Pants for a walk: long or short?
As always, we call on professional guides to get their thoughts on this hotly debated and divisive topic.
Immediately after the end-of-year holidays we published an article themed “what to put in your backpack”; this same article was then relaunched from an Instagram and Facebook feed, also used for a short advertising campaign on the same social networks.
The photo in the feed depicted me, Matteo from CAMCO, and my friend Valeria, in a typical scene for CAMCO: a walk in the middle of nature.
The photo was taken in those very hot days of late September and early October 2023, and obviously we were both wearing CAMCO shorts: “obviously” because outings in nature are often also an opportunity to take some “social” photos for the brand, and ” obviously” because, even if CAMCO didn’t offer shorts, when it’s hot we prefer to have our legs cooled by the air and not sweaty inside long trousers.
This long premise is to say that in reality the advertising feed mainly had comments not on the subject of the feed itself (“what to put in the backpack”) but on the fact that we wore long trousers for walking.
It is clear to me that there are valid reasons for wearing long trousers when you are in nature, and these typically are: protection against ticks, protection against vipers, protection against brambles/branches/stones…
Having said that, I always weigh these needs with the situation in which I am going to walk and, if I don’t know it, I start with short shorts to possibly change if I find myself in a situation that makes long trousers constantly preferable – not if I have to face a short stretch with tall grass, so to speak.
…but I’ll leave my assessments to the end, the point is that the comments on that advertised feed made me think that on this point too it was worth getting an idea after having explored what the professionals of the routes think about it: the guides!
CAMCO has the fortune and honor of being partners of two serious associations that have walking at the center of their activity and therefore who better than the guides of the European Association of the Via Francigena Ways and of the Compagnia dei Cammini can make a valuable contributio to this discussion?!
So, what do professional guides think about the issue of “always walking wearing long trousers?”
Daniele Moschini, guide of the Compagnia dei Cammini:
“I am for common sense. I don’t like those who express themselves in extremism. I regularly wear shorts in the summer without having problems with ticks and vipers. I got ticks even with long pants.
This does not mean that you shouldn’t equip yourself with anti-tick spray and tweezers where ticks, as in Luigi Nacci’s trips to the Karst, are carriers of Lyme disease, or borreliosis, and therefore among the most dangerous.”
(Luigi Nacci is another guide of the Compagnia dei Cammini)
Matteo Casula, guide of the Compagnia dei Cammini:
“I have also been doing trail running for a few years now and if it is true that we are talking about different activities, it is also true that if you can/must tackle certain routes by running in shorts, even more so you can tackle walking itineraries.
Of course, precautions are needed, for example on long walks on dirt roads in summer you risk burning your calves, a detail that only experience and some previous sunburn makes you consider, therefore high protection sun cream is essential.
It also depends on the itineraries, certainly in the midst of the bush some scratches will be inevitable, but fortunately most of the paths that are followed are also suitable for short trousers.
In short, there are no dogmas, for me every walker makes his own choices”
Andrea Laurenzano, guide of the Compagnia dei Cammini:
“Perhaps it is better to focus on shoes suitable for walking, i.e. high ankle ones and not low ones. Maybe they protect more than trousers from possible viper bites? In my “latitudes” from May onwards I often walk in shorts and have never encountered any problems.”
(editor’s note: Andrea specializes in walks in southern Italy, mainly in Calabria).
“Subjective choice: if it is true that high trousers protect from the sun, tall grass and brambles, then high socks protect from all this, as well as from the dreaded ticks!
In summer, shorts with socks below the knees can therefore be the winning combo for walking: if the route involves difficult sections, it is better to resolve the doubt with the classic long trousers which can be shortened if necessary thanks to zip tactics above the knees! short or long, the important thing is that it is breathable to avoid the sauna effect 😉”
Concluding with my less-authoritative assessments:
as far as ticks are concerned, here you need to know the route you are going to take, and if it is a route along dirt roads or with good margins from the surrounding low vegetation, I don’t see how ticks can be a real problem.
As a precaution, even in these situations, as short insidious stretches can occur from this point of view, I generally apply repellent spray solutions with formulations also designed for ticks.
As for vipers – and here we are mainly talking about rocky stretches exposed to the sun, rather than tall grass – I walk in these environments with my historic dogwood stick, which I bang on the ground at every step to warn the reptiles of my approach.
Like all animals, the viper also prefers (wisely!) to avoid encounters with humans, and announcing itself in advance by making the ground vibrate gives it time to retreat.
Having said that, I don’t have the presumption of being an expert on routes and how to tackle them in textbook conditions, but as always: this is a space for discussion and a discussion on this topic can certainly bring food for thought.
The evaluations of professional guides – and we are talking about people who have led hundreds of walkers on routes all over the world, even with decades of experience – reassure me… I won’t feel like a naive novice if I prefer shorts on my summer walks.
Then the point is that there are different sensitivities towards certain risks and all choices must be respected.
More than anything…Andrea Laurenzano mentioned the high boot issue, and this is perhaps an even more divisive topic than the one discussed here! Do you think it is appropriate to ask the opinion of professional guides also on the “low boot or high boot” debate? 😉
Let us know in the comments, and also leave your comment on the issue just discussed!