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Outdoor activities quote : "I think kids need to grow up with an appreciation of the outdoors. We need the next generation of young people to care about the natural world and strive to protect it, as many of us are currently doing. I know that computers and the Internet have opened up some fascinating opportunities, but at what cost? Perhaps I am making too much of an observation from one afternoon. But if what I saw is truly a general trend, then I cannot help but fear that today's kids are not getting the same quality childhood that I had. Can kids who do not spend time outside really appreciate the outdoor world?" W. Gibbons

(Consult the glossary at the bottom of this page to learn more about outdoor activities, playing outside, RVing and trekking.)
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OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES GLOSSARY

A
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AAS
Adventure Activity Standards, a Victorian Government-funded project to regulate the conduct of outdoor activities
accessory cord
From the world of rock-climbing, a 2-5mm cord which is not intended to have a person on it, but which might be used to haul gear, etc. Very useful as general-purpose cord
aiming off
A navigation technique used when navigating to a point such as hut which is on a linear feature like a track or river. You deliberately aim several degrees to the left or right of a feature, knowing that you will hit the track or river. Because you know which way you aimed off, you now know which direction to turn in order to get to the hut, when you reach the track
altimeter
Device which measures distance above sea level. Can be used as a navigation tool by comparing the elevation the altimeter says you are at, with the contour lines on your map
anarchy run
The act of running in an uncontrolled fashion down a very steep slope, in the hope that you won't fall over and kill yourself
antechinus
A small marsupial animal often found in alpine areas and protected by law, which may inhabit huts and attempt to steal your food.
attack point
In navigation, an obvious feature such as knoll or river junction which can be used to navigate to a less-obvious feature, such as a hut. You can navigate to the attack point, and then have a much shorter distance (which you can navigate more accurately) to get to your hard-to-find destination
avalanche beacon
Electronic beacon which skiers in avalanche-prone areas wear. It transmits an electronic signal, so that if the wearer is buried by an avalanche the remaining party members can switch their beacons to 'receive' and use them as direction-finders to find and dig out the buried skier. My view is that if you need an avalanche beacon, the terrain is probably too dangerous to ski anyway. However, they seem to be widely used in the US and Canada, where there are far more avalanches than here. Needs to be used in conjunction with an avalanche probe and snow shovel
avalanche probe
An extendable probe used to find buried skiers after an avalanche. Needs to be used in conjunction with an avalanche beacon and snow shovel

B
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backbearing
Navigation technique for determining your position by taking compass bearings to identifiable features you can both see on a map and on the ground. You take a bearing to an identifiable feature, and then draw a line on the map which passes through the feature along the bearing you just took. Repeat the procedure with another identifiable feature (preferably at 90 degrees to the first) and where the two lines on the map cross is your position. The technique takes skill and practice to get right
backcountry snowboarder
A snowboarder who travels outside ski resort boundaries, often on snowshoes, in search of untouched slopes to board
bezel
The outside of the capsule of your compass
billy-grips
Pot-lifters
bite valve
Valve on the end of a drinking tube which allows water to flow when bitten
bivouac
An improvised shelter (often described in terms of an emergency) made of branches, logs, sticks, leaves, and/or snow
bivvy bag
Short for bivouac bag. A waterproof bag, often breatheable, which covers your head and sleeping bag while sleeping out. Although lighter than a tent, it provides less shelter
bladder
Flexible water bottle, often with a drinking tube and bite valve attached
BMLC
Bushwalking and Mountaincraft Leadership Certificate
BMTAB
Bushwalking and Mountaincraft Training Advisory Board
boardwalk
Track where the surface has been covered with wood. This may be in the form of a deck raised above ground level, or where boards or split logs have been placed directly on the ground across the track
boilerplate ice
A slippery surface of hard, thick ice which is very dangerous to ski on
bowline
A knot which can be used to secure a rope around your waist
BSAR
Bushwalkers' Search and Rescue. The volunteer search-and-rescue section of the Federation of Victorian Walking Clubs (VicWalk)
buttongrass
Spiky moss-like plant which grows in cooler damp areas. It is highly sensitive to damage and should never, ever be walked on

