Girl camping in a tent with a view of tall, pointy mountains

If you’re new to the world of backcountry camping, the thought of having to carry just the bare essentials on your back and spending the night outdoors might be a bit intimidating. However, backcountry camping shouldn’t be something to fear and is something that everyone can do with a bit of preparation. So where do you even start? I’ve put together a guide with all the essentials you need to prepare you for your first backcountry camping trip, including what gear you need as well as how to properly research and plan the perfect trip.

Plan your trip and do your research

For the sake of your safety and to also ensure you have the best experience possible, it’s always important to plan your trip ahead of time and do your research about where you’re going. Here are some tips to help you plan your first (or 100th) backcountry camping trip:

1. Make sure you know where you’re going

Before venturing off into the outdoors, it’s important to be familiar with your route to avoid getting lost. I always check local hiking guides and google maps to properly plan out the route I’ll be taking and approximately how long I’ll need to get to my final destination. For extra safety, I suggest bringing a compass or map in case you get lost or stray from your intended trail. You can also bring a GPS emergency device if you’re going to be hiking somewhere more remote.

2. Always tell someone where you’re going

Before hitting the trails, I always tell someone where I’m going and for how long I plan to be gone. Whether it’s texting a family member or friend or leaving a note in your house or car, someone should always be able to figure out where you are in case you go missing and need help.

3. Be prepared with the essentials

There are plenty of optional items that you can bring camping, but there are some that you cannot skip out on known as the “10 essentials.” These include navigation, a headlamp, sun protection, first aid kit, knife, fire, shelter, extra food, extra water, and extra clothes. If you want to read more about the “10 essentials” you can check out this great article by REI here.

4. Know the rules and respect nature

To help protect the places you visit, it’s important to have respect for nature and know the rules of the outdoors. I highly suggest you familiarize yourself with the 7 Leave No Trace Principles which are outlined here.

5. Plan your first trip with more experienced friends

One thing that helped me a lot when going on my first backpacking trip was to go with other friends who were more experienced with backcountry camping than me. I learned a lot just by observing what they packed and wore during the trip, and it helped me feel a lot more comfortable and safe.

Girl sitting in the frame of a tent with sharp mountains in the distance

Pack the right gear

One of the most important things you need to consider before heading out on your first backcountry camping trip is packing the right gear. While the recommended list of items may seem lengthy, I feel that the more prepared I am, the more enjoyable my camping experience is.

If weight is a concern for you, then I suggest going on your first backcountry camping trip with a few friends so that you can share the weight of some items like a tent, bug spray, cooking stove/gas, first aid kit, sunscreen, etc. I’ve personally invested in more lightweight gear to keep my pack as light as possible. However, these items are generally more expensive but worth it, in my opinion, to make hiking more comfortable.

Below you can find the items that I personally recommend and use on my backcountry camping trips. It’s important to note that the items I’ve listed are just my recommendations and you might find that some aren’t necessary for yourself.


Finding the right backpack for your trek can be overwhelming especially because there are so many different options. You should consider the overall size, function, and fit of the backpack based on your personal preferences and the type of trips you’ll be going on.

I just recently purchased the Osprey Kyte 46L Backpack (made specifically for women) and absolutely love it. This pack is super lightweight, fits well for females, and has handy compartments for separating my gear. It’s available in three sizes: 36L, 46L, and 66L. I’ve also heard great things about the Osprey Eja Pack 48L, which is another lightweight pack option for females.

If you’re planning a backcountry trip longer than 3 days or a winter trip, I suggest the Osprey Xena 85L pack since it’s big to hold enough gear that you might need to bring.


Since I usually go camping with my boyfriend, we share the MSR 2 person Hubba Hubba NX tent. It’s lightweight, durable, and perfect for 3 season camping. Since it is quite thin, we also purchased the Universal Footprint to go under the tent to protect the floor from sharp or rocky surfaces. Other lightweight, durable tent options include the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 3 and the Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL 3.

Sleeping Bag

To ensure you get a proper night’s sleep I highly recommend investing in a good quality sleeping bag that can tolerate cold temperatures. There are two types of sleeping bags you can choose from; Down and Synthetic. Down sleeping bags tend to be the lightest and warmest, but do not fare well in damp conditions and are generally more expensive. Synthetic sleeping bags are bulkier and heavier, but usually more affordable and durable in wet conditions.

