5 Tips for (Successfully) Backpacking With a Partner

Wait, you’re going to spend 6 months backpacking with your boyfriend?

I’ve gotten this question so many times…usually followed by a look of shock, but yes, I am!  My boyfriend Tyler (who asked to be referred to as “Awesome Boyfriend” in my posts) and I have talked about the Appalachian Trail since we met a few years ago.  Now that we’ve both graduated, it was a no brainer that we would do it together.

The next question that I tend to get is: How are you two going to handle being with each other 24/7 for that long?

That my friends, is a pretty good question.

Here’s a few tips for backpacking with a partner:

  1. Find A Common Pace

    My boyfriend and I hike at two completely different paces. He finds a solid, brisk pace and sticks with it whereas I tend to hike at a moderate pace and surge up climbs. You usually hear the phrase “hike your own hike” but that’s the thing…when you’re hiking with someone else, you can’t always do that.  Regardless of hiking 5 miles or 15 miles, you have to compromise with your hiking partner.  Usually, I will lead during hikes but try to push myself to find a little quicker pace.  When we need to get somewhere by a certain time, Tyler will lead, but slows down enough to make sure I’m not dying. So find what works for both of you.

  2. Share The Load

    In my opinion, this is one of the greatest perks of backpacking with a partner; sharing gear!  But here’s the thing, don’t make one person carry a bigger load…even it out.  If one person carries the tent, have the other carry the cookware.  If one person has more food, let the other person carry more water.  It sounds like common sense, but you would be surprised by how easy the thought of “man…I could slip this into his pack” can come when you’re super tired (kidding, I would never do that).

  3. Take Some Time Apart

    Now the following statement may seem contradictory after reading step 1 but: hike apart sometimes. Here’s the thing, you will need some alone time on the trail. Spending 24/7 with your S.O. sounds awesome, and don’t get me wrong, it really really is…but you will get on each others nerves at some point. Maybe you’re Hangry, maybe you didn’t sleep well…what I’m saying is that it’s probably not even your partners fault. But it’s completely normal and isn’t a bad thing at all, it’s just human nature (especially for two introverts).  Even a few miles of hiking with a gap between you guys can help alleviate stressors and prevent taking out frustrations on one another. But, ya know, at least stay within eye-sight…(Tyler thinks it’s funny to hide and scare me)

  4. Split Up Responsibilities

    When you’re worn out and sore, it can seem so tedious to have to set up your tent, make food, gather water, etc.  Here’s another perk of backpacking with a partner: you can both do it!  While “awesome boyfriend” and I tend to set up the tent together, we usually split up cooking, getting water, and other responsibilities.  This just makes things so much easier and makes the process go so much faster.  Help each other out.

  5. Remember Why You’re Hiking Together

    This may sound cliche, but really…always remember why you chose to do this together.  Deciding to backpack with your S.O. is a big deal, so why not enjoy it?  This is an incredible adventure for both of you, you’re choosing to do it, so make the most of it.  You may both have individual reasons for wanting to thru-hike a trail, but you both have a common reason for wanting to do it as a couple.

Backpacking with your partner is a really awesome experience and will bring you some of the best memories.  So don’t be afraid when people look at you like you’re crazy for choosing to spend 24/7 hours for 6 months with someone else…

You won’t regret it.

Hasta Luego friends,

Eiryn (Still needing trail name ideas, folks)


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Comments 4

  • Donna Simpson : Nov 3rd

    Hi E! Looking forward to seeing your adventures.

  • Eiryn Reynolds : Nov 6th

    Thanks, Donna!

  • Alex Wnorowski : Nov 7th

    As someone who literally just finished with my girlfriend I’m curious how many of your points will change along the way. I’m not saying you’re wrong about the time apart, but I think you’ll be surprised how much you don’t want time split up. You will be in super vulnerable situations and having that comfort and support along the way was necessary for us. Maybe you have a lot more backpacking experience than we did before we started but having each other side by side was what we needed. Your point on finding a shared pace is spot on though. You will be hiking a shared hike. HYOH will not exist for you individually.

    • Eiryn Reynolds : Nov 7th

      Alex, congrats to you and your girlfriend on completing the trail! It’s cool to see the perspective from another couple who has hiked the trail. My boyfriend and I really value our alone time, so when we do longer trips we tend to spend some time to ourselves (only a mile or two). It’s just something that we have found works for us!


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