35 Warning Signs That You Might Be An Appalachian Trail Thru-Hiker (aka Hiker Trash)

hiker trash 101

To all who are part of the long distance hiking community, the term “Hiker Trash” is affectionately used to describe a hiker or group of hikers who have sunk down to a lower standard of living. For example, if one comes upon a group of hikers sprawled out under the shade of a tree by a roadside store filling their bellies with whoopee pies and ice cream, taking advantage of a real toilet and seeking out potable water, you may turn and say to your friend, “Hey man, look at that Hiker Trash over there.” A hiker can gain the status of Hiker Trash by exemplifying several, if not most, of the things listed below that have been compiled by me and several of my fellow Hiker Trash friends from my 2013 thru-hike.

35 Warning Signs That You Might Be Hiker Trash…

1. You choose restaurants in town based off free WiFi and electrical outlets

2. You’ve ever had to lie down for a few hours after eating a meal in town

3. “You wear $20 socks but wash them in the Dunkin Donuts bathroom” – Jean Geanie

4. You share a hot tub with several other naked strangers because no one wants to sacrifice a dry change of clothes

5. Your shirt changes colors from all the dirt, sweat and grime

IMG_1558 - Version 2

6. Your shirt disintegrates and falls off your back

7. “You’ve ever hiked with a shirt on but no pants or underwear because of chaffing” – Duffle Miner

8. You wear spare clothes left in a laundry mat with out even hesitating

9. “Even after you return to regular life you don’t shower unless you EARN it” – Clever Girl

10. You count summer down pours as a shower

11. You can smell clean clothes on day hikers well before you ever see them

12. “Your shoes are ‘holier’ than your religion” – River Gaurd

13. “Crocs are your ‘nice’ shoes” – Timber

source: wgmfortheknot.com

14. You have a code name for Dollar General within your hiking group (“Check out this new Pringle flavor I got at the DG, man.”)

15. “You spend more time unpacking food outside the grocery store than you spend shopping” – Jean Genie

16. You and a hiking partner make a game of racing for all the fallen pop tart crumbles while eating breakfast in the shelter (first one to mistake dirt for pop tart obviously looses)

17. “You meet someone who admits to eating out of trashcans and doesn’t seem weird” – Spider Web

18. You eat enough Sour Patch Kids to talk about them within your hiking circle like they’re drugs (“You Patchin’, bro? Let me get some!”)

source: b.vimeocdn.com

19. “A pint of Ben & Jerry’s is a normal serving of ice cream” – Spider Web

20. You break your titanium spoon on Nuetella in cold weather

21. “You try to fry a Honey Bun in butter” – Duffle Miner

22. “You know the calorie content of foods off the top of your head (ex. Poptarts, 400 cal per cellophane wrapper)” – The Roosta (He was right!)


source: wikipedia

23. “You know not only the calorie content, but how much each item weighs” – Spider Web

24. “You’ve been excited to sleep in a stranger’s garage” – Timber

25. “You sleep on the shoulder of the road ten feet from a hostel in order to prove a point” – Duffle Miner

26. You have ever put down consecutive big mile days to make it to a hiker party or a hiker feed

Trail Days aka Hiker Woodstock source: damascus.org

27. “You appear to be indistinguishable from a hobo to the untrained eye EXCEPT for Silnylon and maybe some Cuben Fiber” – Yard Sale

28. “You’ve been mistaken for a homeless person by an actual homeless person and you’re too embarrassed to tell them that you’re only on vacation” – Duffle Miner

29. “You’ve been given money because some thought you were homeless” – River Gaurd

30. You think you must be in a big, fancy city when there is a Wal-Mart to shop at

31. You fit in really nicely at Wal-Mart

source: peopleofwalmart.com

32. “You don’t smoke cigarettes but still carry them for their ability to be traded for anything” – The Roosta

33. “You have ever yelled ridiculous obscenities at plant life, when by yourself, alone in the woods”  – Heart Rock

34. “You completely forget what an ‘inside voice’ sounds like” – Clever Girl

35. “You can relate to everything else on the list” – Spider Web

Don’t be shy.  Share your Hiker Trash warning signs in the comments below.

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Comments 14

  • Nathan K : Jan 31st

    You’ve mended your clothes with dental floss…

  • Ashley : Apr 24th

    You spend an hour talking about all the gourmet meals you have made and ate and what you would be eating, just to stop and eat beef jerky and a fig newtons and enjoy it just as much

  • Steve Davis : Mar 22nd

    You can tell the number of days a person has been on the trail from the smell 30 feet away. And you step aside to let them pass out of respect.

  • John Walker aka Swagman : Jan 4th

    You’ve identified every AYCE restaurant for the next two-hundred miles ahead and ranked them in priority of cuisine; i. e. Oriental, Mexican, Indian, Italian, Steakhouse, Seafood, Pizza, Family Style Buffett, and Breakfast Bar. – Swagman

  • John Walker aka Swagman : Jan 4th

    Your priorities when you hit town are in strictest order:
    1. Get a motel room/check into hostel
    2. Shower
    3. Dawn town cloths
    4. Do laundry
    5. PO for resupply box and/or Walmart run for groceries
    6. Find AYCE restaurant and consume copious amounts of food
    7. Locate liquor store and buy a 6 pack of beer
    8. Return to motel/hostel and binge watch reruns of Futurama and South Park
    9. Drink beer
    10. Recharge smart phone and check in with Trail Boss/Family
    11. Sleep on a bed with a real mattress and clean sheets – Swagman

    • Jim Austin : Sep 2nd

      In 2019, I’m afraid #10 has moved up to the top tier. Maybe #1 or #2.

  • John Walker aka Swagman : Jan 4th

    There is more duct-tape than functional gear on your kit. -Swagman

  • John Walker aka Swagman : Jan 4th

    After your sixth trip to the buffet and salad bar you are asked to leave by the manager of the AYCE restruant. – Swagman

  • John Walker aka Swagman : Jan 4th

    You conduct a memorial service for your old, worn out pair of hiking boots and inturn them with full military honors! – Swagman

  • Christine Taylor /Hazel : Mar 2nd

    I knew I had become Hiker Trash when I was overjoyed to find someone’s crusty face cloth in the shower stall at the Y. I used it and felt clean:)

  • Stoat : Jul 22nd

    You can no longer gauge how fast cars are moving because your life now moves @ 2-4 mph.

  • March Hare : Jan 29th

    You smell so bad that even the bears won’t bother you.

  • Pony : Sep 29th

    Spent a couple days in Portland ME following my thru. With nothing else to do, I volunteered at the homeless shelter. They almost didn’t let me in because they thought I was homeless trying to get to the goods. Then while taking a break right before dinner, a bunch of homeless dudes tried to sneak in the back door where I was standing, thinking that I was also homeless and helping them sneak in the back door. Also had a car drive by and tell me to get a job instead of a backpack. Think I fit the description.

  • Roo : Aug 5th

    You hole up in a pit toilet to get out of the rain. And while you’re in there, you make a cup of coffee and drink it with the Snickers bar you were saving for lunch.


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