C
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cable binding
A type of free-heel ski binding in which a stiff cable passes around the back of the ski boot
camp cord
Very light 1-3mm braided cord, very suitable for use as guyropes and other applications around campsites. Also known as hootchie cord
candle lantern
A small lightweight lantern which contains a long-burning candle; some people use them in tents, but we do not.
capsule
The part of an orienteering compass which contains the needle and rotates
carabiner (also karabiner)
Metal clip used for securing climbing ropes
carbon monoxide
Colourless, odourless, poisonous gas emitted by fuel stoves. Only ever use fuel stoves in a well-ventilated area
carpet
A type of ski lift similar to a travelator which consists of a furry or textured moving belt which skiers use to ascend short distances (~50m), usually on beginner slopes
catching feature
Navigation term used to describe a linear feature such as a track or river which runs across your line of travel and behind your objective. Therefore, if you miss your objective, you will run into the catching feature and not walk off into the distance
CAV
Camping Association of Victoria. An industry association representing campsite managers
CB radio
Citizen's Band radio; a walkie-talkie.
CDMA
CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) mobile phones have longer range than digital mobiles in remote areas.
celestial south
You can navigate at night (although not well) by using the Southern Cross and Pointers to find celestial and true south
cinnamon fungus
A fungus, also known as phytophthora or root rot, which attacks the roots of native plants, causing them to die. It is spread by infected dirt, for example on bushwalkers' boots.
closed-cell foam
Foam rubber used for insulation or as a sleeping mat.
compression bag/compression strap
A nylon bag with straps on the outside which is used to squeeze the excess air out of bulky goods such as sleeping bags. A compression strap is a webbing strap which performs the same purpose
Condy's crystals
Also known as potassium permanganate, or permanganate of potash. A purple crystal which has several uses:
-diluted strongly, it can purify water,
-you can soak your feet in it to harden the skin, or
-when mixed 9:1 with sugar it is alleged to make a good fire-starter. It's poisonous (classified S6 in Australia) so read the directions and don't stuff around with it. We have no idea who or what Condy was.
contouring
The technique of walking along around a hill (along contour lines) instead of over the top
cord grip
Also known as a barrel lock, this is a small spring-loaded clip which stops drawcords from coming undone
cordura
Synthetic material often used on backpacks, gaiters, and other applications requiring heavy-duty fabrics
cornice
A snow formation where an overhang develops on the lee side of a steep ridge where snow blows over the top of the ridge. Mt Feathertop often develops a cornice in winter. Cornices are very dangerous because they are prone to collapse under the weight of a person walking on top of them; you should avoid walking anywhere near the edge of such a ridge
corn snow
Snow consisting of large ice particles formed by continued freeze-thaw-refreeze cycles
COSPAS-SARSAT
The official technical name for the system that receives signals from satellite distress beacons. For the propellorheads amongst you, COSPAS is Russian for 'Space System for the Search of Vessels in Distress', SARSAT is an English acronym for 'Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking'.
cryptosporidium
Nasty organism which causes problems similar to Giardia.
cushion-plant
A very fragile moss-like semi-alpine plant. Avoid stepping on this plant
cyalume
The chemical used in chemical lights or glow-sticks.

D
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daisychain
A series of loops sewn end-to-end into a backpack to enable gear to be attached
declination
See magnetic declination
dilly-bag
A cloth bag with a drawstring, often used for crockery
down
Duck feathers, used as filling in sleeping bags
drinking-tube
A flexible tube which allows water to be drunk from a water bladder
duckboards
Raised platform of boards which are used as a walkway to protect the track surface, especially in muddy or swampy areas

E
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Easton aluminium
A brand of aluminium tent poles known for their strength and durability
elastoplast
Cloth-backed adhesive tape used to dress wounds or prevent blisters.
Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT)
The technical name for an EPIRB when it's carried in an aircraft.
Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB)
A satellite distress beacon. Technically, it's only an EPIRB if it's mounted on a boat, but this is the acronym in most common use to describe this technology.
Esbit stove
A small folding metal solid-fuel stove; the name is generically applied to many such stoves.
eye socket
A part of your body, the diameter of which should always be smaller than the diameter of the top of your trekking or ski pole

F
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falling leaf
Basic snowboard technique where the boarder zig-zags from side to side down a resort slope without actually completing a full turn. The same edge of the board is always facing downhill
figure-eight knot
A knot which forms a large, chunky stopper to prevent ropes or cords from running through an eyelet, or to create a loop
footprint
A groundsheet designed to go perfectly underneath a particular model of tent to protect the underside from sticks, rocks, dirt, etc
freeze-dried meal
Ultra-lightweight meal in a packet which reconstitutes itself with the addition of water.
Friar's Balsam
A liquid which helps heal the skin under broken blisters.
fuel stove
A stove which burns flammable liquid or blocks of solid fuel, as opposed to wood.
fuel stove-only area
An area in which campfires are not permitted, and you are required to cook on a stove which burns liquid or solid fuel
G
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gaiter tan
The characteristic tan just above and below the knees when you've been wearing gaiters on a hot day
Giardia
An organism which causes potentially severe gastro-intestinal problems, for example vomiting and diarrhoea, when ingested. It is spread by poor hygiene practices. To avoid it, treat all water (by boiling, filtering, or chemical treatment) before drinking.
Gore-tex
A breatheable fabric used for weatherproof jackets and overtrousers
GPRS (General Packet Radio Service)
General Packet Radio Service; the mobile internet technology that lets you receive (for example) weather forecasts on a mobile phone.
Global Positioning System (GPS)
A satellite navigation system. More information: GPS
grid-magnetic angle
see magnetic declination
groundsheet
A large piece of nylon or plastic for sitting on, or to protect the underside of a tent. Can also be strung up from a tree as a shelter

H
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handrail
Navigation term referring to a linear feature such as a ridge-line or river which runs parallel to your intended course, which you can follow at a specified distance
head torch
A torch which attaches to your head, freeing up both hands for other tasks.
herringbone
Technique of placing your cross-country skis at 90° to each other in order to ascend a slope
hyperthermia
Serious medical condition when the core body temperature becomes too high. Sometimes referred to as heat exhaustion
hypothermia
Serious medical condition when the core body temperature becomes too low. Sometimes referred to as exposure.
I
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igloo
Above-ground shelter made from blocks of snow. Very time-consuming to construct
inflatable mat
Sleeping mat containing open-cell foam which can be ‘pressurised’ by blowing into a valve.
integral pitch
Where the inner of a tent is semi-permanently attached to the fly with velcro, so that both parts can be pitched together. This is supposed to avoid exposing the tent inner to the weather if you have to pitch or strike the tent in the wet.
iodine
A chemical available in tablet form which purifies water.

J
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japara
Waterproof material used for jackets. Can be either oiled or ‘dry’, but neither is breatheable

K
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L
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lat/longs
Latitude/longitudes; a method of expressing locations by calculating the angle around from the Greenwich Meridian and up or down from the equator. May be expressed in either degree/minutes/seconds (eg: 144 degrees, 17", 4' East, thirty-seven degrees, 5", 42' South) or in decimal degrees (eg: 144.34, -37.49).
layering
The technique of dressing in many layers of thin clothing, which traps warm air between the layers. Usually consists of thermals, fleece, and Goretex.
LED torch
A torch which uses light-emitting diodes instead of a traditional incandescent bulb.

M
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magnetic declination
The phenomenon of the earth's magnetic field not being in the same place as true north or grid north; thus, to convert a bearing taken from a magnetic compass, to a bearing able to be used on a map grid (or vice versa), you need to correct for magnetic declination. The exact amount of correction needed is usually found on the margin of your map
metal-edged skis
Skis with steel edges which bite into the snow, giving more control in icy conditions
mil
Unit of angle, like a degree. However, whereas there are 360° in a circle, there are 6400 mils. Of military derivation, this unit is not much used in Australia
military grid reference
One name given to the system of co-ordinates where the east-west reference or value is given before the north-south reference (as opposed to the latitude/longitude system). For example, the full grid reference for Tidal River would be 55HDS4127379469. See also: lat/longs
MIOX (MIxed OXide)
A recent method of water purification which passes an electric current through slightly salty water to create a strong slurry of mixed oxides (whatever they are). When added to contaminated water, this is supposed to kill bugs. The MSR advertising line for their MIOX product is: 'kill organisms you can't pronounce using technology you don't understand'. We have yet to see this system used in practice, and some people we have spoken to are sceptical about it
MSR
Mountain Safety Research; a US company that produces stoves, tents, snowshoes, and a wide variety of other outdoor products. The term MSR may be applied specifically to their snowshoes. I have found their products to be tough and reliable, over 10+ years

N
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Nalgene
Brand of plastic containers with tough construction and leakproof lids
Navstar
Term associated with GPS; NAVigation by Satellite Tracking And Ranging. More information: GPS
NNN (New Nordic Norm) binding
A type of ski binding which has a small horizontal bar mounted in the toe of the ski boot, which fits into a socket on the ski

O
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orienteering
The sport of navigating to various checkpoints in a bushland setting to collect points; typically, checkpoints further from the start location have more points.
ORC
Outdoor Recreation Centre. An association of various Victorian outdoor organisations such as the Camping Association of Victoria, Duke of Edinburgh Scheme, etc

P
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pack-hauling
The technique of attaching packs to a rope and physically hauling them up a slope which is too steep or treacherous for them to be carried up on your back
Parks Victoria
The Victorian State Government agency responsible for State and National Parks
pattern-based skis
Cross-country skis which have a pattern or scales carved into the base, to allow the user to climb hills.
phytophthora
A fungus, also known as cinnamon fungus or root rot, which attacks the roots of native plants, causing them to die. It is spread by infected dirt, for example on bushwalkers' boots.
pole repair sleeve
A small tube of aluminium which can be used to repair a broken tent pole by sliding it over the break
polypropylene
A synthetic material often used for thermal underwear
poma
A type of ski lift which consists of a saucer-sized disc attached to a short pole, on the end of a retractable reel of cord attached to a cable. A skier places it between their legs and can be towed up a slope
prismatic compass
A compass in which the user looks through a prism to sight on an object in the distance, at the same time as viewing the compass bearing. The 1942-vintage Mark 3 compass (pictured) is an example of this.
Puritabs
Chlorine-based tablets used to purify water. Unfortunately, they are thought to not be effective against the Giardia organism.

Q
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quicklink
Similar to a carabiner, but with a gate which slides shut and screws down, rather than a hinged, swinging gate

R
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resection
Term for taking a backbearing or triangulation, widely used in the defence forces (although there may be some subtle differences between these three techniques which are lost on me)
rip-off
The prices for anything associated with a downhill ski resort
ripstop nylon
Nylon fabric which contains a grid of tougher fibres which are meant to stop a rip or tear, or to stop an existing tear from becoming bigger
rogaining
Competitive sport similar to orienteering, but usually undertaken at running pace
rucksack
A large backpack. More information: packs

S
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SARSAT
Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking; technical name for one of the components of the EPIRB system. More information: EPIRBs
sastrugi
A raised wave of snow or ice found in polar regions
scales
A fishscale-like pattern carved into the base of a cross-country ski, to allow the user to climb hills
scoparia
A tough and spiky alpine plant which forms a formidable barrier to walkers; often the cause of much swearing. More information: minor hazards
scree
Piled-up small rocks sometimes found at the base of cliffs, escarpments, or bluffs
screeing
The practice, fraught with danger, of attempting to ski down a scree slope on one's feet while upright
shock cord
Cord with an elasticised core and woven or braided sheath, which is stretchy. It has many applications which require elasticised cord, including netting or strapping on backpacks, gaiter straps, drawstrings, and so on
Sigg water bottle
A brand of aluminiuim water bottle. Although less durable than Nalgene water bottles, they undoubtedly have vastly more character when older and somewhat dented
sighting compass
Similar in concept to a prismatic compass, but which allows sighting without the prism. The Silva Type 26 is an example of this.
ski leash
A small back-up cable or cord which attaches your ski to your boot by means other than the binding, so that if they detach the ski does not run away down the slope
skins
A furry or hairy skin which attaches to the underside of a cross-country ski which has no pattern or scales.
sleeping bag liner
A bag which goes inside your sleeping bag, either to keep the sleeping bag clean, or for warmth. I find that a silk liner makes my sleeping bag slightly warmer
snow cave
A cave dug into the side of a snow drift to serve as a shelter.
snow saw
A saw with a long, thin blade (you could use a hacksaw blade) used to cut blocks of snow for constructing an igloo or other snow shelter
snow peg
A broad, curved tent peg which grips snow better than a traditional wire peg.
snow pole
A pole, usually treated pine, which marks a ski trail in winter
snow shovel
A shovel that has a wide blade with a lip, which efficiently lifts large amounts of snow at once
snow trench
A snow shelter constructed by digging a trench into the snow and covering it with either blocks of consolidated snow, or with a tarp/groundsheet. More often used as an emergency shelter
SOLAS
Safety Of Life At Sea convention; marine-quality reflective tape which complies with SOLAS standards is very, very reflective
solid fuel
Solid fuel usually refers to blocks of solid chemical fuel for stoves, such as trioxane, hexamine, or Esbit blocks. The term can also include wood.
space blanket
A very thin silvery reflective sheet which traps and reflects body heat. Use to treat hypothermia victims.
speaker/mike
A combination microphone and speaker used for UHF radios. Particularly useful where using UHF radios in poor weather, as it is possible to have the radio safe and warm inside clothing or a pouch, with only the speaker/mike exposed to the weather.
Spectra
Rope used for climbing and sailing which has a woven sheath and a Kevlar core
sphagnum moss
Bouncy sponge-like moss which grows in moist areas. Walking on this moss should be avoided
sternum strap
Chest strap on a backpack.
STLC
Ski Touring Leadership Certificate
strobe light
A high-intensity flashing light used for attracting attention. May be used in conjunction with an EPIRB

