Hiking can be an awesome bonding experience, but average hiking chat has the potential to ruin a mindful moment or an epic view. Here are some handy hints on trail chat etiquette to make sure your small talk (or deep talk) is on point. 

What did you just say?

Picture this. You’ve been hiking hard for three hours. The trail’s steep, a boulder scramble straight up through thick bush cover, and the long-awaited reward is finally in sight. You emerge from the eucalypts on top of a sandstone escarpment to an expansive view, the entire national park stretching out in front of you like an ancient green dream. It’s transcendent. Then, your hiking buddy turns to you.

‘Did I tell you my dog has to go on antidepressants?’



There’s an art to hiking chat. Say the wrong thing at the wrong time at the wrong volume, and you risk seriously ruining the moment. But that’s no reason to keep your mouth shut on the way to, or at, the summit.

Good trail convo can enhance an outdoor experience with your mates, your partner or strangers. So how do you know what to talk about and when? Here’s a list of dos and don’ts of hiking chat so you don’t trip up.

DO treat hiking chat like real estate

It’s all about location, location, location.

Look, maybe your mate with the depressed dog is a really close friend. Maybe you looked after his terrier when he was at the snow last winter and you bonded over a love of cheap sausages. Maybe you genuinely care about his pet’s mental health. Still, the summit of an epic hike, with the whole world at your feet, probably isn’t the place to bring it up. 

On that walk back down though? The stretch that always feels so much longer than the trek up and isn’t infused with the excitement of novelty or an upcoming view as a reward? This is his time to shine. ‘Sorry to hear that, man. So is that, like, tablets then?’

DON’T make it all about you

Sure, a hiking trail is a great place to get to know people a little better. A golden opportunity to bond and share a little about yourself.

But a hike in the Blue Mountains probably isn’t the time to tell your walking crew all about the incredible week-long trek you did in Peru seven years ago… then the time you went bungee jumping in New Zealand and you weren’t even scared… then the fact that you did marketing at uni but PR is probably more your thing come to think of it, and in terms of life goals you’ve always imagined yourself… you get the idea. 

It’s not like you have to talk about the meaning of life on a hike, just don’t make it all about you. Your fellow walkers will appreciate it, trust me.


DO keep an eye on your volume knob

You might know the name of the rare and exotic flower we just walked past. You might have thought of an observation about the natural world so profound it would impress Henry David Thoreau.

Hell, you might even be about to point out a baby koala hanging adorably from an overhead branch. But if you screech it loud enough to disturb bird life within a 1km radius, I don’t want to hear it on the hiking trail. Nature’s a bit like a church or a library. Keep the volume to a respectable level lest the mighty gods or middle-aged ladies smite you.

DON’T be a Negative Nancy

Sometimes a hike isn’t going as planned. Maybe the heavens have just opened up and you’re all soaked through to your spare change of underwear. Maybe it’s clouded over just before the summit and the view’s been reduced to a white fog five metres in front of your face. Maybe someone forgot the cheese platter and beers for the lunch break. 



This is no time to be negative, complaining about ‘how much better things would be’ if only if only if only. In fact, this is the time for hiking trail chat to shine. Point out what’s going right. The rain clinging to the spider webs. The humbling power of weather. When things aren’t going well, bring the mood back up with your trail talk and you’ll be remembered as an awesome hiking buddy forever more.

DO let nature do the talking

Sometimes the best hiking trail convo etiquette is to say nothing at all. Listen to the bird calls. The wind through the trees. The awe-inspiring silence. After all, you can always discuss your mate’s dog’s mental health on the car trip home. Or at the pub.