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Love on the Trail: Tips and Advice for Couples Backpacking

Couples Backpacking

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to go on a backpacking trip with a romantic partner. Would you drive each other crazy or would the shared experience deepen your relationship?

Here are the stories of five well-known American and British couples who’ve hiked long distance backpacking trails together:

They share with you the highs and lows of couples backpacking and the accommodations that they made when hiking together, touching on topics such as:

  • How to deal with different hiking paces
  • Shared vs individual gear
  • Division of labor
  • Food and cooking
  • Best shelters for couples
  • Effect of being a couple on other hikers
  • “Affection” on the trail
  • What to do if one partner has to leave the trail early
  • How a shared backpacking trip affects everyday life after the hike
  • Lessons of a minimalist lifestyle together


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16 comments

  1. Thanks for covering this! When my husband and I left for the AT in 2010 so many people very negative about us hiking together. When we got out on the trail it was evident that there were more couples than we’d imagined.

    We went on to hike the Florida Trail after and now we work together at the same company.

    It can be done!

  2. Yes, My wife and I have some of our most pleasant memories of camping on the trail somewhere. Looking forward to this Philip!

  3. Ray and Jenny Jardine did just a bit of couples backpacking, right?

  4. Wow! Can’t wait to read these stories. I knew my wife was the one for me when she fell in love with backpacking after her first experience with me.

  5. My wife and I used to backpack together, however, her health issues forced her to quit. She has many artificial parts now in her knees and back. Hmmmm… those parts are titanium… titanium is lightweight backpacking gear… hmmmm… maybe we can still do this…

  6. Thanks. Looking forward to this as my wife wants to try backpacking this year.

  7. I read Julie Urbanski’s account of her and her husband’s hiking the AT and I thought she was kind of whiny, and I think she realized it.

    My GF and I hike together almost every weekend. Its one of the things we enjoy doing together, but we are under no obligation to do big miles or to meet certain goals. We do 8 to 12 mile days and are perfectly happy with that. It is supposed to be fun.

    • I can see her coming off that way, but her two books have the best account of a couples backpacking experience of any thru-hiker memoir I’ve ever read. My 2 cents. I’ve known her for a few years and think she and Matt have a slightly different perspective from many hikers because they’re first and foremost runners.

  8. I’m very interested to read about this, and thank you for organizing the series! My partner first took me backpacking, many years ago, and ironically I am now the more enthusiastic (read “obsessed”) hiker whereas he is content with base camping and other comforts.

  9. Sounds like a great topic. Every couple is different. I have had some challenges backpacking with my wife. We do lots of day hikes just fine. But on overnights its another story. One thing we did do well I believe, was being open to other people around us. For example, socializing with others at camp.not making others feel uncomfortable or that they were intruding on our couples space.
    It may be that couples with marriage difficulties may bring their challenges into the back country. The silence may allow issues to surface. It may also allow the opportunity for discussion outside of busy daily life. We had one hour on our last trip that made me regret going with her. I felt trapped in a beautiful place. However, we got past it and enjoyed the rest of our trip without incident. We took on different tasks around camp. We both hiked at a mutually enjoyable pace. On our last day we collected wild mushrooms to cook at home.

    I am looking forward to the upcoming series.

  10. Phillip,
    GREAT topic. Even though I don’t have a significant other right now I can’t wait to read it.

  11. Great idea, Philip! I’m looking forward to reading these. My wife and I have been hiking and camping together throughout our entire marriage (20+ years) and got into backpacking within the last two years (simply combined the two interests!). We haven’t done anything “long distance,” but this is still an intriguing topic. Thanks.

  12. My husband and I have completely different hiking styles. He is goal orientated and walks very fast – one pace up and down hills and on the flatter terrain. He hiked ascertains amount of time and has rest stops by the click. I slog up hills and stop to take photos, chat with people I meet and rest when I am tired or hungry (no clock needed!)
    So we bushwalk/hike/tramp/ramble (depending on which country we are in!) separately, but camp together.
    it suits us.

  13. No problem at all! My wife and I have done many tracks, climbs and treks over many years, I set the pace and she controlled the breaks for food and shelter for the night. I would cook and she would clean the pans etc. Shared labour by mutual agreement. Now after a hip replacement one leg is longer than the other and she has a pronounced limp and is only able to do short walks of a couple of hours. Now I go alone and boy do I miss her on the trail; at 78 there are no companions like the lifetime one!

  14. Journey, it’s the best spending time with those you love! It is!

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