Sustainable hiking Leave no trace

Image photo with the RENEGADE GTX MID Ws,

Pristine land­scapes and rare plant species – out and about in the mountains, we place foot in excep­tional natural envir­onments. To preserve these, it is important to keep a few things in mind. When we walk through forests and meadows, weave our way through trees or climb over rocks, we are entering animal and plant habitat – which is why we should act as carefully and sustainably as possible. With a few simple tips, we will show you how to have a great hiking experience and still look out for your envir­onment.

Image photo with the SIRKOS EVO GTX MID Ws,

On the go Think sustainably even on the outward journey

Even when considering countless sustain­ability aspects on your hike, somehow you have to get to the mountains first. Most people go by car. But more awareness is possible in this regard, too. Maybe consider carpooling next time, so that you and your friends don’t arrive in three separate vehicles.

Another option would be to use public transport. Why not take the train to the starting point of your next tour? The big advantage: You are much more flexible in choosing your route if you don’t need to return to your parked car and can start your way home from another waypoint.

Of course, you can also skip the outward journey entirely. Simply hike near your home for a change and discover tours from your doorstep. Every region holds wonderful tours, and you probably haven’t discovered the ones near you yet. Following the motto “Why look far when everything good is so near, ” you will surely discover one or the other hiking highlight.

Image photo with the TORO EVO GTX MID Ws,

On the go Take care of your hiking equipment

Of course, your hiking equipment is also an important aspect in terms of sustain­ability. To protect resources, it’s best to purchase high-quality and robust hiking equipment that you can use for many years. There are also many providers of sustainably produced outdoor clothing. LOWA, for example, produces its shoes in Europe and only uses high-quality materials that meet the highest quality standards. This means the shoes can be used for many years.

Image photo with the MADDOX GTX LO,

On the go Use your own lunch box and water bottle

To avoid packaging waste in the first place, it’s best to take your food and drinks with you in reusable bottles and boxes.

In addition to reducing waste, they are also practical: Thermos bottles, for example, keep your drinks cold or warm. You can also buy special filter bottles that filter possible impurities from water filled from mountain streams. You shouldn’t drink that water unfiltered, as it could be contam­inated. Ideally, only fill your water bottles at drinking fountains to be on the safe side.

Your lunch box also has practical added value. It protects food from getting bruised in the backpack, and the lid of the box can be used as a makeshift cutting board.

But sustain­ability doesn’t have to end with packaging. Why take a tropical fruit up the mountain that has already travelled thousands of kilo­metres, when the farm shop in the valley offers so many delicious treats that are perfect for your hike. The big advantage: regional stores and markets sell food without packaging which you can simply pop into your lunchbox, and up the mountain you go. This way, you also support local farmers and small-scale busi­nesses.

Image photo with the MADDOX GTX LO,

On the go Discover new areas and plant species

When out and about in nature, you will discover countless plants and animals along the wayside. In keeping with the motto “We can only appreciate what we know, ” it is definitely worthwhile to expand our horizons. Look up the plants you just discovered every now and then, or inform yourself on the numerous info boards by the wayside available on most hiking routes. The better your under­standing of nature and the complex ecological rela­tionships, the more you’ll understand how worthy of our protection it is.

In addition, it is important to protect hiking paths in general. Many routes are very popular and almost too full in peak season. If too many outdoor enthu­siasts are out and about at the same time, it is difficult for nature to recover in these areas. It could thus be worthwhile to try a new route and explore less well-known destin­ations. If possible, visit more popular destin­ations in low season. This way, you can protect nature and spare your nerves.

Image photo with the MADDOX GTX LO,

On the go Stay on marked paths

Forests, meadows, swamps, rocks – the great outdoors offers an experience for all our senses. Hiking allows us to enjoy big and small natural phenomena. Whether we are watching a rushing waterfall or a deer grazing in a clearing – when hiking, we are only guests in nature. It is therefore important not to intrude. Pay attention to the following rules:

  1. Stay on the marked paths.
    Don’t disturb pristine nature and stay on the paths, protecting not only flora and fauna, but also yourself. Avoid shortcuts and return to the last known point if you happen to stray from the path. This way, you will not lose your bearings and move through the outdoors without doing any harm.

