Water Repellent). This makes droplets of water simply roll off the surface instead of being absorbed by the material. In heavy downpours, though, even a water-repellent surface treatment has its limits. This is why hikers prefer waterproof outdoor trousers when it’s raining continuously. Hardshell trousers with breathable GORE-TEX® membrane or other waterproof laminates ensure dry legs even in heavy rain. In changeable weather conditions, lightweight hardshell trousers are particularly practical because they can be worn over normal walking trousers if necessary. Waterproof trousers with side zips are perfect for this as they’re easy to put on and take off. Lightweight hardshell trousers are very compact, and with their minimal weight they’re barely a burden in your walking backpack.

When you’re walking through wet meadows or snow, waterproof gaiters are a great alternative to waterproof walking trousers. They protect you from the calf up, preventing snow or water from getting into your hiking boots from the top. The practical hiking gaiters only weigh a few grams and can be put on quickly when you need them without your walking boots having to be removed. If you need more advice in the choice of hardshell trousers and gaiters, the buyer’s guide for gaiters and the buyer’s guide for waterproof trousers are sure to be of help.

Hiking shirts, softshell vests und hardshell jackets

Plaid shirts made of quick-drying, functional material have been popular amongst hikers in the summer for a long time. These breezy shirts are really comfortable on warm days, easy to clean and robust at the same time. Sport t-shirts made of synthetic materials or merino wool will also stand you in really good stead. In cool and windy conditions, hikers often like to reach for softshell jackets or softshell vests and gilets. Functional hiking vests and gilets are very popular because they offer a good mixture of wind protection for the neck and upper body, but are well-ventilated around the arms and ensure comfortable freedom of movement. Many softshell jackets and outdoor vests and gilets are protected with a water-repellent treatment, too, so they also stand up to light rain well.

In long-lasting, heavy downpours, a weatherproof hardshell jacket with a well-fitting hood is just what you need. Waterproof rain jackets and outdoor jackets are equipped with breathable membranes by GORE and other companies, ensuring that the rain doesn’t penetrate the jacket while still allowing water vapour to escape. Many hardshell jackets also have extra ventilation openings, for example zippered ones under the arms, ensuring extra ventilation on strenuous ascents. Waterproof jackets for hikers vary in terms of how light and robust they are. For tough mountaineering and walking backpacks, your hardshell jacket should be just as robust. As an accessory for day touring, on the other hand, what is often useful is a lightweight design that can be folded up and stowed away compactly. As well as classic waterproof jackets, some hikers also like to use rain ponchos or trekking umbrellas to protect themselves from the rain. Both have the advantage that your backpack’s straps and back panel won’t get wet in persistent rain. This is why some hikers also use a handy outdoor umbrella in addition to waterproof backpack covers and hardshell jackets, to prevent water from getting between their jacket and their backpack.

On particularly cool days, fleece jackets or insulating synthetic jackets are the perfect addition to your hiking outfit. They can either be worn “solo” over the base layer or as a practical mid layer under a hardshell jacket or softshell vest. Fleece jackets dry quickly, are soft, warm and easy to clean, so they are always really popular with hikers. The buyer’s guide for fleece jackets will help you find the right one from the wide selection.

Beanies, sunglasses and gloves

With this basic gear, you’ll already be really well equipped. Add to this the right walking backpack, maybe a pair of walking poles, and a water bottle or a hydration system, and let the tour begin! Because, however, the selection of backpacks and poles is just as diverse as the range of hiking clothes, we’ve dedicated entire articles to these topics: a buyer’s guide for backpacks and a buyer’s guide for  walking and trekking poles. But first, a few little helpers and accessories to complete your hiking outfit. It’s very important to choose the right headwear. A warm beanie or a soft headband made of fleece are perfect when it’s cold and windy. On clear, sunny days, a cap or sun hat helps protect against sunburn and sunstroke. Many hikers underestimate the intensity of the sun in the mountains. If the air is a little cooler, or a pleasant fresh wind is blowing, headache and nausea are practically inevitable. This is why it’s better to protect the head than to let yourself be roasted the whole day.

Perhaps it’s not exactly clothing, but when you’re hillwalking by the water or in the mountains, high-quality sunglasses to protect your eyes from harmful UV radiation are just as indispensable as good footwear and functional clothes. For most hikers, comfortably fitting sunglasses in category two or three are the right choice. If you’re hiking at high altitude and on snow and ice, you should even go for category four. You can read even more information on sunglasses and glacier glasses in the detailed buyer’s guide for sunglasses.

