Beginner Skills

How to Find the Perfect Hiking Partner

Companions can make or break a trip. Here’s how to choose wisely.

By Travis Burke

Look in the right spots.
Find like-minded hikers in clubs that revolve around your interests, like photography, birding, or long trails. Easy place to start: a or Sierra Club hiking group in your area.

The best partners have complimentary skills.
You learn from each other. She’s a good navigator and you’re a good cook? Perfect.

Establish open communication so you can better manage unexpected challenges.
Caveat: Avoid broaching problems when you are physically struggling. “If you are both stressed: Stop. Rest. Pee. Eat. Then talk,” says Bethany Hughes, who, with partner Lauren Reed, is 15,000 miles into a 20,000-mile trek from Patagonia to Alaska.

Your partner (and you) should be willing to work on weaknesses.
Afraid of heights? Spend a day in the climbing gym.

Recognize warning signs.
Red flags: constantly avoiding camp chores, mooching snacks, hogging tent space, walking on your heels. Inconsiderate behavior gets more annoying over time.