Jul 30, 2013 at 10:21 am #1306004
I'm taking the wife on an overnight trip to Hungry Packer Lake in the Sierras starting at Lake Sabrina. This will be her first backpacking trip. Thus far she's only done overnight car camping. Easy mileage for the first trip and I'm giving her the Exped Synmat to make things as comfortable as possible. Any advice from those who have taken their significant other on their first backpacking trip?Jul 30, 2013 at 10:57 am #2010917
Katharina LångstrumpBPL Member
@kat_pLocale: Pacific Coast
A couple of years ago, when guys replied with posts about carrying most of the gear and making it easy and comfy for her, I got upset, claiming that the wife/ girlfriend should be perfectly capable of pulling her weight and ought not to be treated like an invalid.
These days I see that if it can be an enjoyable experience in the beginning, there will likely be more opportunities in the future.
I say, don't skimp on comfort, food, warmth and don't push too many miles.
Not very specific advice, I know..Jul 30, 2013 at 11:24 am #2010927
I'm in a similar boat. My wife's never expressed any interest in backpacking and a 20 mile suffer fest is out of the question. If we ever do go on one together, my plan is to keep her backpack under 10lbs total weight, under five miles, and under 1000'. Good call on the synmat.Jul 30, 2013 at 11:36 am #2010932
Ben CBPL Member
I just did 3 nights in the Sierra with my wife. She has been before and was a little skeptical about this trip. She wound up loving it.
Here's what I did different that I think made a real difference. First, we went very light. I think she was probably carrying about 5 pounds. My son and I started with about 15 pounds each.
Second, we went to a beautiful place. We are from the east, so the Sierra seemed very exotic and beautiful
Third, we went comfy. She slept on a neoair and had a good bag an puffy to wear.
Fourth, we were flexible on mileage. I know what I wanted to do, but I always left it up to her on how far we were going to go. She wound up wanting to walk about as much as I did.
Fifth, stop and smell the roses. Or other flowers. Or nap on the lakeside.
My wife can't wait to go again now.Jul 30, 2013 at 11:56 am #2010937
When we go out for a couple of nights I like to bring enough fuel for the stove so that there is essentially unlimited hot water. Want 3 hot meals per day? Hot water to wash your face at night? Hot chocolate before bed? Tea on the trail? Hot water bottle to sleep with? Absolutely not a problem, and I encourage my better half to use the stove as frequently and as often as she wants. The weight cost is really only a few extra ounces of alcohol fuel (I use inexpensive methanol), but it can be a big boost to moral, comfort and fun.Jul 30, 2013 at 12:16 pm #2010944
Scott BentzBPL Member
@scottbentzLocale: Southern California
The first trip my wife came along also included two of my daughters. We started in the afternoon on the High Sierra Trail and hiked to 9 Mile Creek. The next day we went up to Hamilton Lake where we swam and hung out. Later, my brother, along with his boys and one of mine, kept on going to complete a 5 day loop.
Due to time constraints the women could not go with us and they headed back in a group. I think the time they spent without me was very important as they had to depend on themselves. Each took on a task, water treatment, stove, and cooking, etc. They had a blast.
The next year, my wife, daughter and I did the actual High Sierra Trail. My wife can hike big miles. She is very task oriented and loves to finish something. We did 26 miles the last day from Wallace Creek to Whitney Portal the last day. Not bad for a rookie. She was in better shape heading up to Whitney than me!
I help her travel light by carrying her heavier 20º bag and the bear canister. On shorter trips we will share a canister or try and hike from bear box to bear box on the first few nights until all our food can fit. Since I travel light anyway, it's not that much of a big deal to carry a few items to make it more fun for her. I will also carry the tarp and if there is room the stove and pot, etc. Truth is, I would carry even more if it helped being able to hike with her.
Our next trip is North Lake/South Lake loop with a few side trips to Desolation Lake, Blaney Hot Springs and maybe Darwin Bench. Can't wait for that one. The only problem is, I can get her to hike with me if the kids are along (my youngest is 18) but probably couldn't get her to do it alone with me. For her, it makes more sense to do it as a family and she knows how much my boys and I love to hike so she is glad to go along.
I think she thought our backpack trips were just little hikes in the mountains. It wasn't until that first trip that she got to really see what we like about hiking. First, it's fun to work up a pass and down. It can be hard but challenging work. Second, she saw how stunningly beautiful it is in the Sierra Nevada. In order to get those views you have to hike!Jul 30, 2013 at 2:09 pm #2010977
@oofowfLocale: East Bay, CA
I took my SO and future wifey on a backpacking trip a couple years ago, her first and at a time I was still trying to find my hiking philosophy and gear. If I knew then what I know now about going lighter, we would have had a much better time. Hopefully you can learn from my naivete.