I generally sleep cold, especially when camping in the mountains, which is why I love my Highlight Electric 850 sleeping bag (only available in Europe). It’s super lightweight and is made for temps as low as -9C. For my American readers, I suggest the Thermarest Hyperion: 20 Degree Down sleeping bag or the Western Mountaineering Alpinlite sleeping bag.

Sleeping Pad

Packing the right sleeping pad is not only critical for comfort, but also for warmth since it keeps your body off the cold ground. I personally use the Exped Synmat sleeping pad (made here in Switzerland!) and love how small and compact it is, as well as how quickly it inflates. Some other options include the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Uberlite sleeping mat and the Sea to Summit Ultralite sleeping mat.


A pillow isn’t necessarily an item you have to pack with you, but personally, I find I sleep much more comfortable with one. I just recently purchased the Cocoon Ultralight AirCore Travel Pillow and it’s significantly improved my sleep. It compresses down to the size of a small can and is super lightweight! Some other great pillow options include Sea to Summit Aeros pillow or the Exped Air camping pillow.

A great hack if you don’t want to spend the extra money on a pillow is to take some clothes and stuff them into the hood of a jacket to create a makeshift pillow. It doesn’t work as great as an actual pillow but it is a convenient and resourceful way to give yourself a bit more comfort with what you have.

Trekking Poles

To be honest, I’ve never wanted to use trekking poles while hiking until recently when we started hiking in more unstable terrain and doing hikes with greater elevation gain. I’ve just purchased the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Trekking Poles and have yet to test them out on the trails, but the reviews seem promising. A more affordable option is the Black Diamond Distance Z trekking poles or the REI Co-op Traverse Lock Cork trekking poles.


A headlamp is vital when it comes to being safe in the backcountry. You need to be able to navigate your way in the dark without getting lost and it’s helpful for doing things around camp. The headlamp I’ve been using is the Black Diamond Spot 325, but other great options are the Petzl Actik Core headlamp and the Petzl Tikka (a more affordable option).

Cooking Stove and Utensils

Our go-to setup for a camping stove is the MSR Pocket Rocket Deluxe Stove combined with the Sea to Summit X-Pot. Together it’s the perfect ultra-lightweight, compact stove option, however, it does take longer to boil water than the Jetboil Flash Stove would.

When it comes to utensils and dinnerware, I prefer to eat with a titanium spork since it’s lightweight and versatile for eating things like pasta or porridge. For a bowl, we sometimes eat together out of the Sea to Summit X-Pot that we cook in to reduce our dishes or we use the Sea to Summit X-Bowl, which is collapsible and fits perfectly into our X-Pot.

For a mug, I recently purchased the Sea to Summit X-Mug which also collapses into our pot and bowl and we have the GSI Infinity Backpacker Mug which keeps things warm for a longer period of time and has a handle. I’ve tried using lightweight titanium mugs in the past, however, I found that the mug became too hot to drink out of and often burnt my lip.


When it comes to food, we try to keep it simple and usually pack something like pasta and pesto for dinner and add cheese or canned tuna if we need some extra protein. Some other good dinner options include couscous, curried rice, or quinoa. We haven’t really ventured into the world of dehydrated food because there are limited options here in Switzerland and they usually upset my stomach because of the additives.

For breakfast, we usually nibble on granola bars or take instant oatmeal satchels with us. We also take instant coffee and hot chocolate packets for a delicious warm drink after dinner or with breakfast. For snacks, we usually pack trail mix, granola bars, crackers, dried fruit, apples, and dark chocolate for a sweet treat.

Water Bottle and Water Filtration

Alongside shelter and food, water is essential when going backcountry camping to avoid dehydration. You can never have enough water, and it’s important to pack extra when you are camping away from a water source like a lake or river. While some people prefer to pack a water bladder, I personally like my Hydroflask which keeps my water cool. Another great, lightweight option is a Nalgene bottle.

