The Buddy System

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

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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