National Forest Foundation

Four Tips For Choosing A Hiking Partner

Hiking and Backpacking

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“It is impossible to use too much care in selecting your companions.” – Jon Krakauer, Eiger Dreams: Ventures Among Men and Mountains

Going for a hike is a great way to enjoy our National Forests, and enjoying a hike alongside a great hiking partner can make trip even better. So what should you look for when choosing a hiking partner? Below are a few things I think about when deciding who to join for a day on the trail.

1. Find a hiking partner who shares your expectations. A “great hike” means something different to everyone you ask. Whether you want to hike one or two miles along a bubbling stream to fish, or spend all day trekking up to an alpine pass to scope out wildflowers, hiking with someone who shares your expectations will start a hike on the right page.

2. Find a hiking partner whose fitness level matches your own. A hiking “partner” implies that both people will hike together. Hiking with someone who carries a pace much slower than your own could drain your patience, while hiking with someone who hikes faster and has more endurance could lead to an exhausting day on the trail, or even injuries from overuse and exertion.

3. Find a hiking partner you can trust. What if the weather turns south, you twist an ankle, or you miss your trail intersection? Hike with someone you can trust to make a good decision, and who respects your thoughts and instincts.

4. Find a hiking partner you enjoy spending time around. Let’s face it: trail time can last hours, and is often solitary. Regardless of the length of time, it’s more fun to hike with someone you can be in close proximity to for several hours – or days. Who can you chat easily with for hours, or say nothing at all, and thoroughly enjoy yourself?

I know of hiking partners who are friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, or even pets. My husband happens to be my hiking partner, and we’re often at our best when we’re on the trail. Regardless of who your hiking partner may be, I hope you enjoy many hikes together in your future!


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