Find the Best Hiking Buddy in 1 Day: The Ultimate Guide 2023

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Can’t decide whether you need a hiking buddy? Aren’t sure how to divide the weight on a journey? Wondering how to find a travel partner?

If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” then you’re in the right place!

In this informative guide, you’ll find:

  • Pros and cons of traveling alone
  • Top places for finding a backpacking partner
  • Instructions for reducing conflicts on a trail
  • Tips for those traveling with dogs
  • And much more!

We’ve also gathered some useful links and added them to every category. Take a minute to check them out—they will tell you a lot about group hiking.

Hiking with Friends vs. Hiking Alone

I. Hiking Alone vs. Hiking with Friends

When talking about hiking companions, the first question to answer is this: Do you even need to find a hiking buddy?

There are many benefits to taking hiking trips together, but working in a group also has plenty of downsides.

In this section, you’ll get to know the pros and cons of traveling alone. We’ve gathered the most persuasive facts related to these approaches to hiking.

Spoiler: Both options are great!

Now let’s compare them:

The pros of hiking alone

Aspen Matis Girl in the Wood: A Memoir quote

1. Independence

In the wild, partners aren’t always wanted. Choosing your destination, pace, activities, campgrounds, food, and many other things aren’t that easy when you’re with others. Groups often waste a lot of time and energy coming to an agreement about this stuff.

When hiking solo, every decision you make is completely up to you. It’s great not to have to compromise with others and to be able to travel as you like.

2. Challenge

Hiking solo is an opportunity to test and demonstrate your best abilities. You have to solve any and all troubles on your own—from cooking dinner and setting up camp to facing wild beasts and handling injuries.

9 essential hiking skills

3. Peace and quiet
Why are you going hiking?

For the landscapes, pictures, or maybe just the sounds of birds singing?

Whatever it is, you will need silence to really enjoy it. In fact, quiet solo hiking is great for sharpening your attention. You will get more enjoyment from the sounds of rustling leaves, the scent of pines, and beautiful landscapes if you are not distracted by conversations. Your connection with the environment deepens and you become more mindful of the world around you.

Well, you can forget about quiet evenings in the wild if you’re group hiking. Of course, the noisiness depends on the size of your group. If there are just two of you and you both have an interest in enjoying the views, it’ll probably be fine.

Couple of hikers chilling

But if there are four or more travel mates with you, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to find that connection with nature.

The pros of hiking in a group

1. Safety

Many of us are looking for a hiking buddy even among strangers.


Well, above all: for safety. We just can’t ignore those shocking articles and TV news stories about bad things happening to solo travelers.

That’s why having a hiking companion by your side can be so important during outdoor activities—especially for women hikers.

Fact about dedicated hiking partner

Whether we like it or not, there are mean people out there. And to protect yourself and your supplies, you may want to call a friend and ask about their plans for the weekend.

2. Equipment weight

A solo traveler has to take a lot of stuff, even for an overnight trip. But when you’re traveling together, you can share many things like a tent, a cooking pot, and a first aid kit.

By dividing your camping supplies among your group, you can lighten your backpack by at least 1/3!

No matter how light your supplies are, those going on solo travels can never achieve such low weight.

Woman hiker walking along the trail

3. Responsibilities

When you travel, friends become irreplaceable. Everyone has their own skills and talents, and many of these can help you in challenging situations.

Imagine—one of you is a doctor, another is a great navigator, and yet another has perfect survival skills. Without travel mates, all of them are just experienced specialists.

But what happens when we put them together?

We get a strong and independent team, ready for any trouble.

4. Support

Being afraid of accidents is natural. After all, outdoor activities can’t always be safe.

6 most common injures during outdoor activities

When you have a walk buddy, you can be sure that someone is always there to take care of you. In case of illness or injury, you’ll have fewer things to worry about if you have a friend on your side.

5. Fun

Diane Spicer quote

Even the toughest among us are looking for someone to travel with.


Because it’s a lot of fun!

