Gr20 on my own - first time backpacking


Posted: Thu, Jan 18, 2018, 16:34

Hello everyone!

I decided to walk the south part of the gr20 in september. I started preparing now and I have my first question ready! I have been searching the internet this afternoon for al the stuff that I need and I'm wondering what you think of the stuff that I already have.

I have a backpack for 40+10 liters. Is this enough? I'm planning to take my tent, but when I put my tent in the sack I don't have much space left! Any tips for packing my backpack are welcome!

I have a sleeping bag that is warm enough for temperatures under 0 degrees celcius, but it's a big volume. I have an option to buy a cheap one (€15) but it goes for temperatures 10 degrees and up. I have been reading that on the mountains the nights can be very cold, so I don't know what I should do with that.

I have never been walking with trekking poles. I think they are extra weight and I won't use them, but then I have never been walking with a heavy backpack, so what do I know? Take them or not?

I read that I don't need to take cooking gear, because that's available in the refuges. But I guess I need to take a plate? Something else that I will need? Can you buy dried meals in the shops? What kind of snacks can I take for while I'm walking?

I hear that the water from the streams is drinkable. Do I need to take a filter or water purification tablets?

What shoes do I take for the camping site and to cross streams? I was thinking about water sandals, but is there a lighter alternative?

What do you use to keep everything dry? I have something to put over my backpack, but I don't know if it will fit when things are attached to the outside of my pack. Do I put my sleeping bag and clothes in a normal plastic bag or do I have to buy something for that? I guess I should take some empty plastic bags anyway for my trash.

And maybe a strange question, but I read somewhere that you have to dig a hole of 20 centimeters deep for when you have to do a number 2. Is a plastic little shovel ok? or is the dirt too hard to dig in?

I read in the guide (gr20 high level route, cicerone, paddy dillon) that I should take a survival bag with me. What items are in a survival kit? It's not a first aid kit, because that's also on the list in the guide.

Is this a good map that I should take?

I guess that's it for now. Thanks you in advance. Other tips&tricks are welcome!


Posted: Wed, Jan 24, 2018, 8:45

first of all there is around this Forum a great deal of information on kit lists and advice regarding the trail.
Just briefly I have always taken a 65 litre sack, and sometimes a larger capacity sack, when walking with overnight and cooking kit and all the rest.
I carry both my tent and the sleeping mat strapped to each side of the sack using the 'expansion straps' provided with the bag....this leaves me sufficient space for all the rest in the sack. The tent is protected by the nylon bag....the camping mat does not absorb water. I have been fortunate perhaps in having always good dry sunny conditions even in September.
I use boots so need to change into any other footwear for stream crossing. Always have taken poles when travelling on rough ground.
I carry two 1 litre Sigg bottles filled for each stage and generally don't rely on water from streams.
I have a Gore Tex bag that I can pull on over my sleeping bag....that and my tent and first aid kit is my survival stuff.
My trainers are my footwear for off trail walking and for the evenings at the refuge/camping areas.
Food I carry pasta and a couple of tins of fish and then either buy a meal at the refuge and or top up with what is available to purchase....In the South supplies can be purchased at ( assume going South) at Capanelle, Col de Verdi, Paliri at Usciolu etc. all the way down to Conca.
Maps I have two 1:100,000 maps for the whole route N and S....maybe with the 1:50,000 You will need to have more than one for the entire South GR20.
Have carried a wee garden trowel for digging holes. Usually manage to expel waste at the refuge toilets.

With question of could fit in a couple of multi day journeys in your home area to test yourself and your equipment. The Southern six/seven days of the GR20 are less difficult in a technical way than the Northern nine day part. As for Monte Alcudina that is part of a long day from Usciolu and Asinau. To split the distance by heading up to Bergeries Crocu for a night. Then next day up to the col above Asinau.....if you wish to ascend Alcudina leave your pack at the Col and after the mountain return to the col prior to dropping down to Asinau.




Posted: Fri, Jan 19, 2018, 13:13

The best plan would be to get some trekking experience before trying the GR20. It's a tough trail and if you are carrying to much and don't know if you need poles or not then it's best to find out what your limits are before you go. If all your kit is heavy, then it is expensive to change it for lightweight kit. If you are planning to trek the southern part you need to decide which options you want to take over Coscione and Incudine. It's the difference between a long hard day or two easier days. Trekkers don't usually drink from streams but from piped supplies connected directly to springs near the refuges. The water in these sources is clean. Streams tend to have stagnant pools where algae collects and animals drink from them. If you use this water it is best to treat it. You don't need to walk across streams except for really small ones. You can buy food at all the refuges or you can ask for a cooked meal. The GR20 map in your link is pretty good. It is 1:50000 IGN and it folds very small. I got one from an airport bookstall AFTER finishing the GR20. A pity I didn't get one before.


