Backpacking Checklist for Hut to Hut in Montenegro

If the only thing Montenegro had to woo hikers was a series of mountains covering the landscape from border to border, then that would be compelling enough for hikers. But there is more. Enter the katun. Because of the symbiotic relationship between the Montenegrin mountains and her katuns, we have provided a special backpacking checklist for hut to hut in Montenegro.

A collection of small mountain huts, the katuns are the only unique architectural Montenegrin distinctive. More than just a structure, it represents a lifestyle. With centuries of tradition, these small mountain huts are where shepherds and farmers lived through the summer months while grazing their livestock at higher elevation. After staying in katuns several times ourselves, we at Meanderbug knew that a hut-to-hut hike or MTB adventure between katuns along with our village farm stays would be a journey like no other. We have created various hut-to-hut hiking possibilities to help travelers have an amazing experience as they explore Montenegro and savor the unique tradition of the katun. Because the hut to hut situation is one-of-a-kind here, we are sharing our recommended slackpacking or backpacking checklist for hut to hut hiking or mountain biking. We are including one for summer and another for spring/fall adventures. Also, we are providing some key info that makes this list fit the reality and hits some of the FAQs we have been fielding about hut to hut here. 

How much food do I pack for hut to hut in Montenegro?

We’ve done a bit of research on this one. Somebody had to :).  While Cliff Bars and the old sausage and cheese combo will give you the necessary calories for this hike like any others, we strongly recommend you embrace the whole adventure. And make it a healthier journey as well. It is important to note that land that is or has been grazed for years is unique in a multi-speciated farming approach. More on this in other posts, but know that the food grown and raised here tastes like food should. Maybe we should call these the non-GMO, organic food hut to hut adventures. Using the Meanderbug modular booking system or working with us for your adventure planning, you will have the experience of staying in the katuns and having national slow food dishes prepared for you in abundance. Breakfast, dinner, and sack lunches are all available to hike or walk Montenegro Montenegrin style. 

Where do I buy water along the hut to hut routes?

We have been asked if the katun owners will sell water along the way. The answer to that is: No. No. No. All along the way on most of this terrain there are natural springs providing fresh, cold, mountain spring water. It has been tested in many places and far surpasses drinking water standards. Adventurers are welcome to load up on water as needed.

The reality is the katun owners don’t like to serve the water to guests if you are sitting at their table. Montenegrin hospitality dictates that a host share their very best. So they expect and are happy to serve a beverage that cost them something: coffee, juice, or tea that includes the spring water. And, they will gladly help you fill your drinking bottles for the rest of the hike as well. We recommend each adventurer bring a bottle(s) for water storage (suggested amount depends on season). During the hut-to-hut hike and especially at each of the katuns, you will have access to fresh mountain spring water. While some are willing to pay big money for this kind of water in other places in the world, you will have free access to it as part of your hut-to-hut journey. Enjoy!

How much to pack…?

Any hiker knows that overpacking can be just as detrimental to a good hiking experience as underpacking. You do you, but use this backpacking checklist as a guide. And since food is provided and water can be refilled at the different hut locations, you do not need to bring cooking or water filtration equipment (remember, crystal clear mountain spring water is practically everywhere.) This is an ideal opportunity for slackpacking that is the whole adventure or that fits into a larger road trip outing. Also, for diehard campers, we can help with camping at katuns that still allow for better navigational support and the food and culture experience along the way. For travelers who need or want to carry extra items, we do arrange hut to hut gear transfer possibilities. We have transferred a range of items including a pack and play for a toddler that was able to have a hut to hut adventure of a lifetime. OK, so there weren’t years of other adventures for the little guy to compare it to, but mom and dad loved it.

What is Hut to Hut in Montenegro?

