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Tiso Guide | Common buzzwords used in the outdoor industry

by Mollie Hughes

Mollie Hughes is a Mountaineer, Adventurer and Motivational Speaker based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The outdoor industry is packed full of outdoor jargon and buzzwords that can often sound like another language to the untrained ear.

Here at Tiso, we admit it, we can sometimes be guilty of letting our passion for the outdoors get the better of us and using outdoor jargon without explanation.

To help navigate through this new language we have put together a glossary of common buzzwords used in the outdoor industry. Make your friends think you are an expert by busting out some of these phrases next time you are at the climbing wall or hitting the slopes!

Outdoor Clothing Jargon

Gore-Tex (GTX): A synthetic waterproof fabric, permeable to air and water vapour which is used in some outdoor clothing and footwear.

Hydrostatic head : The measure of how waterproof a material is, discovered through a water column test. A hydrostatic head of 5,000mm means that the fabric can hold a column of water that is 5,000mm tall before that water begins to seep through.

Down fill-power : The universal rating of goose and duck down. The higher the fill power the more air one ounce of down can trap and therefore the more insulating ability that ounce of down will have. 900 fill down is the highest quality down commercially available, it has the highest possible warmth-weight ratio.

Hydrophobic down : A relatively new concept where each down feather has been treated with a durable water repellent. Down traditionally doesn’t cope well with wet conditions, but this new hydrophobic down is designed to perform much better as the down will dry more quickly and also repel water more efficiently.

Synthetic insulation : A man-made alternative to down insulation, such as Primaloft®, Polartec or own-brand insulation. Benefits of synthetic insulation include maintaining warmth when wet, quick drying and often less expensive than down insulation.

DWR : Durable Water Repellency, a water-resistant finish applied to the outer layer of many outdoor garments, preventing the fabric from absorbing water. However, not all garments with DWR will be fully water proof, the DWR coating is not to be confused with the waterproof membrane such as Gore-Tex.

Wicking: The movement of moisture through a fabric. Wicking fabrics have microscopic holes through which moisture can pass, i.e sweat through baselayers.

Climbing Jargon

Rack : A collection of climbing hardware, protection, slings and belay devices that a climber carries to protect a route, set up anchors and belay a partner.

Crimp : A small edge that is held with finger tips only, the fingers are bent bringing the hand closer to the rock.

Run-out : Leading a route high above your last piece of protection.

Nut : One of the simplest forms of rock protection. A metal wedge threaded with steel wires, used for placing in rock cracks.

On-sight : To climb a route clean, no falls or resting on the rope, from bottom to top.

Bridging : Applying equal pressure with the feet and hands in opposite directions on opposing pieces of the rock face.

Crux : The most difficult move on a climb or the hardest part of the route.

Skiing Jargon

Skins : Strips of material (originally seal skin) that are applied to the base of skis for ski touring. The directional fibres allow the ski to glide uphill but prevent them from slipping backwards. They are designed to be removed for skiing downhill.

Corn : A favourable type of snow, generally found in the spring when many freeze/thaw cycles have affected the snow. After an overnight freeze the sun warms the sun making it become soft and forgiving. Note - you must catch it before it warms too far and becomes wet and slushy.

Downhill : A speed discipline of alpine ski racing which features minimal gates so skiers can gain maximum speed.

Moguls : Naturally forming mounds of snow, also referred to as bumps.

Snorkelling : When deep powder runs up the body and blurs a skier’s vision, the ultimate for powder skiers.

Dump : Large snowfall of fresh powder.

Brain Bucket : A slang term for a helmet.

Biking Jargon

Hardtail : A mountain bike with no rear suspension.

Enduro Racing : Racing with an element of endurance. Emphasis is on downhill speed which is timed as opposed to uphill gain which is not timed.

Full Sus : A mountain bike with front and rear suspension.

Lanterne Rouge : Cycling's most notorious award, given to the competitor in last place in a cycling race such as the Tour de France.

Slipstream: The pocket of air behind a cyclist or vehicle which breaks the wind resistance.

Chain Gang : A group of road cyclist in a close knit formation, usually two parallel lines drafting behind the leader. It is harder to cycle at the front of the group so the leader shelters the other cyclists and leads are switched.

MAMIL : Acronym for ‘Middle-aged man in lycra’ Typically a keen road cyclist, adorned in body-hugging cycle wear.

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