It’s important to ensure that the water source you’re drinking from is clean, and doesn’t contain any nasty bacteria or parasites such giardia. To filter your drinking water properly, there are plenty of options to choose from. You can either choose between using Chlorine Dioxide pills/droplets, pump, gravity, or UV filtration systems. Some great and durable purification options include the Katadyn Hiker Microfilter, the Steripen Ultra, and the Katadyn BeFree.

First Aid and Survival Kit

Safety should always be something to consider when you’re in the backcountry, which is why it’s important to have a first aid kit with you at all times. You might never know when you’ll end up needing it, so it’s better to be overprepared for worst-case scenarios. I like the Adventure Medical Ultralight Kits because they can stay at the bottom of your pack and require little space or weight. Some other things that I find are essential are some extra band-aids, ibuprofen, medical tape and blister pads since it’s not uncommon to start getting blisters while out on the trail.

When it comes to a survival kit, items that I like to keep with me are a swiss army knife, waterproof matches, a whistle, a compass, and an emergency blanket.

Toiletry Kit

After a long day of hiking and working up a sweat, I love freshening up a bit. Some optional items that I usually bring with me are a travel toothbrush, toothpaste, face/body wipes, face lotion, lip balm, hand wipes, extra hair ties, deodorant, and toilet paper.

Bug and Sun Protection

When spending hours out in the sun, it’s important to protect your skin from sun damage and from a painful sunburn. While not always possible, I try to wear long-sleeve clothes and pants to keep my skin protected. I recommend the All Good Sport Sunscreen which is non-greasy, natural, and even coral reef friendly. It’s also a good idea to pack a hat, lip balm, and sunglasses to give yourself extra protection.

I like to play it on the safe side, and always bring bug spray with me, especially when I know I’ll be camping near a lake or wet, marshy area. Mosquitos and other bugs can carry lots of harmful diseases so it’s important to protect yourself by layering up and using bug spray. I like the Adventure Medical Natrapel Pump Spray because it’s natural and doesn’t contain Deet. It’s also a good idea to pack a bug headnet.

Hiking Clothes

I’ll write about this in a longer form blog post later on, but it’s important to choose hiking clothes that you feel comfortable in and won’t irritate you or weigh you down too much. I opt for materials that are breathable, lightweight, and durable. I love layering because I can easily take off layers if it’s too hot or put extra on if I’m too cold.


I tend to get really hot (and sweaty) while hiking so I like to wear things that feel as lightweight as possible and breathe well. Some of my go-to items are the Lululemon Fast and Free tights which feel like you’re practically wearing nothing, the Lululemon Swiftly Relaxed Short Sleeve, and the Swiftly Relaxed Long Sleeve if I need a long-sleeve option.

If I need pants that are a bit warmer for winter, I like the Haglofs Fleece Leggings. If it’s raining, I like the Haglofs Vandra Pants, which are waterproof, windproof, and good for more harsh conditions, as well as the Fjallraven Abisko Shade Trousers.


There are three types of jackets you can choose when it comes to outerwear: a rain jacket, wind jacket, or down jacket. My go-to jacket is the Patagonia Women’s Nano Puff Jacket since it’s highly compressible, light as a feather and keeps me super warm. Another great option is the Patagonia Women’s Down Sweater Hoody if you need some extra warmth.

For a rainjacket, I like the North Face Allproof Stretch Jacket which is packable, lightweight and doesn’t make that annoying crinkle sound like most rain jackets. Another good option is the Patagonia Torrentshell.

I always bring a windbreaker with me as well because they usually don’t add too much weight and it can get pretty windy when you’re high up on a mountain. My favorites are the North Face Venture 2 Jacket and the Patagonia Houdini Jacket.


After getting drenched from hiking, it’s important to change your clothes otherwise you’ll have a pretty cold and uncomfortable night in your tent. I always wear my Icebreaker thermal pants and long sleeve top to sleep in. If it’s extra cold I’ll wear my Haglofs fleece leggings mentioned above on top of my thermals for extra insulation.

For layering on the top, I like the Patagonia Crosstrek 1/4 zip fleece as well as the Eddie Bauer Enliven Ultrasoft Hoodie, which is pretty much the coziest thing on earth! I also like to pack some warm, fuzzy socks to change into and a beanie to keep my head warm.


