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Tour planning made easy

Stay safe on the mountains and enjoy the experience!

The mountains are fascinating, challenging and mystical to many people. Although the mountains of the Kitzbühel Alps are relatively gentle, which makes its hiking and mountain bike trails relatively easy to master, good planning is still essential. The better you plan your trip, the more you'll enjoy the mountain experience to the full. In the following, we offer you a few tips for planning the perfect tour.

10 tips for planning your hike

  • Fit and healthy: Hiking in the mountains requires a high degree of endurance. The effort it demands, which is beneficial for the heart and circulation, requires you to be in good health and able to assess your abilities. Avoid being pushed by time and adopt a pace which is suited to all members of the group.

  • Careful planning: Only choose tours that you are confident you can master. Use hiking guides and maps to help you decide. Get advice from experts or locals about the length of the tour, altitude differences and level of the difficulty of the route. Make sure to research the weather forecast and pack the relevant weather-appropriate clothing. Warning: The weather conditions in the mountains can change suddenly and unpredictably!

  • Proper equipment: Make sure that you have the correct equipment for your tour and pack your backpack as lightly as possible. You should always bring what you need to protect yourself from rain, cold weather and the sun, as well as a first aid kit and fully charged mobile phone. You'll also need a good hiking map or GPS so that you always know where you are in the mountains.

  • Suitable footwear:Always make sure to wear sturdy hiking boots (preferrably ankle-high). Good hiking boots protect your feet, support them and give you a much better grip than with trainers. When choosing your boots, make sure they fit properly, have a profiled sole with a good grip and are waterproof and light. Ask an expert or salesperson for advice.

  • Sure-footedness: This is the key to a positive hiking experience in the mountains. Be aware that fatigue and a sustained pace considerably reduce your concentration and sure-footedness. Falls due to slipping or stumbling are the most common cause of accidents! You can reduce the risk by walking carefully and good assessment of your ability to master the chosen trail.

  • Stay on marked trails: Wherever possible, you should stay on the marked trails so as not to lose orientation. Avoid shortcuts. Where there is no path, there is an increased risk of becoming disorientated, falling or being hit by rocks. If you venture off the path, return to the last known point with markings or signposts and re-establish your bearings.

  • Regular breaks: These are not only for relaxation and to recharge your batteries. Taking a good break also allows you to enjoy the alpinescape and the company of fellow mountain adventurers even more. It is important to eat and drink at regular intervals to maintain your energy levels and concentration.

  • Look after children: If you are planning an excursion with children, only choose tours that are designated appropriate for their age group. Bear in mind that the most important thing is that they enjoy the experience and discover new things. Also note that long, demanding tours that require a lot of stamina and concentration are not suitable for children.

  • Small groups: Small groups allow more flexibilty than larger tours and are safer than just going up the mountains on your own. Prior to embarking, make sure a family member or friend knows your destination, what route you have planned and when you expect to be back. Stay together in the group and help each other when necessary.

  • Respect for nature & the environment: To protect the mountain landscape, do not leave any waste behind. Avoid noise. Stay on the marked or signposted paths and do not disturb the wild animals or pasture livestock. Plants should also be treated with respect. Respect the designated conservation areas. Use public transport or carpooling to arrive.

Selfie at the summit cross

What to take in your hiking backpack

A well-packed backpack is essential on mountain tour. It will help you in almost any situation. Your backpack should carry all the equipment you need, but not be too heavy. The recommended content will vary depending on type of tour and level of difficulty. In the following, we give you tips on the must-have items to take with you on your tour.

For a full-day day tour in the Alps

  • checkUp-to-date hiking map

  • checkBlister plasters

  • checkMobile phone with fully charged battery

  • checkPocket knife

  • checkCash

  • checkSnack (sausage, bread, snack bars, cookies, fruit, etc.)

  • checkWater bottle (water or energy drinks)

  • checkSun protection (sunscreen, sunglasses, cap, etc.)

