Dividing gear with significant other

Forum Posting

A Membership is required to post in the forums. Login or become a member to post in the member forums!

Home Forums Gear Forums Gear (General) Dividing gear with significant other

  • This topic is empty.
Viewing 25 posts - 1 through 25 (of 28 total)
  • Author
  • #1327041
    Josh Platt
    BPL Member


    Locale: Southeast

    So, I'm going to do some trips with my girlfriend very soon. However, she needs a pack. That led me to thinking about how we would split up gear into two packs. Basically just looking to see what everyone does for this.

    My only concern is we have a Nemo Tango Duo that we will be definitely taking. So that eliminates a sleeping bag in each pack.

    Jon Fong / Flat Cat Gear
    BPL Member


    Locale: FLAT CAT GEAR

    We typically split 60/40 on weight, we adjust on the trip as needs. It seems silly but shifting say a liter of water is a 4 pound differential and it can make a big difference. My 2 cents.

    Jeffs Eleven
    BPL Member


    Locale: NePo

    My wife carries the softgoods.

    Basically she carries the quilt, the pads, her clothes. Sometimes some of my clothes depending on stuff.

    She also carries the food for the day… maybe not that night's dinner, but most of the daily food.

    We split it up this way because:
    1. she is female so she is weak and can only carry small weights. (jk obv)
    2. basically we get to camp and I set up the tent first. Then she can get in there with her pack and make our nest. (I'll usually start cooking now)
    3. we do the food like that so I don't have to dig through my pack during the day. It stays packed all day. (clothes stay on top so I can change as weather changes)

    Essentially she carries the voluminous light stuff and I carry the heavy hard stuff.

    Billy Ray


    Locale: the mountains

    Seems to me… from many years of observations of couples hiking the following axiom applies:

    The guy's pack is directly proportional to the 'hotness' of the gal.

    The gal's pack is inversely proportional to herownself's hotness.


    Josh Platt
    BPL Member


    Locale: Southeast

    My gal is pretty hot, so I may be carrying everything. Haha.

    She has done some hikes with me before but with an osprey pack that rubbed her hips raw. Since then we have been able to afford nicer and lighter things. Now I think I just need to figure out a good pack size for her.

    I also need to figure a way to pack everything so that one of us isn't left with a pack with things just loose, since we are sharing a quilt basically.

    Jonathan Chin
    BPL Member


    Locale: Northwoods

    My girlfriend usually carries quite a bit more than me. First her pack is 49oz heavier. Also, she insists on splitting shared items (tent, food, etc) and on bringing things just for her (face/baby wipes, comb, sunscreen, extra clothes, her Kindle, and extra water because she doesn't want to wait for the next source). She also says she likes the feeling of a heavier pack because it "makes (her) back feel better".

    The extra weight is also good because it slows her down so I can keep up and/or take more photos :)

    d k
    BPL Member


    "The guy's pack is directly proportional to the 'hotness' of the gal.
    The gal's pack is inversely proportional to herownself's hotness."

    Well, thanks, no wonder I end up carrying so much of the shared stuff…

    I generally carry the food, he carries the rest of the shared gear (tent, groundcloth, stove/cook stuff). I have a larger pack than he does, so I get the bear canister and he takes the smaller, more dense items. For longer trips he will take some of the food too during the day.

    Brad Rogers
    BPL Member


    Locale: Southeast Tennessee

    I have a gearlist in my profile for an upcoming trip with my wife that shows how we plan to split up the gear. If in doubt (and you want her to stay your girlfriend) you carry it and be the sherpa.

    I don't want to derail the thread but you should plan this out carefully:

    Has she ever backpacked before? I assume no since she needs a backpack

    Make sure she is warm (and as you probably well know, women are generally colder natured than men). Make sure she has good food to eat. Make sure you don't overdo it. Let her set the pace (don't run off and leave her), etc. Also, has she done some long dayhikes or runs? Be sure you take care of (or she takes care of her feet) byPre-taping problem areas, etc. Blisters will ruin the trip for her.

    I made some mistakes with my wife on our first trip seven years ago (at the time we were not married or dating), She slept on a Zlite, and we did a trip with 3,500ft of climbing in the first 5 miles of an 11 mile day (and the first mile and a half was pretty flat). She has said later on that during that climb if she could have cought me she would have killed me. Of course she didn't listen to my advice much either she wore cotton socks (and got blisters on her heels), and dispite telling her to pack her raingear in an accessable area, when a storm moved in I remember us standing under a fir tree unpacking her entire pack to get to her raingear which was in the very bottom, and it was already raining – hard In spite of all of my screw ups she did continue to hike with me, but she is more tougher than most.

