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Guest Post by Ross Burgess
If you are passionate about hiking and like to hit the trails as often as possible, you may be considering bringing along a buddy on your next adventure. While a short stroll doesn’t require that much preparation, there are a few things to consider if you want to embark on a long trek with a friend.
- Where Should You Look for a Hiking Partner?
Depending on your comfort level with social media, you can go virtual or stay in the real-life realm to look for your next hiking partner. The first place to look is close to home—do you have any colleagues, friends or family members who have expressed some interest in hiking?
If not, consider these other options.
- Facebook groups
Facebook groups can be found for just about any interest or hobby, including hiking. You can find hiking communities in almost every city in the United States. Once you join a Facebook hiking group, you’ll get to participate in discussion with fellow hikers or even start to plan your next trek!
- Hiking clubs
Every state has multiple local hiking clubs that plan a trek at least once a week when the weather allows. Start off by taking part in a few of these organized hikes, interact and make some new friends. Once you feel comfortable, plan your own hike with one or a few of your new like-minded friends.
- Meetup groups
If you can’t find a hiking club or Facebook group near you, start your own hiking group on Meetup.
With more than 32 million users across 182 countries, it will be easy to find a group of like-minded hiking enthusiasts. After all, hiking is one of the most popular activities on Meetup!
Like Facebook groups, Meetup is a great platform to help you stay updated and connected with your hiking group and future trips.
Keep in mind that creating your own Meetup group requires a monthly payment. If you find an existing group, it is free to join.
- Choosing Your Hiking Partner
To find a companion who will complement you and your hiking style well, here are some tips to think about when choosing a hiking partner.
- Your companion’s physical fitness level
Before you set out on your hike, discuss both of your physical abilities and previous hikes. If you can hike for two hours along a rocky trail without rest, can they do the same? You don’t want to slow each other down, but also don’t want to push each other too much so that the hike becomes too gruelling.
After the initial discussion, go out on a short test hike to gauge whether the both of you have the right chemistry before embarking on a more challenging hike.
- Hiking gear and skills
Finding a companion with the right experience is only half the battle. You’ll also want a partner who knows the skills and owns the equipment that you don’t, to ensure you will be well prepared for the hike.
For example, knowing how to use a tactical knife in the wild can be a life-saving skill when you and your companion are out trekking in the wilderness.
- Understand each other’s hiking goals
Before you embark on your hiking trip, find time to have an open conversation with your companion to understand what he or she wants to accomplish on the trip.
Do they want to spend time taking scenic photos, go canoeing down the stream or reach the highest peak?
Similarly, make sure your buddy understands what exactly you want to get out of the trip.
Ensuring you have matching goals can save you from a lot of unpleasant disagreements in the future.
- The Benefits of Hiking in Pairs or Groups
If you are an experienced solo hiker, you may be wondering what the benefits are of hiking with a friend. Although you may be perfectly content alone on the trails, bringing a friend along has some undeniable positives.
- For safety
All hikers take steps to ensure their safety like bringing the right kind of equipment and clothing. But having a second pair of eyes on the trails can help you reduce the risk of falling into some unforeseen dangerous situations, even if you are an expert hiker.
If your potential buddy is an experienced hiker as well, they may introduce you to some new hiking tools or techniques you wouldn’t have known about otherwise. Especially during the spring season, many hikers are updating their hiking tools/collections to make sure they will be ready for every situation in the outdoors.
If your potential buddy is a new hiker, they will be relieved to know they won’t be hitting their first trail alone!
- To share the load and responsibilities
Hiking for an extended period can be hard work, especially when you consider the load and responsibilities. One reason why many people decide to hike in pairs or groups is to share the load and spread the responsibilities among themselves. You should only be bringing the bare necessities on longer hikes, but essential equipment like pots, navigation tools and a tent can be very heavy. If each person can take a few things, this makes the trek more enjoyable and doable for you and your partner(s).
Additionally, each person will likely be versed in one or more specific skills related to hiking. Imagine the convenience of having multiple companions, with each of them highly trained in either first aid, navigation or military wilderness survival.
By assigning each person their responsibilities related to their skill set, they will feel more comfortable carrying out their duties effectively.
- For Quality Time in the Wilderness
Nature has a way of bringing us together. In the outdoors, there is nothing there to distract us from having deep and personal conversations with one another. Once you finish the hike, you will be proud of the accomplishment you achieved together and will have plenty of stories to tell!
See more safety tips from Solo Trekker for hiling alone:
For hiking in the top US national parks, check out whether you will need a permit. For example, in April 2022, Utah’s Zion National Park will require a permit for hiking to its iconic Angels Landing.