Gloves are a great additional item to bring to make sure you stay warm when temperatures start to dip. Some lightweight options I recommend are The North Face ETip Glove, Marmot Power Stretch Glove, and the Icebreaker Sierra Gloves.

Hiking Boots

Having the right boots is important to make sure you stay comfortable while hiking and protected from the elements. My go-to hiking boots are the Danner Mountain Light Boots, which are durable and waterproof, but run on the heavier side. Other options include the Keen Leather Terradoras and the Keen Targhee iii.


Getting a blister while out on the trail can be painful and can totally ruin your experience. That’s why having the right socks is just as important as having the right boots to prevent blisters. I prefer to pack socks that are made out of merino wool because they reduce odors, are comfortable, and durable. My favorite socks include Smartwool, Darn Tough, and Wigwam. I always make sure to bring an extra pair too, in case mine get wet or too dirty to wear again.

Additional Items

Some additional items I usually carry with me in my pack are the WANDRD camera cube bag to protect my camera, lenses, and drone. I also like to bring backup batteries for my headlamp and a power pack to charge my phone. Sometimes I’ll bring a journal, book, Ipad, or cards if I want something to do before going to sleep.

Processed with VSCO with a9 preset

It’s time to hit the trail!

Now that you’re all prepared, it’s time to hit the trail! Sometimes the scariest part can be committing to spending a night outdoors. However, I promise sleeping under the stars and having everything you need to survive with you is one of the most magical and memorable experiences you’ll ever have. So get out there and have fun!

I hope you can find this backcountry camping guide helpful when planning your very own trip outdoors. If you have any backcountry camping tips or fun ideas you’d like to share, let me know in the comments below!



Weekend Winter Getaway in the Dolomites

10 Beautiful Winter Travel Destinations To Put On Your Bucketlist

Holiday Gift Guide For Travel Lovers


Disclaimer: This post does contain some affiliate links, which means if you buy something, you’ll be supporting my blog with a small commission at no extra cost to you. 


It’s no secret that the Italian Dolomites are one of my favorite places to visit in the world. While the summer months are perfect for hiking and camping, I love visiting in the winter months just as much to spend some time skiing, sledding, and enjoying plenty of other winter activities. Last February we were invited to the beautiful region of Alta Badia, one of the biggest ski areas in the world, and instantly fell in love with the culture, food, people and endless activities the region has to offer. It has since then become a yearly tradition for us to visit for a quick weekend escape from Zurich, especially since it’s only a 5 hour drive from our home. After returning from our annual trip again this year, I wanted to share my itinerary and travel tips to help you plan the perfect weekend winter getaway in the Dolomites.

Read More: My 7 Day Roadtrip Itinerary For The Dolomites

Weekend Winter Getaway In The Dolomites - Allie M. Taylor

Things to know before you visit:

  • I highly suggest renting a car, especially during the winter, since the main attractions/popular spots are quite far from each other. Relying on public transportation or a taxi could be time consuming and expensive.
  • Make sure to pack properly for cold weather conditions. You can find my winter packing list ideas at the bottom of this blog post here.
  • Plan out your trip in advance. The Dolomites span a much larger area than you might think. It’s important to plan out the main attractions you want to see since the road conditions, weather, and mountain passes can all cause unexpected delays.
  • Buy a Dolomiti Superski Pass – This ski pass gives you access to one of the biggest and best ski areas in the world with over 1200km of ski runs and 450 connected lifts
  • Try the local Ladin cuisine. The Alta Badia region is home to some of the best gastronomy in all of Italy. Whether you’re at a mountain hut or dining at one of the region’s three Michelin starred restaurants, every meal you have here is of the highest quality. For more local Ladin food examples check out this Ladin cuisine guide from Alta Badia Tourism – you’ll definitely want to try everything on this list!

