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Backpacking Partner Compatibility Test

Hiking Break

If you stick with this backpacking thing long enough, there will come a time when everyone in your family and all of your friends refuse to hike with you because you hike too fast or too far in a given day. When that happens you are going to have to go solo or find a new backpacking partner who’s compatible with your skill and fitness level.

If you prefer to hike with someone else, here’s a set of screening questions that I’ve devised to determine if someone is a good candidate partner.

How do you protect your food from bears?

  • Wrong Answer: I sleep with a loaded hand gun and scream “Make my Day” if I hear anything moving around camp at night.
  • Right Answer: I hang it from a tree, use a bear canister, or Ursack.

How much do you drink a day?

  • Wrong Answer: About a fifth of vodka.
  • Right Answer: Four to six liters of water per day.

How do you make your water safe to drink?

  • Wrong Answer: I’ve never done that. Can you do that for me?
  • Wrong Answer: I don’t trust that stuff. I carry all of the water I’ll need for the entire trip plus a little extra.
  • Right Answer: Chlorine dioxide tablets, bleach, a water filer or water purifier, etc.

What would you do when you get a black toenail?

  • Wrong Answer: I set up an emergency pedicure.
  • Right Answer: Not a problem. Most of my other toenails are already black.
  • Right Answer: I wear black toenail polish, so it doesn’t even show.

What is the most dangerous thing on a hiking trip?

  • Wrong Answer: Snakes.
  • Right Answer: Hypothermia.
  • Right Answer: Getting a speeding ticket.
  • Right Answer: Setting your shelter on fire with your stove.

How do you screen out the newbies and weirdos?


  1. I used to be (a guy from BPL)

    How do you screen out the newbies and weirdos?
    I have a zero tolerance for illegal drugs.

    I gauge their comfort level and my compatibility regarding Type 1 2 3 fun. I first read this from Skurka.

    Type 1 fun: Enjoyable the entire time you’re doing it. It’s never tough, you don’t want it to end.

    Type 2 fun: Tough at some juncture, or the entire time you are doing it, but great and is all smiles later on, usually on the way back, you are excited to either brag about it later or look back on it and value it as a character-building episode.

    Type 3 fun: This is never fun while you’re doing it, you often feel your life is threatened, certain doom is usually at hand, and half the time it ends in a harrowing rescue. Afterwards, you swear to never attempt anything similar ever again.

  2. Anyone who has to find a source of alcohol on a daily basis is a no no for me…as i no longer drink. Also anyone who needs to talk incessantly fries my brain

  3. I only hike with left-wingers

  4. After four decades in the military and law enforcement—-the only weirdo I want to backpack with is —- ME. (and to be honest, I even question me, sometimes!)

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