Hike My Hike – Damn It! (HMHDI)

Hike My Hike, Damn it! The one true, correct, and absolute way to hike. My way.

If you have been around hiking circles long enough, you know the phrase “Hike Your Own Hike.“

The idea that as long as your hike does not affect other people, it’s all kosher.

Well, if you have been around hiker circles long enough, you also know that phrase is often a politely phrased way of saying “F*** Off!” instead.

So, I summed up the real philosophy of hiking:

HIKE MY HIKE – DAMN IT! (HMHDI) : The one, true, correct and absolute way to hike,

Why? Because all other ways are wrong.

Published originally in 2009. Updated 2011. Revised 2017 edition..boo ya!


by Paul “Mags” Magnanti

#EXTREME !!!!!

A very opinionated guide to the one, true, correct, and absolute way to backpack on long distance hiking trails.


Hike Your Own Hike.

If you spend any amount of time in the long distance hiking community, you have heard this phrase.

What does HYOH mean?

In it’s idealized meaning, loosely defined, it means a way to enjoy your journey and let others enjoy theirs. As long as your journey does not impose upon anyone else, it does not matter how fast or slow you go, or what gear you take or even what route you decide upon.  HYOH means to best enjoy the journey based on your own personal safety, comfort, and fun levels.

However, if you spend any amount of time in the hiking community (often online, sometimes on trails) you know that HYOH is patently false.

There are discussions about what is the one, true, correct, and absolute way to hike.  Obviously, people don’t mean HYOH, they really mean HIKE MY HIKE – DAMN IT!

What does HMHDI entail? If you have to ask, you are obviously a pack sniffer and have no clue.

And that’s the point of this tract.  I’ll show the one, true, correct and absolute way to hike: My Way

HIKE MY HIKE – DAMN IT!  After reading this little tract, you will know the one, true, correct, and absolute way to hike.

Happy Trails!

Paul “Mags” Magnanti

Paul “Mags” Magnanti has been making hiker trash look trashy since 1996. His outdoor experiences include packing in five-liter boxes of wine for trips, ascending the summit of Jerimoth Hill and walking the length of the Pearl St Mall (Boulder, CO) in a day. (self-supported coffee in hand).  Paul has also given lectures on such essential topics as Medium Rare or Rare – how best to grill a steak, Beer: Need I say more? and Duct Tape: How to use for Sartorial Splendor   When not advising on topics he knows little about, he lives near Boulder, CO  with his dust bunnies named Huey, Dewey, and Louie.

I may or may not have the FKT for the Pearl St. Mall. From Creative Commons



Based on hours of research, I have determined that what gear you bring is the most essential part of wilderness journeys.

Why do I say that? Because there have been threads upon threads upon which is the correct knife to bring (the bigger, the better….or the smaller, the better. Apparently.), many scintillating conversations on forums about what Dynamic Cuban FooFoo packs or shelters are available  and the many hours spent of people detailing the gear they have used on the hike (and what equipment you should take), but never on what they saw on the hike or even hiking with said gear. And many debates to go with all the gear such as which sub-3oz canister stove is superior to another near identical 3oz canister stove.

A Dynamic Cuban FooFoo shelter is not to be confused with the far superior Cuban pork sandwich.  From Serious Eats.

Obviously, gear must be the most critical part of the hike.

First, let’s discuss lightweight hiking versus traditional hiking.

There is a simple metric to use. Simply put, your base pack weight must be 20 lbs. No more. No less.

If your pack weighs more than 20 lbs, you are apparently not hiking efficiently and are a pack sniffer. You need to lighten your load!

Preferably with many of the items for sale at the Very Expensive Outdoor Store and are advertised in Way Cool EXTREME Outdoors Magazine. It does not matter if you prefer camping to hiking and like some creature comforts. Unless you lighten your load, you are forever destined to be a pack sniffer and obviously know nothing about backpacking.  You absolutely need to go faster and to go lighter.  Naturally you absolutely, positively, have to buy more expensive lightweight gear to achieve this goal!

If your pack weight is less than 20 lbs, you are obviously a gram counting weenie (even if we are using the British Imperial and not the metric system!). You obviously care too much about going lightweight and simply making hiking easier. You need to also buy some items for sale at the Very Expensive Outdoor Store and are advertised in Way Cool EXTREME Outdoors Magazine to get your pack weight to a more acceptable level.