Experiencing new trails with friends is an inspiring activity that improves your relationship. You get the chance to know each other better and learn new things together.

Besides, travel experiences become more vibrant when shared with someone. A travel buddy goes through the same adventures as you, which results in a whole treasure trove of shared memories (not to mention inside jokes!) Have heated conversations, spot rare wildlife, cook together—enjoy yourselves to the fullest!

As the saying goes: “It doesn’t matter where you’re going; it’s who you have beside you.”

Find a Hiking Partner

II. Where to Find a Hiking Partner

You may think that taking friends hiking with you will be a lot of fun.

But what if your friends like to spend their weekends watching Netflix instead of going outside, expending energy, and taking pictures of trees?

If that’s the case, we advise you to use technology to find the perfect hiking buddy!

In this chapter, we’ll introduce the most effective ways to find a travel partner—from hiking clubs to Meetup.

Let’s start:

1. Facebook groups

Facebook communities aim to bring people together. There are groups for writers, music fans, DIY crafters, cat lovers… And of course, you can find a hiking group there, too!

There are hiking communities for almost every area of the United States. Not only can you find a place to chat with like-minded people but you can actually plan a trip with those who hike nearby.

Keep in mind that you ought to be careful when choosing a partner. Remember, there are still bad people out there, so you shouldn’t trust strangers too much.

Here are some great Facebook groups to join:

2. Hiking clubs

This is a much better way to meet camping buddies.

In every state, you can find hiking organizations whose members travel every week. You can join one of them or even lead your own trip. Yes, you’ve read that right! Oftentimes, clubs are searching for leaders or co-leaders, which means you can become one and show off your favorite trails to others.

Hiker standing on the rock

We’ve gathered a few databases of popular US camping groups. Use them to find a hiking group just for you.

3. Environmental organizations

Nature conservation associations exist to popularize outdoor activities. They also aim to prevent people from harming wildlife and encourage them to become volunteers instead.

Looking for a hiking buddy is easier when both of you want to preserve nature.

For example, Sierra Club is perfect for building relationships with other fans of outdoor activities. It has chapters all around the United States—you can even find them in Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico.

Sierra Club actively participates in environmental protection, and you can support their work by becoming a member of your local chapter! There are many programs available to participate in. You can even “adopt a pet” by donating $39 to $79 for the symbolic adoption of a wild animal in US habitats. In return, Sierra Club sends gifts to you.

Siera club environmental organization

In many areas of the country, Sierra Club also organizes hiking tours. You can join one or even lead one if you’re experienced enough.

Sierra Club’s website has a “hiking near me” function. Just click Sierra Club Near You, and you’ll see all the upcoming trips in your area. For example, in California, there are ten routes planned on the weekends.

Who knows? Maybe you’ll meet a trekking buddy on one of them!

4. Meetup groups

Meetup is a fantastic service to find like-minded people for various activities. There are more than 32 million users from 182 countries. These users constantly create and search for groups and events.

Hiking is one of the most popular activities on Meetup. In fact, there are almost 10,000 Meetups for adventure lovers worldwide! You can search for backpacking, walking, kayaking, camping, and workout partners.

With this service, you will always stay informed about upcoming trips and outdoor activities. Many people find hiking friends on Meetup and then travel together later.

Here are some Meetup groups you can join:

5. College clubs

If you’re a student, you have a huge opportunity to make friends with other adventurers. Today, many colleges and universities have outing clubs to gather hikers.

Here are some of the best colleges and universities for outdoorsy students:

  • Reed College takes care of Reed Canyon by cleaning and restoring it. The college provides free gear for its students and organizes nature trips.
  • Bowdoin College is a great choice for kayak lovers. Its students often travel to Mountain National Park, climb mountains, and camp in beautiful places.

Bowdoin College students

  • Linfield College isn’t big, but it offers great opportunities. It’s surrounded by more than 10 national parks, which are possible to hike to from campus. It also has two hiking groups: an outgoing club and a climbing club.
  • Appalachian State University is located near several Appalachian trails, which attract visitors from all over the country. In fact, the majority of students say they chose this university because of the hiking opportunities! The university supports their students’ enthusiasm and places them in internships with leading US environmental organizations.

