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Olivia Mannino
10-14-2012, 01:54
Hello! I am planning on hiking the AT sometime within the next few years, and I was wondering if someone could give me some information on the type of person who hikes the AT. How would you describe the average AT hiker in relation to race, gender, age, education level, place of origin, level of education, and socioeconomic status? Are there any trends? And did you ever encounter people who didnít fit the description of an average AT hiker? Thank you!
:D

swjohnsey
10-14-2012, 04:48
White and male. Average age around 40 although you won't find many of these since most are either 20 somthin' or 60 somethin'. I would guess most have college degrees.

You will meet all kinds, doctors, lawyers, Indian chiefs, anarchists, hippies. Hell, there was a "woman" who musta been 6 '6" and 250 lbs.

mrcoffeect
10-14-2012, 07:13
i would describe the average thru hiker as; damp tired and hungry

rdljr
10-14-2012, 07:43
you forgot smelly...:)

Creek Dancer
10-14-2012, 08:22
The only common traits I see among hikers is that they are highly individualistic and love the outdoors. Ok, and smelly.

max patch
10-14-2012, 08:35
The only common traits I see among hikers is that they are highly individualistic and

Too many hikers fall into hiking groups for me to agree with that. And how many times have you seen posts from someone looking for a partner for a section? While some are individualistic, I don't think its common at all.

Creek Dancer
10-14-2012, 08:55
By "individualistic", I mean that hikers are generally independent and self-reliant. Not that they always hike solo and don't have partners or join groups. Having a partner can be helpful, but at the end of the day, it takes the personal determination and strength of the individual, both mental and physical, to make it to camp that night and to keep one's head in the game. No one else can hike your hike for you.

bamboo bob
10-14-2012, 10:12
Whiny, entitled, often stoned.

kayak karl
10-14-2012, 10:29
i don't think there is a common hiker in all that you described. hikers come from all types of people, education, professions and areas.
, but if there is a common thread is say egocentric, egoistic, egoistical, egomaniacal, egotistic, egotistical, self-absorbed, self-centered, self-involved, selfish, self-seeking :rolleyes:

Double Wide
10-14-2012, 10:32
i don't think there is a common hiker in all that you described. hikers come from all types of people, education, professions and areas.
, but if there is a common thread is say egocentric, egoistic, egoistical, egomaniacal, egotistic, egotistical, self-absorbed, self-centered, self-involved, selfish, self-seeking :rolleyes:






I think they were asking about the average AT hiker, not the average White Blaze commenter...:D

bamboo bob
10-14-2012, 10:47
I think they were asking about the average AT hiker, not the average White Blaze commenter...:D


OH ! Nevermind then. :)

atmilkman
10-14-2012, 10:52
I think they were asking about the average AT hiker, not the average White Blaze commenter...:D
Now that's funny!

rickb
10-14-2012, 11:02
Hello! I am planning on hiking the AT sometime within the next few years, and I was wondering if someone could give me some information on the type of person who hikes the AT. How would you describe the average AT hiker in relation to race, gender, age, education level, place of origin, level of education, and socioeconomic status? Are there any trends? And did you ever encounter people who didnít fit the description of an average AT hiker? Thank you!


While a bit dated now, I think you might find this survey from the NPS interesting:

http://www.nps.gov/appa/parkmgmt/upload/Main_Report-3.pdf

kayak karl
10-14-2012, 11:05
but don't WE on WB represent the average hiker. :D

"Atlas"
10-14-2012, 12:09
I am a Cultural Anthropologist and by habit and training often look for the underlining factors in any sub-culture. Hiking is limited sub-culture, in that it is relatively small. But I there are several factors that YOU are thinking about that still apply to the group.

How would you describe the average AT hiker in relation to race, gender, age, education level, place of origin, level of education, and socioeconomic status? Are there any trends? And did you ever encounter people who didn’t fit the description of an average AT hiker?

Race: WHITE, Whites make up such a large percentage of A.T. Hiker that the one or two people that aren't white stood out. They an Asian and a Mexican were both raised in a white suburb.
Socio-Economics: Most were middle to upper middle class. Some hikers, while not hiking with a lot of money or resources, still have their roots in Middle Class Families.
Age: The age groups broke down to three types. Young Adults, early college who can afford the TIME to Hike, Middle Aged who have the economic ability to take the TIME and money to hike and Retired who have nothing but TIME. TIME is the most common factor. Any age group that hiked all have one thing in common, the ability to take the TIME away from responsibilities to hike.
Gender: 65% Male. 30% Female, 5 % undecided, JK. the gender breakdown differs within Age groups. Not as many retiree women, more women in college years.
Education: most either had college degrees or were career professionals.

