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titolo: la montagna per tutti
Safety || Gear || The hikes ||

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gita in val d'aveto
You don’t need any special equipment for hiking; however, you should be able to face a sudden weather change, or a trail more difficult than you thought.

Here below I’d like to give you a few tips about clothes and tell you which gear may be useful.

FOOTWARE: Is it worth to save a few euros buying shoes which may make your feet ache? And suffering from foot pain or from blisters while hiking is the worst way to spoil the day... of course!

You may choose between walking shoes and climbing boots.
Walking shoes are the best footwear for hiking: they incorporate grippy outsole to provide secure traction, are light-weight and allow great sensitiveness, as their sole is not rigid. Cheap footwear often means (but not always) inferior quality, particularly as concerns soles ("Vibram" trademark is generally a guarantee). I do not think that a "Gore-tex" upper is necessary. Climbing boots require a more careful purchase decision (they are more expensive, too!).
Do not be shy when you are in the shop: wear thick cushioning socks, try the boots on as long as possible, walk around in the shop. When you are at home, wear them again. Finding out that your new boots are uncomfortable in the mountains... it is too late!
In comparison with walking shoes, climbing boots are more suitable for terrains covered with snow or along streams. If your goal is more than hiking, you should prefer boot suitable for crampons (but this is quite a different matter!).

CLOTHING. Various kinds of technical fabrics are now on the market. They are light-weight, quick to dry and they guarantee breathability: Capilene t-shirts, Terinda (Dupont) tracksuits, pile (and or windstopper) pullovers, Gorotex jackets… and so on.
Ideally you should dress like an onion: layers of clothing keep you warm by trapping dead air between them. Also, they allow for flexibility in keeping the body at a comfortable temperature by letting you add and subtract layers thereby preventing over-heating and heavy sweating.
In general terms I only suggest to avoid jeans: they are not windproof, do not keep skin temperature and in case of wet weather they will dry only when hung out at home! And do not forget a pair of gloves, a hat, a light plastic raincoat (for example a large one that can cover the backpack too) and a change of clothes: socks, pants and t-shirt.
It is important to leave a change of clothes in your car at the trailhead, but it is a good idea to keep one in your backpack too: if you are caught in a storm during a hike and then you reach a refuge, you can change and keep dry. Tip: it is better to keep the change in a plastic bag: rain may wet the backpack, but your clothes will keep dry!
What else? A good jacket which protects from wind and wetness: a low cloudy day (with a high degree of humidity) is almost as wet as a rainy day. Windstopper clothes are more and more common: they are windproof, but they do not keep you warm. Therefore a pullover is still the best thing.

BACKPACK. Many different brands offer a wide variety of backpacks: your choice only depends on which kind of activity you practice. A 35, maximum 40, litres backpack is versatile enough and can contain all your equipment.
Overnight hikers typically carry larger packs (at least 60 litres).
Let me spend a few words on food: even for short hikes, bring something to eat and above all to drink. If you don’t want to spend money for water-bottles, you can use your own plastic bottles and recycle them.
As regards food, I will give you just this one tip: avoid food difficult to digest and very salty food. The goal is to keep yourself light while eating sufficient food to recover your strength. A piece of chocolate, for example, could be a good idea: particularly at the end of the hike, simple carbohydrates give you prompt energy; complex carbohydrates, on the contrary, are better for prolonged efforts.

A TIP: In all conditions, it is wise to carry a whistle; you might unexpectedly get caught in the fog, losing your fellow hikers: yelling at the top of your voice only tires you making you lose strength quickly. Using a whistle allows you to save strength and your call out for help reaches farther away. by carlogozzi©2006-08
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