Appalachian State University students

Source: Appalachian State University outdoor programs twitter
  • The University of New Hampshire is located in a beautiful area of New Hampshire, surrounded by rivers and woods. Every weekend, the university’s outing club gathers its members for one or several adventures. It also has many majors related to wildlife and nature.
  • Cornell University has its own outing club with around 2,000 members. For a nominal payment, students get access to traveling and climbing gear. It’s also possible to earn credit by taking classes in hiking activities.
  • University of Oregon is located near the beautiful Lake National Park. And just a couple of hours away is the ocean! It’s a perfect university for climbers, skiers, and campers.

University of Oregon students

  • University of Hawaii — What could be better than a trip to Hawaii? Only the opportunity to combine fantastic adventures with academic success!
  • Black Hills State University is a great place for cyclists and climbers, with bouldering trails and mountain routes that are free for students to visit.

How to Choose a Buddy

III. How to Choose a Buddy

In previous chapters, we discussed where to find an outdoor activity partner. We also helped you decide whether to travel solo or with friends.

Now, with so many ways to find a buddy, you can be a little bit picky.

This is important:

Find someone you make a good team with.

Good team for hiking

But how should you choose? In this section, you’ll find out which features to pay attention to.

To find a compatible buddy, make sure that you have similar:

1. Physical fitness

Why is it important?
Backpacking trips differ a lot in terms of difficulty. The same is true for most outdoor activities.

Traveling with someone who’s much more or much less active than you can be exhausting, and neither of you will be satisfied with the adventure.

Hikers going through trailWhat are the solutions?

– When choosing a trail buddy, compare your abilities.
– Ask your partners about their experience.
– Start with a short trip to check their abilities and skills.

When you’re out on a trail, you’ll probably see some group travelers who haven’t followed this tip. Usually, one of them insists on setting up a camp, while the other one is full of energy and wants to keep going.

Believe us:

This isn’t the most pleasant way to travel.

2. Goals and activities

Why is it important?

Do you want to take a lot of pictures? Or float down a stream in a canoe?

View landscapes or go skiing?

No matter what activity you choose, it should match the goals of your friend. Make sure that you’ve decided on every activity together and have found necessary compromises.

All in all, planning always goes smoother when everyone has the same goals. When it comes to wilderness hiking, it’s much easier to choose routes and decide on where to camp when all your partners are on the same page. You will also be more likely to prioritize everyone’s safety—for example, staying away from a dangerous route no matter how exciting it might be for some of your buddies.

Another thing you should keep in mind is that differing goals and interests will invariably lead to conflicts. And you don’t want that on your journey, right? By selecting travel mates with similar aspirations, you will ensure that everyone’s expectations are met. This way, you’ll avoid unnecessary quarrels.

Most popular outdoor activities in the USA infographics

What are the solutions?

– Search for a partner in a specific interest group. Don’t just search for a hiking partner— search for a photography traveler, skier, or cyclist.
– Plan every activity on paper and stick to the schedule.
– Make sure that nothing can interfere with your plan. Bring a power bank to charge your camera or tools to repair the bike.

3. Hiking equipment

Why is it important?

You may think that experience is the most important thing to care about when searching for a partner.

And, yes, it is.

But it’s also important to compare your equipment. For example, if your buddy has the newest bicycle with fantastic features that you’ve never even dreamed of, can you beat them in a race with the old gear your father used when he was young?

Well, you could try!

Buddy with bicycle for hiking

What are the solutions?

– Try to find someone who owns gear of the same price and quality as yours—this will make your adventure more comfortable.
– If possible, the person with the better gear can share it—like a compass or binoculars, for example.
– Search for rental gear in your city instead of taking outdated equipment.

4. Food preferences

Why is it important?

