While I’m not normally one to buy into labels, it can be interesting to consider the various inclinations and preferences that make us all unique, especially outdoorsmen.

Aside from being in a category of their own, hikers can fall into distinct categories within the outdoors community, depending on what sort of style they enjoy most.

Day Hikers

The broadest category here, pretty much everyone can check this box from time to time, but for many, this is the majority of their hiking activities. Nothing wrong with that, of course; any way you can enjoy the trail is the right way, in my opinion. For most day hikers, their treks will be within an easy mile or two from the car, but some ambitious day hikers can put down more than a few miles before getting back home for the night.

Overnighters

This is the next step up from the day hiking. Overnighters target a campsite and tend get by with minimal camping gear, plus a little food and water. Often times, though, overnighters are known to pack a few extra luxuries items, such as s’mores fixings. Also, it’s not rare for overnighters to pack “gourmet” camp meals, such as hot dogs or other premade food that can keep for a few hours on the trail before cooking.

Weekend Warriors

A 2 or 3-night trip requires a bit more planning than a simple overnight trip does, which also means cutting back on the luxury items. Most weekend trips call for each person to carry a 40-liter or larger pack, in order to fit all the essential gear plus food. Weekenders will want lots of calories by Day 2, so it’s smart to bring along dried foods that rehydrate easily when it’s time to replenish your energy.

Minimalists

Shedding ounces from your pack weight is the goal with this group, since they also tend to cover many miles. Minimalists can tackle a variety of treks, from day hikes to adventure races. People who fall into this category are very aware of what gear is essential and what they can go without. Even with shaving weight in mind, though, planning for emergencies by keeping spare warm clothing layers, shelter, food, water and lighting can mean the difference in a survival emergency.

Trail Runners

These folks aren’t so much hiking as they are exercising. They simply tie on their shoes and speed along the trail. Trail runners tend to concern themselves with calories, water and emergency supplies, as some of them have been known to cover distances of up to 100 miles and beyond in a single outing. Crazy, right? If you’re running solo, make sure to take a cell phone or an emergency location beacon.

Thru-Hikers

You can spot this group of nomads pretty easily: bushy beards, worn shoes and clothes and a look in their eye that only comes from spending months alone on the trail. Defined as hiking a long distance trail end-to-end, thru-hiking requires a serious commitment of time, money and planning, but the rewards are often incredibly enlightening for those who take it on.

Photo credit: Dreamstime