We went to Henry Coe, famous for steep traverses. Not exactly heavy packs but we definitely could have been lighter. There were lots of hot, steep, and dusty parts of that hike, and we covered significantly more miles than I had originally planned, basically hunting for water in a dry environment. Suffer fest! My favorite picture from this trip is of her flipping me the bird, in a moment we were both hurting from sore legs and heat!
It was a learning experience in our relationship, and luckily her love of the outdoors only grew deeper despite my shi**y trip planning. I owe this to an awesome lake and morning swims, some really cool wildlife, luxury camp meals, and her being a bad-ass woman. Also, it really was good for us both to establish a common love of and respect for the wilderness, and I developed a more healthy respect for her abilities.
A few things I would have done differently:
– don't allow any novice to pack their gear independently. It may seem like you're being overbearing or controlling by saying no to all sorts of comfort items, but your experience and ability to keep pack weight down is really valuable.
– like other posters have said, carry the lion's share of weight and do the yeoman's share of work.
– plan even more carefully your route, water sources, elevation gains, and mileage. go for natural beauty, solitude, low bug factor, etc.
– invest in a pump, UV or gravity filter, my lady did not enjoy the taste of aqua-pure, and really who does?
– after your adventure, take her out for a stellar meal at a restaurant halfway between the trail and your home. This will become a tradition and great memory for you both.Jul 30, 2013 at 2:45 pm #2010986
Thanks for all the great suggestions. A couple I had thought of and others I hadn't. I definitely want to make this a good experience so I appreciate the help.Jul 30, 2013 at 2:52 pm #2010989Jul 30, 2013 at 5:28 pm #2011016
Right on! Pstyle for the pre-trip gift!Jul 30, 2013 at 7:10 pm #2011041
Paul WagnerBPL Member
@balzaccomLocale: Wine Country
Ask your wife. I did quite a few things to try to make my wife's first trip a good one. But part of that is listening to her about what she wants, and what would make her happy. That was 35 years ago. She still takes more moisturizing cream than I ever would, and she also takes more clothes than I do.
But I also learned to love a NeoAir thanks to her…
it's a partnership—let her play a role, and value her opinion.Jul 30, 2013 at 7:57 pm #2011055
…Jul 30, 2013 at 8:47 pm #2011071
Nick GatelBPL Member
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
I took my first wife on her first (and only) backpacking trip in the Sierras about 5 months after we were married. We started at Horseshoe Meadows. I guess I should have known that someone who lived next to the ocean all their lives might not like high places. By the time we got to Cottonwood Pass, she was not thrilled.
Long story short; we were out for a week and she actually did pretty good. However, that was 35 years ago and she never backpacked again.
I have never taken my 2nd wife backpacking.Jul 30, 2013 at 9:07 pm #2011075
David ThomasBPL Member
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
I'm still on my first wife.
But I met her on a backpacking trip.Jul 30, 2013 at 9:45 pm #2011081
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
What else you should not do…
Introduce her to somebody as your first wife.
–B.G.–Jul 30, 2013 at 10:22 pm #2011088
Paul MagnantiBPL Member
@paulmagsLocale: People's Republic of Boulder
I'll just emphasize try to take some weight to make the hike easier.
Take a nice thick pad. Mrs Mags loves her NeoAir
Take a "real" tent. I mentioned this on another thread, but my Mrs Mags is a German citizen. True to the national stereotype, she does not like dirt, messes and what she looks on as "unclean". A tarp would not cut it. :) We compromised on a Lunar Duo. YMMV.
Keep the mileage low
…AND (I did not see this) pack in a small .5 liter box of wine, some good chocolate (See above about Mrs Mags being German. Hershey's is anathema!) and some yummy cheese. The extra ounces won't matter on a short backpacking trip and the creature comforts will go a long way to make the trip very enjoyable.Jul 31, 2013 at 6:06 am #2011116
Curtis B.BPL Member
@rutilateLocale: Pacific Northwest
There is some very good advice here.
One thing that I did was get a double down quilt. My wife runs very cold and her biggest fear was freezing to death at night. I bundled her up in long underwear, down puffy, and then she glommed onto me all night long. Cuddling was nice, albeit rather warm for me! I got one of Tim's quilts where I could shake more of the down over on her side. We used NeoAir pads tied together with three grosgrain straps. Find a really good pillow as well–the world can look pretty awful if you've been up all night.
The first time she was doing it more for our three teen kids rather than for me or for her. So, I weighed all of her clothes, took her shopping for lighter clothing, and nodded and smiled when she was adamant that she wanted long pants over shorts and bomb-proof bra and biker shorts. Some battles weren't worth fighting yet. Later she realized that the bomb-proof stuff doesn't breathe or dry out very well and has now converted to ExOfficio.
