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Hut Etiquette: 10 Things That’ll Get You the Stink Eye


By Meghan J. Ward

Ten years ago I was a total mountain newbie. The ‘hut life’ was the ultimate dream, and one I probably trampled through without knowing it. Here’s why: the quintessential hut experience – the kind of backcountry trip we all idealize – depends on a mostly unspoken etiquette in order to retain its sacredness among outdoor enthusiasts. Call these my own hard-learned lessons or (now) pet-peeves, here are ten sure-fire ways to break the code and attract some serious stink eye.


The Alpine Club of Canada's A.O. Wheeler Hut. Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.

The Alpine Club of Canada’s A.O. Wheeler Hut. Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.

1/ Walk through the hut in wet, snowy boots.

Two words: wet socks. The worst. If you make a puddle, or see one, be the first person to mop it up.

2/ Burn the reading material.

Burning old newspapers is one thing, but pulling pages out of Freedom of the Hills is darn right sacrilegious. Be a good scout and pack in some paper to get that wood stove going.

3/ Cook your three-course dinner without opening a window.

One night at Bow Hut, I was playing a quiet game of cribbage with friends when we suddenly got ridiculously loopy. Within ten minutes, we were giggling like a bunch of school children. I got up to fill the kettle and realized that all of the burners were on the gas stoves and no windows were open. Hello, carbon monoxide. (Hint: Open a window).

4/ Provide a soundtrack.

There’s no holding you back from grabbing that old guitar (some huts have them) and banging out a few tunes when the timing is right. But leave your iPhone or boombox (yes, I’ve heard rumours) at home or bring headphones. Let your fellow hut dwellers enjoy some peace and quiet.

5/ Leave the outhouse barrel for the next poor soul.

Yep, it stinks, in more ways than one. And it’s easy to pass this job off to the next person. Be a hero and change that thing. Your hut buddies will be eternally indebted to you (though they may not ever give you a high five again).

6/ Don’t rinse your dishes.

A friend of mine once hiked luxury ingredients into Neil Colgan Hut to make the most elaborate gourmet meal you’ve ever seen at 9,700 feet. He took his first bite and got a mouthful of soapy tasting food. Turns out, the pots and dishes he used were covered with dishwashing residue. He still hasn’t gotten over it. Be a champ and rinse like your life depended on it.

7/ Be loud late at night.

Many people use a hut as a base for mountaineering trips and will start their days at 2 a.m. or earlier. An alpine start is harsh enough; it’s worse when you don’t get any sleep. Let people get the rest they need to push hard the next day.

8/ Take over the entire sleeping area.

It might be late at night when you tuck in, but there still may be people scheduled to arrive. Spreading out like a starfish might be cool on your king-size at home, but in these tiny refuges it makes it hard for others to find a bed. Take a single mattress, and leave room for latecomers.

9/ Leave your recycling behind.

On my last trip to Abbot Pass Hut, there must have been six or seven water bottles and Powerade bottles left in the kitchen. Either someone was starting a pee bottle collection or couldn’t bear the weight of an empty piece of plastic in their backpack. Take out everything you bring in.

10/ Leave the hut in worse shape than you found it. 

Sure, you may not be the last to leave, but pretend you are. Sweep that floor, wipe those counters, bring in fresh snow or water for boiling and stack some wood. I bet you’ll feel free good that you made someone else’s trip that much better.

Now, go find an adventure: Alpine Club of Canada backcountry huts.


Writer, adventurer, outdoorsy mama and summit cartwheeler, Meghan J. Ward is the editor and co-founder at Crowfoot Media and lives for backcountry getaways.

The views and opinions expressed in the articles on are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the editor, the editorial team or the publishers.

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