What Does Out and Back Mean in Hiking?

There is a great amount of terminology within the hiking world which many people who are starting may not know. Learning each of these terms can help you be more knowledgeable and help expand your understanding of the backpacking and hiking world. An Out and Back hikes are a roundtrip hike running along the same […]
Written By: Josh Koop
Last Updated: November 4, 2019

Quick Links:

There is a great amount of terminology within the hiking world which many people who are starting may not know. Learning each of these terms can help you be more knowledgeable and help expand your understanding of the backpacking and hiking world.

An Out and Back hikes are a roundtrip hike running along the same trail, out and back refer to heading out and coming back along the same path. This makes measuring distance easier if the trail is 10 miles out and back this means that it is a 5-mile hike in.

Let us explore a little more into the out and back designation and flesh out the idea and help you be able to explain it to other people. The best way to test if you understand a term is to be able to properly explain it to others.

What Are Out and Backs?

The term "out and back" comes from choosing to hike the same trail in both directions. Many hikes in nature have more than one path which means that it could take you to new and different places.

Choosing to take an out and back means you are going out on the same path you will be returning on. This is why they are so popular overall with day hikers and new hikers, there is less to navigate and more to just enjoy nature and outdoors.

Take In Your Surroundings On A Out and Back
Take In Your Surroundings On A Out and Back

How Are Out and Back Trails Measured?

When you are looking at trails online on a resource like alltrails.com and other similar sites the out and back trail total distance for your hike will be listed as the round-trip distance. This means that when you search for your trail it may show the distance as 5 miles, this will be the total for the hike which includes out and back combined meaning 2.5 miles in each direction.

How Long Are Out and Back Trails?

Out and back trails don't have a distance requirement needed to establish them they are typically just a hike from point A to point B. This typically means they are a pretty straight forward trail and are mostly day hikes where you would go out and back within the same day.

Even though most out and back hikes are going to be day hikes this doesn't mean all of them will fit this. There are quite a few hikes available throughout the US and the world which will be overnight or longer, the out and back just refer to hiking the same trail in both directions and not the time and distance.

Trail Hiking Is Awesome On Out and Backs
Trail Hiking Is Awesome On Out and Backs

Why Choose To Hike Out and Back?

A large reason why you would want to choose an out and back is to enjoy nature and focus less on choosing trails. This means you can follow a single path and have to re-orient less often then when you choose different diverging trails.

Another reason would be if you are working on testing your gear as shakedown hikes can be done well on a well known out and back. If you were to experience gear issues or failures you are in a better place to leave or retreat out if needed or necessary.

The final reason is if you are new to the outdoors and hiking in general as an out and back are much more simple to plan out. Since many first time hikers and maybe overnighters have a lot of other planning and preparing which must occur an out and back is a good start.

Bottom Line

Out and back hikes are available all over the place, many are a perfect way to spend the day away from the world and more with nature. Sometimes the best medicine is the easiest medicine and being outside is something in todays world none of us do enough of.

Having time outdoors in the sun and fresh air can help you clear your mind of distractions, allowing you to think clearly and let go of stressors that have been bothering you. Many people find a level of clarity in their thoughts when outdoors giving them the ability to really work on thoughts and issues they have had bothering them.

I enjoy them as they allow me to focus on nature, looking at all the colorful plant life and listening to all the sounds the animals make is quite peaceful. I have to pay less attention to maps and/or GPS and more to introspection and just enjoying life.

Please like and share out to your friends if you would like them to take an out and back hike with you. Leave me a comment on your out and back hikes to let me know if they are your favorite or what you choose to do for hiking and backpacking.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copyright © 2019 Ultralight Packer. All Rights Reserved.
This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. We are compensated for referring traffic and business to Amazon and other companies linked to on this site.

hello world!
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram