Terms commonly used by thru-hikers:

Term Definition
ADZPCTKO Annual Day Zero Pacific Crest Trail Kick Off.  Basically a pre-party, training and team building session.
backpackers midnight 9:00 pm.  Living without artificial light, backpackers rarely stay up past 9:00 pm, unless of course, they are night hiking.
base weight Weight of all gear carried on your back minus the consumables (food, water, fuel).  Base weight usually includes pack, shelter, sleeping system, clothes, and gear.
beaver fever Giardiasis. A nasty intestinal infection caused by a parasite, who tyypically enters your system through untreated water or poor hygiene.
blaze (Noun) Marker indicating the location of the trail. (Verb) To create a new trail or route.
blue blazing Taking side trails, which may or may not be shorter than the main trail. (Color of AT side trail blazes)
cache Place where food or water has been placed for retrieval.  Usually placed by Trail Angels on long dry stretches.
camel up Drink a lot of water at a source to decrease the amount you need to carry.
cowboy camping Sleeping out under the stars.
cuben fiber Very light and strong laminated fiber used in yatching sails and ultralight backpacking. It is a reference to America’s cup winner America3 (known as America Cubed), which used an early version of the material.  It has nothing to do with Cuba.
dirty girls Colorful gaiters to keep dirt and rocks out of your shoes, from a company called Dirty Girl Gaiters (
dispersed camping Camping in an area not formally identified as a campsite.
flip flop Doing a long trail in one season, but in non traditional order.  For example, rather than hiking the normal Campo to Manning, you could hike Kennedy Meadows to Manning, then Campo to Kennedy Meadows.
glissading A controlled slide on your feet or butt. Usually in snow or scree.
greenhorn A backpacker with too much gear.
HAFE High Altitude Flatus Expulsion.  “Increase in both the volume and frequency of the passage of flatus, which spontaneous occurs while climbing to altitudes of 11,000 feet or greater.”  Not making this up, Google it.
HYOH Hike Your Own Hike.
LNT Leave No Trace.  Seven principles of wilderness ethics and stewardship.
magic An unexpected act of kindness provided on the trail.  Often food and drinks from trail angels.
nero A day of advancing nearly zero miles on the trail. Usually single digit.
NOBO Northbound on trail.
packorexia Carrot Quinn’s term for always thinking your pack is too big, even if it is not.
pink blazing Vulgar term meaning to seek out women on the trail.
poodle-dog brush Eriodictyon parryi.  A shrub in southern California whose oil can cause nasty posion oak-like rashes.
posthole When your foot breaks through the snows surface creating a deep hole.
PUDs Pointless ups and downs.  A trail going up and over a mountain for no apparent reason.
ray-way Ultralilght hiking philosophy pioneered by author and adventurer Ray Jardine.
SAR Search And Rescue.
scree Broken or loose stones on the side of a mountain.  A pain to walk through.
slackpacking Sending you pack ahead, so you can hike without it.  Also known as cheating.
SOBO Southbound on trail.
stealth camping Camping with the goal of not being discovered.  May or may not involve illegally camping without the land owners permission.
SUL Super ultralight. Backpacking with a base weight under 5 lbs.
tarp tent Simple shelter made from a tarp.  Also a tent manufacturer (
thru-hiking Hiking a long distance trail from end to end.  Typically applied to Appalachian Trail (AT), Pacific Crest Trail (PCT),Continental Divide Trail (CDT).
total weight Base weight plus consumables (food, water, and fuel).
trail angel A volunteer who provides trail magic in the form of rides, food, drinks or other support.
trail name Name given to you by the trail.  Well, probably by another thru-hiker.  Examples might include JavaBean, GreyBeard, NotABear, LongGone, etc.
tripple crown Completing all three major thru-hikes in the US: Appalachian Trail (AT), Pacific Crest Trail (PCT),Continental Divide Trail (CDT).
tyvek Waterbarrier material used in home construction, but also used by backpackers as a durable yet light tarp.
ultralight Backpacking with a base weight under 10 lbs.
ursack Bear proof food storage sack.  Not approved by all land managers.
vitamin I Ibuprophen
verglas A thin coating of ice on exposed rock.
watermellon snow Pink snow created by an algee that thrives in cold.  Do not drink water from pink snow.
WFR Wilderness First Responder (AKA Woofer).
white blazing Purist, religously following the entire trail.  (Color of AT blazes)
XUL Extreme ultralight. Backpacking with a base weight under 3 lbs.
yardsale Spreading out all your gear to dry.
yellow blazing Hiking the road (with yellow lines) or hitch hiking.  (Color of AT horse trail blazes)
yogi-ing Cleverly getting non-hikers to donate food, without directly asking. From Yogi Bear and his quest for others picnic baskets.
yo-yo A round-trip thru-hike.  Hiking both directions in a single season.
zero A day of advancing 0 miles on the trail.  Usually a day of rest or re-supplying.


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