Silhouette of woman meeting beautiful sunset above mountain lake
Here are some of the must-haves that made our days of up and down a little easier. (Photo: Anastasiia Shavshyna/Getty)

The Gear I Used for a Hut-to-Hut Trail-Running Trip in Switzerland

When you’re covering 145 miles through the Alps, every gram counts

Silhouette of woman meeting beautiful sunset above mountain lake
Lock Icon

Become a member to unlock this and get other great perks.

Already have an Outside Account? Sign in

Outside+ Logo

All-Access
Intro Offer
$3.99 / month*

  • A $500 value with everything in the Print + Digital Plan plus 25+ benefits including:
  • Member-only content on all 17 sites in the Outside network, including Backpacker, SKI, Climbing, and Trail Runner.
  • Exclusive discounts on gear, travel, and race-entry fees
  • Gaia GPS Premium with hundreds of maps and trail recommendations, a $39.99 value.
  • Outside Learn, our new online education hub loaded with more than 2,000 videos across 450 lessons. Including photography with Jimmy Chin and Wilderness Weather Fundamentals
  • Access to the Warren Miller film library and first access to annual film tour
Join Outside+
Outside Online

Digital + Print
Intro Offer
$2.99 / month*

  • Annual subscription to Outside Magazine
  • Access to member-exclusive content & bonus features on OutsideOnline.com
  • Ad-free access to OutsideOnline.com
Join Outside

*Outside memberships are billed annually. Print subscriptions available to U.S. residents only. You may cancel your membership at anytime, but no refunds will be issued for payments already made. Upon cancellation, you will have access to your membership through the end of your paid year. More Details

What do you carry when running for nine days and 145 miles through the Swiss Alps? As little as possible, friends and I learned last September while tackling the Via Valais route from Verbier to Zermatt. Athletes instead lean hard on the excellent Swiss hut system, and the occasional valley hotel, for most food and lodging—which frees them to run with packs that weigh nine pounds or less, not counting water. These are still big days in big mountains, though—you need to be prepared. Here are some of the must-haves that made our days of up and down (and up again) a little easier.

Osprey Duro 15 and Women’s Dyna 15 Running Vests ($140)

Osprey Duro 15 Running Vest
(Photo: Courtesy Osprey)

A truism: Almost no running pack carries well when it’s stuffed with nearly 10 pounds of gear. These offerings from Osprey are standout exceptions, thanks to a robust waist belt that keeps them snug to your body when fully loaded. The brand’s packs are always a bit over-engineered, and heavier (the Duro tips the scales at 1.2 pounds), but these are still the packs to take.

Duro Dyna


Black Diamond Distance Z Carbon Running Poles ($150)

Black Diamond Distance Z Carbon Running Poles
(Photo: Courtesy Black Diamond)

I used to think poles were stupid for running and trekking. “I’ll buy running poles the day I get my AARP card,” I’d mutter. Then I went to the Alps and got wise. They saved our asses (and calves) on 4,000-foot ascents in the tilted Old Country. At about seven per pair, the carbon Distance Z poles were so light, I often just collapsed ‘em to the length of a baton and ran with them to avoid ’em rep in my hands.

Buy Now


Suunto 9 Peak Watch (from $569)

Suunto 9 Peak Watch
(Photo: Courtesy Suunto)

Suunto’s 9 Peak seems to have it all—wrist heart rate, barometer, blood-oxygen sensor, over-the-air software updates, a longer-lasting battery—and in a svelte package that’s more than one-third smaller than its tank-like predecessors. The Peak really shone, though, when we were on the move: Before departing, I downloaded our nine-day running route into the watch. Each day the Peak led us, turn by turn, to our destination. Only at rare, weird junctions did we pull out a smartphone to double-check directions.

Buy Now


Katadyn BeFree 1.0L Filter ($45)

Katadyn BeFree 1.0L Filter
(Photo: Courtesy Katadyn)

Knowing we’d encounter streams and lakes frequently, we ditched the mess and heft of big bladders for the Katadyn BeFree (2.3 ounces) which has revolutionized on-the-go hydration for runners. Just squeeze the flask and water is forced through the built-in filter. Carrying a filter meant almost never having to pay $9 for a bottle of mineral water at the high huts. We also carried a second soft flask from Nathan ($20) for longer stretches in between water sources.

Buy Now


Trail Butter ($2)

Trail Butter
(Photo: Courtesy Trail Butter)

I can’t eat the slimy, processed goo that’s billed as running food anymore. My body wants real food—and I’ll bet yours does, too. Our crew fell in love with Trail Butter, packets of nut butter spiced with flavors like chai, coffee, and dark chocolate, or maple syrup and sea salt. We ate it plain, or smeared it on thick bread in the mornings at the hut. That said, I still brought along some Gu Salted Watermelon Energy Chews ($2), which taste like candy.

Buy Now


Rab Phantom Jacket ($200) and Outdoor Research Helium Rain Pants ($119)

Rab Phantom Jacket and Outdoor Research Helium Rain Pants
(Photos, from left: Courtesy Rab; Outdoor Research)

Weight decisions haunt every clothing choice on a trip like this. At three ounces, the waterproof Phantom was indeed a ghost, able to vanish into my pack until I needed it. Ditto the 6.7 ounce Helium Pants, which use a 2.5-layer fabric like the Phantom does. Would I want to move for seven hours in an alpine gully washer in this outfit? Not my first choice. But this duo was an ideal compromise on the Via Valais, keeping me dry during passing storms while weighing only about half a pound.

Jacket Pants


Patagonia Airshed Pro Pullover Jacket ($129)

Patagonia Airshed Pro Pullover Jacket
(Photo: Courtesy Patagonia)

On chilly alpine mornings I usually wore Patagonia’s Airshed Pro Pullover, my favorite cool-weather running top. The four-ounce layer is the platypus of run wear, resisting categories. Does its DWR finish make it a wind shirt? Does its half zip and longer arms—long enough to tuck your hands on chilly mornings—and hood make it a top layer? Does the Capilene in the sleeves and hood qualify it as a base layer? All of the above. And it packed down to about the size of a baseball.

Buy Now


BioLite Charge 40 PD ($50)

BioLite Charge 40 PD
(Photo: Courtesy BioLite)

On the Via Valais you need to be able to recharge your electronics—headlamp, watch, phone—especially if you’re relying on them for navigation (and photos). Huts often have a power strip, but visitors jockey for its outlets. Don’t find yourself drained, bring a power supply. The Charge 40 PD was a chonky 9.3 ounces, but you probably could get by with its 5.3 ounce little brother, the Charge 20 PD ($30). The trade-off was peace of mind, though: it provided enough juice to charge several devices, including two at once.

Buy Now

Lead Photo: Anastasiia Shavshyna/Getty

When you buy something using the retail links in our stories, we may earn a small commission. We do not accept money for editorial gear reviews. Read more about our policy.

promo logo
sms