TRENDS: Foreigners, I met A LOT of Germans and Aussies. Why? Recent television special on National Geography was what most of the Germans told me. As for the Aussies, who can ever explain them?

I hope this help, if you have any other questions, hit me up.

Drybones
10-14-2012, 12:12
i would describe the average thru hiker as; damp tired and hungry

And smelly.

Rasty
10-14-2012, 13:01
I am a Cultural Anthropologist and by habit and training often look for the underlining factors in any sub-culture. Hiking is limited sub-culture, in that it is relatively small. But I there are several factors that YOU are thinking about that still apply to the group.

How would you describe the average AT hiker in relation to race, gender, age, education level, place of origin, level of education, and socioeconomic status? Are there any trends? And did you ever encounter people who didn’t fit the description of an average AT hiker?

Race: WHITE, Whites make up such a large percentage of A.T. Hiker that the one or two people that aren't white stood out. They an Asian and a Mexican were both raised in a white suburb.
Socio-Economics: Most were middle to upper middle class. Some hikers, while not hiking with a lot of money or resources, still have their roots in Middle Class Families.
Age: The age groups broke down to three types. Young Adults, early college who can afford the TIME to Hike, Middle Aged who have the economic ability to take the TIME and money to hike and Retired who have nothing but TIME. TIME is the most common factor. Any age group that hiked all have one thing in common, the ability to take the TIME away from responsibilities to hike.
Gender: 65% Male. 30% Female, 5 % undecided, JK. the gender breakdown differs within Age groups. Not as many retiree women, more women in college years.
Education: most either had college degrees or were career professionals.

TRENDS: Foreigners, I met A LOT of Germans and Aussies. Why? Recent television special on National Geography was what most of the Germans told me. As for the Aussies, who can ever explain them?

I hope this help, if you have any other questions, hit me up.

5% Undecided looks high! :)

Spirit Walker
10-14-2012, 17:31
A lot of AT hikers are at crossroads in their lives - just finished school or the military, just retired, recently divorced/widowed, burned out or bored at work and looking for a change. With the recession, you probably also have a fair number of out of work people who figure this is as good a time to hike as any. So, you get a lot of very young and much older, with the job changers in the middle.

Overwhelmingly white. Careers are wonderfully mixed - I hiked with doctors, lawyers, engineers, factory workers, truck drivers, high school students, etc. I enjoyed the fact that such a diverse group was united by the common goal of thruhiking the trail.

In personality, a lot of hikers are introverts, but there are always exceptions. Many love nature, some love physical challenges, some love mental challenges, some love the communal aspect of the AT, some have no use for it. Some are running to something new and wonderful, many are running away from something. A lot of AT hikers have very little backpacking experience, if any. A few are lifelong hikers and backpackers. For all, the reality of the trail proves to be very different from their expectations.

Tuxedo
10-14-2012, 18:04
Lots of emotions rush my brain on reading this, Im the norm I walk and learn from the Spirit. I was lost and became whole. in a shelter around 6miles north of Bly Gap I saw a quote written in sharpie "This sucks and I love it", Thats the average.

Lone Wolf
10-14-2012, 18:09
Hello! I am planning on hiking the AT sometime within the next few years, and I was wondering if someone could give me some information on the type of person who hikes the AT.
:D





mostly type A anal retentive types. wound too tight

Wanderlost
10-14-2012, 18:15
Average....?? Probably diametrically opposed in most respects ( less than 50lbs overweight, no 'zits', clear eyes, etc, etc....) to your average Burger King regular....

swjohnsey
10-14-2012, 20:01
Average....?? Probably diametrically opposed in most respects ( less than 50lbs overweight, no 'zits', clear eyes, etc, etc....) to your average Burger King regular....

I love Burger King!

Papa D
10-14-2012, 20:52
When I thru hiked, everybody was young. Now, there is another demographic of older (wish I had done that) thru hikers in the 35-55 range,
Everyobdy that tries is in decent shape or gets there
You'll do fine

Sarcasm the elf
10-14-2012, 21:25
i don't think there is a common hiker in all that you described. hikers come from all types of people, education, professions and areas.
, but if there is a common thread is say egocentric, egoistic, egoistical, egomaniacal, egotistic, egotistical, self-absorbed, self-centered, self-involved, selfish, self-seeking :rolleyes:






Hey! You forgot to include snarky!