  • checkChange of T-shirt

  • checkRain jacket (even on days when it doesn't look as if it will rain)

  • checkFleece jacket (it is usually cooler on the mountain than in the valley)

  • checkFirst aid kit

  • checkGloves & hat (for all eventualities)

  • checkHeadlamp

  • checkSeat cushion or seat pad

The backpack for a full day tour should not be larger than 20-25 litres in volume. Hiking poles may also be helpful in certain terrain. For example, they provide good anchor points while hiking downhill. If you plan to spend more than one day in the mountains and plan to overnight along the trail, you will naturally require a larger backpack or rucksack (up to 60-80 litres) and should pack more of the essential items in accordance with the duration of your hikes. Backpacks with a spacer mesh ventilated back system are particularly comfortable to carry. They ensure good air flow on the back and prevent excessive sweating. When choosing a hiking backpack, we recommend that you ask an expert for advice. He or she will help you to find a model that suits your individual needs. You can read more about this in our backpack essentials checklist.

Having the right gear makes all the difference

Clothes, footwear, etc.

In the mountains, you are invariably moving in unfamiliar terrain. The weather can also change faster than you expect. Above all, you should bear in mind that it is much cooler in the mountains than in the valleys. The temperature usually drops at a rate of about 1 °C per 100 metres of elevation gain. When deciding what to wear on the hike, you should research the weather conditions for the day or days by looking at the live webcams and latest weather forecast for the region.

Suitable footwear

Having the right footwear is an important safety factor - but also a key factor for a positive hiking experience in the mountains. There is a wide array of hiking boots on the market, allowing you to adapt your footwear preference to your individual needs. There are light models, as well as heavy and robust models. Breathable or waterproof? High or low cut? When choosing footwear for your hike, the options can appear overwhelming. Important tip: take your time when choosing! Ask the salesperson for advice and try on the shoes on your feet for several minutes!

Choosing the right footwear:

  • checkDetermine the purpose of the footwear: Easy walks, moderate mountain tour or challenging hikes in high alpine terrain.

  • checkBuy your hiking boots in the afternoon: Your feet are usually slightly thicker at this time than in the morning. This corresponds more to the situation when hiking as your feet also swell slightly.

  • checkSlightly bigger is better: Your new hiking boots should be at least a half to a whole size bigger than your normal shoe size. This provides extra space for your special hiking socks and also ensures your toes do not bump into the front when going downhill.

  • checkWaterproof or breathable: That depends on the type of terrain you want to explore. Ask an expert or salesperson for advice before you purchase.

  • checkTry on many different shoes: There is always one that fits even better! Don't just consider trendy brands. Take your time and try walking around in the boots for several minutes. Test the boots with the hiking socks that you plan to wear later on your hike adventures.

  • check Break in your hiking shoes: Every shoe has to be "warmed up". The stiffer the shoe, the better it is to wear it gradually. This prevents later blistering and contributes to your wellbeing on the hike.

  • checkProper boot care:Regular cleaning and proofing keep your boots supple and durable. Store the hiking boots in a dry, cool and low-light environment and follow the manufacturer's additional care instructions. This ensures you'll enjoy your hiking boots for a long time.

Hiking socks

Finding the right hiking boots is only half the job done for a carefree hike. The right hiking socks are another key factor. This is the only way to keep your feet dry and free of blisters, allowing you to enjoy your mountain experience to the full. A good pair of hiking socks is breathable, water-repellent, comfortable and aids the required sure-footedness in the hiking boots.

There is wide selection of hiking socks available. The two main categories are padded or non-padded. Depending on the time of year you plan to hike, you can then either opt for thicker or thinner socks (temperature-dependent). And then there is the selection of materials: cotton, virgin wool, synthetic fibres, mixed materials, etc.

Apart from the time of year, choosing which socks are right for you also depends on your hiking boots. Here you can also ask an expert or salesperson for advice. Important tips: The socks should fit at least as well as the hiking shoes themselves - and they should be wrinkle-free. And: Always take at least one pair of spare socks with you on your hike so that you always have dry feet!

