Sorry for the click-bait. You really should hike your own hike.
But, I do genuinely hate this phrase. I think “Hike Your Own Hike” has become little more than hiker YOLO.
“Hey, wanna push through this fire closure? The fire’s ten miles away.” “Nah, I’m going to skip it and come back later.” “I’m going to hike the fire-closure anyways.” “Alright, dude. Hike your own hike.”
It’s turned into YOLO or “Alright, You do you“, but that’s a crock of crap.
The core sentiment to HYOH is simple: don’t feel pressured to hike like everyone else. If all your friends are busting out 25 mile days and you prefer to slow down to enjoy the scenery, hike your own hike. You wanna wear a kilt for ventilation or just laughs, hike your own hike. You do or don’t want to take part in a little, or a lot, of… inhaled herbal supplements 🙂 hike your own hike.
HYOH isn’t your get out of jail free card to do dangerous shit, though. I’m not talking about hiking naked or sitting on the cliff edge at McAffee Knob. I’m talking about illegal, stupid, or naive stuff.
For example: If you sleep with food in your tent while in bear territory, that’s not HYOH; it’s dangerous. How dangerous is relative to the bear pressure in the area, but park services and ecologists aren’t handing out this tip for their own health.
A Scenario: It’s your first long thru-hike. You pick something short, like the Benton-Mackaye Trail to test out your gear before your AT attempt next year. After reading many forums and having others check your gear on social media, you hit the trail. Base weight: 8 lbs. Everything is dyneema. You’re tarp camping for your first night outdoors ever. You don’t have a stove because cold soaking saved you half a pound. Your bag is rated 40 degrees to save a little weight on down fill. You don’t need a rain jacket, you’ll just wrap up in your tarp. You don’t need a jacket, it’s already late April. You’ll be fine, this is what the true ultralight hikers do, right? Hike your own hike. Except those UL hikers have something you don’t: Experience.
You don’t know what your own hike is yet, so how are you going to hike it? I see a lot of first-timers in groups trying to hike with certain shoes, shelters, or base weights because a style or product is popular. They post their gear list or a pic or lighterpack link and there’s always a few responses “Oh you chose X, alright then, HYOH.”
Start with this checklist by REI, which is a pretty commonly agreed upon checklist. You don’t need to buy everything, or anything really, from REI or HMG to have a great hike. Just get what you should have and get out there. Don’t worry about your base weight and what social media thinks. Start with safe and comfortable. You’ll develop preferences and a sense of “Your Hike.” If you are just getting started, allow yourself some extra warmth, money, food, or comfort. You’ll have a better hike if you haven’t pushed yourself into misery or danger before you’ve developed what “your hike” is.
And if you’re the super-vocal UL asshole telling new hikers to hike like you, stop. Let them hike their hike instead of pressuring them into yours. Don’t you have a fire-closure to hike anyways?
Some social media responses: