Hiking as a couple is a great way to spend time together and enjoy the outdoors, but it can also be dangerous if you don’t plan ahead.
It’s too easy for couples to disagree on how long they should hike or what trail they should choose for their first date. This can lead to some awkward conversations about who was right and who was wrong later on in the day.
We’ve put together this guide of tips that will help your hiking experience go smoothly from start to finish! By planning ahead, choosing an appropriate trail, packing correctly, and agreeing upon a rest period before going back out again you’ll have a fun time without any (major) arguments!
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How Hiking Can Improve Your Relationship
Hiking with your spouse or significant other can be a great way to bring you two closer together. It can strengthen your relationship in a few different ways:
1. Helps you shift your focus away from your smartphones, away from the dirty dishes piling up, away from the bickering over who’s doing which chores, and focus back on each other, on joy, on freedom of movement, and exploring new places together.
2. Enhances communication and trust in each other. Especially if you’re hiking in a remote location, you’re got to be able to communicate your wants and needs with your hiking partner. If you need a break, say so! Want to stop and take a cheesy selfie, say so! If you’re not feeling well or something feels wrong, speak up! And of course, you’ve got to keep a loving eye on your partner, be ready to help them if they need it, and trust that they’re also looking out for you and have your best interest in mind as well.
3. Gets the endorphins flowing! Hiking not only makes you stronger, gives your booty a lift, but has also been proven to boost your mood and energy levels by releasing feel-good hormones like endorphins and adrenaline. What an awesome way to prep for a romantic evening!
Tips For Hiking or Camping As A Couple
The first thing you want to do is sit down with your significant other and discuss what you both think an ideal hike looks like. If one of you likes to take it slow, but the other one wants to power through at a strenuous pace, there might be conflicts that result in a crappy hike for both of you. Make sure that whenever the two of you set out on a hike, both of you are okay with the level of difficulty and amount of effort it is going to take.
Once you’ve agreed upon an appropriate trail for both of you, the next thing to discuss is your hiking style. Will you actually walk right next to each other the whole time? Or maybe wander from each other, agreeing on certain landmarks or times throughout the day when you’ll meet back up? Does either of you have strong feelings on who leads or leads follows, or are you okay switching it up throughout the hike?
Next, you’ll have to chat about hiking gear and food. Decide ahead of time whether you’ll each pack everything you need for yourself for the entire hike, or if you’ll plan on sharing some things. For example, you might only need to bring one water filter, one bottle of sunscreen and bug spray, one first aid kit if you’ll be sticking together, etc.
Or, if this is a first date or someone you don’t know super well, I do recommend that each of you bring all your own gear and food, just in case things go sideways and you end up going separate ways on the hike.
If you’re camping together, decide whether you’ll share a tent or need separate shelters. Do you have a sleeping pad and sleeping bag made for two, or do you need each bring one?
And you’ll have to plan out your food. Decide you’ll each bring your own snacks and meals if you’re staying overnight, or will one of you plan the whole menu? Maybe one person packs dinners and one person packs lunches – that is up to you to decide.
Whatever you do, make sure you talk about it ahead of time, never just assume the other person is going to bring a tent or bring a stove. Ask for sure if they are bringing it, or if you need to pack it yourself.
Couples Hiking Gear
The gear you carry and your system for packing your pack might look a little different if you’re hiking with your significant other vs when you’re hiking alone. Here are some of our favorite couple’s hiking gear items, plus some things we just think you should carry if you’re camping as a couple.