Clothing for all eventualities

Suitable clothing keeps you feeling good on a hike. The clothing you choose should depend what type of hike you are planning. We recommend the following tips as a guide:

  • checkShirt, blouse or T-shirt:Make sure that your outerwear is as light and breathable as possible. This prevents unnecessary sweating and ideally wicks away moisture. Shirts also have the advantage that they can be easily rolled up or unbuttoned when it gets warmer.

  • checkTrousers: Good hiking trousers are breathable and stable. You should have enough space in them to allow sufficient freedom of movement as well as for slipping on a pair of legging underneath should the temperature drop. Today, breathable pants made of synthetic materials or blended fabrics are increasing popular. Zip off trousers, which can be quickly slipped on or off (depending on the weather) are ideal.

  • checkPullover, fleece jacket: Long-sleeved outerwear is an essential part of hiking clothing. Always bear in mind that it is usually noticeably colder in the mountains than in the valley. The temperature decreases by approx. 1 °C per 100 metre of elevation gain. Fleece pullovers or jackets are particularly suitable because they are significantly lighter than wool pullovers.

  • checkJacket: An optimal hiking jacket should be waterproof or rainproof and breathable. Multiple pockets provide storage options for important items such as snacks, pocket knives, wallet and hiking map. The jacket you choose should also have a hood. Classic rain jackets can be folded together relatively small and are light in weight. Softshell jackets, which are in no way inferior to rain jackets, have additional warming and wind-breaking features. Hardshell jackets are more suitable for tours in extreme weather conditions because they are heavier and restrict freedom of movement a little. A thin jacket is an essential item to take in your hiking backpack.

  • checkHat, gloves, headband: These items should not be missing in any backpack. They take up little space, are light and will prove quite useful in the event of sudden changes in the weather or an unforeseen emergency. When choosing gloves, it is important to ensure that the gloves you decide on offer good insulation and water-repellent features. Easily soaked gloves are less suitable. For headgear, you should consider ones with the best possible warming properties and breathability. In the event of rain, you can always pull your hood of the rain jacket over your head to protect yourself.

  • checkSun protection: No matter what time of year - sun protection is simply a MUST. UV radiation is significantly more intensive in the mountains (due to the higher altitude). Many people underestimate this. In addition to a sunscreen with sun protection factor 50+, you should also pack suitable headgear. Sensitive skin types should pay special attention to their ears and neck.

If you are only planning a very easy tour, you will not be expected to go on a costly shopping spree and appear at the start of the hike with a full set of equipment. However, it is important that you feel comfortable in your clothes and that they are suitable for the weather conditions of the hike day. For easy trail hiking, you should start by purchasing the most crucial items: the right footwear and adequate sun protection.

However, if you decide to hike more often or plan to venture on more extensive tours, you should upgrade equipment and clothing accordingly. This will benefit your wellbeing during hikes. You can get excellent advice on hiking gear from sports retailers. And there's no better place to get advice about the right gear for local hiking than in the sports shops in the heart of the Kitzbühel Alps?

Refreshment stop at a mountain hut

Food and drink on the mountains

Hiking in the mountains requires a high degree of endurance. It is therefore essential to drink sufficient amounts of fluids regularly. Food intake in the form of muesli bars, fruit or biscuits not only enhances concentration, but also prevents an early drop in energy levels due to low blood sugar.

Low-sugar, isotonic drinks are particularly suitable for drinking. Sweet drinks are not advisable as they only increase the thirst. Tap or spring water is also ideal for hiking. It is best to drink before you feel thirsty. You should drink small amounts regularly during the hike and not wait to drink a large amount at once. About 1-2 litres is ideal for a hiking tour. Carrying more than this may prove difficult. A little tip from the Kitzbühel Alps: At various points along the trail, you'll come across fresh mountain springs or streams with clear water. Provided the water looks clean, you can drink this water without hesitation. This is usually even cleaner than tap water in many regions of the world.

