Hiking the French Alps in Summer - Pointe de Banc Plat
Vaucluse Cool-Dry Backpack Frame Sweat Check
Last weekend was the hike of all hikes for us. We trekked 13 miles up 3,748 feet to reach the peak, Pointe de Banc Plat (6,257 feet).
While it is not the highest peak you’ll ever hike, it does provide spectacular views of the Lac d’Annecy, the Mont Blanc, and other major mountain ranges of the Alps.
The trail definitely offers a few challenges – like cliffs, animals, and long, upward segments – so if you want an adventure with stunning views, this is the hike for you.
I was equipped with my Osprey 22L Talon and my Cool-Dry Frame to help increase airflow between my back and backpack. Regulating my body temperature and back heat proved essential along this nearly 7-hour hike, as this was twice as long a hike as what I would normally do.
So it was an added benefit that the Cool-Dry Frame protected my backpack from doubling as a back sponge for nearly seven hours! The overall combination of gear offered me a better experience to enjoy the stunning views along this trail.
Part 1 of 3: Trail
This hike started above the town of Bellecombe-en-Bauges. There is plenty of parking along the local road, plus a good-sized parking lot. So no worries about getting there before all the spots are taken.
The trails are well marked all across the mountain. On the lower sections of the hike, most of the trails are dirt roads, as there are chalets and farmers who live on the mountain. We did come across herds of cows, as well as goats and pigs, while on our way. I used the AllTrails app to set our trail, dividing our hike to the summit (about 5 miles from where we were starting) into four sections:
Section 1: Farm fields - 1 mile, moderate incline
Section 2: Pine forest (Bois de Petet) - 2.4 miles, slight incline
I learned an important lesson on this hike: don’t always trust what AllTrails tells you! Several times AllTrails notified me that I was either off the trail (when I wasn’t) or that a trail existed (where there was none). Because of app issues, I did stay at least two additional hours, unfortunately, longer on the mountaintop than I had wanted. I was looking for an overpass that would provide a western route back to my car and didn’t find it.
Now I’ve learned not to blindly trust this (or any!) app. In the future, I am going to better plan the trail.
This is not to disparage the AllTrails app. On the contrary, I submitted feedback after the hike and AllTrails updated the route within a day. Wow! AllTrails definitely listens to its users. Plus there are plenty of features on the app that helped me better navigate the mountain.
Overall, this was a challenging hike with some serious inclines. Through one section, metal railings have been installed along the side of the cliff, because there is nothing below for several hundred feet.
In the end, there was ample reward for the effort, with stunning views of Mont Blanc and the massive, majestic Alpine mountain range.
I used Strava to track my progress. Here are the overall metrics:
The weather was incredible - clear blue sky most of the morning. Clouds started picking up after noon. I started hiking at 9 AM when the temperature was just under 70ºF. The hottest it reached that day was 79ºF.
Humidity was in the 60ºs.
There was a slight breeze, which I could especially feel as I reached the peak of the mountain.
I was thankful to be wearing my Cool-Dry Frame for two reasons.
The first is because I could feel the cool Alpine breeze on my back.
The second is because my body temperature stayed more constant throughout the day. This was extremely important because I did hike two hours longer than anticipated. I took enough water for a 5-hour hike but managed to stretch my water out for the entire 6 hours and 42 minutes I was on the mountain.
While sweat is uncomfortable, it can also be a serious problem. In warm climates, excessive sweating can cause dehydration since you lose a large amount of water. Sweating is your body's natural way of keeping you cool. This means you sweat when your body temperature is too high. You feel cooler when sweat can evaporate off your body (including your back).
I was able to keep my body cooler and still hydrated during the additional time needed. It’s no fun to be without water on a hike. Just ask any Search & Rescue team member.
In my photos, you can see the outline of the Cool-Dry Frame on my back. My shirt was damp but not soaked. If I hadn’t worn the Cool-Dry, my entire back would have been soaked. My backpack was also completely dry where the frame was raised off my back. The frame stayed comfortable on my back for the 6+ hours of the hike, and I remained very comfortable overall.
You can see the outline of the Cool-Dry Frame on my shirt, allowing the sweat to evaporate.
The Cool-Dry Frame by Vaucluse Gear
It's your best way to stay cool and dry with a backpack.
This lightweight (only 6 ounces), soft, durable, and flexible frame attaches directly to your backpack and creates a natural airflow between you and the pack without using mesh or other material that soaks up sweat and retains heat. This design maximizes airflow to keep your back cool and dry.
Vaucluse was founded on one simple premise - it's almost impossible not to sweat when wearing a backpack. Consistent with this same thought, it's almost impossible to find gear from a company that you can truly believe in - a brand that's an extension of you rather than the other way around.