The Alps Hut System

The Zwinglipass Hut

The classic Zwinglipass Hut in the Alpstein, Switzerland

The Swiss Hut System

Understanding and using the Alps’ hut system is key for a great experience. All the multi-day tours we present use the huts, and they are used while on day trips for food & drinks. They are even your Euro delicacy source. All those wild blueberries that line the trail you are running along are probably on offer in a fresh tort at that hut you’ll pass.

For most folks less savvy about the Alps, they have a very tough time grasping the concept that:

  • There is no need to “rough it”.
  • Very little has to be carried, take advantage of the huts.
  • Huts (almost always with a staff) provide dinner, breakfast, a bed, blankets, water, and day food to buy.
  • Yes, you can typically charge your devices, but bring a backup battery just in case.
  • These huts are all throughout the Alps. Hikers, runners, ski tourers and climbers will stay in them most every night on multi-day tours. Also, they are often your lunch stop.
  • They sell beer, wine and schnapps.
  • Yes, they might seem expensive when compared to a tent, but they are a whole lot less expensive than a night in a hotel with dinner at a restaurant. And, your backpack is light.
  • Ditch the 60-80 liter backpack you use camping and consider a 30 liter for hiking tours. Many get along fine with a 20 liter pack for multi-day tours. Our Via Valais 9 day trail running tour was done with 15 liter running packs.

Inside the Tracuit Hut’s super modern dining room. Switzerland.

Hut Tips & Etiquette

  • Book reservations ahead of time. Typically done on the hut’s website, but sometimes calling ahead.
  • Keep the hut’s phone numbers in your phone, in case you will be late or need to cancel a reservation. Do not fail to show up without warning. They consider a no-show to be a possible emergency and will notify rescue services.
  • Do not wear your shoes in the hut – look for the hut shoe rack and neatly put your own on the shelf.
  • Listen to the hut keepers instructions – they will give you a tour of the hut.
  • Do not make a mess, keep all your gear in your pack, or what needs to dry on the hooks in your room – but only take one hook. Keep track of your gear, a lot of people may arrive and things get chaotic.
  • Do not take any climbing or ski gear to your room.
  • Do not snore! But do take earplugs in case someone else does.
  • If you are a vegetarian, tell them when you call for reservations and remind them immediately upon arrival.
  • Yes, Switzerland is expensive, but don’t sit in the hut eating all your own food. Take advantage of being able to travel light and buy food at the hut. Hut life is hard and the hut keepers make their living off of the food and drinks you purchase.
  • Be neat, clean, quiet and respectful of others – all the things you have heard about Switzerland get magnified in the huts. Be warned…
  • Carry hand sanitizer. Huts are probably not the cleanest places and there is usually no soap available.
  • Do not crinkle plastic bags – especially if I’m at the hut, it’s my pet peeve!
  • Pay with cash.
  • Consider carrying an external battery to charge your devices, don’t rely on the huts to provide charging.
  • If you have the chance – take the hut keeper a fresh piece of fruit. Or, after dinner, volunteer to help with the dishes.
  • Most huts have their own website, or for a complete list of alpine club huts, visit the Swiss Alpine Club site.

The Cabane FXB Panossière near the Grand Combin, Val de Bagnes, Switzerland.

Two skiers at the Hollandia Hut during a ski tour of the Berner Oberland, Switzerland.

Ticino’s huts are smaller and often made of the local stone. The Via Alta Verzasca’s Capanna Cornavosa.

All ready for global warming outside Chamonix’s Couvercle Hut.

Heidi Altweger, the warden of the Sasc Fura Hut stands in the kitchen cooking dinner for the guests. Switzerland.

Couple inside mountain during bad weather

A standard hut sleeping room at the Sciora Hut.

Dinner at the Sciora Hut, Switzerland.

Yes, huts are everywhere… The Bertol Hut can just barely be seen in the center of the image, Valais, Switzerland.

“Living the Hut Life” by Brendan Leonard and PatitucciPhoto/ALPSinsight in the summer 2017 issue of Adventure Journal presented the luxuries of using the Alps’ hut system.