Here are over 75 terms that thru-hiker's use on the Appalachian Trail. Some are just slang expressions and others are more technical gear terms. Let us know what we missed!
|Appalachian Mountain Club. Mainly known as the organization in charge of the hut system in the White Mountains.
|Also known as 'above the treeline'. The high-elevation areas where trees are unable to grow.
|Appalachian Trail Conservancy. Non-profit organization in charge of protecting and maintaining the Trail.
|'The A.T. Guide'. The only map a thru-hiker needs.
|Barren areas on many mountain tops. Their existence is mostly a mystery.
|Total Pack Weight - Consumables (food, water, etc) = Base Weight
|Hung in a tree to prevent attracting any bears. Usually contains food, trash, toiletries - anything with a strong odor.
|Short for 'carabiner' - the metal loop with a spring loaded opening generally used for ropes.
|Short for 'bivouac sack' - a mini tent-like shelter.
|Or 'water reservoir'. Smaller collapsible water container.
|Used to mark the Trail. Typically a 2 x 6 inch strip of paint on a tree located near eye level.
|Taking a waterway instead of the Trail.
|The blaze that leads to a water source.
|Hiking with a female.
|Driving to the next trail head and essentially skipping a chunk of hiking. Opposite of 'purist'.
|The iconic blaze that marks the Appalachian Trail.
|Box of supplies you ship or 'bounce' forward to pick up in your next trail town.
|Hiking off trail. Done for the adventure of it or because you are lost.
|Hiding place. Typically where you or a trail angel would stash food and other goodies.
|Drinking as much water as possible at a water source to prevent from carrying it.
|Pile of rocks or stones to mark the trail. Used instead of a blaze if there are no trees.
|Hole in the ground dugout for human waste. Ideally at least 6 inches deep and at least 200 feet away from a water source.
|Lines used on a topographical map to display variations in elevation.
|Camping underneath the stars without a tent.
|Mixing water with unfiltered coffee grounds.
|Metal frame used on boots for traction in snowy and icy conditions.
|High-performance fabric, also known as "Dyneema", used as an ultralight material for some tents and bags.
|Ingredient used in insect repellents - also known as 'diethyltoluamide'
|Two blazes aligned vertically to signal a sharp turn in the Trail.
|Large collapsible water container.
|Process of pulling down your pants. Generally shouted as a warning to other hikers in the shelter that you are about to change clothes.
|Sense of approaching the summit and then realize it is only a small plateau.
|'Fastest Known Time'. The speed record held for completing the Appalachian Trail either 'supported' or 'unsupported'.
|Thought of as hiking the Trail in two separate 'halves' instead of one continuous stretch. Ex: ME>VA and then GA>VA or VA>GA and then ME>VA.
|Separate 'floor' of your tent used as a groundcloth or additional protective barrier.
|Leggings used to protect your shins and ankles from thick brush or prevent water from draining into your feet.
|Low spot on a ridge line in between mountains.
|"Granola, Oats, Raisins and Peanuts" or "Good Ole Raisins and Peanuts". Also called 'Trail Mix'.
|The Appalachian Trail. Referring to the heavily wooded green forests that the Trail snakes through.
|Chord or rope used to tie down the tent or tarp.
|Box of freebies. Generally leftover food or gear from previous hikers located in hostels or shelters.
|Tongue-and-cheek term for thru-hikers. After a week on the Trail, we have been (proudly?) known to resemble vagrants.
|Large cabins mostly associated with being in the White Mountains and organized by the ATC.
|'Hike Your Own Hike' expression.
|Small firewood used to ignite a fire.
|Small mountain or rounded hill.
|Trail town lodging. Like a hotel with bunk beds.
|Simple shelter structure comprised of a roof angled at a 45 degrees. Generally only has 3 walls.
|Also know as 'register'. Every shelter has one. Used as a record for safety of last known location. Also used to communicate with other hikers and vent about anything and everything.
|"Near Zero" day. Hiking only a mile or less.
|Northbound hiker. Georgia to Maine.
|Trademarked named for an MSR stove. Has become a generic term for a small foldable canister stove top.
|Process of stepping in snow and leaving a hole.
|Bathroom at a shelter. Most of the time a simple wooden outhouse with a composting toilet hole.
|'Pointless Ups and Downs'. Referring to the rolling nature of the trail.
|Somewhat like an informal Park Ranger. Generally a volunteer interested in promoting respect for the Trail.
|Type of 'hands and knees' hiking in steep or rocky sections where walking is not an option. See Mihousac Notch.
|Someone who hikes the Appalachian Trial in sections over a longer period of time than a continuous thru-hike.
|Simple wooden structures scattered every 10-20 miles along the entire Trail. Most hold around 8-12 hikers.
|Not carrying gear for the day. Generally this means leaving gear in town and getting shuttled to Trailhead A in the morning and picked up at Trailhead B in the afternoon.
|Southbound hiker. Maine to Georgia.
|Camping in a site that has not been used as a campsite before.
|Used to zig-zag and lengthen the trail for a more moderate incline instead of hiking straight up a very steep incline.
|One who hikes the Trail in one continuous run or within a year time frame.
|'Dayhikers', 'Bathers' or people from town.
|Where a section of trail begins. Usually at a road crossing.
|Giver of Trail Magic. A volunteer who helps hikers with a place to stay in their house, a shuttle to the trail head, free food, anything.
|Given by Trail Angels. The goodies a Trail Angel offers out of goodwill.
|Name a hiker goes by on the Trail. A sort of 'alter-ego'. Almost all hikers go by a trail name.
|Treeing a Bear
|Act of surprising a bear and it sliding down a tree.
|Three major USA hiking trails: The Appalachian Trail, The Pacific Crest Trail, The Continental Divide Trail. One who completes all three is known as a 'Triple Crowner'.
|'Ultralight'. A minimalist backpacking mentality.
|Porch of a tent.
|Dead tree waiting to fall and make a widow out of the unsuspecting hiker's wife.
|Taking the lead for the group and walking through all of the fresh spider webs.
|Work For Stay
|Instead of paying for a room, at select hostels and huts, many hikers choose to work or volunteer for a few hours.
|Lazy and luxurious days of hiking zero miles.