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Hiking Fun Scale To Rate Your Hikes
(Just For Fun)

By Diane Spicer

Here's how to know what type of fun you're having on a hike, the Hiking Fun Scale from Hiking For Her. #hikingfun #funonahikescale #hikingforher

If you've never heard of the hiking fun scale, you are missing out on an essential part of the hiking life.

It's important to rate the type of fun you've had on your latest hike or backpacking trip, because if you won't, who will?

To cut to the chase of hiking fun, there are 4 types of fun according to Hiking For Her:

For whatever reason, Roman numerals are used on this scale, but it's perfectly okay to use regular old 1, 2, 3 and 4 if you're writing your hiking memoir.

How to use the hiking fun scale

Long story short, you ask yourself some questions:

"Was it fun in the moment?"

Was it fun in retrospect?

Maybe it was never fun AT ALL (yup, that happens to hikers).

Not sure?

I'll share an example of each of them with you, to show that any hiker will experience all four types of hiking fun if she keeps hiking long enough.

Note to self:

This scale can be applied to any outdoor adventure that you choose.

Think camping, cycling, climbing, snowshoeing... you can rate anything using this scale.

Type I Hiking Fun

This is the type of fun I wish upon you each and every time you grab your backpack and hit the trail.

Type I fun is whatever makes you happiest as a hiker. It's having fun in the moment, and remembering those moments as a lot of fun.

For me, Type I fun means dry and reasonably warm conditions, a trail or route that I can follow with minimal drama, all the right hiking gear and some of my favorite hiking snacks in my pocket.

Female hiker with backpack ready to hit the trailHeading off for some Type I hiking fun

But of course there's a dark side to hiking.

And that brings us to the other entries on the hiking fun scale.

Type II Hiking Fun

This type of hiking fun is definitely fun in the moment, but regrettable later.

Think setting off on a 15 mile hike without conditioning yourself. You have great fun watching the miles tick by, feeling strong and filled with energy.

The next day?

Ooof. Screamingly sore muscles.

"What was I thinking?" is often something you say to yourself after indulging in Type II fun.

Hopefully, live and learn!

Here's another example of hiking Type II fun:

  • You enjoyed polishing off the entire flask of whiskey with your tent mate during the twelve hour downpour, but did not enjoy the weight of your backpack (or even your shirt) the next morning.

Type III Hiking Fun

Not fun while it's happening, but fun in retrospect (meaning home safe, warm, dry and full of pizza), that's Type III hiking fun.

My personal example occurred in the Northwest Territories, on an exposed ridgeline during the wind storm from hell.

It blew in around midnight, waking me out of a sound sleep.

The tent poles almost snapped dozens of times, no exaggeration.

The thunderous roar of the wind made me shake like a chihuahua in a snowdrift.

Adrenaline high or what! (not in a good way)

I counted the sleepless hours minute by minute until I finally fell asleep after the wind died down several hours later.

The next morning? I was all smiles.

  • What an epic storm!
  • Weren't we the strongest hikers in the whole world?
  • Didn't we pick the best tent ever?


Type III fun.

Two red backpacking tents on alpine ridge with looming mountainsIt'll never get windy up here, right?

Type IV Hiking Fun

Using the word "fun" here is a baldfaced lie.

There was no fun being had, not in the moment or after it passed.

Sometimes, it gets worse the more you think about it.

  • In fact, using the term "traumatized" might not be an exaggeration.
Backpacking tent surrounded by mountains and lakesA soggy trip, and then it got worse

One of my examples of Type IV fun was enduring six days of continuous downpour in forty degree Fahrenheit weather in the backcountry.

Wet clothes, wet feet, wet everything.

And then it snowed.

Sucky trip, in other words.

I hope you never have to endure this entry on the hiking fun scale, but I guess it does give you bragging rights that you've had ALL FOUR types of hiking fun.

Something worth mentioning about
the hiking fun scale

Human memory is a slippery beast.

  • Even when it's aided by photographs, eye witness accounts other than your own, and maybe even some videos.

And isn't time supposed to heal all wounds?

So what felt like Type III fun might, over time, morph ever so gently into Type I fun.

Keep a trail journal, to enshrine the details in your own handwriting.

That way you can catch yourself when you shift a particular outdoor adventure from one type of fun into another type.

This might also happen as you age.

Older hikers seasoned trail dogs have faced a lot of challenges, both on and off the trail.

What was once so disastrous or horrendous? Maybe not so much anymore after the passage of time! Give us a break already!

This hiking fun scale
should be applied liberally

I find it great sport to shout "Type ___ fun" to my trail companions and have them either agree or disagree.

  • It starts great conversations, and sometimes heated discussions.

The point?

This is a very subjective scale.

Some hikers absolutely thrive in wretched weather conditions. They smile in the face of that windstorm I described above.

Others shine best only when the sun does, and hike with an infectious aura of fun surrounding them on sunny days. Do not hike with them on rainy days, though.

And what I described as Type IV fun above might be what you'd gobble up and then wish for another six days of rain!

Enjoy it if you can,
live through it if you must

But maybe we can all agree that Type IV fun should be avoided at all costs?

Alas, we can't avoid anything.

We hike because we must.

Therefore, we must endure our fair share of discomfort:

  • regret (Type II)
  • terror (Type III)
  • and lying to ourselves until things get better (Type IV).

And when Type I fun comes along? Hog heaven!!

the scale of 4 types of hiking fun, from 1 to 4

Hiking fun final notes

It's important to note that this is Hiking For Her's version of the hiking fun scale.

You'll see some scales with only three types of fun.

Others will grade the four types of fun in a different way.

It's all good, because a lighthearted approach to the discomforts and inconveniences of hiking is the best way to hit the trail.

Wishing you all types of fun, to make you a well seasoned and sturdy hiker!

But hopefully, things will skew toward Type I for you :)

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Hiking Fun Scale Every Hiker Should Know