Women are about four times as likely as men to have started backpacking with a spouse or significant other. If you’re considering taking your honey on her first trip, follow this advice to help your girlfriend love backpacking.
1. Be a teacher, not a guide.
Be on your best, super-considerate behavior to make sure she has a good time. But curb your instinct to do everything for her, lest you deny her the satisfaction of learning new skills and building confidence.
2. Get involved with gear.
Help her pack and find gear she can borrow as needed. This also screens out random extras; nothing ruins a first trip like a too-heavy load.
3. Pick your spot well.
Choose a satisfying destination (lake, waterfall, flower-filled meadow, viewpoint, etc.) with a relatively easy hike in. This is not the time to bag an epic peak. Aim for about half as far as she can confidently dayhike. About 5 miles in is a good rule of thumb.
4. Don’t hog the map and compass.
. Our survey shows that women are six times more likely than men to never take on this chore. But this essential safety skill can be really fun and empowering. Take the time to explain how topo maps work, show her your route ahead of time, then let her carry the map.
5. Plan a mouth-watering menu.
Pull out your best backcountry cooking skills, buy the fancy snacks, maybe pack in some wine. Also smart: Encourage her to drink plenty of water and snack often.
6. Keep her involved in camp chores.
Teach her to light the camp stove, and have her help you hang the bear bag (42 percent of women never take on that chore in their first year).
7. Don’t take any of it too seriously.
Remember, you love each other. Everything else is just scenery.