The 17 Worst Hiking Partners in the World
Hiking with others can be a blast—as long as your partner isn't making one of these egregious gaffes, that is. Here's a taxonomy of the worst backcountry offenders.
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The most exasperating companion, hands down. He/she will find any excuse to shirk camp chores including, but certainly not limited to: setting up and taking down the tent; hanging food; getting water; gathering firewood; cooking; and washing dishes. Don’t be this person!
If you’re prone to snoring, pack plenty of nasal strips and be sure to clue your tentmates in before the trip (so that they can bring earplugs). Failure to do so could result in you sleeping outside—by force.
A handful of gorp here, half of a chocolate bar there—before you know it, those snacks that you carefully packed and rationed for yourself are nearly gone thanks to the person who didn’t bring enough and always wants to “borrow” yours. Before setting out, make it clear to your group that everyone’s on the hook for his/her own food.
The Germ-y Chef
It’s awfully nice of this person to cook for the entire group, but for the love of hygiene, sanitize your hands first before handling food! Another protip for keeping germs at bay: pour servings of communal foods such as trail mix into individual hands rather than having everyone reach in the bag.
Sometimes, gear is where it is for a reason. Moving stuff that isn’t yours is a great way to irritate your campmates.
Getting comfortable in a sleeping bag can be tough—do I sleep on my stomach? My side? What do I do with my hands?—but if you’re up for half the night tossing and turning, you’re definitely doing it wrong. Pick a position and stick with it. Related: Kneeing/kicking when getting in/out of a two-person tent.
After they crawl over you for the umpteenth time to make sure the fire is out, they’ll start searching through every pocket of their pack because they’re terrified they forgot their car keys. Once they start wondering whether they remembered to turn the stove off at home, you’re really in for it.
You’ve finally made it to your camp spot for the night, but now your partner can’t stop micromanaging and nitpicking. Whether it’s the slope of the rainfly or the rockiness of the ground, sometimes perfect really is the enemy of good.
The Space Hog
Everybody loves a good cuddle, right? Wrong. Stay on your side, compadre.
The In-House Snacker
When you’re crammed in a tent with a perpetual muncher, things can get stressful. Not only will your tent buddy’s eating disrupt your beauty sleep, but those peanut M&Ms they just pulled out of their pocket? Yeah, bears love those! Unless it’s the dead of winter, keep food out of the tent at all costs.
No matter how badly you need to get up and dig out your lip balm, turning your headlamp on inside the tent in the middle of the night is never cool.
We hate it on the highway, and it can be just as stressful on the trail. Leave a few paces worth of distance between you and the person ahead—the hike will be more relaxing for both of you.
There is definitely a “good” side of the tent, and it’s the door side. Offer to switch off with your tentmate(s) each night so as not to hog the prime access.
“All for one, one for all” is an alien concept to this person, who seems to do every task in single servings. Filtering enough water for just one bottle? Cleaning one dish? Preparing one egg? Not going to win a lot of friends that way.
You’ve only been in camp two hours, but it already looks like a tornado roared through. Try to gently point out to your companion that gear is harder to keep track of—and thus, easier to lose—when it’s tossed around helter-skelter.
This person is single-mindedly obsessed with starting the fire, tending the fire, lighting more things on fire, and…well, that’s about it. Easy there, Smokey.
The Party Fouler
Nooooooooo, you kicked over the flask! You’ve got some serious making-up to do now, pal.