You cannot be extreme if your pack is not heavy enough.  And you’ll never be #EXTREME or #EPIC.

Remember, to HMHDI; you need to pack 20  lbs, no more..no less.


Again, based on the hours of research, I have concluded that it is Very important to pack in the correct type of knife. When backpacking on the long trails (when you have a sleeping bag, tent, food, stove, and other equipment), you never know when it may be essential to fight a bear, do a low crawl and apprehend very suspicious looking people or even build an emergency shelter. These acts are esp. important when you are on the Appalachian Trail and can be as much as five miles from a road crossing!

The shelter you can build with the correct knife

A suspicious looking character you may have to take on with the proper blade.

He probably has the wrong knife based on the photo.


What is the proper knife? A knife merely large enough to open up the packaging and slice an occasional slice of cheese or summer sausage is obviously not large enough to properly take on a bear.

If a hiker is HMHDI, the hiker will take the appropriate knife to slay wild boars, build a shelter and apprehend suspicious looking characters.

Rambo Knife

Correct knife for HMHDI. It will open Ramen packages.


What pack sniffers who never hike takes. Have you tried spearfishing with this less than a  one-ounce knife ??!?!



Apparently, what stove you bring is almost as important as what knife you bring. On the trail, you must boil water. If you don’t bring the correct stove, you will not boil water the correct way!  If you do not carry the correct stove, you will obviously not enjoy the wonders of nature, the vistas and the camaraderie of your fellow hikers.  And, if you take the wrong stove, you’ll probably die. Don’t take the wrong stove!


You will lose paradise if you take the wrong stove!!!! HMHDI!

If you take the right stove, you will see a scene just like this one!  Remember, HMHDI to really enjoy the trails.


Hiking Poles

Most hikers take the wrong assumption that hiking poles are a personal preference. That one hiking pole, two or even none depends upon the hiker, the terrain or just merely personal preference in a given situation.

Real hikers know better. They HMHDI.  I have vague, unproven, and very anecdotal evidence that my view on hiking poles is correct and that other views are wrong.  Be a real hiker. Do what I say when it comes to poles. HIKE MY HIKE – DAMN IT!

Other Gear

I could spend hours upon hours of the correct gear to take for the HMHDI truth. Luckily, there are many fine places to get the proper equipment to properly HMHDI.  If you don’t want to look like a pack sniffer, simply go to the Very Expensive Outdoor Store and only get items advertised in Way Cool EXTREME Outdoors Magazine.  

Prefer to stay inside and not venture outside as some “outdoors”  people online? Post a question on a hiking forum. And you can spend many hours gleefully discussing the right piece of gear to take. Of course, their opinion is wrong. My advice is the only correct, true, and absolute opinion worth listening to, naturally.

Correct clothing for HMHDI!

An obvious pack sniffer who did not get the correct clothing and gear. Don’t let this happen to you!


Hiking Pace and Miles Per Day Hiked

Due to my usual thorough research, I have determined that a person subscribing to HMHDI hikes no more than 15 miles a day.

If you hike more than that distance, you are apparently not stopping to smell the roses.

A hiker truly HMHDI  is also in camp no later than Five PM.  If you are in a dark, mouse-infested, three-sided lean-to with no view by this time, then you are indeed stopping to smell the roses. A hiker HMHDI should also be on the trail no earlier than 9 am.  Why? Because if you are on the trail early and enjoying the morning light, you are apparently trying to make miles and not actually enjoying the trail experience. What? Do you enjoy walking all day? That’ silly talk! You are not supposed to be hiking on long distance hiking trails. A real hiker who is HMHDI recognizes this truism and will camp more than hike.

Conversely, if the hiker does not hike at the fifteen miles per day, then they are obviously not an efficient hiker and is merely a pack sniffer. Can a hiker really enjoy hiking by sitting at overlooks, swimming in lakes, and taking naps?

Don’t be a pack sniffer. HIKE MY HIKE – DAMN IT!

On a related note is the controversy over speed hiking and setting records. Sorry. Van supported speed “hikes” of any trail do not count.  Speed hikes, in general, do not count. Supported or not.  (Please see my chapter below on OTHER ACTIVITIES).

Why? For several reasons.

How can a person actually enjoy HMHDI if they are not carrying 20 lbs (no more and no less)? How can the overlooks be enjoyed if they are not camped out every night?

If the person is hiking more than 15 miles, then the hike is of course not HMHDI …they  are HYOH, and that (as discussed earlier) is just plain wrong.  And a more pleasant way of saying, “F*** Off!”

