Backpacking for Couples

How to Get Your Partner to Backpack With You

Backpacking is one of the best ways to strengthen a relationship. Photo by Douglas Cornell.

Backpacking is one of the best ways to strengthen a relationship. Photo by Douglas Cornell.

On a recent backpacking trip through the Roan Highlands of Tennessee and North Carolina, Carol and I were surprised to find that we were one of the only husband/wife teams out on the trail. Most of the hikers were male buddies who told us over and over, “We wish our wives would come out and do this with us! You are so lucky!”

Indeed we are lucky. But we also work at our relationship every day to stay connected to one another and participate together in activities we enjoy. Too many married couples spend time in the same house but in separate rooms. Then they go off and play by themselves or with friends, only having “together” time when they go out for dinner or a movie.

If you are reading this, you are probably a backpacker or you are interested in becoming one. You want your significant other to go on a hike with you, but you don’t know where to start, Here are some tips that will introduce your partner to hiking and hopefully lead to a backpacking experience:

  1. Go to a good sporting goods store and buy them a new daypack. Don’t expect your partner to have fun using that old pack that you used in college. Get one with a 2 liter Camelbak-type bladder.
  2. While you are there, purchase some sturdy hiking boots for partner. You don’t need anything too heavy, but Keen, Merrell and others make stylish, light 3-season hiking boots.
  3. Find a fun 10 mile loop that is relatively close to home. We are fortunate to have a hilly loop with some beautiful views near by. This loop has a beautiful area at the halfway point where we eat lunch.
  4. Pack some tasty treats for the hike. Since it’s only a day hike, you don’t need to worry too much about weight. Bring a sandwich from your favorite sub shop, some sodas or sports drinks, chips or crackers, and a candy bar or two.
  5. Pick a dry, warm day for your hike. Don’t take your partner out on a cold wet day the first time out, or you will end up hiking alone for the rest of your life!
  6. Turn off your mobile device. You are there to be with your partner and you definitely do not want unnecessary interruptions.
  7. Start out easy and let your partner take the lead. Go at their pace and don’t worry about how long it will take. Enjoy the solitude, the views, and the time alone with someone you love.
  8. It should take about 4 hours for you to finish this hike. When you are finished, treat your partner to a good meal at a local restaurant.

If all goes well, you should have a chance of going out together for more hikes. Backpacking for Couples recommends spending your first season day-hiking. is a great resource for finding local hiking routes. Eventually you may decide to try an overnight or multi-day trip.

Backpacking for Couples will be here to help!