Lightweight fleece gloves or windproof softshell gloves are a fantastic addition on cold days. The thin gloves have a comfortable thermal rating while also guaranteeing good sensitivity when using walking poles. Many outdoor gloves are touchscreen-compatible, so they don’t have to be taken off to use a GPS device or smartphone.

A neck warmer, scarf or tubular cloth might not be needed on every day tour in the summer, but, whenever the weather turns, they will warm you up nicely and offer good wind protection.

Perfect functionality through an optimal combination of hiking clothes

Hiking boots, walking socks, trekking trousers, and hardshell jackets – walking clothes are a team and they all have to work together; their functional synergy is only as good as their weakest member. In plain English, this means that walking gear has to be coordinated, and can’t have any weak links. The best shoes are uncomfortable when your socks don’t fit, and a breathable waterproof jacket can’t wick away any vapour if the base layers have absorbed moisture underneath. A good fit and a comfortable feel are the sum of all (clothing) parts and make your life as a hiker more comfortable, easier and more pleasant.

Tips and tricks for sleeping in a hammock

16. July 2020
Tips and Tricks

Do you still remember Magnum, the TV series from the 1980s? If so, an image might immediately flash before your eyes of the eponymous main character, private investigator Thomas Magnum, Hawaiian shirt, dashing trademark moustache and all. Why this digression on the ideal world of childhood television, you may ask? Simple: we’re talking about hammocks! And when it comes to this topic, that TV hero immediately comes to mind: I see him happily lounging in a hammock while sipping a cocktail from a pineapple and smiling at the camera.

A comfortable overnight stay in a hanging sleeping area is, however – especially for hammock camping on outdoor tours – not as simple as the Hawaii-based TV detective makes it look. Whether it’s mosquitos, the cold or that you’re lying in the wrong position, many factors can interfere with sleep in a hammock. So this offers a few pointers on how you can make yourself really comfortable in your hammock.

Which hammock is the most comfortable?

Before we thrust ourselves into the hammock like a bearded Stoick the Vast for a well-deserved slumber, though, it’s important to first clarify which type of hammock provides the most comfortable forty winks.

Let’s start with the uncomfortable candidates. Rod hammocks, that is, models where a spreader bar stretches the sleeping area, are perfect for reading and hanging around in the garden, but not to slumber in for a longer time. Because your body weight is not distributed over the entire sleeping area but is instead located at individual points on the suspended surface, it becomes uncomfortable after a while and causes unpleasant muscular strain in the neck and back.

The rod hammock is also open at the sides, so you quickly grow cold. For the restless sleeper, it also harbours the danger of you rolling out in the night. Another disadvantage that stops you getting a good night’s sleep: the strong tension of the sleeping area means that every movement transforms into an annoying wobble. Another kind that is uncomfortable for long periods of time is the large-meshed rope hammock. If you lie in them for a long time, individual ropes press into your skin uncomfortably, even if there’s a blanket underneath you.

If you’re looking for a comfortable hammock to sleep in, it’s best to reach for a hammock made of a solid material or a fine-meshed rope hammock. Versions made with a solid material are stable, comfortable and keep you warm underneath. Fine-meshed rope hammocks fit to the body really well and ensure great ventilation from the bottom and the sides – perfect for humid nights.

Well hung – how to hang your hammock correctly

Before you can doze comfortably in your hammock, it must be hung up. This doesn’t take much more than two trees, stakes or similar set the right distance apart. The right distance means between 3.5 and 5 metres – the length of the hammock itself plus about a metre at each end. Of course, the branches or trees that you’ve sought out for yourself should be neither rotten nor should they house woodworms, and they need to be strong enough to bear your body weight for a long time.

To attach the hammock, there are special tree protector straps and suspension straps that prevent damage to the tree bark. The two attachment points should be located at the same height so that the hammock ends up hanging horizontally. For the suspension height: The higher the hammock hangs, the cooler it will be. If a humid summer’s night is in store, go ahead and hang it a big higher.

Usually, the straps are hung between 1.7 and a maximum of 2.0 metres high. Make sure that when you attach the hammock, it doesn’t sag too much – remember that there’s still your own weight to come! When it comes to the curvature, if your hammock looks like a banana then you’re on the right track. This results in a roughly 30° angle, which allows a comfortable lying position and ensures the right tension under load. When you’re inside it, the sleeping area should hang approximately 50 cm from the ground.

