7 Tips to Being the Best Hiking Partner
Sometimes we just want to share the great outdoors with a friend or partner. And, who else is going to take that epic shot of you hiking up a mountain? Whether you plan on going on a long distance hike together or just an afternoon in the backcountry, there are some things to consider when you are hiking with a partner. A hiking partnership is just like any other partnership when it comes to trust and cooperation. However, add strenuous terrain and less-than-desirable weather and things could end up very stressful. Use these tips to be the best hiking partner to your friend or loved one.
1. Communicate Your Needs
Communication is key to any relationship.There are a few things you should always communicate about while hiking.
First things first:
- discuss how long your hike will be
- what gear you both should bring
- what time you plan on starting your hike, and how much food and water you both will need
Next, discuss the pace. A slower hiker should always go ahead to reduce overexertion or exhaustion. While hiking, if you are hungry or need a break, your partner probably needs one too. Don’t be shy to say you need to take a rest. You both will have a better time if you two communicate your individual needs.
2. Share Your Gear
Sharing with your hiking partner is not only convenient but also lightens both of your loads if you are backpacking. Common gear items to share are a stove, tent, and water filtration system. However, some hikers may consider a good partner to be a person that has all of their gear without needing to share. You should not have to rely on your partner for gear all the time. For beginners, it is still best to get your own gear but know that sharing certain items simply saves weight.
3. Get Some Alone Time
If you are on a lengthy backpacking trip with your partner, sometimes overexposure to one person day in and day out can be exhausting and make you feel a bit annoyed. During hiking, make sure to get your alone time. Take a couple hours to separate while hiking so you can get the peace you came out to the backcountry to find.
4. Learn to Compromise
If your partner has a nasty blister and can only do five miles today, accept that instead of forcing them to hike in pain. Compromise is just as important in a trail relationship as it is in any relationship. Compromise starts with communication and an open mind.
5. Hold Your Own
If you want to be a good partner, you must contribute your fair share in hauling the gear and in doing camp chores. Typically, beginner backpackers are unsure how to pack and what chores necessarily need to be done. Therefore, if you are partnering up with an inexperienced backpacker, inform them of their duties. Hiking can already be exhausting enough so make sure that you are both ‘holding your own’ on the trail and at camp.
6. Get to Know Your Partner
Only after spending a good amount of time with someone can you really understand what makes that person ‘tick.’ If you know your partner goes to the bathroom every day at 3 p.m. and its 2:50 p.m., then you know it’s about time for a break instead of starting an ascent into alpine. Also, if your partner seems irritable, evaluate why this could be. Look for signs of hunger or exhaustion in your partner so as to keep them healthy and to keep your time together fun.
7. Know Your Stuff
One of the best ways to get good at backpacking is to go backpacking. However, there are things that a novice can research before heading out on the trail so that they are a great partner if tragedy strikes. Know what to do in a backcountry emergency (injury, snake bite, hypothermia, etc) because this could save your partner’s life. Furthermore, don’t let one person navigate the entire time. Divvy up the navigating so that both you know where you are and where you are going.
What do you think makes the best hiking partner ever? Share your tips in the comments below.
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