Staying at a cabin or a mountain station is a practical, comfortable way to trek. In many mountainous regions, such as Scandinavia, the Alps, etc., there is a strong tradition of “cabin living”. Trekkers, climbers and adventurers gather at the cabins to be closer to the mountains, in different ways. There is also an extensive network of cabins in other areas of the country along trekking trails in low-lying terrain – many unmanned and rustic, but others meeting hostel standards.
Trekking cabin to cabin in the mountains is simple and convenient. If you do not need to carry a tent, thick sleeping bag or outdoor stove, a medium-sized backpack holding 40-60 litres is plenty. You will be able to carry clothes and other belongings, food and a thermos for lunch and breaks and a small sleeping bag or sleeping bag sheet. You will also need a wind sack for protection from bad weather and in the event of an emergency.
A network of cabins in the mountains
If you are trekking between the Swedish Tourist Association’s mountain cabins you normally stay in rooms with multiple bunk beds that have a pillow and a blanket or comforter. As a minimum, you need to bring your own sleeping bag sheet. You normally cannot pre-book this accommodation; it is first-come, first-serve. When the beds are full, trekkers are offered mattresses on the floor. Mountain stations do not turn anyone away for safety reasons, which means during the peak season it can be rather crowded in the bedrooms and common areas.
The cabins usually have a self-catering kitchen with gas burners. Helping carry in fresh water and carry out dirty water, chopping wood and bringing it in and cleaning the kitchen and bedrooms are all part of good cabin etiquette. Some cabins have a simple store with provisions, and some even have a sauna. The Norwegian Trekking Association’s (DNT) cabins are often unmanned, unlike their Swedish counterparts. To gain access to the mountain cabins in Norway, you need to get a DNT key. More information is available on DNT’s website.
More service at mountain stations
The mountain stations are larger and offer more service and comforts than the cabins: a store, often a restaurant, self-catering kitchen, showers, saunas and other comforts you are used to from hostels and hotels. You can book a bed in advance and choose between different degrees of comfort - from simple lodging to a private room with all meals included. You can sleep on white sheets or bring your own sleeping bag/sleeping bag sheet. The mountain stations also do not turn anyone away and when all the regular beds are taken, they offer mattresses on the floor in different areas.
Cabins in other areas
There are also cabins where trekkers can spend the night along trekking trails in other areas of the country. Some are operated by tourist associations, some by local clubs and others by county administrative boards. More information is available via local tourist boards.