When friends visit a restaurant or bar together, it doesn’t matter how much their tastes differ. Most menus have dishes for meat lovers and vegans, spicy snacks and healthy food, Chinese food and pizza…

Whatever you want, you can get in a matter of minutes.

But when you’re traveling together, every food item, pot, and plate you take adds weight your backpack—so it’s important not to take too many things.

Efficient packing is not the only benefit you get for considering food preferences of your buddies:

  • When you choose meals that everyone enjoys, you ensure that everyone in your team is well-fed during the hike. No one will feel left out or have to tolerate a product they can’t stand.
  • Similar food means you can share meals and ingredients. As a result, you’ll have less leftover food and waste. This is especially important if you want to be environmentally-conscious during your hike.
  • Another important aspect is dietary restrictions. If anyone in your team has those, it’s crucial to prioritize their well-being and avoid potentially harmful products.

Camping with stove

What are the solutions?

– If you’re planning to cook fish for dinner, make sure your fellow traveler likes seafood.
– Ask your buddies if they are allergic to anything. You don’t want them to end up in a hospital.
– If your friend is vegan and you’re not, remember to take two cooking pots.

Deal with a Hiking Buddy

IV. How to Deal with a Weak Buddy

Your fellow travelers can’t always be perfect. Sometimes, you just have to have patience and deal with someone who isn’t physically fit enough to keep up with your pace.

In this part, Hike&Cycle will give you some tips on how to handle a weaker trip buddy on the trail.

You’ll find out why you should take a Moleskine notebook with you, how to make your partner speed up, and how to behave during conflicts.

Here are some tips for experienced hikers who are leading a beginner on a trail:

1. Take care of their health.

Why is it important?

Some people are too stubborn or proud to admit that they’re out of energy. And keeping up with a stronger companion can make them sick.

What are the solutions?

– Before the trip, give them a checklist of necessary medicines, water, and food supplies.
– Decide when to take a break depending on their feelings and behavior, not yours.
– Check your partner for symptoms of heat stroke, fatigue, or high blood pressure.
– Don’t expect too much from beginners, especially if they’re not physically fit enough for long walking.

2. Help them more.

Why is it important?

For beginners, it can be difficult to handle every challenging part of an adventure and still enjoy the landscapes.

Hiking is all about enjoying the journey. It’s also often a shared experience. By helping your weaker travel buddies, you ensure that everyone participates in this journey to the fullest and enjoys the hike regardless of their skill. Besides, less experienced hikers may get lost in unfamiliar terrain or struggle with steep ascents. Assisting them will help prevent unfortunate accidents.

Helping a struggling buddy will be beneficial not only for them but will also help you develop valuable teamwork skills!

– Assisting someone in need will teach you to adapt to different situations and find solutions.
– It can also be an opportunity to gain some leadership experience and serve as a mentor to others.
– Make sure to motivate your buddy! Struggling hikers may struggle with doubt or frustration. Your encouragement will boost their confidence and give them a sense of achievement.

What are the solutions?

– If you’re much stronger than your travelmate, help them carry their supplies.
– Share your personal tips on how to survive in nature. Teach them how to conserve energy, distribute the load, and build a camp.
– Take on more responsibility. If you have a lot of energy, prepare the food or make the shelter while your partner rests.
– Share your gear. If possible, let your friend use your tools—for example, your kitchenware or knives. It’ll help do the job faster and easier.

3. Don’t lose sight of them, but do give them space.

Why is it important?

It doesn’t matter how much you like your skiing or kayak partner—maintaining a slow speed can ruin all interest you have in traveling further.

Many hikers go alone for a short distance and then wait for their companions.

This is a nice way to try solo hiking and give your friend some independence.

What are the solutions?

– The most important thing here is to take breaks at nearby destinations. Stay close enough that your travel mate could call you for help or rest.

Barry Perdana Putra quote

– Never leave your partner completely alone—everyone’s first solo trip should be a conscious decision, not an accident!
– Have a specific signal chosen to draw each other’s attention—a whistle or a single star, for example.
– Take a radio set with you to stay in touch.
– Have two sets of maps, navigators, and first aid kits.

