5 Reasons Why New Yorkers Make Excellent Hikers & Backpackers


Are you a city dweller who pines for some open skies and fresh air? Want to take a break from the crowded city streets but aren’t sure that your city slicker skills will work in the woods? Fear not! Your cosmopolitan culture may have you more prepared for the trails than you think.


1. New Yorkers have excellent navigation skills. After a certain amount of time living in NYC, residents naturally develop a keen sense of their surroundings. They know that uptown is north, downtown is south, that the sun sets over Jersey and which subway line to take (and even which car) to stand in to get our out-of-town relatives to the closest stairway to the TKTS booth in Times Square. So what’s the trail take-away? Trail map / subway map — they’re practically the same thing!


2.  New Yorkers know how to adapt. Fortunately or unfortunately we have the MTA to thank for this skill. Subway line down for the weekend? Somebody pull the emergency break on your way out to JFK airport? That ain’t gonna stop forward progress here in the Big Apple. We’ll get out and walk over an avenue to catch another train line, board a crosstown bus or hop on a Citibike — whatever the obstacle, we’ll get to our destination. So on-trail, if a tree is down in the middle of the path or the bridge over the stream is out, you better believe we’ll find a way to get over, around and through it!


3.  New Yorkers come prepared for changes in weather. Not a lot of city folks have the luxury of tossing an extra jacket or umbrella in a car in case of a downpour — cuz most of us don’t have cars. We head for the subway in the morning and are out for the entire day (and sometimes night) regardless of forecast. Chance of rain later? It’s nearly instinctual for New Yorkers to pack a rain jacket or umbrella alongside their reusable water bottles in their cool new messenger bags. Trail translation: just swap a pack cover or a poncho for an umbrella and you’ll be all set for rain should it hit when you’re strolling through the woods.


4.  They have a leg up on conditioning because they already spend lots of time walking around carrying things. As noted in reason 3, most New Yorkers don’t have cars. To do our errands we must walk to the farmer’s market, the wine shop and the organic pet food store... Er, I mean, the drug store, the laundry mat, and for all the other practical things that suburbanites drive to Target for. And once we buy said items, we’ve gotta hump that stuff home. Believe it or not, a 30-pound backpack filled with camping gear is much easier to carry up a mountain than taking all those awesome under-bed storage boxes from the Container Store down the block (even with those amazing carrying handles!)


5.  New Yorkers like gear. The high we get from searching for and finding the perfect commuter bag that’ll take us seamlessly from work to yoga class and then out for drinks is unparalleled and addictive. Prepping for a big backpacking trip simply setting yourself up for a series of perfect awesome finds! Instead of trying to find a bag that fits your yoga mat, laptop and lunch you’ll be looking for a backpack to fit a sleeping bag, tent and all the food you’ll need to get you to sweet open vistas and sleeping outside for a few days.


While a quiet path in the woods may seem at first glance like the very opposite thing to a crowded midtown street, New Yorkers should know that all that navigating around slow walking tourists really can be the perfect training ground for the trails.  

Melissa GoodwinComment