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Glossary of Hiking Terms
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Access Points
Designated areas and passageways that allow the public to reach a trail from adjacent streets or community facilities.

Access Trail
A trail that connects the main trail to a road or another trail system.

Aquafoil �
Hydrophilic PU coating on microfibre fabric exclusive to Berghaus.

The ability to transmit water vapour.

Boot Grades

B:0 - unsuitable for crampons. Walking boots with comfort flex and soft calf leather or suede/fabric uppers.

B:1 - reasonably stiff-flexing sole and uppers capable of providing enough ankle support for traversing relatively steep slopes. Suitable for the easiest snow and ice conditions - crampons used over short sections only.

B:2 - stiff flex boot designed for four season mountaineering, with the equivalent of a three quarter or full shank midsole, and supportive leather upper. Can be used all day with crampons on easy Alpine terrain or Scottish snow and ice climbs.

B:3 - technical mountaineering boot. Usually plastic, totally rigid midsole and upper.

Box Foot
Sleeping bag construction where an extra insulated panel is sewn into the end of the bag to provide room for feet. Also known as elephant's foot.

Area where there are no maintained roads or permanent buildings, only primitive roads and trails.

A hike which extends to at least one overnight stay where the essentials (food, shelter, clothing, etc.) for that stay are packed.

The direction of travel from your current position to a landmark or destination expressed in degrees from 1 to 360. Also called an Azimuth

Bivouac (Bivy)
An overnight stay with little or no shelter.

Bivouac Sack (Bivy Sack)
A lightweight and waterproof bag that covers a sleeping bag.

A trail marker. May be in the form of colored tape, bark chipped in a pattern from a tree and painted, etc.

A steep headland, riverbank, or cliff.

Bridleway (Bridle Path)
Designed and maintained primarily for equestrian use.

To make one's way through bushes or undergrowth without the aid of a formal trail.

A supply of food, tools, etc., usually buried or hidden.

A constructed mound of rock located adjacent to a trail used to mark the trail route.

Elevated section of trail contained by rock, usually in permanent or seasonally wet areas.

A device with the purpose is indicating direction.

Coleman fuel
Also known as white gas. The best kind of petrol you can put in your stove, it has no additives which might clog up burner jets.

Crampon Grades

C:1 - flexible walking crampon attached with straps, with or without front points.

C:2 - articulated multi-purpose crampons with front points. Attached either with straps all round or strap front (ideally a French ring system) and clip-on heel.

C:3 - articulated or fully rigid technical crampon attached by full clip-on system of heel clip and toe bail.

Compression strap
Webbing strap and buckle used on rucksacks and travel bags to take up excess volume and thus stabilise the load.

Contour Lines
Lines on a topographical map indicating elevation.

A road, trail or bridge formed by logs laid transversely, side by side, to facilitate crossing swampy areas

Day Pack
Smaller backpack used for day hikes to carry food, water, etc.

Cord used as simple means of closing or gathering in on clothing - usually round the hood, waist and bottom hem - and other outdoors products, including rucksack openings, sleeping bag hoods, tent doorways and ventilators. Drawcords are some times elasticated (see Shock cord)

Natural insulation from ducks or geese, used to provide a soft, light and compressible filling for sleeping bags and anoraks. Quality is measured in its "fill power" - the number of cubic inches an ounce of down will expand to fill. The greater the fill power, the greater the volume of trapped insulating air. 550 is reasonable. Over 700, wow!

System of manufacturing and recycling outdoors products developed by Akzo and Vaude. Products must be made from polyester, including all components.

A system formed by the interaction of living organisms with their environment.

Ethyl Vinyl Acetate, the material used to make the dense foam midsole wedges in running shoes, and many lightweight walking boots. It has good shock absorbing properties, but tends to collapse with wear.

Knitted polyester fabric, brushed and napped to make a velour pile finish.

A right of way in which the public has access by foot only.

Term denoting tunnel or dome-shaped tents with hooped poles of different radii offset against each other to provide enhanced stability.

Giardia lamblia
Protozoan occurring in backcountry water sources that causes an intestinal illness.

Gore-Tex �
Microporous breathable waterproof fabric made by W.L. Gore and Associates. Numerous different types based on the breathable waterproof expanded PTFE membrane.

"Good Ol' Raisins and Peanuts". A trail snack made with fruit, nuts, chocolate, etc.

Global Positioning System. By utilizing a device the size of a cell phone you're able to pinpoint your precise longitude, latitude and altitude (to an accuracy of about 30-200 feet.)

An area that supports a plant or animal population because it supplies that organism's basic requirements of food, water, shelter, living space, and security.

A leisurely walk lasting one day or less.

Hood volume adjuster
A feature once found only on high spec technical mountaineering jackets, now becoming commonplace throughout the range of walking jackets. Usually operated by strap and buckle, Velcro fastened tab or elasticated drawcord, it allows excess volume in the hood to be taken up so the peak doesn't droop over your face.

Hook and loop fastener
Touch and close fastener the type of which Velcro is the best known brand.

Water-loving. Term commonly used in connection with breathable waterproof coatings and laminates, and also lining materials.

A moulded footbed made from closed cell foam provides a modicum of shock absorption, aids comfort, and protects from blisters underfoot. Many different variations these days, including dual density foam models, and footbeds incorporating holes or channels to enhance ventilation. Ironically perhaps, the best, and most supportive, are the stiffest.

