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What to wear for hiking in the Dolomites

Two people in hiking clothes walk near the Tre Cime, Dolomites viewpoint with the setting sun behind them
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This Dolomites gear guide was written by Dolomites adventure photographer, Mariah Arianna

When considering what to wear for hiking in the Dolomites, start with the basics: hiking boots, a water repellent rain layer, an insulated down layer or fleece, and sunscreen. It does not matter what season.

Remember weather does not just happen “horizontally” in the mountains. It also happens vertically. Even when it’s summer in the valleys, it might still be winter up at elevation. Come prepared for varying temperatures. Layering and delayering is the best way to regulate your body temperature in the mountains.

How to layer properly for hiking in the Dolomites

Layer with functional clothes that all have a purpose. You should start with a moisture wicking base layer, like a merino wool t shirt. Your next layer should insulate and provide warmth. That can be either a light fleece or packable down sweater, depending on the season. For an outer layer, you need a water repelling, wind blocking shell. For colder temperatures, opt for a slightly thicker outer shell. For warmer temperatures, a light rain jacket will do.

Don’t forget things like buffs, beanies, gloves and scarves depending on weather and your tolerance for cold.

Packing list for hiking in the Dolomites

  • A dry base layer if you sweat a lot. In cooler temperatures, you’ll want to change into a dry layer as soon as you summit, or else you’ll get cold.
  • A beanie or hat. In cooler temperatures, I recommend a warm knit hat. Humans lose a lot of heat through their heads. In warmer temps, I recommend a hat with a wide enough brim to protect your face from the extreme UV levels which come at higher elevations.
  • Sunscreen. Elevation means less atmosphere to protect you from harmful UV rays. You’ll burn much more easily than you think.
  • Rain repellent and wind blocking layer. Keeping moisture off your clothes is critical, especially in cooler temps. The wind can be harsh as well, so pack a water repelling, wind blocking layer appropriate for the season.
  • Fleece or down layer.

FAQs for hiking in the Dolomites

How can I track the weather and check live conditions?

There are a number of great apps you can use. For wind, cloud cover and rain, I recommend the Windy App. Once you get good at reading the wind direction and other measurements, you can plan accordingly. Mountain weather can vary from valley to valley, so checking live webcam conditions at the summits is also a must. Just Google Location + Webcam to find the feeds.

What constitutes good footwear, or hiking boots for the Dolomites?

Ankle high hiking boots with good traction. The Dolomite rock is very slippery even when dry. The small white stones can be unstable as well, leading to rolled ankles if you’re wearing trainers. Leave the barefoot shoes, hiking sandals and nikes in the hotel. Barefoot shoes don’t have the ankle support. The small stones will end up under your heel in hiking sandals. Nikes have zero traction on the smooth white rock.

Are trekking poles necessary for hiking in the Dolomites?

Yes, I recommend trekking poles for hiking in the Dolomites. The trails can be very steep, and poles will help distribute the weight of your hiking pack and save your knees. I tend to be much faster when using poles.

What makes a good hiking backpack for the Dolomites?

First and foremost: one that fits. Most people (especially women) end up sporting poorly fitted backpacks. If you’re doing longer day hikes, you want a pack that fits your torso length and has hip/chest straps. A rain cover comes with most hiking backpacks, but you can buy them separately as well.

When fitting your pack, secure the hip strap securely first. All the weight should rest there. Then, adjust the side straps to the proper length. Finally, secure the chest strap so that the pack is stable when you move, but doesn’t shift the weight away from your hips.

How to properly pack a backpack for hiking:

Put the heaviest things in the bottom and the lightest things at the top. I recommend using packing cubes for layers or clothes to keep things organized. Consider which items you’ll need to find most often, and keep them accessible.

Should we hire a hiking guide for the Dolomites?

Maybe. Most trails and viewpoints are very accessible for able bodies. The network of gondolas and parking areas get you close to most places anyway.

If, however, you are very inexperienced with hiking or just want some company, hiring a guide or going with a group is a great idea.

Where can I get food during my hikes? How remote are things?

There are mountain huts, or rifugios, everywhere. Most popular hikes, like Tre Cime, Sorapis and Seiser Alm, have rifugios at the summits. The Dolomites are not at all remote, and even when it feels like you’re at the edge of the Earth, there is probably a hut or hotel just over the next hill.

