Camping & Backpacking Dictionary

March 29, 2017

Learn The Words Behind The Hobby


There are a lot of terms in our industry, here is a glossary of terms to help you out!

3-season Tent: Tent built for summer, spring and fall use. 

4-season Tent: Tent designed to all weather conditions including harsh winter and rain.

AltimeterInstrument used to measure elevation via barometric pressure.

Backcountry: Area of hiking, backpacking, skiing or snowshoeing that is off the beaten path. Otherwise known as the wilderness or the wild for campers and backpackers. 

Bathtub Floor: Is the curves upward near the perimeter of the seam in tents and canopies. This floor is a tarp like material on most tents. 

Bivy Tent / Bivy Sack: Extremely small, lightweight tent or shelter that is waterproof. Climbers, backpackers, hikers, mountaineers, soldiers, and minimalist campers often use bivy tents.

Compression Stuff Sack: A sack used for sleeping bags, mummy bags and some tents. These sacks have straps used to compress the sleeping bag into the smallest form possible for transporting and packing. 

Daypack: Smaller sized pack used for small one-day hikes or outings.

Dome: A tent shape where the poles create a dome effect curving over each other. 

Double Wall Insulation: Insulation utilizing and inner and outerwall to further insulate the liquid within the canteen. Used to keep liquid cold for 24 hours and hot for 12 hours. 

Down: Fluffy material of goose feathers mostly used for sleeping bags and jackets. 

Embers: Best place to cook food over the campfire. Hottest place of the fire, great for cast iron dutch ovens. 

Floor Area: The amount of usable floor space in a tent. This is measured in square feet most of the time. 

Fly: Also known as a rainfly, top sheet or fly sheet for waterproofing a tent.

Footprint: A tarp floor designed to set up a tent on, protecting the undersurface of your tent. 

Grommet: Steel rings sewn into the bottom corners of a tent to hold the aluminum or fiberglass tent poles in place.

Ground Stakes: Anchors that hold a tent in place on the ground.

Guy Lines: Length of cord used to secure or reinforce the walls of a tent or rainfly. 

Hike: Long walk through nature for exercise or pleasure. 

Loft: The height and thickness of insulation in a sleeping bag.

Mummy Bag: Body like shaped sleeping bag, close fitting and hooded and very efficient in conserving body heat. 

Packed Size: Dimensions of tent or sleeping bag compressed and packed for adventure. 

Rain Fly: A tent covering that protects from rain, wind and water. Keeps the tent windproof. 

Rating: The degree fahrenheit rating of sleeping bag is constructed for to keep the body warm. Sometimes rated as winter sleeping bags or summer sleeping bags. 

Rucksack: Type of pack or backpack made with two handles and canvas. 

Seam Tape: Waterproof tape applied over all seams on a tent to keep water out from the inside of tent. 

Snow Flaps: Flaps sewn around the perimeter of the tent floor. Flaps can be laid flat the piled with snow. 

Stuff Sack: Nylon sack where a sleeping bag can be stored. Secured with a drawstring. 

Tent Stake: Metal or aluminum pointed at one end to tied off to hold tent rainfly or support tent. 

Trekking: Extreme hiking or very difficult / lengthy hike. 

Ultralight Tent: Tent for one or two people, weighs 5 pounds or less and can be carried while backpacking.

Waterproof: Holds water out from getting in. Prevents permeation of water.

Water resistant: Repels water from the tent or other fly.