Remember, the hiker who HMHDI recognizes that there is only one, true, correct, and absolute way to hike. Any other way of hiking is just not enjoyable and is therefore wrong.  Remember, different from my way is bad. Different from my way is incorrect. Different from my way is not enjoyable. HIKE MY HIKE – DAMN IT!

Finally, all HMHDI hikers know, to the decimal place, how many miles they’ve walked. Hiking is not about time spent outdoors. Or memories made. No. It is keeping an accurate count of how many miles you’ve hiked. John Muir, Ed Abbey, Henry David Thoreau, and Colin Fletcher never listed their mileage. They are pack sniffers. HMHDI and keep track of your mileage!


Two obvious pack sniffers. Remember, 20 pounds. No more.  No less

On a similar topic are the so-called record attempts or even speed hikes on the long trails. Pushing yourself physically, exploring what the human body is capable of doing and walking all day on the trail from morning until dusk is clearly not HMHDI.  You are HYOH  and missing out on the spirit of ‘stopping to smell the roses.‘

On a journey on a long distance hiking trail, you will not smell the roses of a three-sided lean-to filled with mice if you hike all day into the evening twilight.  If you leave at sunrise and start walking, you are apparently trying to walk more than 15 miles per day.  To actually enjoy the trail you must HMHDI and be up no earlier than 9 am, be in camp at 5 pm and spend many days off in town drinking beer.  Walking all day on a hiking trail is wrong. HMHDI!

Be here no later than 5 pm to truly experience the trail and all its beauty.


The pack sniffer who took this photo was obviously out past 5 pm, not ‘stopping to smell the roses’  and definitely not  HMHDI.


When I first started backpacking, I naively assumed that a hiker looked at a map, figured out a route and went from A to B via foot.

How silly I was!

Since I’ve done many hours of research, I’ve discovered that walking from A to B on foot is not enough.  It is best to take a lesson from the organized races and follow a narrowly defined path only; otherwise, the outdoors experience is not valid.

On trails such as the Appalachian Trail, you can have many hours of fun conversation debating if you should walk in and out of the campsite the same way to say you have indeed done the trail.  A person HMHDI  knows that this discussion is not trivial. That it really does matter if you want to get your patch for the “I love me wall.”   Don’t share your stories, dreams or favorite memories. Let your friends and loved ones know if you really hiked into and out of the campsite the correct way!

For many years, Western trail circles avoided this discussion. Luckily, hikers based primarily on the Internet are finally seeing the light and recognizing the value of HMHDI!  It is not enough to merely walk the length of the Sierra, the Cascades or even the Rockies on your own two feet. Your hike is not really valid unless you follow the officially designated path that may be buried under snow,  hard to locate or even not completed. If you do not follow this path, you will be set up for ridicule by the outdoor experts on the Internet. Remember, don’t be a pack sniffer! HIKE MY HIKE – DAMN IT!


A pack sniffer  is one who does not follow the official trail through here; he is not HMHDI


Making Money Off Outdoor Pursuits

Real hikers do not write books, make gear, sell photographs,  get sponsored by outdoor companies, give talks or benefit in any way, shape or form from their passion.

All real hikers with any talent for the above do the above task for free.

If you are a real hiker with any kind of talent that may relate to the outdoors, consider finding a meaningless cubicle job that does not make use of your passion.

If someone is fortunate enough to make a living out of their passion, they are not a real hiker. Make fun of them anonymously on the Internet!

Remember….don’t HYOH (or earn your own living)…HMHDI!

Obviously, he’s HMHDI!

This pack sniffer has sold a few freelance articles and sold an occasional photo. Plus he’s on skis. Mock him!


Begging for money to fund outdoor pursuits

Offering a product, or saving money to go hiking is silly.

It is far better to spam an outdoor group asking for other outdoors people, who are suckers producing products or saving money for hiking,  to fund your vacation instead.

Why go fund yourself through work or producing something? Not when you can have others fund you instead!

Start a GoFund Me campaign, explain how #EPIC your journey is going to be, and explain how your vacation should be funded by the peers whom you invariably will see on the trails.   Asking family and friends for money, working a part-time job, or even doing a bake sale is for chumps.


Hiker Feeds

Or should I say “trail magic?”

Trail Magic was spontaneous acts of kindness in the past.