I carried the bulk of the weight and gave her the first day's food so by the end of the day she was very light.
I made sure to dehydrate some of her favorite foods–she actually ate better on the trail than at home! As well, we made sure to make hot chocolate for her each morning.
She didn't understand why I brought Hydropel and some other things until she had a need for it. I stopped about 20 mins into the hike to adjust my boots (they didn't need it, but I knew that hers probably would and this gave her an oppty to adjust without losing face). And I took more frequent breaks to look at scenery. Again, I didn't need it, but it gave her a chance to rest, as she wasn't in as good of shape as I was.
Headnets, mosquito repellant were a big plus.
And Hostess Ding Dongs waiting in the car were a bigger plus. She's dieting and can't eat them-but having burned 3k calories, she splurged and enjoyed herself.
Finally, we have a tradition of stopping in at Subway after a big hike. Mmmm.. Buffalo chicken sandwich. It is a simple but great reward for a job well done (or good behavior, depending on how you look at it!).
As the saying goes, "if momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!"
At the end of our trip, she said, "I'll never admit it, but this was alot of fun!"
Now, four years later, we're hiking ~8-18 miles each weekend. Our family tradition is now to do an epic hike each summer before kids go back to school/college. We've hiked 55 miles through Yellowstone, 6 days in the Wind Rivers, and this year we're doing 110 miles in the 100 mile wilderness + Katahdin. With Subway at the end.
Good luck!Jul 31, 2013 at 7:25 am #2011131
Actual wife here. I suppose I would broaden this discussion to include bringing anybody on their first trip. Any new activity can be intimidating and challenging with new skills and surroundings, and for me what helps with that is learning about what to expect and how to prepare beforehand, and then just doing it: experience. But then again, I was a willing hiker, not someone who was just going along because the other person reeeeally wanted me to. I feel like if you have to drag or heavily persuade another person, it might not be a great idea.
I can't speak for all ladies, but I don't want any special treatment when backpacking. I want to be a partner in the decisions about what we'll bring, where we'll go, how we'll do it. The trip should be appropriate in length and difficulty… and level of suffering/reward! We decide what's best together, meeting in the middle or compromising on one thing or another where there are differences of opinion.
I have a distinctly unchivalrous partner (sorry, Zippy, you know it's true), so no cushy extras or light pack weights were sent my way. Each of us are capable; if I want a pillow, I'll bring one. Each of us carries our own gear, except for stuff we share: he carries the tent and I carry toiletries and the cookset and fuel. Consequently, my pack is 1-2 pounds heavier than his, because I sleep cold and need more clothing, though both our packs are very light anyway. On the other hand, when my brother joined my partner and me during our AT thru-hike for six days in the White Mountains, we did help him carry some weight sometimes, since he had a heavier pack and didn't have his trail legs.
Last thing… It doesn't bother me if other people make things extra easy on their hiking partners, but obviously it's important for any hiker to be able to do all the necessary tasks of camping: hang bear line, pitch the tent, do basic first aid. There's a learning curve, so that might not be the case the first time out, but everyone should learn how to take care of themselves in the woods.
Hope y'all have a great time out!Jul 31, 2013 at 7:45 am #2011137
Sara MarchettiBPL Member
A few things from my experience as a male:
1) Have a comfortable pack with a comfortable load. Sore shoulders, hips or back will make for a miserable trip.
2) Make sure that the trip is scenic. A trip that is 100% in the trees with little view may be boring.
3) A Jetboil or similar stove. Plenty of hot drinks and hot towels for camp showers served up quick. A towel bath at the end of a long day of hiking puts my wife in a splendid mood. With my JetBoil I can have dinner, a hot towel and tea all served up within 15 minutes.
4) Warmth and comfort for sleeping is very important for women. Making sure she has the right combination of bag and layers will keep her happy. This is where I don't scrimp on gear and my most expensive gear falls under this category.
Let me elaborate on gear for this point:
* A closed roomy tent (TT Cloudspire 2)
* A war roomy sleeping bag (Western Mountaineering Alpinelite). We have LH and RH zippers so we can zip our bags together if we want to snuggle or stay warm.
* NeoAir mattress
* A small pillow
* Layering system (Patagonia Capaline 3 base layer, MontBell Ultralight down jacket etc.) to keep her warm in her bag on cold nights
5) Regarding distance, this is really a matter of fitness. I do recommend frequent stops to rest and take pictures (of both of you).
