Stay safe in the mountains
Things you should know before you go hiking
The weather can change quickly in the Norwegian mountains. Get up to date on what to wear and how to stay safe on your summer hike.
There is much to experience among the peaks, valleys, and plateaus of the Norwegian mountains in the summertime, but the weather and conditions can change quickly. Even people who have been enjoying the mountains their entire lives have a healthy respect for them and take care to be well-prepared for every eventuality.
Know your limits
Make sure your training, knowledge of the area, and equipment are all equally well suited for the trip and choose hikes that suit your physical fitness level. Many of the most popular hikes in Norway, like Trolltunga, Besseggen, and Romsdalseggen, are only suitable for very fit and experienced hikers.
Before you go hiking in the mountains, you should be familiar with basic mountain safety. Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to arrive or return. Check the weather forecast for both the area you are visiting and the wider region, and keep in mind that conditions may change rapidly. Plan what to do if it gets dark or if the weather changes. Turn around and go back if necessary.
Always know your location
Any time you’re in an unfamiliar area, you should always bring a map and a compass (and know how to use them to orient yourself). GPS devices and GPS watches are also useful, but be aware that they rely on batteries that can become depleted. You should also bring a fully charged mobile phone. Keep in mind that some places in the mountains have little or no reception, but you might get lucky. Your phone sends signals that can help rescue teams locate you. Don’t leave it behind.
Stay on the trail
Use trails that are well marked on the map and pay attention to signs along the way. Follow cairns of rocks and trails marked with a red "T", which are used for Norwegian Trekking Association trails. The Ts are spaced so that the next one is within sight, and will guide you safely through the terrain.
Be honest about your skills, energy level, and spatial awareness. Turn around if you feel tired or uncertain. If you go with a guide and wear safety equipment, it's safer to push boundaries, but the mountains are no place to be overly bold.
Clothing – dress in layers
The key is to dress in layers – even in the summer, when the sun is out and it's warm. You can always take off a layer if you get warm, but if the weather turns for the worse, you'll need that extra jacket or sweater in your backpack.
The first layer, which is beside your skin, should be moisture-wicking. Light wool underwear is a great choice. It is breathable, and will also still insulate you from the cold even when wet, a property it doesn’t share with cotton or nylon fabrics. The next layer can be another layer of wool, lightweight fleece, or a thin puffer jacket, depending on the temperature and season. Rain and windproof outerwear is a must, even on summer days. The mountain winds can get quite cold.
Bring a torch, a hat, and gloves with an extra set of warm clothes.
Wear fabrics to shield yourself from the sun. If you want to go shirtless, you should apply a high-SPF sunscreen due to the strong UV rays to which you are exposed when hiking.
You can find detailed packing lists in our article on hiking tips.
Trainers are not suitable for Norwegian mountain hikes. After hours of walking in rugged terrain, your joints and muscles will tire and it's easy to sprain an ankle. To prevent this, wear hiking boots with a middle or high top that supports and stabilises your ankles. Soles with good grip are also important regardless of whether the surface is wet or dry.
Sun, wind, and strenuous physical activity may make you dehydrated, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Most running water in the mountains of Norway is clean enough to drink, but avoid water running through pastures or runoff from glaciers, as this may contain harmful microorganisms.
Keep your distance from wild animals
Remember that certain animals can be dangerous so you need to keep your distance. Polar bears, musk oxen, bears, and moose are all faster than you and can cause harm if frightened, surprised, or defending their young. You should not enter fenced fields with cows and oxen as they may also cause harm. But feel free to go on a wildlife safari – and you'll surely get some exotic Insta shots!
Thunder and lightning
If you see that thunder and lightning are approaching, you must proceed from peaks or mountain ridges to lower ground. Lightning strikes at the tallest object, so make sure that's not you. Stay away from tall trees and water. Find shelter in lower depressions in the terrain. Stay close to the ground and spread out if you are a group of people.
Summary: hiking is a wonderful and active way of exploring the Norwegian mountains, but even when the sun is out, you need to be prepared for sudden weather changes.
Hiking safely in summer
Top tips from an expert mountain guide
The majestic mountains in winter
Winter is more challenging and requires proper preparation.
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