4. Find a hobby to take up during the trip.

Why is it important?

When you’re traveling with a weak partner, you probably knew it long before the day of the hike. If seeking a senior buddy didn’t succeed, you have some preparations to make.

Since a weaker partner will definitely be too slow for you, you will also need to reduce your speed. Hiking at a slower pace might test your patience, but here’s a solution: try engaging in a hobby. Focusing on an activity will help divert your attention. Feel like acting out your frustration? Go ahead and channel your energy into something you enjoy!

Engaging in a hobby is also great for staying mindful of your surroundings. Instead of fixating on the difference in speed, you can get fully absorbed in your hobby while appreciating the beauty of nature. It’s especially true for hobbies that involve creativity.

What are the solutions?

Find an engaging hobby or skill to improve during the hike. Here are some examples:

– Take a Moleskine notebook with you and learn how to draw landscapes.
– Draw or paint some pictures, applying the basic rules of composition and color.
– Download some fun apps from our hiking apps guide. Read our reviews to make a wise choice.
– Learn how to identify any bird in the United States just by their sounds or feathers.

Woman watching through binoculars

– Search for edible fruits and berries in wildlife.
– Master a musical instrument. A flute is perfect for nature and easy to carry.
– Make a collection of rocks, pine cones, seashells, feathers, or leaves.

5. Don’t argue.

Why is it important?

People you travel with can sometimes be rude—especially when they’re tired.

Your partner might feel awful on a desert trail or at high altitudes, and the fact that you’re stronger certainly won’t make the situation better.

What are the solutions?

Try not to be too hard on them, or you’ll have to find a new vacation partner next time.

– Don’t get angry when they’re snapping at you. Try to help them instead—carry some weight or give them advice.
– Plan your trip well before you leave the city. It’s great to have a paper map with a route and schedule in case of conflict.
– If you can’t make a decision together, toss a coin.
– Try to resolve a specific problem, not the conflict in general. The right decision might reduce negative emotions.
– Be a leader. As the more experienced hiker, you have to do everything you can for your team to benefit from the trip.

Dog hiking partner

V. What If Your Partner is a Dog?

Who said the best companion is a human?

Many travelers prefer to go hiking with dogs instead.

If you take a four-legged partner with you, make sure the dog will be safe and comfortable throughout the trip.

Here are some tips for you:

– Make sure that your dog is ready for long distances.
– Never take a young puppy on a trail—its bones and muscles can be damaged by long trips.

1. If your dog will carry some weight, buy a small backpack for them.

Remember that dogs should carry at most 15 – 20% of their weight.

Dog with backpack

2. Be ready for animal injuries.

Dog hiking is a great pleasure, but it can also be dangerous. Pack a first aid kit for your dog that contains hydrogen peroxide, an eye dropper, and gauze.

3. Take a muzzle in case your dog gets injured.

Even the kindest dogs will bite if they’re in pain. Also, always bring a leash with you—even if you’re going to a dog-friendly park.

4. Bring enough water.

Your dog will need 50 – 120ml of water per kilogram of body weight per day. The rest depends on your dog’s activity level, size, fur type, and age—as well as the outdoor temperature.

Dog drinking

5. Rest enough.

Even the best hiking dogs—like retrievers, huskies, and border collies—get tired. Monitor your dogs’ behavior to see whether you need to take a break.

6. Buy high-quality dog gear.

Life jackets, boots, leashes, water bowls—everything should be comfortable for your pet. Don’t buy cheap stuff because you’ll probably have to fix it after the first trip.

High-quality dog gear

Now you know how to find the best hiking buddy for your goals and distances. All you have to do now is meet one!

We listed the most popular ways to find a travel partner and gave some tips on what to do if your partner is weaker than you. In the last chapter, we even made some useful recommendations for those traveling with dogs.

How do you search for hiking friends? Do you prefer to travel solo or in a group? Share your ideas and stories in the comments!

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jill September, 4th 2019

Really informative article with great links. Thanks


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