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Let's talk backpacking slang
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Ben Egan

Locale: The Grid, Brooklyn
Let's talk backpacking slang on 10/17/2010 23:17:06 MDT Print View

Hey everyone, I've got this school (linguistics) project in which I've got to give details about some new slang. And I need your help to gather details about slang we use when we talk about backpacking.

I need to turn in a list of 15 or so words that are specific to our speech community (which I'll call "Lightweight Backpacking"). Words like nero or slack pack, or phrases like pulled a 30 are all the kind of things that I mean.

Also, I need to describe this speech community. I can do most of that, but thoughts are totally welcome. Just some characteristics or "social features" that we all have in common.

I know of so many terms we use, but I do need to "collect" them from people who use this slang. And it's also encouraged to briefly describe the context, connotations, an example, and perhaps even the source and sociological implications of the word. Most folks are personally interviewing people, but I like these forums. The deadline is Friday at midnight. So, run wild. What are some words we love to say?

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Let's talk backpacking slang on 10/17/2010 23:33:58 MDT Print View

I need to do a Zero Day.

(I need a thru hiking day of zero miles, a rest day)


Brandon Sanchez
(dharmabumpkin) - F

Locale: San Gabriel Mtns
slang on 10/17/2010 23:38:18 MDT Print View

"cowboy camping" might be a good one

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"Let's talk backpacking slang" on 10/18/2010 01:16:41 MDT Print View

Here are a few that came to mind,these aren't my terms, just some I've heard before or stumbled across. A few might be a stretch, some perhaps don't qualify as slang:

Postholed- breaking through the top layer of snow into the mushy stuff below, typically up above the knees and into the crotch.

Hiker trash- referring to PCT hikers specifically?

UL- ultralight, it's more of an acronym, but it get's thrown out there in a casual manner on this forum and in conversation pretty frequently.

bagged- kind of a climbers term, but we use it as well, many of us backpackers "bag" peaks on trips.

tanking- loading up on water between sources, usually during long stretches without available water.

MYOG- make your own gear, it's another acronym of course, but the manner in which it's used is bordering slang usage.

GORP- depending on who you talk to and what's in it, is a hiker term used when referring to trail mix, "good ol raisins and peanuts" is one version.

bushwhack- hike off trail

blaze- term used when referring to a trail indicator found on a tree, blazes vary.

wetted out- usually when a materials DWR properties fail, or a materials surface area has been fully saturated

DAM- down air mattress

singletrack, double track- pretty self explanatory

ditty bag- the small stuff sac of personal odds and ends that make their way into a backpack. Ex: chapstick, iPod, matches, keys, toothbrush and paste, contact solution, batteries, etc.

trimmed- removing excess material and ounces from an item of gear for the sake of lightening the load.

meths- short for methylated spirits, usually referring to various liquid fuels (denatured alcohol, HEET, acetone) used in lightweight stoves.

vitamin I- ibuprofen, not very specific to hiking, but some hikers use ibuprofen for pain management

mid- generic term when referring to a pyramidal style shelter pitched with one pole or 2 combined, ex: Oware, Mountain Laurel Designs Duomid, Megamid, and Speedmid, Z-packs Hexamid, Black Diamonds Betamid, etc.

LNT- leave no trace

potty trowel- tool used for digging cat holes to drop a deuce in.

Ti- all things titanium

"Westie"- a product manufactured by the reputable and highly adored company Western Mountaineering, specifically their sleeping bags

skin out- term used by super ultralighters and ultralighters alike to refer to the inclusion of everything that is worn from the "skin out" in your gear list, so anything on you and in your pack goes on your gear list and is added to the total weight.

blow out- 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.

fastpacking- verdict is still out on what this term even means now. Traveling very light, and covering lots of mileage very fast...?

bomber- slang term referring to an item of gear that is extremely durable

nest- referring to a lightweight hammock users setup: (hammock, suspension, underquilt, overquilt, tarp, etc.)

crotch rot- the cumulative effect of spent days in the backcountry neglecting hygiene in the downstairs region of the body.

monkey butt- general nastiness in the region of the buttocks, brought on by sweaty pants, poor wiping, using the Mike C. method of toilet paperless wiping, chafe, etc.

Maybe that's a start.

BER ---
(BER) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
BPL slang on 10/18/2010 02:46:32 MDT Print View

A couple that come to mind:

Trail Magic
Trail Angels
Cold Butt Syndrome (CBS)

BER ---
(BER) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
hiker slang on 10/18/2010 02:46:32 MDT Print View

A couple that come to mind:

Trail Magic
Trail Angels
Cold Butt Syndrome (CBS)

Scott Truong

Locale: Vancouver, BC
since it's for school... on 10/18/2010 02:46:33 MDT Print View


Edited by elf773 on 10/18/2010 03:08:14 MDT.

Scott Truong

Locale: Vancouver, BC
since it's for school... on 10/18/2010 03:00:38 MDT Print View

I can't take credit for this one, not even sure if it's common usage or one witty poster just made it up, read it here somewhere in the forums and found it quite funny:

"unobtainium" - A new material that would solve all our UL
problems, only if it existed.

