Urban Backpackers: The Results

Almost too close to call...

Earlier this week, as part of a series of New Zealand-inspired posts, I asked whether "urban backpackers"—tourists who load up trail-worthy backpacks for exotic journeys—should be classified as legit, BACKPACKER-style backpackers.

And, unlike the responses we received to our poll about whether indoor hiking was a good idea (uh, no), the small contingent of active readers who voted and commented on the veracity of the term urban backpackers are decidedly split (7 yeah vs 6 nay). Not to mention well spoken. And eloquent. Poetic almost. See their thoughts below.

Plus stay tuned for the next New Zealand installment on why separate trails for mountain bikers, hikers, and horses can be a wonderful idea. Especially if you're wearing Keds on a rented bike when it's raining in the pseudo rainforest. –Katie Herrell


Backpacking is about nature, wilderness, and the outdoors, not tourism on the cheap. "Urban backpacking" needs its own term.

Backpacking is a generic term. You can 'backpack' through a country or 'backpack' through the wilderness. As a corollary you can 'hike' or 'trek' without a backpack as well.

Backpacking is literally camping while trekking over long distance with only a backpack and its contents to support you. Urban backpacking is literally just cheap traveling with a backpacking backpack on. Buying a large backpack isn't backpacking!

Some of the urban dangers I've encountered would rival those in the wilderness! Hey... seeing the world is seeing the world.

Putting a backpack on a tourist doesn't make him a backpacker any more than putting a daypack on a student makes him a day hiker. From what I can tell, "urban backpackers" carry backpacks simply because backpacks are more convenient than suitcases. "Urban backpacking" (which desperately needs its own identity instead of trying to horn in on an existing activity's terminology) is a "travel and tourism" thing, where backpacking is more of an outdoor sports activity. I don't believe there's truly enough cross-over in the goals, techniques, gear, etc. to classify urban and wilderness backpacking as the same activity in different settings. --Deborah