Subspecies: Barrelium velocis
Vernacular: “Barrel back”
Defining feature: Carries food in a large blue barrel swaying from side to side with each step.
Markings: White band around eyes caused by wearing wrap-around sunglasses all day.
Behavior: Travels in small groups of high-intensity trippers in impact-resistant acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene canoes. Relies heavily on technology to conquer outdoors. May be found wandering off a trail in search of a GPS signal. Spends the off-season cruising downtown gear stores in search of social interaction.
Life span: Medium. Ends when gear budget is redirected to mortgage payments.
Subspecies: Backpackis familiaris
Vernacular: “Pack rat”
Defining feature: Carries food in canvas backpacks waterproofed with black garbage bags. Slowly evolving toward use of waterproof nylon packs.
Markings: Brightly-colored tie-dyed shirt advertising rock and roll band that broke up before she was born. Often displays a wet posterior from the insidious dripping of invariably wet packs.
Behavior: Travels in large groups in slowly leaking Grummans. Struggles on longer portages as thin leather pack straps cause painful bisection of collarbone from shoulder blade. Protects food from wildlife by constructing elaborate systems to suspend packs from overhanging trees, but only for the first night.
Life span: Short. Ends soon after parents stop paying for camp.
Subspecies: Wannigana archaos
Defining feature: Carries food in a decaying wooden box known as a wannigan.
Markings: Discolored bruise on forehead caused by leather tump strap.
Behavior: Travels in small groups, often alone. Constantly seeking an authentic outdoor experience. Paddles cedar strip Prospectors, usually red. Knows the burn rate of all indigenous trees and plants. May recite the first third of Robert Service poems around campfires. Unaffected by insects. Smells of salami and woodsmoke.
Life span: Long. Continues to plan expeditions well into senility.
This article originally appeared in Paddling Magazine Issue 65. Subscribe to Paddling Magazine’s print and digital editions here, or download the Paddling Magazine app and browse the digital archives here.