Now trail magic apparently involves large tents, lots of grills, many pounds of food, and looks a bit like runner aid stations. Aid stations for the unfortunate college educated and middle-class backpackers equipped with hundreds or even thousands of dollars of gear who overcome such hardships as walking all day.

As my friend Sarcasm The Elf has said, if it really is Trail Magic at these hiker feeds, where’s the damn magician performing tricks?

HMHDI, and give me a friggin’ magician at these magical hiker feeds!

The cape is made with a Gortex laminate. From Halloween Costumes.


Other Outdoor Activities

Many people who subscribe to the false philosophy of HYOH  have an equally false belief. These HYOH miscreants believe individuals who don’t long distance hike or (shudder) do more than just hike, possess an outdoor knowledge worth sharing. The HYOH pack sniffers think that people can actually know something about, or even enjoy, the outdoors who don’t necessarily hike the long trails or also hike at all.  That reasoning is simply not correct.

To be a real hiker and to HMHDI, you must only backpack on long trails. Weekend backpacks and day hikes are only acceptable for training purposes. If you go on a day hike or weekend backpack merely for enjoyment or being with friends, you are a pack sniffer and not HMHDI!

Trail runners are of course the antithesis of all real hikers. Loping along the trails, taking in the fresh air, getting an endorphin rush and feeling a sheer bliss of life while in nature cannot be had while trail running. I know this because many of the hikers I met have told me so. They must be correct. HMHDI!

Climbers, skiers, and (dare I say it?) mountain bikers obviously know nothing about enjoying the outdoors and have no knowledge to share. The sunsets they see are not as beautiful and fulfilling as the ones real hikers see. A thru-hiker who is in a shelter by  5 pm and has never picked up a compass obviously knows more about, and how to enjoy, the outdoors than the bow hunter who never takes a trail. Remember, to enjoy the outdoors, and to prove you KNOW the outdoors, HMHDI! 

And if a person merely wants to camp in a remote area, take in the subtlety of a place and perhaps enjoy one area for an extended period of time, instead of walking many miles through clear cuts on a long distance trail to get there, well then, they are definitely not HMHDI. 

Tell all these people to HYOH.  Which, we as well now know, actually means “F*** Off!”

Backpackers who follow white rectangles for 6 mos without knowing how to read a map, walk on a well-defined trail that can be as much as five miles from a road and have ample guidebooks, logistic support and services are naturally outdoor experts. Scorn people who do something different with your expert outdoor advice! HMHDI!



The HMHDI philosophy will lead you to the one, true, correct, and absolute way to enjoy the outdoors.

Enjoying the outdoors is not just a matter of being in Nature. It is not a question of enjoying the outdoors that satisfies your personal levels of safety, comfort, and fun.  It is not that silly phrase of HIKE YOUR HIKE. 

No, enjoying the outdoors is about what other people (most notably – ME) tell you is the correct way to enjoy the outdoors.

Can the outdoors really be enjoyed if you find your path to fulfillment?  Real hikers (and only hikers are real outdoors people…and only long-distance hikers are real hikers. And only hikers who follow the HMHDI philosophy are real hikers) recognize that there can only be one, true, correct and absolute way to enjoy the outdoors.

Enjoying the outdoors is not about fun, experiencing nature, the physical challenge, camaraderie, or the journey.

It is about being outdoors in the correct way.

And being outdoors the correct way is about doing it my way.

Don’t be a pack sniffer.  HIKE MY HIKE, DAMN IT!

Remember .,.the hiker who HMHDI recognizes that there is only one, true, correct and absolute way to hike. Any other way of hiking is just not enjoyable and is therefore wrong.  Remember, different from my way is bad. Different from my way is incorrect. Different from my way is not enjoyable. HIKE MY HIKE – DAMN IT!

Now, go “F*** Off!”  and HYOH.

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13 years ago

Superb. If only everyone thought this way!

Chef Glenn
13 years ago

Thanks for writing this post. Very entertaining and insightful. I enjoyed it and chuckled many times.

13 years ago

Thank you for posting this. I had heard that this might be true, but only now can I come to grips with the reality of it, as it is posted on the INTERNET. I feel like such a fool. I have wasted so many months long-distance hiking the wrong way. I thought I was happy about it, but now that I read this, I am realizing how wrong I really was. I can’t believe I work in outdoor retail too. I am a total pack sniffer! At least I can get some of my gear there for my next hike.… Read more »

13 years ago

Thank you for setting the record straight, Mags. Now I’ve just got to find a way to get my pack up to 20 lbs so I can be less of a pack sniffer.

