My opinion is none. If you are sharing, you are sharing. In the case of the events you describe, there are bigger issues to deal with than not having the ziploc of bandaids.
That said, I see no reason why each person cannot carry their own day's lunch/snacks. A bear canister is not odor proof. So it makes no sense to carry food in a canister to avoid transferring smells to a pack.
I think the two of you need to think out what, realistically, the chances are of things happening that could leave you without enough gear; that may help you decide how far you really need to take the idea of doubling up. (Personally, I'd be more worried about someone stealing my pack if I left it outside a store, or leaning against a tree while I took a sidetrip.) The mere process of thinking this stuff through may help ease some of her concerns.
"Thinking out" does NOT mean laughing at her fears or telling her she's nuts - though they may seem silly to you, this is obviously a serious concern to her; and serious concerns, real or imagined, can heavily affect one's enjoyment of a trip.
I can think of a couple of things, if you do decide to duplicate gear. These things will probably add weight to your total load, so the two of you need to consider that. You may determine that the extra weight is a small price to pay to alleviate a concern you've rated more highly, or you may decide that it's too heavy for the low risk it addresses. Either way, it's your decision and it's valid - no one's going to be at the trailhead to weigh your packs and give you bonus points for being the lightest pack of the day, or telling you that you can't hike on because you've exceeded the weight limit.
I'm assuming you carry a supply of purification tablets in case your filter breaks. (I do, even though it never has - my own concern showing.) If you do have both, one of you could carry the filter and the other the tablets. That way, you both have a way to purify water.
How many pots are you carrying? Are you carrying metal mugs? As long as you're carrying two things (2 pots, 1 pot and 1 mug, etc.), you can split them up so both of you have a way to do at least minimal cooking. If you have a stove, then make sure whoever isn't carrying it is carrying some sort of firestarter (a spare lighter/matches); that person can always cook over a fire.
Each person carrying a pocket knife, map, toilet paper, and compass is always a good idea, in my book. Likewise, if I'm sharing gear, I make sure the person who isn't carrying the main first aid kit still has a minimal first aid kit (bandaids, advil/tylenol, moleskin, Neosporin, and a couple of safety pins.)
As far as shelter, I'm not sure I'd divvy up the tent - without the poles, it's a lot harder to pitch either the inner or the fly; if it's a single-wall tent, it can't be divvied up. However, if you each want a shelter, you might consider adding a 6x8 or 8x10 silnylon tarp (with cord and stakes) to your kit. One of you carries the tent, the other carries the tarp (and tent groundcloth, if you take one), and you each have shelter. The tarp may seem like excess weight just to allay some "silly" fears, but it can serve as a nice shelter to cook in or just hang out in if it rains - especially if you're using a minimal-space two person tent.
I've never used a bear canister, so I can't address you question with any authority. I do wonder, though: do they come in different sizes? If so, would it make any sense to use two smaller ones than one large one, so you could divide the food?
Of course, these types of re-distribution mean that your wife will pay the price of carrying a heavier pack than your distribution would give her. It's up to her to decide how much extra weight she's willing to carry to achieve peace of mind. Respect her decision on the matter - and realize that it might change after a few miles on the trail, at which point you can take back some of the weight.
I think i'd reiterate that you need to have basic emergency gear with each of you. But beyond that, decide if you are sharing gear, or not. If you are sharing gear, you're making a commitment that you're going to stay together for the trip. period. I tell my newbies if you are sharing gear, you need to be in sight of each other at all times. you're both buddies for the duration. Realisticly speaking, if your partner is lost you probably have much more pressing concerns than whether or not you will miss dinner, or have to eat uncooked rice because they have the stove.
The other answer is quite simply - don't share! Carry individual kit. Lightweight backpacking gear means you can carry a very light load and NOT share gear.
Actually, on most of my trips now, I carry a solo load - even when I'm with others. When it's the Scouts, we divide them into partners, and the leaders each carry a full solo load in case we want (or need) to split into two groups to camp. When it's with my buddy, it's so we have the option of camping apart, or even taking off on our own for a day and meeting up later.
And you're right - with lightweight gear, I rarely carry more than 20 pounds.
I also forgot to mention the cell phones: don't rely on them for calling each other if you get split up, or for calling anyone else for help. At least where I hike, there's no coverage; there's probably none where you'll hike, either.
Loc: Michigan, just N of detroit
In the crazy chance she is stuck hiking without you all she will need is water and the insulation needed to stay warm while hiking and or sleeping (if more than a days hike the cam) a map and compass and she will be safe
I dunno. WE do a ton of backpacking, and the only thing we double up on is water, sunscreen, bug juice---the kinds of things we might need right there on the trail and now want to interrupt the hike to get them from the other person.
WE split our weight based on body weight. She weighs about 65% of what I do, so she carries about 65% of what I do. Works great. I carry the food and tent, she carries the "kitchen" :stove, pot & bowls.
One thing we each carry is an emergency whistle. We have only used them twice, but in each case we could hear the whistles when we could not hear each other yellling. Very cheap, and we won't go on a trail without them. I carry mine in the camera bag, and she carries hers tied to her shoulder strap.
I backpack with my wife during most of the three seasons and we have found that it is better just to carry our own gear. Since we fly-fish, often a few miles apart, it makes it easier should one of us fancy a coffee, snack or whatever. THe only thing that we share is a fry-pan for the fish. Although we sleep in the same tent-- I still pack my SpinnSwinn.
