Hiker Slang

Hikers like to make up their own terms, especially thru-hikers. Here's a quick reference guide for you. I'm sure there are many more, so please leave yours in the comments section below.

Aqua Blaze
Bypass part of the trail by boat (i.e. shenandoah national park section of AT)
All You Can Eat type of restaurant
Backpackers "bag" peaks on trips
Base Weight
Weight of all gear in backpack minus consumables (food, fuel & water)
Next to skin clothing layer, preferably wicking and quick drying
Bear Bagging
Hanging food from a tree limb to prevent bears from getting to it
Bivy Sack
Aka Bivouac Sack, an extremely small, lightweight, waterproof shelter, and an alternative to traditional tent systems. It is used by climbers, mountaineers, hikers, ultralight backpackers, etc.
Term used when referring to a trail indicator found on a tree (the AT has white blazes)
Epic failure of a portion of your trail running shoes (shoes, upper, toe guard), usually resulting in unsightly duct tap repairs and haggard sewing jobs in the field
Blue Blaze
Side trail leading to/from main trail seen on AT
An item of gear that is extremely durable
Bounce Box
Used on long hikes for items to resupply every so often, you mail this to yourself some distance up the trail to pick up when you get there
Clothing that allows moisture to exit away from your skin
Hike off trail
A man-made pile of stones marking a trail or route
Camel Up
Drinking as much water as you can when at a water source so you don't have to carry as much in between water sources
Catenary Curve
The natural curve an object takes on when supported on both ends, used in tarp/tent construction to make taught pitches easier
A pit to burry your poo in, typically 6-8 inches deep
Cold Butt Syndrome
Cowboy Camping
Sleeping out in the open, i.e. not under a shelter
Crotch Rot
The cumulative effect of neglecting hygiene in the downstairs region of the body
Cuben Fiber
A material originally manufactured for high end boat sails, high in strength/low in weight, used in ultralight tents, stuff sacks, backpacks
Done In A Day backcountry trips
Ditty Bag
Small stuff sac of personal items
Double Walled
Tent construction that reduces condensation by having an inner net and an outer waterproof shell separated by some space
Durable Water Repellent, a type of fabric coating
Freezer Bag Cooking, meaning to cook in a quart size freezer bag by simply adding water
Foot Pillows
Trail Runners that are so comfortable your feet feel like they're surrounded by pillows!
A way to quickly descend a snow slope, sitting and sliding down, usually holding and ice axe to be used to slow or stop the slide
Good Old Raisons and Peanuts, or trail mix
Gram Weenie
A person obsessed with reducing weight of items worn or carried
Anyone who sleeps on the ground, on purpose
Hiker Midnight
Hiker Trash
Derogatory term used to describe thru-hikers
Hike Your Own Hike
Leave No Trace, an outdoor ethic meant to protect our natural resources for generations to come
Mail Drop
On a long hike you can have friends mail you supplies
Short for methylated spirits, usually referring to various liquid fuels (denatured alcohol, HEET, acetone) used in lightweight stoves
Referring to a pyramidal style shelter pitched with one or two poles
Make Your Own Gear
When a kit fits nicely together, as in a stove nesting inside a cookpot
North bound
Pink Blaze
Hike faster or slower to stay with a girl
Post Office
Breaking through the top layer of snow into the mushy stuff below, typically up above the knees and into the crotch
Pot Cozy
An insulated container that your cookpot fits into, used to reduce the amount of fuel used by keeping the contents warm while food finishes cooking
Specifically coined as a backpacking term by thru-hiker Ray Jardine in the 1990's, it is a sleeping bag that drapes over the top of you in order to save weight. The philosophy is that there are very little insulating properties in the underside of a sleeping bag because you are crushing it down to nothing.
Animal Poo
Sharp edged loose rock
Single Wall
A type of tent construction that is lighter but can result in increased condensation if not vented properly
A narrow section of trail just wide enough for 1 person
Skin Out
The weight of everything you take on a backpacking trip except you (i.e. clothing, pack, shoes, etc)
South bound
Hiking by yourself
Stealth Camping
Camping in a place that is out of sight of the trail, typically leaving no trace of being there
Super Ultra Light
Ten Essentials
A list of essential items hiking authorities promote as recommended for safe travel in the backcountry
Three Season
Gear that is intended for Spring through Fall, not having enough insulation to safely camp in Winter weather
Typically a hiker that hikes an entire long trail such as the 2,663 Pacific Crest Trail
All things titanium
Torso Pad
A ground insulation/comfort sleeping pad that is sized for a persons torso only
Trail Angel
A person that helps hikers with rides, food, etc
Trail Magic
Typically experienced on a long hike, hard to explain
Trail Name
Nickname typically obtained on a long hike
Triple Crown
The title earned by those who have thru-hiked the PCT, CDT, and AT
Ultralight, one of the most abused words in the backpacking industry, referring to something that is very light
Vitamin I
Wag Bag
A container used to carry your poo in areas where cat holes are not allowed
Wetted Out
When a materials water proofing properties fail, such as a rain jacket or tarp
Yellow Blazing
A term from AT hikers meaning getting a ride instead of taking the trail
Your Mileage May Vary
A strategy named after the antics of Yogi Bear, a cartoon character of the 1960's, it carries the connotation of getting the goodies by hook or by crook
Hiking a long trail end-to-end, then back again
Zero Day
A rest day