How to Win Halloween: 5 Hiker-Inspired Costumes

On October 31st, 2014, I donned my black under armour base layer and stepped out onto a snowy street in Hot Springs, North Carolina. Snowed out of the Smokies by a storm that would dump upwards of twelve inches of snow on the six thousand foot peaks, I was holed up at Elmer’s Sunnybank Inn, and desperate to find a costume for Halloween.

As any Thru-Hiker knows, there is one haven that solves all problems the trail weary traveler might face – from food to festivities – the Dollar General. Ask, and the Dollar General will provide. To compliment my black spandex base layer I found some face paint and glittery purple cat ears that matched my Cascadia 9’s perfectly. Oh, and I also found a tail to complete my cat costume. Meow.

Being off-trail this Halloween, though, has made me reminisce on my SoBo Halloween adventures. So I’ve got costume suggestions for all ya’ll – from SoBo’s current and future who may out on the trail, to NoBo’s who can’t incorporate their residual trail beards into this year’s Donald Trump costume, to the rest of us trail obsessed hiker trash.

1. Grandma Gatewood

photo courtesy

photo courtesy

Alright ya’ll, bust out your well-worn Keds and grab your laundry sack because the first woman to hike the Appalachian Trail solo is also one foxy Halloween Costume!! Bonus: You’ll also get to call people “Pantywaist” all night.

2. Bill Bryson and Stephen Katz

Image Courtesy

Image Courtesy

With the slew of trail-inspired movies that graced America’s theaters this year, this famous pair from A Walk in the Woods is a perfect way to reuse your pack in polite society! 

3. Benton MacKaye

Image Courtesy of

The father of the Appalachian Trail, an old school suit and tie, wire-rim glasses, and an old-school map of the Appalachian Trail completes the look. Bonus: Sport a journal with a white diamond blaze on it – the marker of the modern day Benton MacKaye Trail.

4. Cheryl Strayed

Image courtesy of

Due to the popularity of the movie Wild with Reese Witherspoon, this costume is easily recognizable – both on and off trail. Grab the iconic Danner boots with red laces, external framed pack, look of terror, and hit the trail (or the bar).

5. Mark Sanford

Image Courtesy of

Alright kids, if you’re too young for this one let me save you some googling. Mark Sanford was the Governor of South Carolina from 2009 to 2011. For six days in 2009, Sanford went totally off grid, causing a media frenzy. Amid the media storm, a rep cited he was hiking the Appalachian Trail. He wasn’t. He was having an extramarital affair. So! Get classy with a suit and tie (maybe a backpack), practice your best southern drawl, and embody the euphemism “Hiking the Appalachian Trail”.


Share your best on and off trail costumes below!

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

What Do You Think?