Couples Day Hiking Gear
- You’ll both need good hiking shoes
- Sunscreen & bug spray, share one bottle or each pack your own
- Backpacks or day packs, I recommend you each carry your own pack
- Snacks and water, each person carries their own snacks for the day plus 2 liters of water per person
- Water filter/purifier, you can share this, or one person carries a filter and one person carries a chemical purifier
- A closed cell foam sleeping pad to sit on during breaks, or each carry your own Z-seat
- First aid kit in case of emergencies
- Rain gear, each of you bring your own rain jacket or poncho, whatever you prefer
- Warm jacket in case it gets chilly
- A headlamp per person in case you get stuck out after dark
- map and compass, plus the knowledge of how to use it
- whistle, each person should have their own for emergencies
- emergency gps, optional but highly recommended
- bear spray, if in bear country
- poop kit
Couples Overnight Hiking Gear
- Shelter, either a tent to share or two separate tents/hammocks
- Sleeping pad, either a double sleeping pad or two separate pads
- Sleeping bag, either a double sleeping bag or two separate bags
- Camp pillows
- Bigger backpacks, you’ll each need ~65 liter backpacks to hold overnight gear and food
- fairy lights, optional but great for ambience
- Breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners for both people
- A camp stove and pot, you can share a cookset or each bring your own
- One outfit for hiking, one outfit for sleeping, per person
- Toothbrush and travel toothpaste, please brush your teeth
- Body wipes or packtowel to help freshen up and wipe off the grime from the day
- Condoms, optional but recommended, more on this later
- A surprise for your partner, like their favorite snack or a funny book you can read together, also optional but highly recommended
Couples Hiking Trips
If you’re looking to go on a romantic hiking vacation with your other half, check out these trails! Some of these are trips I’ve already made with my husband and we loved them, and some are trails that are still on our hiking bucket list.
Trans Catalina Trail, California
The Trans Catalina Trail stretches the entire way across Catalina Island. Starting at The Trailhead in Avalon, hiking out to Parson’s Landing, then back to Two Harbors, the total length is 38.5 miles. Depending on how fast you hike, it might take you 2-5 days to complete the trail. I was pleasantly shocked at how easy it was to book this trip, get to the island, reserve campsites, etc. (At least when we went, definitely plan well in advance if you’ll be going during a busy season or big event on the island.)
Then we finished our backpacking trip with a wonderful, luxurious stay at the Banning House Lodge in Two Harbors. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend our anniversary. See our full Trans Catalina Trail Review here.
Lost Creek Wilderness Loop, Colorado
At 29.2 miles, this loop gives you a great taste and great views of the Lost Creek Wilderness. The Lost Creek Wilderness Loop has a little bit of everything, pine groves, wildflower meadows, and beautiful, unique rock formations the entire way. Campsites are plentiful along this loop, so you really can spend as many or as few nights as you wish on this loop. Water sources are plentiful in the spring and early summer but do tend to dry up later in the season.
Consider yourself warned. And check out our full Lost Creek Wilderness Loop Trail Review here.
Tahoe Rim Trail, Nevada
This 165-miles trail forms a loop all the way around the Lake Tahoe Basin. Having never been to this area before, The Tahoe Rim Trail seems like a perfect way to soak in the sights and really experience the Tahoe Wilderness. Find more about backpacking the Tahoe Rim Trail here.
Wonderland Trail, Washington
The 93-mile Wonderland Trail is for experienced backpackers looking for a challenge and stunning views of Mt. Rainier. The Wonderland Trail is a loop that goes around Mt. Rainier and takes hikers through the backcountry of Mt. Rainier National Park. This one is on my bucket list for sure! Find out more information about the Wonderland Trail here.
Long Trail, Vermont
This is a bit of a longer thru-hike, clocking in at 272 miles. The Long Trail is one of the oldest long-distance hiking trails in the US and stretches the entire length of Vermont – what a better way to explore and experience a state! Find out more backpacking on the Long Trail here.
Grayson Highlands Mt. Rogers Loop Trail, Virgina
Having met my husband on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia in 2013, we hiked north together and were lucky enough to explore the Grayson Highlands together and see the wild ponies! Mount Rogers Loop Trail is 19 miles and shows you some of the best views in Virginia, and of course, seeing wild ponies and picking fresh wild berries along the way is just icing on the hiking cake. See more details about Mount Rogers Loop Trail here.
