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31 Things Only Hikers Will Understand

by Staff

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Let’s be honest: Hiking can make you weird. Sleeping, eating, and walking in the woods for days on end is a beautiful way to spend your life, but all that time in the wild often leads us to normalize things that aren’t that normal, at least according to society at large. Whether it’s lowered standards for personal hygiene, odd food choices, or a willingness to rearrange large portions of our lives so we can, well, walk, the things that set us apart also bring us together as a community. We asked our editors and our colleagues at Outside: What do hikers understand that no one else does?

1. Sometimes you think pit toilets could be comfy places to sleep overnight.

2. About half of your silverware drawer is sporks.

3. (The other half is long spoons, for avoiding the dreaded chili-knuckles.)

4. Buying a weekend’s worth of food at a gas station? No problem.

5. Dehydrated eggs? Yum.

6. You’ve eaten things like pepperoni with peanut butter—and loved it.

7. You read the nutrition facts, but only so you can calculate calories per ounce.

A hiker crossing a creek on New Zealand’s North Island. (Photo: Louisa Albanese)

8. You grab a couple extra condiment packets from every restaurant you go to.

9. Water pumped straight from a reedy creek actually tastes better than the tap at home.

10. You know someone who owns a $600 tent and a $500 car. (That someone may be you.)

11. You evaluate a vehicle based on whether you can fold the seats flat to sleep at a trailhead.

12. You talk about poop in social situations. Like, too much.

13. The view isn’t the most important thing when you’re picking a bathroom spot, but it’s up there.

14. You know to never drink out of the yellow water bottle.

15. It is possible to get so used to being smelly that you stop noticing your own B.O. (No one else does, though.)

16. You have to remind yourself that it’s OK to wear cotton when you’re staying in town.

17. …but maybe you should just wear your hiking clothes anyway? Just in case you want to squeeze in a hike after work.

18. You catch yourself trying to cut ounces from your suitcase when you travel. (Do you really need more than two t-shirts for that weeklong trip? Probably not.)

Altra Lone Peak Shoes
Altra Lone Peaks (Photo: Adam Roy)

19. You have a “nice” pair of Altra Lone Peaks for when you need to look presentable.

20. Wait, most people don’t have a favorite pair of socks?

21. Waking up for work at 9 is hard. But a predawn start to tag that summit? No problem.

22. On the flip side, you know that 8 p.m. is basically midnight for hikers.

23. “Real” vacations are foreign to you—you spend your PTO sweaty, covered in mosquito bites, and sleeping on the ground.

24. You have, at least once, brought a weight-filled backpack to the gym. You know, for training.

25. Most people are terrified of bears, but you’ve spent all summer hoping to catch a glimpse of one.

26. Your fancy-brand puffy jacket is covered with patches.

27. You see nothing wrong with wearing gaiters with shorts.

28. You find yourself subconsciously looking for the best place to cross every creek you see.

29. It’s not the mileage that gets you, it’s the elevation gain.

30. It’s not even the elevation gain that gets you, it’s those goddamn blisters.

31. But sometimes…it’s the mileage that gets you.

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