    Bob Bankhead
    BPL Member


    Locale: Oregon, USA

    However you elect to do it, try not to divide systems you both will need to use (shelter, cooking, etc.). Couples do get separated occasionally, and having the tent but not the poles and stakes, or having the stove and cook pot but not the fuel makes them at best marginally useful.

    You should divide the food, with today's meals with the cook set and fuel. That way you both have something to eat and you own sleeping system (bag or quilt, pad, ground cover).

    Couples tend to want to camp together and not get separated, but it does happen. You could find yourselves alone and "on your own".

    Perhaps the most common causes of such unplanned solitude is when the stronger hiker goes on ahead while the slower one lags behind, and one of you makes the wrong turn at a trail junction or road crossing. Old rule of thumb when hiking with someone else – never pass a trail junction or road crossing until you see the person behind you approaching AND they see you. In groups, everyone takes their turn waiting at the junction until relieved by the next hiker in line. Only the last hiker gets to breeze on through.

    Kimberly Wersal
    BPL Member


    Locale: Western Colorado

    We each carry our own personal stuff; he carries the tent and cookset, I carry the food. My pack starts out a little heavier, but ends up lighter, so we shift water bottles to even out the loads. I like to keep his pack as light as possible so he stays happy! He must be hot!

    Jake D
    BPL Member


    Locale: Bristol,RI

    We each carry our own clothes, sleeping stuff and food. Last time we went she carried the tent she sewed the first day and i carried it the 2nd day. I carried the cooking/filter stuff.

    on a harder trip in the future i'll the tent and a bit of her dinner food to help more. I hike more and she doesn't mind if i carry more lol. i've carried the rope 95% of the times we've gone climbing the last 10 years ;)

    a short trip or day hike to sort things out between you might be a good idea :)

    Christina Serven


    Locale: Oregon

    I find that I carry a lot of stuff on the way in to a trip. After we've camped for a night I tend to sneak extra things into my husbands backpack. I do that to my dog as well, when I go solo. So beware!

    Warren G


    Locale: Santa Clara Valley

    With my wife(very experienced backpacker) and I, we aim for a relatively equal percentage of our bodyweights. We consistently end up with about 32 lbs for me and 16-18 lbs for her. When we're on our mtb's we'll add 2-3 lbs each. If she's struggling for some reason I'll add on some of her stuff. She tends to carry the items/food we'll need access to during the day because it's easier for me to get stuff out of her pack while she's wearing it, than vice versa. The exceptions are that I carry my fishing gear and she carries the wine!

    …Weights including 3-4 days of food.

    James Marco
    BPL Member


    Locale: Finger Lakes

    I guess it depends on how far and when. I typically carry about 18 pounds for a week long solo hike. In the past, when my wife wanted to go she would add anything she needed or thought she wanted. Her food, bedding, cloths, a cup, spoon, a couple water bottles and some fuel. She ended up at around 10 pounds. THEN she started adding stuff we really didn't need. Books, Extra strong headlamps for reading, batteries, a couple potatoes. Some stew beef. … Well she got her weight up to 15 pounds in a blink and my weight went up to 25. (I HAD to bring fishing gear, frying pan for trout, some eggs for breakfast, bread for toast, bacon for frying the eggs, onion & flour for stew, and so on.)

    Matt Dirksen
    BPL Member


    Locale: Mid Atlantic

    Lots of great suggestions. But whatever you initially "plan" to carry, make sure you also "plan" to stop early on in the trip and make adjustments as needed.
    No reason to have someone become fatigued too quickly.

    And if one of you hikes faster than the other, an essential skill to lean is to how to slow down your pace and stick together.

    It ain't a race, and if you've split your gear up, then you'll need eachother before you know it.

    Sumi Wada


    Locale: Ann Arbor

    Not exactly a 'significant other' but I've backpacked often with my son. It's part of what started me down the 'UL' road, as I'm the 5'2" mom and he was a skinny 9yo and we had to find a way to carry all our gear between us. It started with me carrying most of our shared gear but, now, he's 16 and we're about even.

    I manage my gear list on an Excel spreadsheet with some basic formulas built in. It lists all our gear and clothing choices with weights in columns. I have another column for me and another column for my son, in which I can pull in our personal gear/food/clothes, and then play around with "assigning" shared gear to work out the weight distribution. The list then becomes our packing checklist. System has worked well for me, whether hiking solo or with my son.

