If you're at all familiar with the term "slacker" -- that is, someone who puts forth minimal effort -- you might be tempted to assume that slackpacking means loafing along the trail and never really getting anywhere. That's not necessarily the case; slackpackers can move far and fast over difficult terrain...
...because they're carrying a small pack or no pack at all, while most everybody else on the trail will be toting full-on camping gear. You see, slackpacking is backpacking without all that awkward carrying of gear or sleeping outside.
While you're busy setting up camp in a lean-to or under the open sky? A slackpacker is jumping into a car and either driving home or driving to a hostel/hotel, all the better to enjoy the dignity and convenience of indoor plumbing and sleeping arrangements.
In this way, slackpacking is a bit like section-hiking a through-hike -- covering as much of the trail as you want to do at any one time, then turning around and heading home. The big differences are:
- While many section hikers will spend at least a few nights on the trail, a slackpacker has no intention of sleeping outside at all.
- While a section hiker will probably go home and return later -- maybe the next summer -- to hike another part of the trail, a slackpacker might just show up the next day to keep hiking from where he left off. In fact a slackpacker can and very well might, road access allowing, complete an entire through-hike in this way.
Examples: See him? He gets to take a shower every night. What a slackpacker!