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A hiking buddy is someone who you will laugh with; slog through the mud with; occasionally get angry at; maybe get lost with; and certainly share great stories with. Like any good relationship, you might be apprehensoive at the beginning. Who knows if you’ll be a good match?
I’ve had a lot of hiking buddies over the years, some who I only adventured with once and others that I’ve had by my side for hundreds of miles. Here are a few of things to look for in a great hiking partner.
A Sense of Adventure
Finding a partner with a sense of adventure is key. After all, you don’t want to be coaxing this person down the trail after only ten minutes of walking. You’ll want someone who is curious, down for anything, and ready for a few curveballs. Because believe me, there will be curveballs.
A Level of Physical Fitness that Matches Yours
Or if not matches, is at least in the ballpark. It’s great to have a hiking partner who can either push you a little past your comfort zone or one you’re able to push a bit past their own. But wildly mismatched levels of fitness can be a challenge. You don’t want to be chasing your partner, and you don’t want him or her to have to chase you.
A Flexible Outlook
Maybe that waterfall is bone dry, or perhaps you took a wrong turn at that fork in the trail back there. Someone who is regimented in their expectations will find the experience trying. But with a flexible outlook, you can adjust and find a new way of framing the situation. It’s great to have a partner who can do the same.
Someone Whose Company You Enjoy
This one may seem like a no-brainer, but you may find yourself saying “yes” to a hike with someone you don’t really like. Maybe the destination is too good to pass up, or you think time on the trail will be like an outdoorsy version of a trust fall. Sure, sometimes that works out. And sometimes you count down the seconds until you part ways. Try to hike with someone whose company you truly enjoy, and with whom you want to share one of life’s pleasures.
My best hiking buddies have been friends (or sometimes strangers) who make the experience more than the sum of its parts. They are people who have pushed me, whom I’ve pushed, and with whom I love sitting at a bar to re-live the adventure over a glass of whiskey. What do you look for in a hiking partner?
You should also check our article about what to eat before hiking.