Packing and Preparing for the Dolomites: You’re bringing a hairbrush?!

The Must-Packs and the Leave-Behinds!

Sprawled out across maps on the apartment floor, I suddenly remember packing needs to happen. Not getting lost is great–having toothpaste, even better (somehow, I always forget the toothbrush, though…go figure). The obvious predicament: how to pack for five days, 2,000 meters and 30 degrees worth of elevation changes, all in a tattered old North Face backpack. Sadly, I have yet to become Harry Potter and magic everything into a proper place. Then, there is my extremely expert packing style…Let me throw this shirt in, because it’s a pretty color! I’ll put a pile under the window for necessities and on the bed for maybes. Wait, I need to empty the dishwasher. And check the weather. And call an alpine hut. Look–a squirrel! Maps maps maps which bus should we take? I fall victim to travel excitement amnesia distraction. But anyhow, here is a basic list for summer hiking in the Dolomites. Remember, you have to carry all this jazz on your back for multiple hours, so less is more. Unless it’s not.

A few notes: it will get cold, especially the exposed parts of higher elevations. The first day, I was annoyed at myself for packing a hat and gloves. The next, I was wearing almost every article of clothing I owned!

Be prepared to wash clothes by hand a couple of times. It’s totally normal, and it will dry on time. On the other hand, do not be prepared to shower every night…

You will never go hungry; remember, you are in Italy, so PASTA! The alpine hut system is incredible. But, if you a munchy hippo like myself, snacks will make you a more pleasant person. Plus, you are burning many, many calories per day.

Speaking of animals, the camelback is a lifesaver. Not that there aren’t ample places to refill water, but, if it’s a toasty day, not having to think about a basic need is fantastic.

A pair of hiking poles (or, in my ramshackle case, ski poles) are of benefit as well, for two main reasons: downhill kills the shins, and there are stretches where rock/snow make the path a bit dicey. I used to poke fun at those hiking with poles, but they were definitely utilized.

AVOID HEAVY ITEMS AT ALL COSTS. My uncle laughed me out of the house when I tried to put a hairbrush in my pack. After I snapped the handle off, he was somewhat satisfied, but still. A) Even the small things make a difference, and B) my massively thick hair was always in a bun anyhow. The mountains don’t care what you look like, and my fiancé is mostly stuck with me anyway.

BOOTS. YOU HAVE TO HAVE GOOD QUALITY BOOTS. Some stretches can be done with hiking shoes, but, for the route we took, I was extra in love with my Meindls. If I had to choose between those boots and fresh German bread for a year, I would give up the bread, and that’s saying something.

A real map! I suppose, an oddity for some. I can still remember reading my momma the map on road trips as a kid, then trying to decipher MapQuest printouts in the semi-dark while driving as a teen. Now, it seems like half the world would run straight into a tree without Google Maps. However, for the mountains, actual maps showing hiking trails and elevation changes are invaluable. You don’t want to accidentally hike 12 hours or 1,200 worth of elevation gain if you can help it. Images of some of my favorites, which can be purchased online, in Bolzano or across from the Karersee:

I have yet to find any decent English maps–but I’m working on it, and will update soon!

After you’ve loosely planned your routes and have checked the weather, including incoming fronts for the next few days, it’s time to call some huts! Especially during the summer, it’s nice to make sure there is availability to stay during the nights in the Rosengarten. In this section of the Dolomites, camping is not actually allowed. Here is a list of the huts in which we stayed, as well as general amenities. All have great food!

  1. Rotwandhütte……………..shower, pay an euro for five minutes, Wifi. Private room.
  2. Grasleitenpasshütte…….shower, very cold. Separate building with 10 beds, bunk
  3. Schlernhaus…………………no showers, but nice deep sinks! Private room with twin beds.

Stay tuned for day one of our adventure 🙂


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