Or find day hikes in your area by using the Hiking Project App. Hiking Project is the only app I recommend because I find it’s the easiest to use, most accurate as far as user-generated trails go, and it’s freeeee. Make sure to download the maps for your state so you can access them offline or out of cell service.
FAQ About Couples Hiking Together
Whether you’re new to hiking or in a new relationship, you might have some questions and hesitations about hiking or backpacking together as a couple. It’s okay, I got you.
How do couples backpack?
Every hiker eventually settles into their own unique hiking style and routines, this is what we call Hike Your Own Hike – and it applies to couples too! Every couple might hike and backpack together a little differently, and that is the beauty of backpacking, you get to decide.
You get to decide if the two of you want to share as much gear as possible to keep your pack weight down. Or if you feel more comfortable carrying all your own gear, then you can do that instead.
You get to decide if you want to hike all day, every day together or if you want to hike at different paces and just meet up at camp each night.
I highly recommend that you at least create an itinerary together before you start hiking so that you each know what to expect, like how far you will hike each day, how difficult the hike will be and generally where the water sources and campsites are along the route.
Do you really have to check each other for ticks?
Yup. Hate to break it to you, but without access to a full-length mirror and a good shower, having your partner check every nook and cranny for ticks for you can be invaluable in spotting and removing them before any serious disease is transmitted. My husband and I both thoroughly wipe down with a wet wipe before doing tick checks, just out of common courtesy.
How do you get intimate when you’re so smelly and dirty?
If you’re on a long-distance thru-hike, your BO will quickly become a non-issue I promise. But if you’re on a shorter weekend trip or week-long trip, wet wipes and/or a small pack towel will become your best friends. On multi-day trips, I like to soak my pack towel in a creek or lake and then use it to wipe off all the bug spray, sunscreen and grime that gets stuck on you while backpacking.
Just be sure not to wash off any bug spray or sunscreen into lakes or streams. After wiping down, rinse off your dirty pack towel out in the woods so you’re not just adding these chemicals straight into the water sources. And always be sure to pack out any used wet wipes in a Ziploc bag – do not bury wet wipes or try to burn them, pack them out and throw them away in a trash can.
As a woman, I also find it feels cleaner and makes clean-up much easier to always use a condom while camping or backpacking. Even while I was on birth control and with a long-term partner, condoms just took away a lot of the ick factor of having sex on multi-day trips in the woods.
What if you have an argument and are stuck together in the wilderness?
Unfortunately, arguments can happen in any relationship, even the happiest, healthiest ones! Arguments while hiking or camping can be particularly hard to navigate because you can’t always just leave or retreat into your own little safe space after arguing. You’re kinda stuck together.
But I promise you can make it through. Like I said earlier, communication is key. After the heat of the argument has fizzled out – ask for what you need. If you need to sit alone on a log in silence to process what just happened for 10 minutes, 30 minutes or more, say that!
If you want to take some time to think about your partner’s side of the argument and revisit the conversation in a couple of days, when you’re both calmer, say that!
If you realize you both were just hangry and dehydrated, then apologize and break out the snacks!
We truly hope you have a great time camping and hiking with your significant other. Remember to choose the right trail, pack everything needed for the hike, and remain aware of each other’s energy levels so that everyone is safe! In addition to these tips, don’t forget about planning for emergencies during hikes. It can be helpful to know how far away from civilization you are or if there are any emergency contact numbers on hand.
For even more hiking and camping tips, check out these posts:
- Hiking Essentials For Beginners
- Backpacking vs Hiking What’s The Difference?!
- Hiking Terms and Lingo You Need To Know
- The Ulitmate Guide To Hiking With Kids
About the author, Mallory Moskowitz:
After studying Recreation, Park & Tourism Management, Mallory spent several years teaching environmental education, guiding hikes, and leading backcountry trips. Her life-changing trek from Georgia to New York on the Appalachian Trail is what sparked the creation of Your Adventure Coach, to share backpacking tips and resources with as many new hikers as possible.