Outdoor: The Questions I Asked

Along the journey of adventuring, I started to ask a few questions like what’s the difference between hiking and walking or what’s the big silver thing with all of the markings on- a toposcope? What’s that?  There’s much to learn from slang to equipment and they may appear to be common sense but how common is common sense?

Therefore in this post I’m going to put forward a few of the things that have left me wandering and aim to clarify these.  I’ll aim to add as I go….

By all means if you want to challenge my explanations or add your own, be my guest!

1.What’s the difference between hiking and walking?

From what I’ve can gather, hiking and walking all depends on the terrain. For example, you don’t walk a mountain but you walk a hill. Hiking refers to tougher and more complex terrain and also longer duration than a walk. I’ve asked people what’s the difference and they say it’s the same thing but if that’s the case why are there walking shoes and hiking boots? Walking boots are not as sturdy as hiking boots generally which suggests the difference between hiking and walking has something to do with terrain

2. What’s the difference between water -proof, water- repellent and water- resistance?

Even reading that confuses me.

Water-resistant means it can resist water but not entirely for example if it was soaked or submerged.

Water-repellent – the surface coating repels water away but again if completely soaked, it will be water damaged.

Water-proof – completely fine with being wet whilst it keeps you dry.

A great article on the differences here.

3.What is snow proof and is it different to the above?

It’s something that’s been designed with a water -repellent coating so in skiing terms, it’ll keep you dry but don’t think you can snow angel or get heavy rained on because it’s not waterproof (see above for definition).

4.What does wanderlust mean?

It doesn’t mean what I originally thought. Damn.

It started popping up on Pinterest and Instagram over the last two years and refers to someone who has the desire to travel and see the world. 

5.What is leave no trace?

It was a program a few years back (it still may be) but we don’t mean it in this context. The leave no trace principle refers to people who spend a lot of time living outdoors and so they’ve to make sure that they don’t impact upon the wild and living environment. Things such as not walking on protected land, having camp-fires where not necessary and cleaning up after yourself.  There is a whole book on this, something I’m keen to learn more about.

6.What is a zero day?

It’s quite an american slang and backpackers generally use it but it means having a day off, a rest, nothing but a chill out.

7.At what height is a mountain, a mountain?

It’s a bit like the chicken and egg theory – no one will own up. It’s commonly accepted that anything over 1,000 ft is classed as a mountain. Although I’ve read that it’s actually over 2,000 ft but anyway anything over 800 ft still feels like it’s on the way to being a mountain! Oh and it has an identifiable summit.

8.Talking of, what is a summit?

The very tip of a mountain – its peak, apex, zenith, the very very top.

9.What is a toposcope?

Usually found on hills or high places and looks like a small tower with a metal plate and engravings on it of other notable places of interest. They usually indicate the height of the places also.

10.What does gnarly mean?

And you don’t pronounce the g. It’s followed by dude. Usually said A LOT in the surfing world to describe waves and the weather. It simply means ferocious – crazy fun – dangerous – wild etc.

11. What’s a dry bag?

I thought this was just a normal bag that you put your dry stuff in and kept it out of the way from the wet stuff until I start using one when I tried kayaking. Dry bags are made from waterproof material which can get wet and mixed up in all sorts and still remain dry.   I was actually quite amazed at how easy they are to use – no pad locks, just three simple folds and a clipping device thingy (there’s probably a technical term…)

I wish I’d had one for surfing last year because they stop sand, dirt, water and snow from getting in. Thankfully, I’ve just started testing DRYU dry bags and since beach, kayaking and lots of dog walking (yes I’m getting a dog – more on that soon…) are on the agenda this year, I figured I’m going to need me a set of good dry bags!

There you have it, my list of somewhat common sense questions. Have you any to add?

C L Haden



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