Outbound Collective logo

12 Facts of Trail Life Only True Backpackers Will Understand

To get you fired up for your next backpacking trip, check out these "facts of trail life" and find out if you're a TRUE backpacker.

By: Hartley Brody + Save to a List

1. Showering isn't really that much of a necessity

At some point, you stop worrying so much about “getting dirty” and feel… free.

2. You've told your backpacking partners stories that you'd never admit to in the frontcountry

Long hours on the trail lead to dishing intimate secrets and tales you’d never admit to otherwise.

3. Dehydrated food can actually be quite delicious

Really, anything tastes good on the trail. In fact, some of the most delicious meals in the world are made in a single pot over a small stove.

4. The most stressful part of your day is deciding where and when to poop

This is legit the worst part of backcountry camping.

Answering Nature's Call: Backcountry Potty Protocol | Photo: Mike Quine

5. You always have a lighter and knife stashed in your pockets, just in case

You may be so used to carrying your survival essentials that you tend to forget about them… and the TSA has confiscated them several times.

6. Your idea of "luxury goods" is a jacket from Arc'Teryx

Maybe one day…until then: Area Hiker Discovers Yet Another Piece of Gear He Needs to Buy at REI

7. The buzzing sound of a swarm of mosquitoes strikes fear into your heart


8. You only need an inch of foam and a patch of dirt for a comfy night's sleep

Tempurpedics are overrated.

9. You have a love-hate relationship with your hiking shoes

As much as you need them, you can’t wait to rip them off at the end of a long day.

How Hikers Can Avoid Blisters and Other Foot Problems | Photo: Kevin Kaminski

10. Your kitchen cabinets are filled with more nalgenes than regular drinking glasses

Honestly, why even bother with glassware. You know you can run these over with a car, right?

11. It's all about the journey AND the destination

Getting to camp is half the fun.

12. Blisters are temporary, but the memories you make in the woods last a lifetime.

Cover photo: Jonathon Reed

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Do you love the outdoors?

Yep, us too. That's why we send you the best local adventures, stories, and expert advice, right to your inbox.


10 Things you need to do in Baja

wyld honeys

Journey to Wyoming’s premier snowmobiling destination: Togwotee Mountain Lodge

Samuel Brockway

Hiking in comfort: a review of Danner Mountain 600 Evo boots

Meghan White

A peek through God's window

Heather Arnold

Big Bend Bound: Crafting Your 3-Day Adventure

Erin Newman-Mitchell