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  • Writer's pictureAinsley Carter

#TrailDetails: Graphics for Proper Hiking Etiquette

For the first project of my Interaction Design 4: Experience Design class, I was tasked to choose a business and add a new touchpoint to the brand. There were five sectors to choose from, and as a nature lover, I chose outdoor activities. The prompt is as follows:

The pandemic has brought more people to outdoor activities who had not been active hikers or cyclists before. Come up with an on-line, or in person way for one these brands to help and encourage people to enjoy the outdoors.

Initially, my mind went straight to REI. However, another classmate had also chosen that brand, so I looked into other options. Luckily, I'm very familiar with this industry, and I had lots of options to choose from. I settled on CamelBak, a brand I've been using since I was just a little kid.

After presenting some concepts and getting feedback from both my professor and my peers, I settled on a concept for teaching the do's and don'ts of hiking trails. I came to this idea originally because I heard from so many of the outdoor lovers that I spoke to that, while the amount of people spending time in nature during the pandemic is great, it's really troubling that some people aren't recreating responsibly. I have witnessed this plenty of times myself, and some of the main issues people raised were things like littering, being noisy, not letting others pass, and messing with animals.

For a lot of hikers, these are real frustrations, but it can be hard to do anything about it without feeling overly judgmental. For the new touchpoint I was designing, I wanted to create an educational campaign that seeks to educate new hikers and stop harmful behaviors in a friendly and non-judgmental way.

For the new touchpoint I was designing, I wanted to create an educational campaign that seeks to educate new hikers and stop harmful behaviors in a friendly and non-judgmental way.

The campaign is called Trail Details, and it has a presence on social media as #TrailDetails. There are several aspects to the project, but one of the main things is a series of educational graphics. Using Illustrator, I designed images that could be posted on social media and the CamelBak website to promote the top do's and don'ts of hiking.

I sourced most of the tips from the National Park Service website. Here's a description of each graphic:

  1. Keep it Cordial: Build a friendly atmosphere on the trail by saying hello to passing hikers. A nod and a wave is all it takes!

  2. Help the Critters, Say "No" to Litter: This was one of the main complaints I heard, and I've seen it plenty of times myself. If you bring it on the trail, it should leave the trail with you. One thing many people might not realize is that it's not okay to drop biodegradable items, either! They take a long time to break down, and they could be harmful to any animals that find them.

  3. Keep Your Distance: This was another thing that was frustrating for a lot of people that I talked to. Wild animals look cute, but they're still wild. Respect them and protect yourself by observing from a safe distance.

  4. Uphill = Right of Way: Per the National Park Service (NPS) website, hikers moving uphill have the right of way – so if you encounter one while going downhill, try to find a safe way to move aside and let them pass.

  5. Yield To...: There are lots of different ways to enjoy the trails, so it's important that you know how to react to others that you encounter. According to the NPS, bikers are supposed to yield to hikers and horses, while hikers must yield to horses.

  6. Leave No Trace: Stay on the Trail: As many hikers know, there's a saying: "Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints." This means not leaving things behind, and not taking away from nature's beauty (or, more importantly, animals' habitats) by taking things like rocks and plants from the trail.

This was a very fun project for me, but definitely very time consuming, as well. For one graphic, I sourced images from the Noun Project website, but the others were made by me in Adobe Illustrator. For some, I used a photograph and traced on outline of the people to emulate the style used by the National Park Service in their educational graphics. Looking back, there are definitely some elements that I would like to do a second version of, or at least touch up before I submit these for the final deliverable. On top of that, I'd like to create a least a few more graphics to add some additional tips and advice.

This is just one element of a bigger project, and I'm hoping to put it all together into a case study here on my site when it's completed.

Thanks for reading!


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