I think they were asking about the average AT hiker, not the average White Blaze commenter...:D

Sarcasm the elf
10-14-2012, 21:31
I am a Cultural Anthropologist and by habit and training often look for the underlining factors in any sub-culture. Hiking is limited sub-culture, in that it is relatively small. But I there are several factors that YOU are thinking about that still apply to the group.

How would you describe the average AT hiker in relation to race, gender, age, education level, place of origin, level of education, and socioeconomic status? Are there any trends? And did you ever encounter people who didnít fit the description of an average AT hiker?

Race: WHITE, Whites make up such a large percentage of A.T. Hiker that the one or two people that aren't white stood out. They an Asian and a Mexican were both raised in a white suburb.
Socio-Economics: Most were middle to upper middle class. Some hikers, while not hiking with a lot of money or resources, still have their roots in Middle Class Families.
Age: The age groups broke down to three types. Young Adults, early college who can afford the TIME to Hike, Middle Aged who have the economic ability to take the TIME and money to hike and Retired who have nothing but TIME. TIME is the most common factor. Any age group that hiked all have one thing in common, the ability to take the TIME away from responsibilities to hike.
Gender: 65% Male. 30% Female, 5 % undecided, JK. the gender breakdown differs within Age groups. Not as many retiree women, more women in college years.
Education: most either had college degrees or were career professionals.

TRENDS: Foreigners, I met A LOT of Germans and Aussies. Why? Recent television special on National Geography was what most of the Germans told me. As for the Aussies, who can ever explain them?

I hope this help, if you have any other questions, hit me up.


A lot of AT hikers are at crossroads in their lives - just finished school or the military, just retired, recently divorced/widowed, burned out or bored at work and looking for a change. With the recession, you probably also have a fair number of out of work people who figure this is as good a time to hike as any. So, you get a lot of very young and much older, with the job changers in the middle.

Overwhelmingly white. Careers are wonderfully mixed - I hiked with doctors, lawyers, engineers, factory workers, truck drivers, high school students, etc. I enjoyed the fact that such a diverse group was united by the common goal of thruhiking the trail.

In personality, a lot of hikers are introverts, but there are always exceptions. Many love nature, some love physical challenges, some love mental challenges, some love the communal aspect of the AT, some have no use for it. Some are running to something new and wonderful, many are running away from something. A lot of AT hikers have very little backpacking experience, if any. A few are lifelong hikers and backpackers. For all, the reality of the trail proves to be very different from their expectations.

That was great and far more concise than what I was expecting to read when I clicked on this thread. I think you two nailed it, nicely done.

evansprater
10-14-2012, 22:01
Lol. Some of these responses are great. I am at McDonald's a week in from Springer right now and the crowd has been 100% middle class white. Maybe some uppers but its difficult to tell on the trail as many can save enough for nice gear. Either way, everyone is extremely friendly, caring, and talkative. I love that quote, "this sucks and I love it." Sounds about right. You're going to have a blast.

evansprater
10-14-2012, 22:02
*mcdonalds in hiawassee, ga*

Bucketfoot
10-14-2012, 22:17
Good one.! Double Wide

cabbagehead
10-14-2012, 22:28
I've hiked about 1,000 miles of AT in the past couple years. I've found the demographics to conform to Atlas's post.

Here are my personal observations on what's average:


They are hiking the entire AT, and assume everyone is hiking NOBO, SOBO, or "completing" a section.
They have done little or no prior AT hiking.
They might be doing the trail as a requirement. Someone might have offered them a reward for completing it.
wealthy
They spend a large amount of time talking about saving money.
They spend a lot on luxurious items, such as fancy gear, fancy drugs, dehydrated food, semi-frequent hotels, etc.
They don't want to spend $ on hitch hiking. They would rather stand on a road all night without getting picked up than offer a stranger money.
They never want to walk to town.

