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The eight best tips for multi-day hiking tours

Hiking from hut to hut for several days, or from hotel to hotel - a dream experience. If you want to make this dream come true, there are a few things to keep in mind. We will reveal eight secrets of success so that your long-distance hiking holiday will be a success in Ötztal.

Special tip:
You can find more recommendations for planning day hikes here >> They essentially also apply to long-distance hiking trails.

1. Find the right one

The same applies to romantic relationships as it does to long-distance hiking trails: you have to find the right one. At least the second must-do is quite easy in Ötztal. Because there is something for every long-distance hiker's taste in terms of total distance, walking time, difficulty or overnight comfort. Some hike from hotel to hotel close to the valley floor (like on Ötztaler Urweg), others on high-altitude trails from hut to hut and get a taste of the three thousand meter high air (e.g. on Ötztal Trek). Some are on the road for days or even weeks (like on E5 long distance hiking route), others pick just some single stages. To start your long-distance hiking career, it is best to choose easy and shorter tours close to the valley floor, that are very frequented. Some routes even offer guided tours or luggage transport (e.g. on Ötztaler Urweg).

Sölden Wandern 2021

2. Prepare accurately

It has proven itself to start with sufficient prior training. If you already do test hikes at home, you will have much more fun on the long-distance hiking trail for sure. Increasing your fitness, you will soon notice how your body reacts to stress. In addition, it is important to gather as much information as possible about the long-distance hiking trail: Where are the crucial spots (difficulty, kilometers, altitude difference)? What is the current status of the trail, do you still have to cross snow fields - for example? Likewise, you should only start the long-distance hike if the long-term weather forecast really (!) suits the tour.

Sölden Hiking 2021

3. Plan overnight stays

Depending on the type of Ötztal long-distance hiking trail, you stay in hotels, guesthouses or huts. Before you set off, you should definitely reserve all overnight stays in good time. By the way, it's good manners to cancel if you can't come after all. Many huts already have online reservation systems. If not, you have to book by phone as writing emails to the hut tenant is not always a good idea: quite a few huts have neither a telephone network nor internet reception. Many refuge huts are operated by alpine clubs (e.g. Alpenverein, Naturfreunde). Members receive discounted accommodation prices. Alpine huts, on the other hand, are often managed by private hut keepers.

4. Adapt to hut life

In the case of refuge huts, you should make clear a few things in advance, e.g. take a look at the official Ötztal website:

  • Is the hut open at all?
    Many high alpine refuge huts are only open from around the beginning of July to mid/late September. Outside these times, they probably have a freely accessible "winter room", but that is not a must.
  • Is the hut staffed?
    In Austria, a hut keeper is usually present at mountain huts. You can buy food and drink from him. In such a case you can leave at home extensive provisions and camping equipment (cooker, tent, thick sleeping bag, sleeping mat) - in contrast to long-distance hikes in many other regions of the world. Please note: on some long-distance hiking trails there are still "self-catering huts"! You have to take your food there yourself. Scenic Hauerseehütte on Ötztal Trek is such a case. 
Sölden Hiking 2021
Sölden Hiking 2021
Sölden Hiking 2021
More hut tips:

  • Card payment is not possible in many huts, so take enough cash with you!
  • There are not always hot showers in mountain huts. Sometimes only cold water is available. If you need towels, you should take them with you.
  • Dogs are not welcome in all accommodations – please ask before!
  • Nighttime peace and quiet is normally at 10.00 pm

5. Get rid of ballast

The same applies to long-distance hiking trails as to day hikes: use the most appropriate, functional equipment possible! Please find useful tips here >> Additional "little helpers" on long-distance hiking trails are:

  • Headlamp (for emergencies and hut nights)
  • Earplugs (if there are snorers in the hut)
  • Zip ties and tape (fix almost anything)
  • What is perhaps most crucial: getting rid of unnecessary ballast. That never hurts in life. And especially not when hiking long distances. Because if you carry too much with you, your dream tour will become a true torture. Minimalists live more carefree – in the truest sense of the word. You only take as much equipment with you as is absolutely necessary. For instance, carrying few provisions (you are well provided with food by the accommodations in the mornings and evenings), listening to podcasts instead of carrying heavy books and using the (usually available) rental slippers – and you master the art of reduction quite well.
  • Underwear and socks
snack hiking 2021

6. Take a printed map with you as a backup

Before every long-distance hike there are the following must-dos:
• Save phone numbers of hotels and huts as well as the usual emergency numbers to your cell phone (European emergency number: 112, mountain rescue: 140).
• Save detailed route descriptions including maps and GPS tracks (= electronic route history) offline to your cell phone. Doing so, you can access it on the mountain even if you don't have an internet connection. And that will be quite often.

But please note: the mobile phone battery is empty faster than you imagine - with some devices after a single day. And you can't charge it in every hut. Therefore, a printed map should always be in your luggage. You can also switch the phone to flight mode or switch off the GPS navigation. Both extend battery life.

long distance hiking

7. Find your perfect pace

Starting a long-distance hike with short stages is a good idea. The body needs enough time to adjust to the stress. On high-altitude trails, you also have to get used to the thin mountain air. Every single day you should start slowly and then continue at a “feel good pace”. But how do you find your perfect pace? As long as you can talk relaxed while walking, it's fine! In addition, long-distance hiking also requires courage to take a break – or even a day off in between: just because a route is given in five days doesn’t mean that you can't do it in an entire week.

8. Expect bad weather

If you hike in the Austrian Alps for several days at a time, you will rarely enjoy continuous sunshine. It is therefore very important to be prepared for bad weather, e.g. by taking with you a good rain jacket and a rain cover for the backpack. Inside the backpack, sensitive items (e.g. mobile phones) can also be protected by additional waterproof bags. There are even waterproof backpacks. But the most important thing is to react at all when the weather conditions change. One is often tempted to stubbornly go on "because we are on vacation right now" or one has already put a lot of effort into the preparation. But if the weather is really bad, there is often no choice but to cancel or shorten the long-distance hiking tour. It's good if you've explored all the possibilities already in advance! Such "escape options" also help if the tour is more strenuous than expected. To put your mind at ease: to stop or cancel a tour is just normal. The Ötztal mountains will still be there next year. With such a huge choice of hiking opportunities, you have to come back several times anyway.

Uwe Grinzinger

Author: Uwe Grinzinger

The passionate mountain photographer, journalist and hiking guide instructor loves to be out and about in the quiet spots of the Alps. Therefore, he has enough to discover within Ötztal and surroundings. www.agentur-bergwerk.at