Good luck!Jul 31, 2013 at 9:14 am #2011160
@lopezLocale: San Gabriel Valley
Lots of good advice here already, but I thought I would add a couple of points…
First, many of the anecdotal examples of how a trip with the wife turned sour have nothing to do with it being your wife. Anybody would be unhappy if they were thirsty, hot, cold, uncomfortable, etc. Especially so if they are on the trip primarily to participate in *your* hobby. In a suffer-fest, most of my closest homies would whine and quit long before my wife would. "What do you mean we're out of beer?". "Bullshit those are insects, I know what a rattlesnake sounds like!". "Hell nah homie, I work hard so I dont HAVE to eat cardboard and sleep on the ground". Most of the advice above applies more to hiking with my friends than it does to my wife.
Second, much of the advice here is specific to that person's preference or experience. My wife prefers to savor swimming holes and waterfalls along the way and she hates mosquitos big time, but she has never complained that she slept cold or that the foam mat was uncomfortable. Hell, some nghts she falls asleep on the couch, with our dog on her chest, and a laptop on her lap!! So I dont add any extra weight to her pack for sleeping comfort. It's all about hiking comfort, interesting meals, and allowing her to "stylize" the trip. If the trip involves swimming, wine, foraging, and stylish, vintage gear in a beautiful wilderness setting, my wife needs no encouragement and we're in for an awesome trip. So really, be honest about what *their* interests are and find ways of incorporating *their* passions into the hike. After all, the only reason you can endure sufferfests on your hikes is because you are indulging in your passion.Jul 31, 2013 at 9:30 am #2011162
Katharina LångstrumpBPL Member
@kat_pLocale: Pacific Coast
What a great perspective and so very well said too.
Wife, husband, friend, child; it applies to anyone that takes part in the adventure.Aug 7, 2013 at 2:14 pm #2013345
@stingray4540Locale: South Bay
Well, my wife started backpacking with me, so my perspective is a little different than trying to convince her to get into it, but here are some things I can think of that are different for her than if I go without her.
*Women's toiletries! Even if it's not needed at home right now, sometimes all the walking can create a need for them.
*More toilet paper. Remember they need it everytime they make a stop. Not just once a day or every other day that you might need it.
*Baby wipes to take a hobo shower. I know my wife likes to at least get a wipe down in the morning, especially her face. Dual use, if you have happen to need them…
*Let her bring a book if she likes to read.
*Stop and take pictures. Gives her something to look at at home and forget any bad memories and only remember the beautiful scenery and happy times with you.
*Treat it like a Union job; morning break/snack – Lunch break – afternoon break/snack
*Coffee or hot chocolate to go with breakfast. A warm drink in the morning does wonders for their mood.
*Let her have enough weight to make her feel like she wasn't a burden, but you carry all the community stuff like bear can, tent. Let her carry lighter community stuff like the stove, her own cloths, sleeping bag, snack, etc.
*Travel pack of tissue! For whatever reason, no matter how hot and dry, our noses run whenever we are hiking.
*Ear plugs. Helps her sleep if unfamiliar noises wake her up. Even if she isn't afraid of the noises, sometimes just the unfamiliarity will wake you up. It does for us anyway.
*Fully enclosed shelter(tent). Offers privacy, and a false sense of security. They like that. Remember, for the most part they tend to be more emotional than logical.
*Keep the mileage low so you have at least an hour or two before you go to bed to relax and enjoy where you are at.
*Try to do some day hikes in the weeks/weekends prior to get a feel for the mph you are able to do as a couple.Aug 7, 2013 at 2:44 pm #2013354
Sharon J.BPL Member
@squarkLocale: SF Bay area
"*Fully enclosed shelter(tent). Offers privacy, and a false sense of security. They like that. Remember, for the most part they tend to be more emotional than logical.
My logical side says I should ignore that statement.Aug 7, 2013 at 4:04 pm #2013384
Michael RayBPL Member
I took my wife on her first overnight trip in 30 some years for our anniversary a year ago. It was very short, had potable water and pit toilet.
She decided to join the troop outing to the Smokies and do the backpacking portion a couple weeks ago for her second trip. I lightened her load even further (maybe from 12 to 7 lbs) the second day so she could make the uphills easier, but she can scoot along well on level ground. She came to understand why I like doing this so that's a win right there. Had some unique bonding while teaching her how to best leave deposits in the woods. :)
Before the trip she had commented on possibly taking a month to section hike. I honestly thought she was joking. Reality has now set in a bit as she doesn't think she could last a month, so I told her 2 weeks would be fine. :)Aug 9, 2013 at 4:14 pm #2014023
@stingray4540Locale: South Bay
"My logical side says I should ignore that statement"
Key words: "for the most part" "tend" "more"
Obviously not all things are true of all people.
Perhaps it would have been more accurate to say "Feminine minds are more emotional than logical."
I have a brother that has a more feminine mind than my wife, but that does not mean my wife has a more masculine mind than the I do.
But I digress. Try not to get offended, I was just making sure he is considering the mentality that his SO might have and not assuming she sees things the same way he does.
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