13 years ago

Hey Mags, I love it. Yes, you should write a book. It took me about 2000 miles before the light came on but I did learn the HMH-DI basic principles. MNS

Francis Tapon
13 years ago

DAMN IT! I knew I should of called my book “Hike My Own Hike MY WAY!” I would have sold way more copies. But as you so rightly point out, I shouldn’t be making any money off such propaganda! Shame on me! That’s why I’ve decided to give my books away! Hell, I’ll even pay the shipping to your home. It’s so much better that I work as a corporate tool in a cubical. Mighty Mags, there’s one thing you left out: FOOD! I want to make sure I hike your hike, damn it, so what should I eat? I’m… Read more »

Joan (Hemlock)
12 years ago

Brilliant post! Thank you for telling it like it is!

12 years ago

@Mags: just one question from this pack sniffer … what is the HMHDI approved method of cleaning my breakfast off this keyboard?

@SamH: re: “find a way to get my pack up to 20 lbs” …. based on my visit with the Bay Area BPLers I’d say that the solution to that problem might be “more beer” 🙂

The Outage
The Outage
12 years ago

Clever angle. How much of this kind of thinking is really out there? And why would people feel a need to micromanage other people’s experiences?

12 years ago

Jeeeesh ™ Paul, don’t leave me hanging. Eggsactly what stove do I need to Hike Yer Hike, DammIt?! I’ve gone through all my Way Cool EXTREME Outdoors Magazines page by page and have seen several possibilities. I’m hoping it weighs a bit more than the one I got now, cause I’m hovering around 19.6 lb pack weight right now … Tell me so that I can run to down to my local Very Expensive Outdoor Store and correct this situation.

11 years ago

Just stumbled on this Rant! Ruined my day… been hiking over 45 years the wrong way. Think I’ll just go sit in the closet for awhile.

10 years ago

Ha, ha, hardy-har, yuk, yuk! This was great! But I DID miss a listing of stoves. Wonder Stoves no doubt. -SunnyWalker

Teacher & Snacktime
Teacher & Snacktime
10 years ago

Love the RI references. I, too, have summited Jerimoth Hill….but in a car, the way it’s MEANT to be done!

9 years ago

Right on! A few weeks ago, my wife and I caught so much shit when we hiked the Wonderland Trail. We did it in just over 3 days (4th day finished in 4 hours). As is normal on the trail, when you cross paths with another backpacker, the typical exchange is “where did you start today?” or “where are you headed?”. After being called everything from being “extreme” to “sacrilegious”, amongst other things, we stopped communicating with folks on the trail. Did we judge those doing it in 10 to 12 days? No! Did we ask folks why they were… Read more »

9 years ago

Please do YouTube!

Parody Bear Gryllis
Parody Professor Hammock
Parody Jason Klass
Parody Nut n Fancy
Parody Stick
Parody thru-hikers


9 years ago

Be kind!

Matthew Stenger
9 years ago

You also forgot to mention what direction you are supposed to hike!

Northbound! Always northbound! If you are south bounding, you are a dirty scumbag because you are not Hiking My Hike, Damn It!

6 years ago

You real hikers have probably seen a lot of this. When I first began looking into this hiking business, I thought it would be folks that hid their thoughts, skills and methods like fishermen with their favorite fishing hole. What I’m seeing is that the info is being shared without hesitation. Not only is it being shared but you all seem to have a “better than most” sense of humor about it all.
HMHDI, that’s Gold!!!

6 years ago

Always hike slower than the guy who has someone who dehydrates delicious dinners for them. This way you can pick these treats up from hiker boxes when left behind. Just be sure not to let the word out so others look for it. I may not hike your hike, but I ate many a meal you left behind.

5 years ago

HYOH! Give ’em HYOH Kryptonite. Just like saying F*** OFF !

4 years ago

Well great. I’ve been hiking wrong for 40 years. But it gets worse! I screwed up the next generation, too, cause I’ve been taking my kids out wrong since they were born. Guess I’ll have to tell them that that really memorable hike to Upper Palisades Lake doesn’t count. Cause it was only 14 miles! And a day hike! And yeah the aquamarine spots in the lake were unusual and cool, and yeah we had the whole lake to ourselves, and there was that tree that fell across the trail during the rain storm on the way back that took… Read more »