Footprint - desert trek

The responsible trekking guide

Mountain sports can have serious consequences on our environment.

To be able to keep on enjoying the natural spaces around us to the full, we have to learn to trek differently! Thanks to everyone’s efforts, together we can reduce the impact of our sporting activity.
Through this guide, we share a few ways to reduce your impact. Of course, there are many other actions that can be taken and any individual initiative is worthwhile.

Trekking equipment

1/ Prepare my trek in a responsible way

• My equipment

Reducing my impact when trekking starts above all by being a responsible consumer. Several options are available to me for trekking equipment:

- I use the equipment I have already: this seems basic but often your equipment is abandoned because it's used or worn. Why not make it last longer by carrying out easy and quick repairs?

- I borrow equipment: I ask my loved ones or make use of platform services that loan equipment to individuals (such as Borrowme), it’s free and provides an opportunity to talk with another trekking enthusiast.
- I rent equipment: rather than invest in new equipment that I’ll only use once, I prefer to rent my equipment! Little extras: this avoids filling the cupboards and is less impactful as each product is used by lots of people! Renting gives me the opportunity to access advanced equipment on an affordable budget.

- I buy second hand or reconditioned: the second hand market is chock-full of products in excellent condition, perfect for equipping yourself at low cost while supporting the circular economy. Be careful not to confuse second hand (products resold as is) and reconditioned (products restored by professionals).

- I buy durable and eco-designed products: to invest in less impactful products that last over time, this reduces the impact of my purchasing behaviour, so why not?

• My destination

- I try to go to a more local place while still having a change of scenery.
- If I go to discover another culture, I find out beforehand about the country’s different customs to immerse myself and adapt to the local culture as soon as I arrive. I can find out more through travel guides.

• My transport

Transport is an important part of a trek's carbon footprint.
To reduce this impact, I try to use a means of transport that is more environmentally friendly: walking, cycling, train. Otherwise, I could consider other alternatives such as the bus, car sharing or hitchhiking.

Some websites calculate and compare the carbon footprint of your journey depending on your chosen transport, very practical for selecting the best compromise between reduced carbon emissions and available time for the journey!

Slow travel, the art of taking your time

Slow travel is not a new means of transport, it's more than that, it’s a state of mind that consists of taking your time.
Taking your time on your trip encourages more environmentally friendly transport, opening you up to encounters and really immersing yourself in places and local culture. It reduces the environmental impact and provides the opportunity to travel differently, to live a new, unique experience.
Slow travel can be used for any trip, over a weekend or several months.

2/ During my trek, a golden rule: leave no trace

Leaving no trace is an important and essential rule for any trekker.
I don’t leave any rubbish or trace of my visit. Therefore, I take a minimum of packaging in my bag (especially as it will lighten the load) and take a bag to carry my rubbish and that I find along the way until the next collection point.

Our little tip: put bicarbonate of soda in the bottom of the rubbish bag and it will absorb bad odours...

If along my way I notice a degraded area or unauthorised dumping, there are mobile app to notify associations for the protection of the environment (e.g. TrashOut).

Trekkers on the move

• On the move

I stay on marked trails as much as possible to not spoil the surrounding flora. If I’m not on a trail, I try to avoid walking where there is vegetation. I admire animals from a distance, I don't feed them and I pay attention to the noise I’m making so as not to disturb them.


• Bivouacking

I find out beforehand about bivouac sites, rules in force where I’m going so as not to set up just anywhere and risk contributing to the degradation of natural spaces. I can find out more on town hall or national park websites. If there’s no bivouac site on my route, I go for places where there is not much vegetation. I don’t leave any rubbish behind.

Eating on a trek

• Eating on a trek

I have a stove for cooking. If I want to start a camp fire, I find out beforehand about the rules in force. I only leave my camp once the fire is completely out and I only leave ashes on my pitch.
For freeze-dried meals, it’s all in the choice of ingredients and their preparation! There are a few options when putting together my menu for the week:
- Ingredients: made in France, organically grown, seasonal fruits and vegetables, etc.
- Preparation: "industrial" freeze-dried food made in Europe or "homemade" freeze-dried food (recipe ideas here et here) including ingredients bought in a random shop.
I can also plan on stocking up at shops and local producers to support the economy of the region I visit!

• Personal hygiene on a trek

A clean body in a clean environment! There are a few simple rules for personal or oral hygiene when hiking:

- Never wash in a lake or watercourse: I wash away from them, using a container as a water supply.
- I used natural and biodegradable soap and toothpaste, additive and fragrance free, to reduce their environmental impact. The soap can also be used to wash dirty clothes (still away from the lake or waterway).
- As at home, limit the amount of water used for bathing.
- If water points become scarce, I carry hydroalcoholic gel with me. I could also carry reusable wipes that I take away with me when I leave.
- To relieve yourself during your trek, see our article.
- For periods, see our dedicated advice.

3/ After my trek, my options for environmental action

• Extending the life of my equipment

Practising responsible trekking also means extending the life of my equipment. Looking after it properly, re-waterproofing, storing and repairing my equipment is essential if I want to reduce my waste production: by keeping it in good condition, it will have a good and long life!

What's more, visible repairs and stubborn stains tell the story of each adventure with my equipment and give it a certain cachet...

Support a solidarity project or environmental protection

Going trekking is also an opportunity to support environmental protection or a solidarity project.
It’s the chance for me to invest in a project that is important to me, to meet new people and learn new things.

It's everyone’s business

At Forclaz, we are trying to do our bit to act on our environmental responsibility.
We are convinced that it is also our duty to share advice to trekkers for a more responsible and environmentally friendly practice.

At Forclaz, we’re not perfect but we have nothing to hide, click here if you want to find out more about our commitments.

Initiatives already exist around the world. The most well-known is Leave No Trace. Leave No Trace is a non-governmental organisation and a programme that aims to raise awareness, through 7 principles, of the need to respect the natural territories that surround us.