Are you just another hicker when it comes to understanding AT trail talk? Does a sit-down with an end-to-ender have you wondering if GAME is up, or MEGA is down?

In an attempt to locate our inner thru-hiker (and our inner canine), we thought we’d post some of our favorite Appalachian Trail terms.  Here are the true definitions—followed with a canine twist!

Bear Bag

Hiker Definition: The bag used by hikers to hang their food out of reach of bears and other critters.

Dog Definition: A challenge.


Hiker Definition: The 40 species of tiny biting insects that breed in running water and flourish in late May and June in Maine.

Dog Definition: Human fleas.

Bivy Sack

Hiker Definition: A lightweight and waterproof bag that covers a sleeping bag. Simple, sometimes cramped shelter.

Dog Definition: First 50% for sleeping, and remaining 50% to wipe paws on.

Bog Bridge

Hiker Definition: Narrow wooden walkway placed to protect sensitive wetlands.

Dog Definition: Diving board.


Hiker Definition: Hiking where there is no marked trail.

Dog Definition: Obstacle course.

Cat Hole

Hiker Definition: A small hole dug by a hiker for the deposit of human waste.

Dog Definition:  Ridiculous.  That’s why it was named after a cat. Cowboy Camping

Hiker Definition: Camping without any shelter—spread out the pad and bag under the stars and put your faith in the weather staying dry.

Dog Definition: Sleeping on your human’s legs instead of in a tent.

Dead Fall

Hiker Definition: Fallen dead trees across the trail.

Dog Definition: Convenient rest stop.


Hiker Definition: V-shaped stiles through fences where the Trail passes through livestock enclosures.

Dog Definition: Dog door.

Duct Tape

Hiker Definition: A wide, heavy duty, and multi-purpose tape used by hikers for everything from covering blisters to repairing gear.

Dog Definition: Backpacker’s lint brush.

Gear Head

Hiker Definition:  Hiker whose main focus is backpacking and outdoors gear.

Dog Definition: Dog who wears nothing but Ruff Wear.


Hiker Definition: A small flashlight attached to a band or strap and worn on the head.

Dog Definition: Glowing target.

Hydration System

Hiker Definition: An ‘improvement’ on drinking out of a bottle.  Consists of a plastic bladder, hose, and mouth piece/valve that allows hands free drinking.

Dog Definition: Lake, river, mud puddle.


Hiker Definition: ‘Leave No Trace’, a philosophy and skill used to pass as lightly as possible when backpacking.

Dog Definition: Crumb patrol.


Hiker Definition: Failing to get a car to stop when hitch hiking.

Dog Definition: That thing that leads to a bath of tomato juice.


Hiker Definition: Term referring to going around a mountain on a moderately graded footpath, as opposed to going straight up and over the mountain.

Dog Definition: Four-legged drive.


Hiker Definition: Thru-hiking without a backpack. Recently called “Freedom Packing”.

Dog Definition: Attempting the AT without a Palisades Pack.

Switch Back

Hiker Definition: A turn that takes the hiker 180 degrees in the opposite direction.

Dog Definition: Squirrel.

Trail Name

Hiker Definition: A nickname adopted by or given to a hiker.

Dog Definition: “Where did you go? Fido?  Fido? Where are you?  I’m not playing. Get over here?  What did you find? Fido?”

Trail Runners

Hiker Definition: Lightweight sneaker style hiking shoes.

Dog Definition: Grip Trex™ Boots.


Hiker Definition: The point of elevation on a mountain above which the climate will no longer support tree growth.

Dog Definition: “Last rest stop for 2,000 feet.”


Hiker Definition:  is the good-natured art of “letting” food be offered cheerfully by strangers without actually asking them directly (If you ask, it’s begging!).

Dog Definition: That thing you do where you rest your head on your human’s lap and try to blow them away with your nose breath until they feed you.

3 thoughts

  1. Very cute, but I think the AT dog haters are going to have a field day with this one. 🙁

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