  2. Flora and fauna: look, don’t touch!
    Rare plant species can often be found along paths and trails, and many a wild animal has been spotted on a hike. However, keep in mind the rule: look, don’t touch. Even if animals are curious and come close – keep your distance and enjoy the moment. You should refrain from feeding or touching the animals under all circum­stances. For plants, the rule applies: admire and take pictures – anytime. Break off and take home – no way. Mountain flowers in particular are often protected and rare.

  3. Keep your dogs on a leash
    Of course, our four-legged friends also enjoy hiking with us. In this case, it is important to always keep our dogs close. The best thing you can do is keep them on a leash.

  4. Consider bird breeding seasons when climbing
    Even if rock face climbing tends not to harm the fauna, birds might be nesting in the rock faces. Inform yourself about their breeding times beforehand to not disturb any birds. If you should stumble upon a nest, make sure not to touch it.

  5. Avoid making noise in the woods
    For many people, the forest is a place of peace and quiet – and it should stay that way. After all, the forest is home to countless animals. Even if you can’t always see them, you should show consid­eration for them. Try to be as quiet as possible; don’t play loud music or shout through the woods. This way, you won’t disturb animals or other hikers and can better enjoy the forest yourself – it produces inter­esting sounds that you surely won’t hear every day. Simply enjoy the “forest soundtrack” and listen closely!

Image photo with the MADDOX GTX LO,

On the go Sleeping in the mountains

Of course, multi-day tours mean you also have to sleep in the mountains. Some sleep in cabins, others decide to sleep outdoors. An awesome experience – but a few rules need to be followed:

  • Campfires only in designated areas
    You’ve set up camp, and a campfire seems like a great idea. Many people feel that way, partic­ularly in summer. But be careful: there is a risk of wildfires. Every year, Germany registers forest fires that can be traced back to campfires. Therefore, avoid open fires on dry meadows and close to forest and only light a campfire if it is expressly permitted. Ideally, only light a fire at estab­lished fire­places. Important: keep the fire small and evenly spread the ashes the next morning once they have cooled completely.

  • A few rules for the outdoor toilet
    Of course, when out and about for a few days, you’ll have to go to the toilet now and then. In general, a mountain hut would be the ideal place for this. If you do need to use an outdoor toilet, make sure that you are at least 60 meters away from water, that your toilet paper is 100% compostable and that you dig a hole at least 15 cm deep.

  • Hang up your hammock correctly
    If you don’t want to pitch camp on the ground, you can also sleep in a hammock. If you don’t have one, you can easily make one from fabric and rope. All you need is a sturdy piece of fabric (about 300 × 140 cm) and a long and elastic piece of rope (about 25 m long)
    Gather and fold together the narrow sides in a way that allows you to firmly attach a rope. You might consider including a stone or piece of wood to prevent the rope from slipping off again. Hang up your DIY hammock between two trees with the two ropes, and you’re done. When attaching the ropes a tree, you should make sure that the trees aren’t damaged. By placing an extra protective layer under the rope, you can ensure that the load is equally distributed and that no bark is rubbed off.


On the go Take your rubbish with you

The golden rule for sustainable hiking: “Everything you take with you, take back home.” That is partic­ularly true for rubbish – no matter if you are staying in a cabin or going for a hike. It is advisable to pack a bag in your backpack to collect and dispose of the rubbish when you reach the foot of the mountain. This rule applies not only to plastic packaging, but also to tissues and food waste. While an apple core decomposes relatively quickly, a banana peel needs between one and three years.

Here’s an overview of the average decom­posing times of rubbish on a mountain:

Chewing gum: 5 years

Cigarette butt: 2–7 years

Tissue: 1–5 years

Banana peel: 1–3 years

Nylon fibres: 60 years

Plastic bag: 120 years

Tin can: 500 years

Plastic bottle: 500–1,000 years

In addition, if you see rubbish others have left behind, you should also simply bag it and take it with you. Nature will thank you for it.