For all Hikers, Backpackers, and Campers—by Ray Anderson

Hiker Jargon

Hiking the Long Trail, Green Mountains, VermontAppalachian Trail lovers in the White Mountains


Hiking (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn)


English: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Abbreviations of trails abound. But here are some other words and terms (in no particular order) commonly used by long-distance hikers.

Thru-hiker: A hiker who will attempt to hike the complete trail in one go, or in one season.

Section hiker: A hiker who hikes a trail in small sections; he or she may not plan on completing the trail.

Nobo: Northbounder

Sobo: Southbounder

Trail Name: The catchy moniker a hiker chooses to go by for an extended hike. Examples are legion—Yogi, Vagabond, The Mad Viking, AWOL, Skittles, Dreamwalker, Hamlet (that’s me), etc. Choose a name before someone tags you with one you may not like.

Camel up: Quench your thirst; fill your water bottles.

Vitamin I: Ibuprofen, or similar pills to ease joint pain and treat other aches.

Gorp: Typically, a combination of mixed nuts, dry cereal, raisins, chocolate chips or candy bits, and such. Usually homemade and eaten from baggies. Designed to give quick energy.  (Eat too much gorp and it will begin to taste like birdseed.)

TP: I saw this on everyone’s gear list and couldn’t figure it out. TP stands for Toilet Paper.

Bushwhack: Blaze your own trail

Flip-flop: Hike in one direction, then leap ahead by other means and hike in the opposite direction, back to the former spot. (used in dealing with snow, fires, bad weather)

Zero day: A no mileage day.

Trail angel: Anyone, usually a non-hiker, who helps a hiker—ride, food, a place to stay, etc.

Yogi: To not quite ask for food, but get it by looking hungry, forlorn—use your imagination.

For a comprehensive list of trail terminology, see Michelle Ray’s How To Hike the A.T.

Comments on: "Hiker Jargon" (8)

  1. tinkerbellsadventure said:

    Reblogged this on Tinkerbell's adventures.

  2. Great post…I am a big fan of vitamin I on my hikes! It’s the miracle vitamin.

  3. Mountain Money = TP.

    • Hi, I don’t understand your comment. TP for hikers means toilet paper. Happy trails.

      • When you run out of toilet paper on a long thru-hike (one without McDonalds, Starbucks, or a mall) the stuff becomes more valuable than money. There are stories about people trading TP for food. Maybe this isn’t the case east of the Rockies, but out here “mountain money” is jargon for toilet paper.

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