Interactive zip
Also known as a link zip. Second zip attached behind the main zip of waterproof jackets in order to provide attachment for fleece jackets. Hailed as a "really useful feature" by the majority of waterproof manufacturers, it's little more than a marketing ploy, since attaching your fleece to your waterproof doesn't improve performance, and it simply reduces the flexibility of your layered clothing system.

Site where one trail meets another.

Kevlar �
Aramid fibre best known for its use in bullet-proof vests and aircraft wings. As strong as Cordura, but only half the weight, it's used in top-spec outdoors gear such as fabric walking boots and rucksacks.

Liquid Crystal Display.

Leave No Trace (LNT)
Educational program designed to instill behaviors in the outdoors that leave minimum impact of human activities.

Lycra �
Elastene used in fabrics to provide stretch and recovery.

Methylated spirit, used by unpressurised camping stoves such as the Trangia.

Cheap boots don't even have one of these, relying simply on the fibre board insole to take the lumps out of the top of the sole unit, and the overall boot to provide support. Good boots will have a midsole (many these days made from injection moulded plastic) which provide the flex characteristics for the intended use.

A ridge or pile of boulders, stones, and other debris carried along and deposited by a glacier

Not so much mutton dressed as lamb, this is cow dressed as deer! A special buffing process imparts a velvety sheen to the outer surface of grain leather. Used in walking shoes and boots.

Using a map and compass to navigate between points along an unfamiliar course.

A rock formation that protrudes through the level of the surrounding soil.

Pit zip
Zipped underarm opening found on high-spec waterproof and fleece jackets to provide increased ventilation.

Potable (Water)
Safe to drink from source without treating.

Polartec �
Polyester fleece fabric made by Malden Mills. Comes in a variety of weights and finishes dependent on usage.

Polyurethane. Used as a coating on the underside of nylon or polyester fabrics to provide waterproofing. In general, where used in waterproof clothing, the PU will be breathable - ie will have the ability to transmit water vapour.

PU Leather
Split leather with a coating of polyurethane to give it the appearance of grain leather, and to impart waterproofness. Used in budget boots.

Also known in the trade as foxing. It's a rubber strip which sometimes goes right round a walking boot, covering the join between upper and sole, and on other boots may just go round the toe, to give some protection against scuffing.

Fabric with built-in resistance to tearing, achieved by using thicker yarns spaced at intervals within the weave.

Deep, narrow gouge in the earth's surface, usually eroded by the flow of water.

Shingle construction
Layers of synthetic sleeping bag or duvet filling laid in overlapping layers, rather like roof tiles, to ensure no cold spots.

Shock cord
Robust elasticated cord used to provide a means of adjustment on outdoors clothing, particularly on waterproofs - at the waist, bottom hem and hood. Also used to keep flexible tent pole sections together.

Silicone elastomer
State of the art coating for nylon tent fabrics, the most water repellent there is. Found on top-spec European tents, but not in the USA, where silicone elastomer coated fabrics fail CPAI84 flammability requirements.

Sun Protection Factor. Means of expressing the level of protection afforded by sun creams, and more recently with some brands of travel clothing. The SPF is a multiple of the time it takes before your skin burns, so if you were in conditions where your unprotected skin would start to burn in 20 minutes, SPF10 suncream would give you 200 minutes protection before burning, and SPF20 would give you 400 minutes.

Split leather
Thick cow hide is generally split into two layers, where a giant blade removes the top layer to be used for grain leather, whilst the layer underneath is what's know as split leather. It has a coarser fibrous structure, and is generally used for cheaper suede footwear.

Sympatex �
A breathable membrane with hydrophilic properties, which makes it able to transport water vapour molecules through its structure. The big selling point is that the membrane itself is extremely robust. Often used in jackets as a drop liner, with loose facing fabric - also used as a waterproof lining in some footwear.

A sharp turn in a trail to reverse the direction of travel and to gain elevation with the intent of preventing or slowing erosion.

Topographical map
A map showing the shape and elevation of the Earth's surface through contour lines. Also has representations of streets, buildings, streams, woods, etc.

An access point to a long distance trail often accompanied by various public facilities.

A long-distance hike.

Velcro �
Touch-and-close fastener used extensively on clothing and other outdoors equipment. Invented by George de Mestral, who was inspired by a weed sticking to his trousers.

Ventile �
Made its debut during WW2 in immersion suits to save the lives of fighter pilots shot down over the North Atlantic. Tightly woven strands of Egyptian cotton swell when wet, making a waterproof barrier. Soft and comfortable when used in waterproof jackets, although rather heavy when wet.

Vibram �
If Vitale Bramani hadn't designed his Montagna cleated sole with distinctive yellow badge in the 1940's we might still be taking to the hills in hob-nailed boots! Good job his name wasn't Bobby Ringwood...

Outward turned bottom edge of a walking boot's upper. Stitched down through the mid-soles, the welt-sewn construction epitomises the look of the traditional boot. This type of boot is usually easier (although not always necessarily so) to fit a crampon on.

Process whereby moisture is transported by capillary action. Term most often used in context with baselayer fabrics, but also relevant to other clothing fabrics, sleeping bags and single-skin tents.

Whiteout A condition of zero or extremely limited visibility caused when fog or thick clouds or rapidly falling snow.

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