How to Find a Hiking Buddy or Backpacking Buddy
Experienced hikers will tell you that some of the closest friends we have are those made on the trail. There’s nothing like a hiking buddy to suffer alongside you for every sweaty mile, listening to each other’s painful trail singing and occasional, “WTF!”
Have you been looking for your ideal hiking partner to laugh, cry, and rejoice with on the trail? Hiking buddies can be hard to come by, but it’s amazing when a former stranger becomes your best hiking partner.
We’ve got your back with the ultimate guide to finding new friends who love hiking, camping, and the great outdoors!
Benefits of Having a Hiking Partner
Really, solo hiking is only satisfying for so long. Hiking alone can get, well, lonely! Here are the reasons we think you’ll love having a trail buddy:
- Feeling safer doing outdoor activities
- Having someone to share the load (especially for overnights)
- A partner to help if you need wilderness first aid
- Having good company on the trail—all corny jokes aside
- Another person navigating is much safer
- Having a chance to sample someone else’s trail snacks
OK, maybe that last one is a bonus!
How to Find Hiking Buddies
Solo hiking is a great way to get away from it all and enjoy the outdoors, but hiking friends are handy when you’re ready to tackle a challenging long trail or trek for multiple days at a time.
We love an organic hiking buddy story, but let’s be real—looking for a hiking community and finding a hiking partner can be tough! Here’s our best advice for finding awesome hiking partners:
1. Join a Hiking Group
Group hiking is a great way to meet other people with similar interests and forge friendships with other outdoor enthusiasts! Connecting with other members is a great way to form a network of potential hiking buddies.
There are tons of online groups for hikers, and these are a great place to start your search for a hiking partner!
You can find amazing communities online, like the Explorer Chick Facebook Group! Here you can connect with other female hikers in your area who are ready to hit the trail with a friend.
2. Join a Guided Hike or Backpacking Trip
Joining a guided trip is a super safe and exciting way of meeting like-minded people, and getting to hike in incredible places! You can choose from all types of excursions through Explorer Chick, including hiking trips and backpacking trips where you’re sure to walk away with a friend.
Your guide will be an experienced hiker who likely knows the trail and will be prepared to navigate, give sound advice, and handle emergencies involving wilderness medicine or safety decisions. Guided trips take the pressure off of you and put you right amongst it with people who have common interests in hiking and the outdoors!
3. Ask Friends and Family
Don’t be afraid to tap into your own social network! Sometimes finding outdoorsy friends is as simple as introducing your current friends to the outdoors.
Start asking around! You may have friends or family members also interested in hiking. Going with people you already know you enjoy spending time with is a great way to get more time on the trail and grow closer with those connections.
4. Join Events at Local Parks
Local parks and nature centers are popular places for hiking enthusiasts and outdoor events. Lots of parks and recreation areas have Facebook groups for frequent park visitors who love to hike trails. Local hiking groups will often post here when get-togethers are happening!
Check out your local chapter of hiking clubs like the Appalachian Mountain Club and Sierra Club, outdoor associations that lead all kinds of outdoor events. In some areas, local colleges also have outing clubs that open events to the public as well.
5. Find a Meet-Up Group
Meetup.com is a super popular place for hikers to connect, and tons of events are free! Sign-ups are super easy and they have everything from information sessions to trips. If you’re an experienced hiker, you can even sign up to lead events!
If you’re meeting with a group of strangers for the first time, bring a buddy and let someone you trust know your meeting location and planned route. Put safety first, even when meeting new friends!
How to Choose Hiking Buddies
Not everyone who hikes will have the same skill level or make a good hiking buddy for you. In other words, don’t expect to get along with everyone! It can be hard to find a good hiking partner, but part of the reason is that you have to be a little picky.
Things to keep in mind when looking for a potential hiking partner:
- Physical Fitness: Having similar physical fitness and hiking experience will make it easier to hike together and keep a similar pace. This way you’ll know even if you do separate, they’ll only be a few minutes behind.
- Positive Influence: An ideal hiking partner isn’t necessarily someone who’s exactly like you, but more importantly, someone you can have fun with and trust to make good decisions, and who’ll encourage you to do the same.
- Similar Goals: We all know that one (or maybe several) hiking chick who’s all for the suffer fest — she’s pushing boundaries and challenging her body on every trip. However, it’s also totally acceptable to just want your hiking trips to be a good, relaxing time in nature. Or maybe you’re all about finding that perfect alpine lake for a skinny dip. Whatever your priorities make sure you and your new hiking buddy are both in it for the same reasons.
Different hiking buddies may have different skill levels, so choosing a hike together is the best way to make sure everyone is on the same page.
How to Choose Backpacking Buddies
Whether you’re heading out for a weekend or planning a thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail, planning to spend multiple days hiking in the wilderness takes careful consideration.
Committing to a trail buddy for a day hike is one thing, but when it comes to longer trips you really want to make sure you and your pal are good hiking partners, and that your friend can hold their own.
Choose a backpacking partner who…
- Has similar hiking experience to you
- Comes prepared with essential gear like a first aid kit (and extra snacks)
- Communicates clearly and puts safety first
- Is physically fit enough to carry the gear over the miles (or is willing to get there)
Our best advice for choosing buddies for all outdoor activities is to look for friends who are safe and use common sense, and who know the most important thing is having FUN!
Find Your New Favorite Hiking Buddies with Explorer Chick!
Ready to make your new closest friends and have hiking stories for DAYS? Join Explorer Chick on the trails with one of our women’s hiking or backpacking trips!
PaulaFebruary 8th, 2022
I am so grateful to have met this group of amazing, like-minded women and our phenomenal guide and winter-weather driver extraordinaire @Kelsey.doolittle. We all met as complete strangers in Canaan Valley, West Virginia, just a few days ago, but quickly formed a friendship through a shared love of adventure.
I came away from this weekend feeling empowered, not just by my own inclination to try new things, but by the group’s collective energy and desire to live a life that is full of new experiences and moments that make us feel challenged, yet proud and happy.
This was also my first @explorerchickadventureco trip and I’m already so excited for the next! If you’re a female looking to join a tribe of other women who enjoy exploring new places, give them a follow.
Meet the Writer
April is an adventure lover and freelance writer based in New England, with a passion for public lands, wild places, and all things outdoors. She loves camping in any form and spends as many weekends as she can hiking New Hampshire’s highest peaks, or road-tripping with her sweet dog Marley. If not in the mountains, you can find her planning her next expedition or caring for one of her far-too-many-houseplants.
Favorite outdoor adventure: National Parks Hiking and Road Trips!
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