It's best to satisfy your carbohydrate requirements with muesli bars, dried fruit, fruit or whole grains. When hiking, it is important to take several small snack breaks rather than eating all at once. The first break should take place after about 2 hours. After that, every 1.5 - 2 hours. Replenishing your energy reserves with a snack prevents a drop in performance. Warning: Pure glucose is not recommended. This may give you enormous energy boost in the short term, however the subsequent drop in glucose is the faster and greater.

Please note: Make sure that you take all of your waste with you and dispose of it properly. This also applies to degradable natural products such as leftovers or pieces of bread. Nature and subsequent hikers will thank you!

In general, when it comes to food and drink, everyone should have what suits them best. The most important thing is to take your time and enjoy. Quite frankly, you don't want to rush through the beautiful mountainscape of the Kitzbühel Alps, do you? So why not take a break and enjoy a hiking snack as well as the magnificent panorama.

Recharge your batteries at a snack station or mountain hut

... it's up to you. There are many refreshment stops along the hiking trails in the Kitzbühel Alps where you can recharge your batteries. However, there are some routes where you will not find mountain inns or mountain pastures and will have to rely on the food you bring. These routes are particularly loved by nature lovers as they offer hiking tranquillity and freedom.

Refreshment stops are part and parcel of the hiking experience. If you have the opportunity to stop at one, then you should discover why they are a must-visit for yourself. The snack stations and mountain inns in the region offer the highest quality service, alpine cosiness and warm hospitality. On the many alpine pastures that serve food and drink, you even sample homemade products such as bacon, cheese, bread, spreads, etc. Some farms even offer "direct from the farm" produce.

By the way, a refreshment stop is not only cosy, but also offers you the opportunity to relax and enjoy the panorama of the surrounding mountains.

Mountain weather

Well informed and good to go

Planning is an essential part of any hike. Researching the weather should be a top priority when planning your tour. Find out about the current weather situation well in advance of the start of the hike and keep an eye on the weather forecast. You should also take into account short-term and long-term changes in weather conditions.

Rain in the Kitzbühel Alps

Sudden adverse weather

Unlike the lowlands in Austria, the weather in the mountains can change completely within a matter of minutes. The different air pressure zones and smaller wind areas mean that one minute you can have blue sky and perfect weather, and just 10 minutes later gigantic storm clouds may begin to loom above you. For this reason, you should keep an eye on the latest mountain weather report for the region and adjust your tour schedule accordingly. Also bear in mind that thunderstorms in the mountains can be really uncomfortable and dangerous - especially if you are nowhere near shelter. Ask your hotel or accommodation provider or locals, for more information about the local weather. They are usually very knowledgeable and can give you a few tips.

Temperatures on the mountain

In times of climate change, the mountains reveal one of their great advantages. While it is scorching hot in the lowlands of the country, with temperatures sometimes soaring well above 30 °C, it is usually pleasantly cool in the mountains. In general, the temperature drops by approx. 1 °C per 100 metre of elevation gain. So when it is a pleasant 25 °C in the valley (approx. 800 m above sea level), it may only be approx. 15 °C at an altitude of 1,800 m. If you are planning a tour to one of the higher peaks in the Kitzbühel Alps, the temperature at the summit in midsummer may only be 10-12 °C. You should therefore take weather-appropriate clothing in your backpack.

Snowfall in summer?

The Kitzbühel Alps are known for the relatively moderate altitude. Nevertheless, you should not forget that the mountains in the region range from 800 m to just over 2,400 m above sea level. It may well happen that you encounter snowfall above the tree line in mid- to late May, or find patches of old snow along the hiking trails. From the end of August, you will usually have to reckon with the possibility of snowfall, which may make it difficult to cross some alpine hiking trails for a short time. Heavy snowfall in the mountains does not start until the end of the year (November/December), but you should take this into account when planning your tour.