Me gusta! – The right way to lie in a hammock

Once the hammock is hanging comfortably in the air, it’s finally time for a cosy slumber! But how? There is a pervasive cliché about hammocks that they are at best only good for a short midday siesta, and that a restful sleep in one is practically impossible. It will quickly become clear that this preconception is actually a misconception – provided that you sleep in the right position.

Lying in the right position is crucial to ensure that neither back nor neck pain mess up the next day of touring. The sleeping position we’re familiar with from our matrasses at home, where you’re aligned parallel to the sides, will quickly lead to discomfort when sleeping in a hammock, because the back and the neck area are forced into a strenuous curve. An small but important trick provides relief and, in the best-case scenario, a sleeping position that is better for your back, more comfortable and healthier than on the old matrass you’ve got at home.

Lay yourself in a slightly diagonal line in the hammock, with your feet a little to the left or right and your head in the other direction. This position ensures an optimal distribution of weight over the sleeping area and thus that the hammock has the perfect tension.

At the same time, the fabric will adjust perfectly to a lying position that is relaxing and good for you back. People in many South and Central American countries spend practically their entire sleeping careers lying like this in a hammock. More and more people plagued with back pain in Europe are also finding relief sleeping in a hammock.

And if you’re afraid that you’ll get seasick sleeping in the sack, I can give you the all-clear. A study by the University of Geneva has proved that gentle swinging or rocking movements leads you to fall asleep more quickly and sleep more deeply – even for people who have trouble sleeping.

Camping under the stars – the hammock replaces the tent

It’s undeniable that the idea of exchanging a musty, man-made tent for heaven’s tent on multi-day tours, and being rocked to sleep in a comfortable hammock has a certain allure. If you do choose hammock camping, you can also save a bit of weight since the tent is left at home.

Sometimes, even a very practical consideration calls the tune when opting for a hammock. If you’re going out into heavily wooded or uneven terrain, it’s sometimes hard to find an even surface for a tent. A hammock can be lashed up quickly and easily between two trees or another suitable option for attaching it, and your tent alternative under the twinkling starry firmament is ready! Ok, so maybe that’s a bit romanticised, and gnats, mosquitos and similar creatures might have a thing or two to say. Not to mention that a night-time rainstorm isn’t exactly conducive to a good night’s rest, either.

But you can get tarps for weather protection when you’re in a hammock. These are waterproof awnings that are stretched over the sleeping area. Just like the hammocks themselves, tarps come in all kinds of shapes and materials. From tarps made of silicone-treated nylon or extremely lightweight, high-performance laminate, through to low-priced tent tarpaulin, the market has everything on offer to protect you from the wind and the weather. The latter option is, however, not exactly portable, since they are relatively heavy and require quite a bit of space in your backpack.

Weather and mosquito protection in the hammock

For light showers, asymmetrical, rhomboid tarps are recommended. These parallelogram-shaped tarpaulins are ideal for stretching over a diagonal lying position and have great ventilation. The disadvantage is that these tarps give up ship in heavy downpours or storms. Diamond-shaped or square tarps stay dry even in heavy rainstorms, and are really simple because they are only anchored at two points.

In strong winds, though, rain can blow in at the sides. Bigger tarps remedy this, but they also add more weight to your pack. Six-corner tarps offer amazing weather protection, but they are complex to put up because they need six clamping points. All-round, four-season tarps can be closed at the sides and attached close to the ground, ensuring comprehensive protection from the wind and weather. These companions are, however, comparatively large, heavy and difficult to attach. We’ve taken a closer look at tarps in another article.

If you’re going touring where biting bugs will make you lose sleep, you need to take a suitable mosquito net with you. There are special hammock nets for this that are stretched around the whole sleeping area and are closed with a drawstring or zip. Some models might need some additional tensioning first, and then you’ll be well-protected from aggressive, winged troublemakers.

If an extra bit of warmth is needed, there are hammocks with slots for sleeping mats, or self-inflating insulating hammock pads. Of course, it is possible to use a sleeping bag in a hammock, but it will soon get uncomfortable. The thermal performance will also suffer: because of the large surface pressure, the insulating material cannot trap much air, so thermal bridges form easily.

If it’s really cold, there are what is known as underquilts for hammocks. These are blankets and quilts filled with down or synthetic fibre, which are hung beneath the hammock. This means that nothing gets flattened, and the hammock is insulated from the bottom and sides. Together with a normal quilt for a blanket or a sleeping bag if necessary, you can thus even camp in a hammock in frosty minus temperatures – depending on the kind of underquilt and your own limits, too. For further information on hammocks that are suitable for outdoor use and the different kinds of outdoor hammocks available, we invite you to take a look at our hammock buyer’s guide. After so much reading, you now really deserve a comfortable snooze in a hammock! Sweet dreams!