"pffft..That's not UL, my new bomber freestanding 3 man tent weighs 17.2 oz, and can survive 120 mile an hour winds no problem. It's made of breathable cuben with unobtainium cross poles up the ying yang"


"going to ground" - "Damn pine beetles. I've got this Warbonnet Blackbird, but no trees. I guess I'll have to go to ground tonight."

As for "community" and their usage of slang to express its "social features", I'd say the above two examples exemplify what light weight backpackers concern themselves with:

namely, practical applications of technology (or hype) and skills to help sustain our individual comfort level in the wilderness.

Otherwise we get cold, wet, hungry, and wake up stiff with shin splints.

As well, slang to express shared experiences and we like buying expensive gear with holy grail like claims.

I hope that's what you mean, if not, apologize for the rambling.

Edited by elf773 on 10/18/2010 03:11:02 MDT.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Let's Talk Backpacking Slang on 10/18/2010 04:15:16 MDT Print View

I don't know if you would call this "slang", but rather "jargon"

-go-to gear
-whoopie sling
-torso pad
-cat curve
-hammock camping
-10 essentials
-single wall
-doubel wall
-sleeping quilt
-top quilt
-under quilt
-hardcore packer
-weight conscious
-skin out
-base weight
-peak bagging
-walk high, camp low
-fly sheet
-closed cell
-frameless pack
-wind layer
-800 fill power
-Triple Crown
-gear freak
-gear pimp
-pack tube
-freezer bag cooking
-pot cozy
-bear bagging
-hydrostatic head
-above treeline
-no resupply
-cameling up
-dished campsite
-stealth camping

Some I thought of off the top of my head

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Re: Let's Talk Backpacking Slang on 10/18/2010 08:26:02 MDT Print View

-freezer bag cooking =


The acronym started as a joke and 6 years later it has become a standard ;-) Pretty cool!

te - wa
(mikeinfhaz) - F

Locale: Phoenix
Re: Re: Re: Let's Talk Backpacking Slang on 10/18/2010 10:42:51 MDT Print View

the hangers (slang in and of itself) forgot one term:


anyone who sleeps on the ground, on purpose. ;)


John Z
(Feather) - MLife
Re: Let's talk backpacking slang on 10/18/2010 22:37:46 MDT Print View

gram weenie

A person obsessed with reducing weight of items worn or carried

"He's such a gram weenie he not only cut his toothbrush handle, he also filed down the sides of what was left."

Ben Egan

Locale: The Grid, Brooklyn
what a response on 10/19/2010 00:16:48 MDT Print View

Wow! Oh my. I was never expecting such a great response. But silly me, this is BPL, I should've expected it.

These are fantastic words and phrases, so many of these didn't come to my mind right away, but are certainly jogging my memory.

This is too cool. Later in the week (Wednesday night or Thursday morning) I'll post a list of my favorites with the rest of their data, so it can be subject to scrutiny by veteran eyes.

And I don't know if you remember, but last time when I asked for help with a stats project, I chose the topic number of Nat'l Park visits/year vs costs of transportation and got an A. You. Guys. Are. Great.

Edited by benjammin21 on 10/19/2010 00:18:04 MDT.

BER ---
(BER) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
slang on 10/19/2010 00:46:11 MDT Print View

n/m forgot I already posted

Edited by BER on 10/19/2010 00:47:25 MDT.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
existing lists ... on 10/19/2010 08:05:20 MDT Print View

You might search for existing lists/glossaries, such as:

Laurie Gibson
(lagibson) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
slang on 10/19/2010 09:26:04 MDT Print View

thin(ning) the herd (of pots, shelters, etc.)

Edited by lagibson on 10/19/2010 09:27:06 MDT.

Eric Lundquist
(cobberman) - F - M

Locale: Northern Colorado
Re: slang on 10/19/2010 09:56:24 MDT Print View

Heine Pot

Beaver Fever

*not much but you've already got a good start for picking your 15.

Edited by cobberman on 10/19/2010 09:59:38 MDT.

Andy F
(AndyF) - M

Locale: Midwest/Midatlantic
widow-maker on 10/19/2010 10:00:43 MDT Print View

Today's word is "widow-maker."

"That's a widow-maker! I can't believe I missed it!", said as I quickly grabbed the dead 5 inch diameter tree my 7 year old daughter had started on the unpredictable process of felling as we were busy setting up camp in a remote wilderness area.

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: widow-maker on 10/19/2010 10:47:28 MDT Print View

UWidow maker is pretty specific' more dead tree terms.. Leaner, snag.

I just talked with hiking partners about death marching the rest of today.

additions.. Ten by ten. Yellow blazing. pink blazing. Trail tail. Purple route. Red route. Rainbow route. Weight weenie. Cow-taminated. Gut rot. Yogi. Purist. Reebok hiker. Touron. Busting.

And more..
This was fun! Two hundred and fifty miles left on the cdt right now.

Edited by Found on 10/19/2010 13:14:41 MDT.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: widow-maker on 10/19/2010 17:15:40 MDT Print View

"That's a widow-maker! I can't believe I missed it!", said as I quickly grabbed the dead 5 inch diameter tree my 7 year old daughter had started on the unpredictable process of felling as we were busy setting up camp in a remote wilderness area."

It's also used, or used to be, in climbing when referring to a detached flake or loose chockstone in a chinmey.