How to read a hiking map

A reliable tool for orientation in the mountains

Hiking tour planning

Good tour planning not only makes a smooth hike, it also ensures your safety on the trail.

Good tour planning is essential to getting the most out of your adventures in the mountains: hiking, enjoying nature and breathtaking views that you'll never forget. You should always have an up-to-date hiking map with you. This is the only way to keep tabs on your position and direction at all times. Even more important than having a hiking map with you is being able to read and interpret it.

There are many maps available that show the Kitzbühel Alps with their hiking trails and mountain bike routes. Highly recommended are the Kompass-Verlag and Freytag & Berndt hiking maps. The Kitzbüheler Alpen Tourist Association works closely with Alpenwelt-Verlag (Freytag & Berndt). The standard scale for hiking maps is 1: 35,000, i.e. one centimetre on the map represents a trail length of 350 metres.
Hiking map

The Kitzbühel Alps are perfectly mapped on the Alpenwelt-Verlag hiking map.

All public, marked and signposted hiking trails are usually marked with red or black lines on the map. Red stands for "red mountain trails" and black denotes "difficult mountain trails". A number (or numeral) along a line indicates the official route number, which is also shown on the yellow signposts on the trail.

On the Alpenwelt-Verlag hiking map, you can see different background colours. The light yellow area denotes the valleys. Mountain pastures and forest areas are shown in light green. These areas can reach altitudes of 1,600 - 1,800 metres. And lastly, the white to grey areas show the high alpine terrain. The greyer the background, the more alpine the region is.

In addition to the coloured areas, you will see many wave-like brown lines on the Kitzbühel Alps map. These are contour lines and indicate the corresponding altitude in metres. Put simply, the further the brown lines are apart, the "flatter" the terrain; the closer the contour lines are to each other, the "steeper" the trails are in this area of the map.
The legend on the hiking map

The legend is the key to understanding and reading the map.

A good hiking map contains plenty of information. The legend is the key to understanding a map as it explains the meaning of the symbols depicted on it. Before you start hiking, you should study your route on the map well and be clear about what the symbols and colours on the map represent. You can also ask your hotel or accommodation provider, a hiking guide or locals for advice. If you are not confident about reading a map, ask at the tourist information office for help. The staff will be glad to assist you and will also invite you to attend the weekly Map Reading event.

Calculating estimated walking times

How to plan the perfect hike

While you can estimate the time required to complete your hike, planning the walking time down to the minute is not possible. There are many factors that may affect the duration of the hike: uphill speed, walking strides and general pace tend to vary greatly. Physical condition, hiker experience and state of mind on a given day also influence the finish time. Another decisive factor is group size. The larger the group, the longer you should plan for your mountain tour.

A proven calculation model shows that you can do an average of 300 vertical metres per hour. On horizontal terrain, you can cover 4 km per hour. Calculate the value for the trail length and for the vertical metres separately. Halve the smaller value of the two walking times and then add both values. This will give you the estimated walking time of your hike.

For example: For a moderate trail with around 1,200 vertical metres (= approx. 4 hours walking time). The distance is 8 km, which corresponds to an approximate walking time of 2 hours. (This value being the smaller value is now halved = 1 hour). The sum of the two walking times is 4 hours + 1 hour = 5 hours walking time in total.

When doing the calculations, make sure that you calculate the entire distance (i.e. there and back) and keep in mind that you will be walking much slower on the way up. If you expect to be at the summit within 2.5 hours for the hike above, you should give yourself more time. Downhill you are usually much faster anyway. NB: walking time always depends on the duration and number of breaks!

Walking times always depend on trail conditions

Remember...

Good tour planning not only increases your safety, it gives you the freedom to enjoy nature and the mountains even more. Proper hiking planning can take time. You will not regret the outcome.

More hiking checklists to download:

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Baerig Tirol

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Sandra

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