T
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T-Bar
A type of ski lift which consists of an inverted T-shaped bar attached to a retractable reel attached to a cable. It can be used to tow one or two skiers or snowboarders up a slope
TFB
Total Fire Ban; a day on which open fires and stoves are illegal
Thermarest
Well-known brand of self-inflating sleeping mat
Thinsulate
A synthetic thermal material which is sometimes used in things like gloves and beanies as a liner for more traditional materials such as wool.
Toblerone
Our chocolate bar of choice for mountain activities
tobogganning
A safe activity for the kiddies where they slide down a snow-covered slope on a moulded plastic toboggan. However, any attempt to tobaggan on a snow shovel with the handle between your legs is incredibly dangerous and you're likely to die or be seriously injured. So don't do it
track
The Australian term for a foot path, pad, or trail. May be referred to as a trail when used in a ski-touring context
trail
Term used to describe a track or foot path, especially when used in a ski-touring context
Trangia
A very well-known brand of methylated-spirits stove.
trekking pole
A funky walking stick, often made of aluminium, with a wrist strap, and adjustable in length
triangulation
Another name for taking a backbearing
triglide
A three-armed plastic buckle component which grips webbing and can be used to create a loop.
trowel
A small shovel, often brightly-coloured, used for digging toilet holes
tube tape
A webbing-like tape which forms a hollow tube. I use tube tape to protect shock cord on the straps of my gaiters

U
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UHF radio
Ultra-High Frequency radio or walkie-talkie, used for short-range communications.

V
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vestibule
The lobby area of a tent outside the inner but still underneath the fly. Often used for storing packs overnight. More information: tents
VicWalk
The Federation of Victorian Walking Clubs; the peak body in Victoria representing bushwalking clubs
VNPA
Victorian National Parks Association. An advocacy group for State and National parks, which also has an active bushwalking group

W
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water filter/water pump
A pump which passes contaminated water through a filter to remove bacteria, viruses, and impurities
wax
Special wax can be applied to the base of a cross-country ski to tune its climbing performance
weatherproof (or wind and waterproof) matches
Matches dipped in ridiculous amounts of phosphorus (about 20mm worth) and then coated with wax, so that they light even if wet and burn fiercely even in high wind.
webbing
Seatbelt-like material used for pack straps
WGS84
World Geodetic System 1984; the map datum used in the Global Positioning System (GPS). More information: GPS
whip
The party member designated to walk or ski at the rear of the party and keep stragglers in line
white spirit/white gas
Another name for Shellite.
white-out cord
A brightly-coloured 50m builder's cord which can be used to assist finding the next snow pole in very poor visibility
wind chill
The phenomenon whereby increasing wind speed causes the apparent temperature to drop. More information: staying warm
wire saw
Flexible wire which has abrasive nodules on it and can be used to saw smallish pieces of wood

X
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XC
Cross-country (skis)
XCD
Cross-country downhill; a cross-country ski which is supposed to also perform well on downhill runs

Y
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Yowie
A distinctive brand of Australian-made snowshoe

Z
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zone
In co-ordinate systems, a slice of the earth's surface between two lines running from the north pole to the south pole. Western Victoria is in zone 54, and eastern victoria is in zone 55 (your map will specify which near the projection and datum information). It may be useful to know this is reporting your position to someone a very long way away. More information: GPS coordinates
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