As stated above, the hut to hut adventures here that Meanderbug is developing incorporate stays at local Montenegrin mountain huts called katuns. This allows hiking in some of the most scenic places in one of the most scenic countries in Europe. Also, these routes avoid the crowds that are usually at a few lookout points that are accessible by tour buses. Montenegrin hut to hut is also organic slow foods prepared by the katun owners. It is a sharing of culture. Hut to hut here also creates and stabilizes budding entrepreneurs that are finding a way to balance their family history with a dynamic future. Hut to hut adventures in Montenegro currently include:

Backpacking Checklist for Hut to Hut in Montenegro

Backpacking Checklist for the Spring/Fall months:

In your backpack

Essential for each person:

  • Backpack – generally 30-45 liter pack is good as you don’t need to pack food, cooking gear, or significant amounts of water
  • 1.5 – 2 liters of water. These are refillable at each hut and usually along the route. (We prefer bottles that slide into side pockets instead of a bladder so you still have room inside your bag for other gear.)
  • A moisture-wicking base layer. (We recommend a synthetic shirt or tank top that breathes in order to keep your internal body temperature constant, even after significant exertion)
  • Windbreaker shell outer layer/some rain protection – preferably a breathable layer 
  • Battery backup for smart device 
  • Pair of dry hiking socks like wool or synthetic blend which are made for cooler temperatures
  • Passport (for The Katun Road hut to hut)
  • Any meds or supplements
Essential items for group – (1 or 2 pieces for group use)
  • Smart device with maps.me app AND Montenegro map downloaded before arrival 
  • First aid kit 
  • Map & compass (maps can be hard to come by, but Meanderbug will work with you for backup purposes. Main navigation is through smart devices at this time.)
  • Waterproof matches or fire starter (just in case)
  • Pocket knife or all purpose tool
  • Sunscreen
  • Whistle for use in case of emergency
  • Bug repellant

We also recommend for each person (not essential but important):

  • Small amount of toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush optional, deodorant, maybe a bar of soap, maybe toilet paper as a precaution) 
  • An extra warmth layer – possibly fleece or synthetic fill 
  • Flashlight or torch (we prefer headlamps for hands-free hiking) 
  • Backup pair of hiking pants
  • Headcover in case of sun or cool weather issues – could be a hat, skullcap, or bandana 
  • Neck cover in case of cool weather – we recommend a Buff or similar item that provides warmth for neck and can be pulled up to cover part of the face if needed 
  • Additional top layer like long-sleeve pullover
  • Sleeping bag insert 

On your person:

  • Hiking pants
  • Wicking shirt/base layer
  • Pair of dry hiking socks
  • Pair of hiking boots (we strongly recommend high-top boots for mountain hiking)
  • Hiking sticks (optional, but highly recommended for older knees on descents)

Backpacking Checklist for the Summer Months:

In your backpack:

Essential for each person:

  • 2 to 3 liters of water (We prefer bottles that slide into side pockets instead of a bladder so you still have room inside your bag for other gear)
  • Windbreaker / some rain protection just in case 
  • Small flashlight or torch (We recommend a headlamp) 
  • Smart device with maps.me app AND Montenegro map downloaded before arrival 
  • Battery backup for smart device 
  • Pair of dry hiking socks 
  • Passport (for Katun Road hut to hut)
  • Any meds or supplements 

Essential items for a group (1 or 2 pieces for group use):

  • Smart device with maps.me app AND Montenegro map downloaded before arrival 
  • First aid kit Map & compass (maps can be hard to come by, but Meanderbug will work with you for backup purposes. Main navigation is through smart devices at this time.)
  • Waterproof matches or fire starter (just in case)
  • Pocket knife or all purpose tool
  • Sunscreen
  • Whistle for use in case of emergency

We also recommend for each person (important but not essential):

  • Small amount of toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush optional, deodorant, maybe a bar of soap, maybe toilet paper as precautions) 
  • A light hiking jacket for warmth (optional depending on weather)
  • Backup pair of shorts or hiking pants (We recommend at least one pair of pants due to potential trekking through prickly flora such as briars or thorny bushes and/or cooler mountain weather) 
  • Swimsuit (optional – keep in mind that even in the summer, Montenegrin glacial lakes, rivers, and streams are cold)
  • Headcover in case of sun or heat issues – could be a hat or bandana
  • Additional top layer like long-sleeve pullover
  • Sleeping bag insert 
On your person
  • Hiking pants or shorts
  • Wicking shirt / base layer
  • Pair of dry hiking socks
  • Pair of hiking boots (strongly recommend high-top boots for mountain hiking)
  • Hiking sticks (optional, but highly recommended for older knees on descents)

Book your Montenegro walking holiday or hut to hut adventure now and print off your backpacking checklist. It’s never too early to be planning some #crazygoodtravel!

Backpacking Checklist: Hut to Hut Hiking along the Montenegrin Highlands

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