Rifugios have delicious hot food and are an experience themselves.

Do I need to buy the newest, most expensive gear to hike in the Dolomites?

Nope. Just pick layers which fulfill basic functions and wear them properly. No need to go out and spend a fortune on fancy outdoor gear for day hikes. You can probably get by with what’s already in your closet.

What are some women specific hiking tips for the Dolomites?

Mainly, the Dolomites and northern Italy are very safe places for women traveling in groups or alone. It’s a great location for a solo trip. I do recommend always telling someone where you’ll be for the day and when you expect to be back. However, that is true for everyone.

If you want to find other women in the area for a hiking buddy, Bumble BFF is a great social tool. There are also groups on Facebook like Solo Female Travelers where you can organize meetups.

A list of hiking No-Nos for the Dolomites

The Dolomites and European Alps have ingrained codes of conducts. The local traditions here are carved by the geography of mountain life, and go back generations. While in the area, please follow these codes of respect:

  1. Do not litter. Ever. That includes cigarette butts. That includes toilet paper. Pack absolutely everything in and out.
  2. Do not play music from a bluetooth speaker while hiking. This is extremely antisocial behavior. It is noise pollution, plain and simple. It disturbs the wildlife and takes away the peace and solitude many come to the Dolomites to experience.
  3. Do not fly drones over people, homes or gatherings.
  4. Don’t disrespect local property or personal space just for a photo.
  5. Do not come unprepared for mountain weather. More and more tourists find themselves high and dry in locations they shouldn’t be when weather changes. It’s a problem for the mountain rescue teams. It’s not only expensive, but it puts others’ lives at risk if they must come rescue you in dangerous conditions.

Finally, don’t be an ass. The Dolomites and local residents are overwhelmed by tourism, and many are fed up and protesting.

“Among residents, resentment towards tourism is growing as it is linked to noise pollution, growing traffic, and is pushing up rents and the cost of living.”

Jonas Martiny for Made for Minds, 05/09/2023

The Dolomites is an amazing place to explore and take photos, but don’t just be an Instagram tourist. Support local businesses, tip wait staff and vendors and make sure you drive, park, hike and consume in ways which have the least impact.

This is the gear I wear for all my Dolomites hiking, by season:

I don’t change gear (or poses, apparently) often since I’ve honed in what works for me. I like to buy gear by brands I trust that are made to last. I am not an affiliate for any of the below brands or products. I have had many of these items for years and they are still going strong!


  • Salewa Mountaineering Boots (seen here) OR Addidas Terrex trail running shoes
  • Ortovox Traverse pack, 38L (small frame)
  • Patagonia Merino Wool tee
  • Patagonia Torrentshell Rain Jacket (not shown)
  • Nike Trail Running Shorts
  • Oakley Sunglasses
  • Black Diamond Hiking Poles
  • Stance Socks
  • Born Primative Sport Bra
  • Peak Design camera mount and clips

WINTER(for skiing, snowboarding and winter hiking):

  • Dope Snowboard Jacket
  • Dope Snow bib pants
  • Gymshark leggings (for layering)
  • Burton wool snowboard socks
  • Patagonia Merino Wool tee
  • Peak Design camera mount and clips


  • Fjallraven Abisko trekking tights
  • Arcteryx Zip up fleece
  • Arcteryx Rain Jacket (not shown)
  • Patagonia Puffy (not shown)
  • Patagonia Merino Wool tee
  • Ortovox Traverse pack, 38L (small frame)
  • Born Primative Sport Bra
  • Injiini Wool Socks
  • Peak Design camera mount and clips

Interested in an Adventure Photography session during your visit?

Hiya! I’m super stoked for you that you’re planning this trip to the Dolomites. I hope this gear guide was helpful. The Dolomites is an incredible place, and the images you see don’t do it justice. You’re going to love it here.

I’m an adventure photographer, climber and mountain biker based out of Tirol/Süd Tirol. I document people having bucket list adventures during their travels to my home!

If you’re coming to the Dolomites and curious about having some photos to remember your trip, reach out. I’d love to help you prepare and show you around.




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