Where to stay:

Budget (under $100/night) : Apartment Sassongher, Ciasa Alexa, Colfosco Apartment

Mid Range (between $100 – $200/night): La Bercia Dolomites Chalet, Hotel La Scalira, Hotel La Tambra

High End ($200+/night): Hotel La Perla (where we stayed), Hotel Sassongher

My Itinerary

Day 1: Arriving in Alta Badia 


We spent the majority of this day driving from Zurich to Alta Badia because a major snowstorm had arrived in the Dolomites, which caused many passes and roads to be shut down for hours. We had to drive extremely slow because of the unsafe road conditions, but eventually we arrived at our hotel in the evening located in the beautiful village of Corvara. The hotel we were invited to stay at was called Hotel La Perla and I cannot say enough wonderful things about our stay here.

From the moment we entered the hotel, everything was taken care of and we instantly felt like family. This is not a normal 5 star luxury hotel, but rather a charming wooden house you might find in a mountain tale with some of the most impressive views right out your window. The best part is you can even ski in and out directly from your doorstep. While the hospitality, location and wellness amenities are worth bragging about, what really made this hotel stand out for me was the food! The food is not good, it’s delicious and changes every night you dine there. The dining experience is enhanced by the enchanting atmosphere of the cozy wooden restaurant that makes you feel like you’re dining in someone’s home. After our bellies were full, it was time for us to get some rest to prepare ourselves for a busy day of skiing.

Day 2: Skiing in Corvara 

Weekend Winter Getaway In The Dolomites - Allie M. Taylor

Weekend Winter Getaway In The Dolomites - Allie M. Taylor

Our first full day in Alta Badia was off to an early start as we headed for the slopes to do some skiing. With over a meter of fresh snow, we were excited to enjoy some powder and beautiful mountain views. We spent the morning skiing in the Corvara area, taking the Col Alt lift directly from our hotel and then several other lifts that led us further into the mountains in the direction towards San Cassiano.

As the weather began to worsen in the afternoon, we decided it was time to stop for a warm meal at the beautiful and newly renovated Ütia de Bioch Hütte. The owner, Marcus, whose family has owned the hut for generations, greeted us with a warm smile and incredible hospitality. He offered us local wines to try, delicious Ladin Turtres (spinach and ricotta turnovers), homemade tiramisu and plenty of other gourmet dishes created by the region’s Michelin starred chef Norbert Niederkofler. You might think of mountain hut food as being basic or boring, but every meal you have at a mountain hut here in Alta Badia is far from ordinary. With every dish, you can tell just how much time and effort is put into creating it.

The time flew by and nearly three hours later we were finished with our meal (Italians like to enjoy their meals especially with lots of wine/apertivos). By this time the lifts were close to shutting down for the day so we hurried up and finished off our last run before returning back to our hotel.

Day 3: Skiing in Colfosco

Weekend Winter Getaway In The Dolomites - Allie M. Taylor

Weekend Winter Getaway In The Dolomites - Allie M. Taylor

While the weather continued to worsen on our third day here, we were eager to get out onto the mountain and explore some new lifts. To start off our day we headed up the Piz Boé gondola to enjoy a cappuccino at the mountain hut located at the top. I would highly recommend stopping here on a clear day for some breathtaking views overlooking the valley and surrounding mountain ranges, plus the hut is pretty beautiful too!

After waiting a bit for the storm to die down, we headed in the direction of Colfosco, which was by far my favorite lift. The beautiful mountain views, long runs, and charming wooden farm houses dotted amongst the landscape left me constantly in awe. This is also a wonderful area for ski touring and snowshoeing since there are many designated and easily accessible paths for both of these activities.

Weekend Winter Getaway In The Dolomites - Allie M. Taylor

After a few runs, we worked up an appetite and headed to the charming mountain hut known as Jimmi Hütte. I had a delicious rigatoni dish with fried sage and local mountain cheese that was to die for, as well as tried Kaiserschmarrn for the first time. If you’re unfamiliar with Kaiserschmarrn, it’s a traditional Austrian dish made up of shredded sweet pancakes topped with stewed berries, powder sugar, and cream. This is a perfect dish for those with a big sweet tooth and great for sharing since it’s quite large and filling.

Pro tip: Reserve the table at the top of the hut ahead of time so that you dine with one of the best views in the Dolomites overlooking the Val Gardena Pass. 

With tired legs, we started to work our way back towards our hotel in Corvara so that we could enjoy some wellness in our hotel (don’t miss out on this wonderful amenity while staying here). After a long day of skiing, a nice sauna and swim in the heated pool was just what our sore muscles needed.

