6 Ways to NOT Annoy Your Fellow Hikers

Practice Leave No Trace

This one is so obvious that most of you can’t believe it’s even in the list. The only concept pounded into our pre-hike heads more than “Hike Your Own Hike” is “Leave No Trace.” It’s the Golden Rule of Hiking and sadly, a surprising number of people on the trail choose to ignore it. Practice it, live it, and teach it. We don’t have space here to explore every aspect of LNT, plus you probably already know it. If you’re learning about Leave No Trace for the very first time right now, consider reading this: https://lnt.org/ Most of the things you can do to not piss people off fall under this category, so let’s start with a biggie:

Please Don’t Write On Stuff

That shelter is my house. It’s also your house. It really is; it’s where you live. Think about how you would react if I walked into your living room and started drawing on the wall behind your couch or TV. Unless I am a toddler (I’m not) you would probably grab me by the neck and toss me onto your lawn. “Hey! It’s just ink! You can paint over it!” I yell as you slam the door. “It’s not like I carved it or anything,” I mutter to no one, because no one likes me anymore. If your age consists of more than one digit, you have no excuse.

Don't be "That Hiker".

Don’t be “That Hiker”.

Know What Time It Is

Almost every one of us finds ourselves night hiking at some point. Either we misjudged our mileage for the day or we just like the challenge. At some point, probably more than once, I’m going to roll into the shelter after dark. Chances are, someone’s already in the box and they’re a good hour or two into REM stage sleep. Unless you can already see or hear the sounds of a shelter party from where you are, hold off on your ukulele rendition of Enter Sandman until you know for sure. And speaking of dark shelters…

Check Your Headlamp

You know that weird purple dot you get when someone shines a bright light in your face? That’s all you’ll see if I look at you while talking and my headlamp is on. Even if we’re not talking, my white light has the power to rip you from the deepest slumber. This is part of the reason your headlamp (probably) has that red light feature on it. Not only does it protect your night vision, it’s a courtesy to those around you as well. Use it. If your lamp doesn’t have a red light, be quick about your business and do your best not to shine it into the retinas of your fellow hikers.

There are no trash cans out here.

There are no trash cans out here.

Ask Before You Smoke or Drink

Before you tip a bottle or light up (regardless of what you’re about to light) it’s polite to ask first. It takes one second to look around and say, “Anyone mind?” You’re going to find that most of your fellow hikers will not mind one bit. At the very worst, someone might actually care, in which case they’ll ask you to take a few steps over that way. And you do. Pretty easy. Please keep in mind that “That guy said I could,” does not exempt you from local laws or park regulations. Speaking of burning things:

Don’t Burn Your Garbage

And with this, we’re back where we started with good old LNT. You carried it in, you carry it out. “But it’s flammable” is not an excuse. I’m sorry that your pack smells like six month’s worth of used tuna packets, but this is not Green Giant’s law. I cannot offer you asylum. Ridge Runners, your fellow hikers, park officials and the locals will all give you a hard time for this, so just don’t do it.

What Else?

Of course there’s more. Most of this stuff is common sense. Be considerate of other people, just like you are off the trail and we’ll all have a good time and no one will give you the stink eye while they quicken their pace as you approach.


See? Look how happy everyone is!

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Comments 4

  • Campbell : Apr 7th

    We have all been and seen that guy. Being respectful makes being out on trail enjoyable for you and everyone around you.

  • Walter Linker : Apr 8th

    I do burn my trash (if there’s a fire), at least the part that can be burned. It reduces the amount of stuff to be carried out. I also usually clean out the fire pit in the am before heading out. A lot of food comes in wrappers that do not burn or not completely and that material must be carried out. Just throwing something in the fire does not necessarily mean that you have done your job getting rid of the trash…

  • Frank : Apr 8th

    This is mis-named. It should be “6 ways to not annoy a trail club”. Your fellow hikers are not annoyed by many of the things listed. I would like to see one called, “6 ways that the trail clubs annoy thru hikers”.

    • Sweaty Cheddah : Apr 8th

      Actually, many of these things annoyed the crap out of me as a thru-hiker. The whole “hike your own hike” thing DOES NOT mean you should subject others to your laziness or inconsideration. It’s pretty simple.. Don’t make unnecessary noise or light at night, don’t leave trash or permanent marks behind, and frankly, just don’t be a dick. Smoke in the shelters when it’s just you and your friends, burn your trash if you’re going to pack out what doesn’t burn, try tagging with charcoal, and learn when it’s ok to make noise.

      You should also think about the possible post, “6 ways trail clubs keep thru-hiking feasible.”


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