    Richie S
    BPL Member


    I tend to carry all the gear while my SO carries a credit card and checks into luxury hotels and spas.

    Elliott Wolin
    BPL Member


    Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia

    Our strategy is somewhat different.

    First, we never get separated. We did this when backpacking with our kids, where she would be in front, me in the rear and the kids in between, typically so that everyone was in sight of the next one along the trail most of the time.

    Now my wife still sets whatever pace she wants, which makes absolutely no difference to me. I take the pictures so I sometimes have to catch up. I doubt we ever get more than 100 yds apart.

    Thus we split things by weight, not by function (other than personal stuff), and the distribution changes as the food weight drops. I always carry more, but usually only a few pounds more.

    One problem: she is the navigator and has the map. Once in a while she'll get to a fork in the trail and keep going, and I'll get there and not know which fork to take. I tell her to always wait for me at all forks in the trail, but sometimes she forgets. Since we're not far apart she doesn't have to wait long. If she forgets I just sit down and wait, eventually she returns.

    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member


    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    > First, we never get separated.
    I'm with Elliott.
    Yes, I carry my clothing and Sue carries her clothing. But for the rest – we travel together. Works for couples, but maybe not for others.


    David Noll
    BPL Member


    Locale: Maroon Bells

    First, we never ever get separated. She carries her clothing, sleeping gear, food (1.2# per day) and the fuel(we usually burn esbit)
    and first aid kit. I carry the tent and cooking gear. For a week she is usually at aprx 20# and I am close to 24#. About a 55/45 split.

    Tim Zen


    Locale: MI

    If you may get married, then you want to set ground rules right now — 50 50.
    If not, carry everything so she is in a good mood when you get to camp.

    Valerie E


    Locale: Grand Canyon State

    There are so many variables to this question that it makes it difficult to imagine "the" answer!

    The OP is in a new relationship (impressing a new partner probably means carrying more gear). He is also the more experienced backpacker (the more experienced person carries more gear). He's also probably physically larger/stronger (the larger/stronger person carries more gear).

    So much will depend on each person's comfort level, expectations, and the couple's "dynamic".

    My husband is a few inches taller, and definitely stronger than I am. He's also a lot like a sled dog — he's excited, he wants to GO! Giving him more than his fair share of the weight keeps his energy levels more reasonable for normal humans. We hiked the JMT at a 2-3 mph pace, with me in front (I set a good, steady pace), and that worked really well for us both.

    I remember passing a couple along Woods Creek: he was blithely skipping along WAAAAY out in front, and she was struggling, sweating, and muttering obscenities at him (he was too far ahead to hear). I wondered what the atmosphere at their campsite that night would be like…hmmmmmmm, not good, methinks! Don't be THAT GUY. Well, unless you're trying to get rid of her… ;^)

    Katherine .
    BPL Member


    Locale: pdx

    distribute, redistribute, handicap so that you're at the same speed or energy level.

    Sam Buchta
    BPL Member


    My wife and I hiked the JMT last year together, our first major trip with each other, and we each carried our own food and clothes, sleeping bags, etc, but I carried the bulk of the tent weight and the cooking gear which helped even things out proportionally. I think it helps if you're both hedging towards the lightweight end of things but really, the whole sticking together thing is probably the biggest issue. I am a faster hiker than my wife (and love pushing myself in a weird way and feeling like things are "hard"…I also do a lot of road biking which seems to be all about pain, for some reason…) but I'm not a leave her behind to catch up way down the trail kind of person, so I generally just stopped and waited at the top of hard parts, etc. Was pretty easy to not get separated (though losing yourself on the JMT is pretty hard to do)

    That all said I think it's a great idea to divide gear, just make sure you're both on the same page about it and how you'll do your hiking together

    Earl Gilbert


    GF and I never split up. We stay together. I carry the tarp, ground cloth, bug net for both of us, my own sleeping pad, stove, fuel, pots, my own food and water, she carries the two person quilt, her own food, clothes, sleeping pad. I eat more food, so tend to carry more food and snacks. She hates cooking, so I cook while she sets up the home for the night. Seems to work out well for us.

Viewing 25 posts - 1 through 25 (of 28 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.
Forum Posting

A Membership is required to post in the forums. Login or become a member to post in the member forums!

Get the Newsletter

Get our free Handbook and Receive our weekly newsletter to see what's new at Backpacking Light!

Gear Research & Discovery Tools