Darwin13
10-14-2012, 22:36
a hiker is undefinable. But a thru is usually and i say that with Bias, seeking something...whatever it may be

cabbagehead
10-14-2012, 22:39
Country Gold didn't fit the description. He was between 40 and 55 y. old. He hiked with food stamps, money from lumber yard work, and funds from his A.A. buddies. He wasn't in a hurry. He was extremely friendly. He had a lot of missing teeth, and was reasonably deaf. He carried a lot of stuff including a cedar pole that his coworkers gave him. He hiked into NH in the winter. He was delayed because they got >7' of snow.

He was a white male from NC though.

snifur
10-14-2012, 23:15
last year on my thru i found that majority were the college tweeners trying to figure out if they are going back to school or are ready for a job. then the next largest group were the old farts that were retired or nearly retired. then there were the 30somethings like myself. not as many as i would have liked. most are white men. where are all the older more experienced ladies at? i saw 1 man of african decent. a few asians, hispanics and islanders. (i am not counting the weekend warriors) zero aussie aborigines and zero south american pygmies. most prefered 2 sticks. the younger hikers preferred shoes whereas the older wore boots. the younger ones ate more snack foods and noodles. older ate more stylish meals like MH and real cheese from town. and everyone had a camera. most were asleep by 10pm. old farts usually left early while the younger ones tried to figure out how they got to where they are. old people snore more than young people.

Violent Green
10-14-2012, 23:26
White males mostly. Carrying huge packs in the 50lb range. Friendly. Usually a little weird, but wouldn't you have to be to hike 2000 miles?

Ryan

fredmugs
10-15-2012, 08:01
mostly type A anal retentive types. wound too tight

I resemble that remark. I have limited time so I excessively plan my section hikes and usually go with a formula where I take the number of daylight hours minus one and multiply that number by 2 to get the number of miles I plan to hike each day. That's also what separates me from the average hiker who tends to shut it down around 3 or 4 in the afternoon.

OzJacko
10-15-2012, 08:21
TRENDS: Foreigners, I met A LOT of Germans and Aussies. Why? Recent television special on National Geography was what most of the Germans told me. As for the Aussies, who can ever explain them?

The last 12-18 months EXCHANGE RATE explains a lot of Aussies.
My wife was in the US when the GFC hit in 2008 and exchange rate was 70 odd US cents to our $. It has essentially been above parity for 2 years. We are suddenly much more able to afford your country.

And we love that you can't explain us. :D

And I have a theory that we're liked over there because we have a foreign accent that you know isn't trying to shoot you....:o

OzJacko
10-15-2012, 08:23
Average....?? Probably diametrically opposed in most respects ( less than 50lbs overweight, no 'zits', clear eyes, etc, etc....) to your average Burger King regular....
I love Burger King!!
You can shove the golden arches though.....:p

Rasty
10-15-2012, 11:07
TRENDS: Foreigners, I met A LOT of Germans and Aussies. Why? Recent television special on National Geography was what most of the Germans told me. As for the Aussies, who can ever explain them?

The last 12-18 months EXCHANGE RATE explains a lot of Aussies.
My wife was in the US when the GFC hit in 2008 and exchange rate was 70 odd US cents to our $. It has essentially been above parity for 2 years. We are suddenly much more able to afford your country.

And we love that you can't explain us. :D

And I have a theory that we're liked over there because we have a foreign accent that you know isn't trying to shoot you....:o

Just don't let OZ drive. He will run you over and say "I thought it was a dingo, oops!"

If he offers what looks like a dark chocolate spread don't be fooled. It's vegemite.

TheYoungOne
10-15-2012, 11:28
I think there is a reason behind the 20 something and 60 somethings being thru hikers. You need money and enough free time to do a thru hike. Most people I know personally who either did or wants to do an AT thru hike are college students or those who just graduated High School or College, and the older half are those in retirement.

Not too many people in there 30's and 40's are thru hiking because of family and/or career commitments. Those who are usually have a story like they are recently divorced, or got laid off.

I'm at the "Commitment" age so I will not be thru hiking any time soon, unless the wife dumps me.

The funny thing I see on the trail usually are day hikers, usually a parent with teens or kids that are whinning "how much longer". That, or an occasional hiker that has way too much stuff in their pack and have no idea what they are doing. I have seen at least two different guys in their 30's on the trail where they have a 60lb pack and it 2 hours until sunset and they tell me they are hiking to a shelter that is 8 miles away.

rickb
10-15-2012, 20:24
Not sure whathis poll says about the average hiker, but the I found it very interesting none the less.

http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?6920-What-rank-as-a-Scout&highlight=beaver