The Dolomites do not disappoint, but a heavy pack will make you want to turn back.
Packing List for Dolomites Hut to Hut Hiking with Kids Experience
Alta Via 1 Northern Half with Kids: 4-5 days.
So you've decided to go hiking hut to hut with kids in the gorgeous Dolomites!! Congrats, but according to physical therapist Dr. Morgan Fielder, DPT, the best thing to do to actually enjoy your hike, especially with kids, is to lighten your load. We've curated the minimum effective dose of "stuff" to keep you enjoying this miracle of landscape for a 4 day northern half of the Alta Via 1 (AV1) Dolomites backpacking hike.
The trail is open from mid-June until mid-October and tent camping is generally not allowed --- so stays in "rifugios" or mountain huts are typical. There you will probably have a shower (not always) and (always) have excellent delicious cuisine with other mountain-life pilgrims for dinner and breakfast.
One set of clothing is needed to dine with others, hopefully that doesn't smell too badly! We ran into many of the same people throughout the hike so you may not want to be too scrubby.
Packing Checklist: Clothing
Convertible lightweight, quick drying trousers/shorts. As we were walking in midday heat up 1500 ft (all at once) I rolled by Columbia pants into shorts - my daughter's yoga pants were not so comfy (too clingy and hot).
1 lightweight, quick drying t-shirt (wash it immediately upon arrival to hotel to dry for the next day)
2-3 pairs of good walking socks (some wear two pairs with one thick and one thin to avoid blisters, one dry pair in bag in case of soaking rain)
1 pair cozy socks for night
1 lightweight fleece or technical fabric warm layer (nights are chilly overlooking majestic mountains from the deck, or after the sauna)
1 pack away lightweight waterproof jacket
1 pack away lightweight thermal jacket (We didn’t need to use this when walking, but I found it very comforting to have it in the mountain huts once it cooled down in the evenings)
Lightweight pants or leggings and t-shirt to wear in the huts in the evenings.
Sports bra, evening bra (for the ladies), enough undies for entire trip unless you have quick dry undies which are pretty intense to have.
Sun hat, sunglasses.
1 pair of good quality walking boots
1 pair of slides (to wear socks with, cold at night) for wearing in the huts - Boots ARE NOT ALLOWED inside restaurant/bedroom area
Walking poles - mine broke on the first day, get some Leki'! Not strictly needed unless you have a hard time with the downhills, which there are MANY!
1.5 litre water reservoir plus a canteen or two, water is sparse along trail.
A few snacks if you plan long hikes
Dry bag - there are too many streams to hop not to get wet
First aid kit including athletic tape, scissors and sun screen- turned out to be essential for blisters, and plasters and painkillers
Limited toiletries- small tube of toothpaste, toothbrush, small bottle of shampoo
Guide book in your language ( Alta Via 1 is very well marked, hard to get lost, maps if you want to get off beaten track)
Sleeping bag liner- it is compulsory to use one of these in the dorms, if you rent rooms not needed
Travel towel - same as liner. depends on level of room you arrange.
Mostly importantly, bring your appetite.
The rifugios serve excellent cuisine including many vegetarian options. Our favourite was a 30 year old recipe for nuts and cheese ravioli that made our taste buds content and we'll never forget.
Mountain hut food and hot cocoa is out of this world!
A liter of house wine only ran about 7-9 euros, so amazingly they don't gouge you on prices at the top of the world. But bring some cash in case the credit card isn't accepted, which happens on occasion.
Also a book or some sketch paper would be a great thing to bring to capture imagination.
Weigh your bag before you go and if the scale is more than 15 pounds before you add water, Marie Kondo (a.k.a. purge) your backpack, stat!
Some say pack light, freeze at night.
Well, this isn't a nighttime trail. It's all about being at the hut by 7pm to be seated for a communal (some might say pilgrim) 3 course dinner with the other hikers.
Joy is hopping stone to stone over a mountain glacier creek with ease.
Joy is falling asleep immediately on your pillow and not trying to stretch away a neck muscle spasm.
Joy is the pride in being able to easily handle your pack and temporarily carrying your daughter's pack for 30 minutes to give her a break.
Buy some lightweight clothing and a mini toothpaste. It's worth it.
Back pain got you down? Check out this article for some helpful tips to ease back pain and stiffness and learn more about the counterintuitive nature of body pain.
Get Out and Hike--even with Your Kids!
Stay tuned for our next post about the foodie experiences along the Alta Via 1 Northern half.
Let us know in the comments anything you'd like to hear about.
More Fun Journeys & Stories for Travelling Families that Love Equal Parts Adventure and Culture
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Explore: Listen to this podcast with Rick Steve's Ireland Expert on How to Buy a Swiss mountain hotel during covid.
Connect to Your Way: get an idea of music to inspire mindfulness that's not goat chimes or enya.
Until Next Time, Adventure Awaits!!!
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Author profile: Morgan Fielder is a family adventurer, physical therapist and travel writer. She is actively involved in the community and advocating for connection and sustainability with her community projects at Cornhole Europa and Sustainable Investors Group.