47 Mountaineering Phrases Each New Backpacker Ought to Know

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I’m not a whitewater kayaker, however I reside with two of them, and dinner conversations can get so flooded with jargon that it makes my head swim. Making an attempt to parse the lingo can really feel alienating; a lot in order that it’s change into a sport for me to string collectively nonsensical slang simply to fake I’m a part of the dialog.

Anybody who has been new to a sport or exercise can relate. Studying the language of a subculture—particularly in outside actions—can really feel like as a lot of a hurdle as studying the exercise itself. Mountaineering lingo is much from essentially the most egregious (it’s simply strolling, in spite of everything), however freshmen can nonetheless get tripped up by unfamiliar phrases. Get a deal with on this terminology, and also you’ll have the ability to maintain your individual round any campfire.


Brief for “Appalachian Path,” this abbreviation refers back to the most iconic lengthy path within the nation, which runs over 2,000 miles between Georgia and Maine.


Overnighters are likely to concern themselves with what number of kilos they keep it up their backs, and for good motive. For these conserving monitor, baseweight refers back to the weight of 1’s gear earlier than the addition of “consumables” like meals and water. Your clothes, tent, range, and even your pack itself contributes to your baseweight.


These marks—often color-coded traces of paint on bushes—assist hikers navigate a path.


That drained feeling if you’ve exerted with out correctly replenishing energy. Hanger or irritability might ensue. Answer? Have a Snickers.


These rock piles aren’t inventive sculptures or indicators of alien exercise. They serve the identical function as blazes, marking the path within the alpine or zones the place painted bushes aren’t current. (Be aware: The leisure rock stacks that individuals make for no motive don’t depend. Knock them down at will.)

Camel Up

Earlier than lengthy stretches between water sources, some hikers favor to do that by chugging on the supply slightly than carrying further water.


Nope, it’s received nothing to do with climbing together with your feline good friend (although we’ve tried). A cathole is a 6- to 8-inch despair dug to do one’s enterprise within the backcountry. In some environments, chances are you’ll want to hold out human waste slightly than bury it (see WAG Bag, beneath).


Shorthand for the Continental Divide Path, certainly one of America’s “massive three” lengthy trails that stretches between the Canadian and Mexican borders from Montana to New Mexico.

Chilly Soak

For backpackers preferring to not carry a range, chilly soaking is a technique of making ready dehydrated meals sans warmth. Merely add water and wait a number of hours till the meals has rehydrated.

Cowboy Tenting

No tent or tarp—it’s simply you and that constellation-filled sky, child.

Dispersed Tenting

Tenting outdoors of a delegated campground or campsite. Dispersed tenting is authorized in lots of nationwide forests and parks, however might require a allow.


Is it backpacking? Is it path operating? Sure. Fastpackers intention to cowl as a lot distance as attainable at a swift tempo.


Brief for “quickest recognized time,” this one is what it seems like: the recognized velocity file on a given path or part.


It’s not only a nice piece of camp footwear: This refers to a thru-hike (see beneath) the place a hiker doesn’t journey straight from one finish of the path to a different, however jumps round to hyperlink two or extra sections. Backpackers might flip-flop for a wide range of causes: to capitalize on masking sure floor throughout one season or one other, keep away from poor situations or wildfires, or bypass crowds.

“F” You Cease

The PG model of what we name it when your sooner climbing buddy waits so that you can catch up, then jets off earlier than you’ll be able to even catch your breath.


This waterborne parasite causes intestinal sickness, and is the primary motive we filter water within the backcountry.

Sizzling Spot

This purple, uncooked patch of flesh—usually in your foot—is the precursor to a dreaded blister. It’s finest handled as quickly as you’re feeling discomfort.


An abbreviation for “hike your individual hike,” a phrase usually uttered amongst thru-hikers, particularly on the Appalachian Path. The expression serves as a reminder that there’s nobody proper solution to backpack. May also be translated as “thoughts your individual rattling enterprise.”


Brief for “Depart No Hint,” a framework for decreasing impression whereas recreating open air. The seven rules of LNT function a information for hikers to take care of the paths and open areas they care about.