Posted: Wed, Jan 24, 2018, 2:27

I honestly think this is not a suitable hike for you if you don't have significant previous experience in backpacking - apart from being potentially dangerous, it may well put you off backpacking for life!

Having said this, if you still want to do the walk, invest in light weight equipment - it is a good investment! I have a 85L pack and it was totally full, but I did take unecessary items such as GPS, a very good camera, solar charger etc (but I also had 25kg at the start of the trek).

I would also say that trekking poles are almost essential - I never used them prior to this walk but after much research, I took them and loved them. I also took a water purifier but this wasn't really necessary in June - take some water purifying tablet, they are cheap and light and are a sensible precaution. Take protein bars for snacks - one or two protein bars will almost get you through the day.

good luck


Posted: Fri, Jan 26, 2018, 18:45

Thanks you already for these great tips. The more I read, the more I wanna leave!

I don't think I'll buy a bigger sack, because then I will take more stuff. I already fitted my tent, sleeping mat and sleeping bag in it and then the total weighs 6 kg. I think if I double that with other stuff it should be enough (except water maybe). And I have half of my pack free of space if I attach my sleeping bag to the outside.

I think 2 outfits should be enough. 1 that I'm wearing and 1 that is drying after washing. And a sleeping outfit, that I can use for walking around in the camping place. The rest is bathroom stuff and food.

How do you go on a plane with a backpack? The pack is checked in. What do you take as hand luggage?


Posted: Sat, Feb 3, 2018, 9:57

A pack weight of around 12 Kgs. would seem to be a very reasonable weight to carry plus of course a couple of Kgs. for water when walking....I wish that I could get my sack weight down to this.
A pack weight of that size would have to go into the luggage hold....but without any items attached to the outside!
I take a hessian shopping bag with my boots, camera and a few other items with me into the seating area.
The bag can be folded and kept in the rucksack when walking.
Do you begin the walk from Vizzavona or from Conca? The convenience of starting there is that you begin walking at circa 900 mtrs. as opposed to a much lower altitude in Conca.

Check out on the forum the videos of the Moderator Michele....Memoires of a Trekker... Return to the account of the Southern GR20.
There are also several reports of the GR20 on the Forum.




Posted: Wed, Jul 18, 2018, 15:17

Just to add my limited experience (I did it 3 weeks ago) I did it with a 33L bag (which I actually believe to be more like 40L) and found it just sufficient without anything strapped on the outside. But that depends on your kit - I've accumulated a bit of light kit over the years and bought a new 1.5kg tent for the trip (Decathlon Ultralight 1, think it was £90) and a tiny bed (also Decathlon). There are far more expensive lighter alternatives out there though. I didn't bother with spare shoes for the campsites, I just went barefoot when I was sitting and wore my boots to move around. There wasn't that much moving around! And number 2's were just done in the refuge toilets (I stayed in one refuge without toilets, I held on that day). I have a big drybag that I use as a rucksack liner then a small drybag for my clothes and one for electrical items that go inside it. I find them useful for squashing things down and organising my bag. When there was a massive storm none of my stuff was wet. I'm used to going canoeing so that's one area where I've got decent kit :-)
My bag was 8kg before snacks & water.

I took trekking poles and wasn't very experienced with them. The 1st 2 days they annoyed me, particularly day 2 (there's a lot of clambering on stage 2 where you need your hands), the rest of it I was very grateful for them, particularly on the downhills. Now I'm more practised I think I'd find them less annoying on stage 2. I'd advise going out and using them - as much as you can, and include rocky loose terrain.

I took a water purification straw but didn't use it - I drank out of the streams a little bit (I require a lot of water - I drank 9L one day!), but mainly refilled at the refuges or a couple of other spots mentioned in the Cicerone book. I'm generally happy drinking from streams though, I have a strong constitution and check upstream a good bit to check for dead animals nearby. I do that in England, so Corsica I didn't see a problem. I brought the straw as I heard that water sources are rare, so if there was only a pool I would have been able to drink. September might be a lot worse though - I went 3 weeks ago so there was still snow melt feeding the streams.

I also had a hotel in Bastia booked for the last night ready for the early flight home. I had a small bag as hand luggage on the plane in which I had a clean pair of clothes for the end of the walk, and left it at the hotel before setting off on my walk, which worked well.

I did it on my own - it was excellent. Have a fab time!