Packing list: Day hiking tours

13. July 2020
Equipment, packing list

A day hike is any walking tour where you don’t take all your gear with you, but instead come back to your starting point in the evening. It’s important that you take the equipment you need for one day (without an overnight stay) with you.

Clothing







You should always have these with you, too














Optional (depending on the season and the tour)











If there’s space left in your backpack









What might be the biggest advantage of day hikes: Mistakes in equipment planning are only a nuisance for one day and can be remedied relatively easily. You should still definitely have a few essentials with you, though, as necessary for the tour. Everything else then falls into the category of “personal preference” and “habits”.

So, why not bake yourself some mountain bread?

9. July 2020
Tips and Tricks

Germany, March 2020. The Coronavirus is keeping the world in suspense and, like many others, you’ve been spending a lot of time between the four walls of your own home. You’ve already finished all your books, and Netflix now knows what you like better than your own partner does. It’s well and truly time for a bit of variety in your day! So why don’t you try baking some bread? Here’s a recipe for our delicious bread that’s perfect for the mountains!

Bread? That’s very funny!

Yes, yes, we know what’s going through your head right now: Yeast and flour – where am I supposed to get those? A little tip: Go to your local bakery and ask them for some. Most bakers have enough of both and will be glad of the extra income. But always keep the appropriate distance away from them! Otherwise, you could just make the yeast yourself.

Our “Extreme Spelt” mountain bread: The recipe!

Before you can really get going in the home bakery, of course you need a few ingredients. For the mountain bread, you need the following:

Ingredients (for one 750 g loaf)

Water roux:

90 g spelt flour (type 630)

Main dough:
350 g spelt flour (type 630)
90 g sunflower seeds
13 g salt
10 g yeast

Method

For the water roux (sometimes also referred to as tangzhong), simply bring 245 g of water to the boil. Remove the pot from the stove. Add the spelt flour and whisk it in quickly. Leave the mixture, covered, to cool overnight.

For the main dough, place the water roux together with the other ingredients and 140 g of cold water in a mixing bowl (preferably in a food processor – otherwise, for the climbers amongst us, you can get a really good upper arm workout at the same time :-)). Knead well for 10 minutes. If you’re doing it by hand, it may take a little longer.

Cover the dough and leave it to rest for two hours at room temperaturefolding the dough once every 30 minutes. Finally, leave the covered dough to prove overnight in the refrigerator.

The next day, take the dough out of the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature for two hours. After another one and a half hours, preheat the oven using the top and bottom heating elements to 260 degrees Celsius.

If you have a pizza stone, feel free to pop it into the oven! Otherwise, it’s also fine to use a normal baking tray. After the dough has warmed up, use wet hands (with cold water since the dough is really moist) to form the dough into a nice ball.

From there, lay it on baking paper and allow the dough to relax for another ten minutes.

And now it’s time to bake it! Put the baking tray on the lowest rack and ladle a little water into the oven. Then close the oven immediately! This process, known as “steaming,” ensures a great crust. Set your timer for 60-70 minutes. After 10 minutes, reduce the temperature to 210 degrees Celsius.

Your entire apartment will slowly start to smell of fresh bread. Everything is as it should be.

Once the timer goes off, take the bread out of the oven and check that it has baked all the way through. Finally, use a pastry brush to brush a little water on the crust.

And now you have a super delicious loaf of bread. It may take a little longer than usual to prepare, but it’s worth it. We’ve sure got enough time at the moment :-)! If you want to stock up on bread, you can definitely bake several loaves and then freeze them in a freezer bag.

Serving suggestions: After it has cooled down, cut right into it – it’s a dream just with butter alone! And of course, our bread makes for a fantastic summit snack – as soon as we’re allowed back into the mountains.

A buyer's guide to outdoor jackets

Nubuck leather – the pros and cons of a natural product

25. June 2020
Equipment

Doesn’t the term nubuck leather automatically make you think of those classy leather shoes for upscale occasions? Well, interestingly enough, this natural material is used for much more than just fancy footwear. You can find nubuck leather upholstery, car interiors, in the form of reinforcements for clothing and oftentimes as the main material for gloves and mountaineering boots.

But, as with every other natural material, there are upsides and downsides to nubuck leather. In this post, we’re going to focus on the pros and cons of nubuck leather and they pertain to mountain sports.

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