While we were supposed to start our drive home on this evening, the weather forecasted that the next day would be perfectly clear skies and sunny – a skier’s dream! So we decided to extend our trip by an extra day to finally enjoy a blue bird day on the slopes. It has been my dream to see the Lagazoui piste on a clear day since it was completely covered by a heavy snowstorm with zero visibility when we visited the previous year. You might recognize Lagazoui by its famous sauna located on top of a mountain, which has unfortunately since been shut down. Besides the sauna, it offers one of the most beautiful pistes in the Alps where you can ski while enjoying panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. If you get a chance, I would highly recommend skiing here not only for the views, but also because it tends to be less busy than some of the other pistes in the area.

Day 4: Enjoying a Blue Bird Ski Day in La Villa


On our final day in Alta Badia, we awoke to the glorious sight of the sun lighting up the mountains just outside our window and perfectly blue skies. To say we were excited to go skiing would be an understatement. Unfortunately, we also woke up to the news that Lagazuoi was closed due to an avalanche in the area which had shut the pass down – I guess I’ll just have to wait until next year to finally see it! With a quick change of plans offered by our guide for the weekend, Elena, who works for Alta Badia Tourism, we climbed into her car and headed towards the village of La Villa. We spent most of our morning here, enjoying the empty slopes, sunny skies, and stunning mountain views. We even took a visit to the picturesque Santa Croce Church, which has been a place of pilgrimage since 1511.

Weekend Winter Getaway In The Dolomites - Allie M. Taylor

After exploring the church, we stopped at a mountain hut on our way down the mountain where Elena recommended we try a “bombardino.” The entire time we were skiing I had always wondered what this strange yellow drink so many people were ordering was, which I later found out was called a bombardino. The bombardino is revered as an Italian’s favourite drink in the winter and is the perfect reward after a long day on the slopes. The drink is made by stirring creamy egg liqueur (which gives it its peculiar yellow color) into brandy and then topping it with whipped cream and cinnamon. It is warm and reminiscent of eggnog, making it the perfect winter drink.


Weekend Winter Getaway In The Dolomites - Allie M. Taylor

With a few more runs under our belt, we drove back to Corvara and met up with Alessia (the direct of marketing at Alta Badia Tourism) and another Italian photographer at the top of the Piz Boé lift. We ventured off to a more hidden mountain hut for lunch known as Crëp de Munt which specialises in traditional Ladin dishes. We started off our meal with an apertivo and a massive plate of turtres and föies da soni (potato fritters), which are traditionally eaten with sauerkraut. I know it sounds a bit strange, but trust me it’s delicious! For my main meal I ordered a simple plate of penne with roasted tomatoes, rocket, basil and smoked cheese and it was by far my favorite mountain hut meal of the trip. I’m always impressed when someone can make a simple dish extraordinary and memorable. If you get the chance, you must stop here for a delicious meal and enjoy the remarkable scenery!


As the sun was beginning to dip behind the mountains, there was one more place I wanted to see before we said our goodbyes to the Dolomites. We took the lift in the direction towards the Sassongher mountain where there is a beautiful piste that winds through several wooden farm houses with Sassongher towering in the distance. With the sun on our faces, we stopped to take some photos here and just enjoy the incredible scenery around us.

Eventually it was time for us to head back to our hotel and pack our things before beginning our drive home to Zurich. It’s always so hard for me to say goodbye to places that I’m able to form a special connection to and the Dolomites are no exception. The warm hospitality of the people, the incredible food, and stunning mountain scenery is something that’s hard to find anywhere else in the world.

I hope you can find my itinerary and travel tips of use when you plan your very own trip to the Dolomites. If you’ve ever been to the Dolomites in the winter and have any tips or fun ideas you’d like to share, let me know in the comments below!


10 Beautiful Winter Travel Destinations To Put On Your Bucketlist

Holiday Gift Guide For Travel Lovers

Sustainable Fashion From Athleta

Thank you Alta Badia Tourism for hosting us during our stay. We are so thankful for your generous hospitality and for making every trip so memorable! As always, all opinions and experiences are my own.