The other reason we have our own gear is that sometimes we often backpack without each other-- she will go with her friends and I will go with mine-- and so two lots of gear is needed and thus we have just become adjusted and comfortable with carrying our own gear.
If you do any day-hiking away from the tent, you each should carry one of those 2-3 oz. emergency blankets (light weight silver mylar tubes). More important than equipment, is training. Perhaps your wife is "overly cautious" because she has not had sufficient survival training. When she feels confident of her abilities in the outdoors, she will feel less need to have so much "stuff" to compensate. Can she read a map, navigate, build a fire, know wilderness first aid? Do you give her a chance to lead on the trail, choose the route, set up the tent? I find that too often couples fall into role playing. Who cooks? Who leads? Who makes trail decisions? Who builds the fire? You both should be competent enough to solo, then you will be a competent couple.
She's just nervous about it because its unknown to her. Does she know how to use that equipment that she wants to carry to make her feel safe. Going into widerness unprepared can be terrifying - ask Jeramiah Johnson. (does she know how to Shxx in the woods?)
For many years, regardless of who I hike with, we mostly each carry a complete set of our own gear.
(In contrast) My wife refuses to pick up a pack, so if I take her backpacking either everything is in my pack and I'm 100% responsible for everything including her comfort and attitude, or I take her in with me to our camping spot and then hike back to the truck to get her pack and carry it in, and of course a triple hike out too, but she says "Hey yer the macho man in the family, you want me to camp with you, you have to get me and my gear in and out." Frankly this is much better than 1- listening to her complain, cry etc, and 2- having her injure herself because shes so out of shape that she might fall walking down a level sidewalk carrying nothing. Jim
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.
Loc: north carolina
When my wife and I hike together, I carry the tent, water filter, and a lot of food, and she carries the kitchen kit and some of the food. Funny thing, our base weights are about the same -- my pack weighs a LOT less than hers empty. In any case, we don't worry so much about relative weights since our total pack weights are pretty light.
It's a good idea for each hiker to have a small first aid kit, and to carry snacks for the day. Water treatment isn't such a big deal -- in an emergency, just drink the water. It'll take several days for any bugs to get you, while dehydration can make you miserable very quickly.
Whistles are much more valuable than I realized. I used to coon hunt quite a bit with some friends of mine. One time we got seperated some in a pretty large area, where we didnt have cell service, we thought we could yell loud enough to meet back up, we weren't THAT far apart we thought. Turns out we couldn't hear a yell from anywhere near as far as we thought. One or two small hills, and that all it take to not be able to hear. From that night on, I brought a couple whistles, and whenever the group split up, i made sure each group had a whistle. We ended up using them quite a few times after we started taking them, we became much more comfortable splitting up after seeing how far the whistle sound would carry to meet back up with.
As my wife puts it, "what happens if you fall off a cliff, are eaten by a bear, or just get sick of being around me and leave me on a mountaintop somewhere? If you've got the bear canister with all the food inside, the first aid kit, and the tent with you in your pack, what am I supposed to do?"
So, what I really think she's asking is: what key/critical items do you guys suggest doubling up on in case of catastrophe, so both of us have them in our packs? Offhand, I was thinking: some means of water purification, a map & compass, a cell phone, and perhaps some sort of shelter (either the tent or a lightweight tarp or poncho). I know opinions are divided on whether you have to carry all your food in your canister during the day to keep odors out of your pack material, but I'd like to hear some opinions as to whether you folks recommend splitting up the food a bit "just in case".
Any thoughts on the topic would be most appreciated.
Tell your wife she is smart and wise and thoughtful.
Seriously, I've run into people looking for a missing group member and worried that he/she did not have map, food, water filter....
Pack some MicroPur and a few first aid supplies in her pack, make sure she knows how to use them and a whistle - typical whistle code is one blast = stop, two = come here, three = get your butt here right now I'm in trouble! You can make up your own. Give her food in a ziploc at the beginning of the day's hike. Canisters do nothing to contain odor. In black bear territory in the lower 48, I wouldn't worry about that at all. If you do get separated, the last thing to worry about will be the bear canister. Do you think she'll get any sleep if you're missing? (You'll be missing, of course. She's just temporarily misplaced. ) Definitely give her a map and compass and you both should know some basics on how to use them. If she has a poncho that can double as a shelter while you have the tent she should know of course how to set it up.
The other option might be a couple of Bare Boxers - the smallest canister in existence, lighter than all the rest, just $40 apiece.
Do you have a brother? I can't find a guy who can keep up with me.
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki
My sister took up backpacking and has gone a couple times with me. She always insists on carrying the flask she said it because she knows I won't abandon it. She also carries the coffee pot, a lighter and matches. her own eating kit along with her lunches, snacks, clothes and sleeping bag/pad. I also have her carry the rain fly and stakes, some rope and an emergency blanket, she has the spare fuel bottle,and aqua mire. She has seen how to rig a shelter with just a rain fly and has watched me build cook fires before. Her pack is about 20lbs mine is 30lbs I carry the stove, pot, supper supplies, water purifier, the tent body and poles. I know it could be lighter but the gear is not in buget. If you look around you might find seminars to take on map reading and basic survial skills REI has them geared towards women hikers, I know a couple of other outdoor stores have them and some of the local colleges have weekend courses. If you arm them with the knowlage to safely find the way out and the basics to live on they seemed to find it much more relaxing