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The DAILY DIRT - The nitty and the gritty of outdoor news

The Buddy System

Who you hike with is just as important as where, says one columnist

Who do you hike with? Is it your best friend? A spouse or significant other? Acquaintances from a hiking or outdoors club? Fido?

Marek Warszawski of The News Tribune out of Tacoma, Washington finds that:

"Close friends make the best backpacking partners. A tried and tested relationship, based on understanding and acceptance of each other's flaws and quirks, will only be strengthened by a few days on the trail. And petty disagreements over how far to hike that day or where to camp seldom linger."

Que tinkling bells. Fade to rosy sunsets and hand holding.

Warszawski's article got me thinking: Do your BFFs really make the best hiking/climbing/riding partners? They certainly don't make the best roommates, or co-workers in my experience–two other scenarios where relationships are tried and tested. Last year a BP writer hit the trail with a good buddy ("I'm Hiking with Stupid - A Buddy Story") ...and they didn't talk for a year afterward.

I've generally found that the best workout partners are those of an equivalent fitness and motivation level. Or, especially for challenging workouts, the best partners are just a tad more fit or motivated than you. It is certainly nice if you're friends and can chat, but friendship is not imperative for shorter treks.

But what about at mile 50 of a four-day trip? Do you BP readers agree with Warszawski that close friends make the best backpacking partners? This is a particularly pressing topic for me as a I prepare to head into the Alaskan wilderness with our survival blogger Steve Howe...who I've met exactly once in person.

Leave your opinions in the comments below!

--Katie Herrell

Buddy up on a hike, but only if it's a fit, The News Tribune


thomas vuono
Aug 15, 2009

i prefer hiking with friends and have had many memorable trips but the catch is this all my best friends are avid backpackers we all share the same backpacker concepts such as less is more, no radios etc.

Canyon Man
Aug 02, 2009

I have hiked with friends and family. What I find is most important is that all parties have a love for the outdoors and an appreciation for nature. I will be backpacking for the first time with my son on one trip and my wife on another trip in the coming weeks. This will be the true test. I have had two backpacking trips with BFF's and we're all still good friends. Let's hope that it goes as well with the family. I'm sure it will.

Jul 31, 2009

I think it's ok if you do some shorter hikes with a friend first before the longer treks. You never know how people are going to react out there and it might not be worth leaving a big trip as your first trip. on the flip side a reuniting with an old / good friend for some time in the back country can be a great time.

Mitchel G
Jul 30, 2009

It has been shown that you are meanest to your friends and family. Therefore hike with someone you hardly know and you will be nicer to them and they will be nicer to you. There won't be any expectations so there won't be any let downs. I think you and Steve will have fun. Too bad I can't go because I am sure I would have a blast. :-)

Greg T
Jul 30, 2009

I dont believe it would be worth it hiking with your best friend. I think the worst thing is that you know what bothers them. On the trail the only person you are going to make happy is yourself. If you hike with an acquatence, he really doesnt know you and you him. So you will work harder and he will work harder to get along and you will push each other. Friends will do nothing but edge you on and TICK you off.


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