Frequently Asked Questions

In-depth answers to frequently asked questions about hiking, backpacking, and, camping written for all levels of expertise from beginners to people who’ve been backpacking for 40 years.

How to Follow a Trail: Blazes and Trail Anatomy

Trail Blaze Patterns

When the pilots of small aircraft fly in clear weather, they often orient themselves by referring to visible landmarks like roads, buildings, or obvious terrain features rather than flying by navigation instruments. They can still refer to their instruments if they’re uncertain about their heading or the outside visibility deteriorates, …

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What is a Tent Vestibule?

The Hilleberg Akto Side Vestibule has plenty of gear storage space, but does not block the tent entrance.

Tent vestibules are like mudrooms at the front of a tent or along its sides. They provide extra space to stash your gear out-of-the-way in a cramped multi-person tent, or a place to change out of wet, muddy gear before you get into the clean, dry end of your tent. …

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How to Report a Missing Hiker

Search and Rescue Call out

You’ve written a hiking trip plan and left it with a responsible adult. But you’re overdue and possibly incapacitated. Who should they call to activate a search and rescue effort to come looking for you? The answer might not be as obvious as you think. In the United States, the …

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What is the Difference between Frontcountry Camping, Backcountry or Designated Campsites, and Dispersed Camping?

Map of a frontcountry campground with running water, bathrooms, parking, and a caretaker

The camping “landscape” is often divided into frontcountry campsites, backcountry campsites, designated campsites, and dispersed camping. You’re likely to encounter these terms if you camp or backpack in National Parks, National Forests, and State Parks and it’s important to understand what they mean. Frontcountry Campsites Frontcountry campsites are located in …

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Guide to Hammock Styles and Designs

Tentsile Stingray

Single. Double. Triple. Bridge. Gathered end. Spreader bar. With all the different styles and designs of hammocks available, choosing the right one can be confusing, particularly if you’re intending that hammock for a specific purpose, such as a thru-hike on the AT. I’ve tested and seen just about every type …

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How to Tip a Mountain Guide

Mountain guiding is a service industry, and a mountain guide is really no different from your taxi driver, your waitress, your hairstylist, or any other person or company catering to your wants and needs in the provision of a particular service. In the case of the mountain guide, their service …

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