Formally referred to as ice cleats, they’re strap-on traction units for icy hikes. Whereas not technically appropriate, hikers usually use Microspikes, the identify of Kahtoola’s model of those, to consult with any ice cleat (it’s like Kleenex and tissues). No matter you name them, the steel and rubber contraptions connect to your climbing boots to offer grip in slippery, frozen terrain.


An virtually relaxation day the place you hike practically zero miles (see “Zero Day” beneath).


Brief for northbound, indicating the path of journey for a thru-hiker.


The abbreviation for “Pacific Crest Path,” a long-distance Nationwide Scenic Path which stretches over 2,600 miles from the Mexican border in California to the Canadian border in Washington.


The pursuit of climbing to the highest of varied summits, notably every mountain in a given vary or area. One who does this can be a peakbagger.


The disagreeable expertise of trudging by means of deep snow with out snowshoes, the place you end up sinking so far as your knee or higher thigh with every step.


Pointless ups and downs. These difficult sections of path are the bane of long-distance hikers who’d favor to take the direct route.


Brief for Search and Rescue, these are the parents who will assist you to if issues go actually flawed.


Small, unfastened stones masking a slope, usually discovered within the alpine beneath summits. Additionally see talus, beneath.

Part Hike

To finish a protracted path in varied chunks slightly than as a thru-hike (see beneath). Sections could be as quick as overnights or so long as multi-week treks. Many part hikers benefit from the expertise of climbing a protracted path with out the monthslong time dedication.

Shoulder Season

These sort-of-chilly, sort-of-mild weeks on both finish of winter the place situations are unpredictable. Solar could be within the forecast, however it is best to in all probability nonetheless pack your puffy.


This system, which refers to climbing a bit of path and not using a full pack, is usually employed by backpackers or thru-hikers masking particularly troublesome terrain. Hikers will journey with a lightweight load whereas their gear is shuttled forward.


Brief for southbound, indicating a path of journey for a thru-hiker.

Social Path

Non-maintained, unsanctioned paths that kind resulting from steady foot visitors. Some social trails come up the place formal trails aren’t current; others are an indication of overuse and harm to an space.


Love ‘em or hate ‘em, these zig-zagging trails permit hikers to regularly ascend steep slopes with out busting straight up them, stopping erosion within the course of.


Rocky particles—often bigger in dimension than scree (see above), however smaller than boulders—that covers a slope. Talus presents a problem for hikers off-trail or within the alpine.


To finish a protracted path such because the AT, CDT, or PCT (see above) in a single steady push. Via-hikers usually spend months at a time residing out of their packs

Path Angel

An individual who gives benevolent help to hikers, usually within the type of meals, shelter, or a experience.

Path Magic

A form act, just like the supplying of meals, by a path angel (see above).


The entry level for a given path, often the place one parks to begin or end their hike.

Path Title

A nickname that long-distance hikers bestow on their fellow trekkers. Path names are a prevalent a part of hiker tradition on the AT, CDT, and PCT, and plenty of thru-hikers solely go by their path identify whereas backpacking.


Spend sufficient time on a protracted path and also you’ll usually naturally coalesce into a gaggle with some like-minded backpackers. That’s your tramily: You’ll hike with them, camp with them, spend zeroes with them, and infrequently keep up a correspondence lengthy after the hike is over.


A zone marking the elevation the place bushes are incapable of rising. Treeline establishes the boundary between forest and the alpine, and varies in elevation by latitude.

Triple Crown

A nickname for the “massive three” lengthy trails in the USA: the AT, CDT, and PCT (see above).

Kind 2 Enjoyable

Whenever you’re not having enjoyable anymore, however you realize it’ll make a very good story later. Like trudging over a cross in a snowstorm, or that point you misplaced your left path runner to boot-sucking mud 5 miles from camp.


A subculture of backpacking devoted to carrying the lightest gear attainable. Whereas the official baseweight cutoff to think about a package ultralight is hotly debated, most hikers agree that it’s round 10 kilos. Ultralighters have been recognized to do loopy issues like reduce the handles off their toothbrushes and spend 1000’s of {dollars} for much less sturdy gear.


It stands for waste aggregation gelling, however that’s only a fancy approach of referring to a doo-doo bag for carrying human waste out of delicate environments.

Zero Day

A relaxation day, usually employed by thru-hikers. Refers back to the variety of miles coated.