Surprisingly Popular YouTube Niche: Videos of Hikers

Nothing much happens, and that's apparently the appeal
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 16, 2017 2:30 PM CDT
Another Odd, Zen-like Niche: YouTube Hiking Videos
In this 2007 file photo, hikers make their way on the Pacific Crest Trail near Santiam Pass, Ore.   (David Patton/Albany Democrat Herald via AP, file)

There are cult followings of just about any kind of (presumably legal) footage you can imagine on YouTube—people popping zits, people blowing bubbles, people (and other animals) giving birth, and so on. But there is one type of video that has the Outline somewhat perplexed: hiking videos. Hiking is, after all, about stepping away from the screen, so the allure to watch it on a screen makes "this genre of uploads seem particularly odd." Examples include YouTube user Martyupnorth, who boasts more than 10,000 subscribers and posts videos of himself trekking through the wilderness, sharing tips, showing the food and gear he packs, etc. Then there's syntax77, who talks incessantly while hiking and enjoys more than 50,000 subscribers.

It's unclear who exactly watches these videos, but the Outline is quick to point out the Zen-like quality of many of them. The plot is simple, the action slow, the scenery often breathtaking. These are a sort of reality-TV version of nature videos, perhaps popular among hikers trying to relax in their cramped apartments on a work night. With more than 34 million Americans hiking trails in 2013, and $646 billion spent on outdoor recreation gear every year, these videos blend this love of outdoors with a culture of screens and help "unravel the idea of outdoor activity as a pure experience," per the Outline, "revealing a culture obsessed with not only preserving any and all experiences but anticipating every aspect of those experiences as well." (Ever had a brain orgasm on YouTube?)

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