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#200394 - 03/14/18 02:36 PM Couple backpacking
Michael C. Offline

Registered: 03/14/18
Posts: 3
Loc: Utah, USA
Hello Everyone,

I'm fairly new to backpacking, in my youth I did a lot of camping but never hiking into the backcountry to camp. Most times my friends and I would 4wd up somewhere and pull out the old 10 man tent and everything but the kitchen.

I'm planning a hike/backpacking (1-2 night 2-3day)once the weather is good. Now that I'm married I'm not sure how to pack my wife's bag. I know that we should both have some food and water plus some form of navigation just encase we get separated. But do I build her pack just like mine except for me holding the tent. Or can I put the more heavier gear in my pack, and give her all the rest?

I remember reading somewhere that the packs should be a percentage of your body weight, but don't have that in front of me. As I am a newbie, gear weight and need is foreign to me, since in the past it was how much can I fit in the truck. Any help in the matter would be great! Even gear recommendation as I'll need to get some new gear for my wife.

#200399 - 03/14/18 06:59 PM Re: Couple backpacking [Re: Michael C.]
wandering_daisy Offline

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2865
Loc: California
Your wife needs to pack her own pack. That way she knows what she has and where it is- reduces anxiety. OK for you to double check it, but let her do it. She should carry all her clothes, personal hygiene stuff, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, water, trail food, cup, spoon and perhaps bowl. Although you both only need one first aid kit, she should carry items that she regularly uses, such as moleskin for fixing blisters, fire starter such as matches, and any medications such as allergy pills if that is used. If you are backpacking where bear cannisters are required, then all the food and smelly stuff needs to go inside and you should carry it. I think it is important that everyone learn to navigate, so if she had her own set of maps or GPS, then she could follow along and feel more oriented.

I think you need to just decide that you two will NOT ever get separated.

The most important thing is to buy her a light weight (with all the choice now I would not buy a pack that weighs more then 3 pounds) pack that fits her well. She has to be there to get fit. Do not just buy one on the internet. All pack suspension systems have a recommended maximum carrying load, which usually is over-stated. A "40-pound" load capacity usually means it will carry 30-35 pounds comfortably.

The recommended weight to carry is about a quarter of your ideal body weight. If you are 20 pounds overweight, that does not mean you can carry more weight! Quite the contrary, you already are lugging around 20 pounds! So, if a quarter of her ideal weight is 25 pounds, then get a pack that will comfortably carry that weight. There are expidition packs out there that will carry 70 pounds, but she does NOT need that!

You need to proportionally distribute both bulk and weight. Most women's packs have smaller volumes, so you probably need to carry more of the bulky stuff. In fact, if she were to carry the smaller but heavier group gear, her pack would be more ideally loaded. Heavy stuff goes adjacent to the back, lighter stuff near the back side. Be sure the weight is also centered side-to-side. Do not dangle stuff off the back of the pack, particularly heavy stuff. The only thing I ever put on the back of my pack is a foam sleeping pad, which weighs very little and can be tied on snugly.

The key to a light load is to only take what is necessary. For example, no need for an entire tube of toothpaste for a few day trip. Get those small travel size tubes. Keep food under 2 pounds per person per day. It depends on where you are going, but generally summer in the Rockies you need 2-3 light insulating layers on top, light long johns, and rainjacket (rain pants if in a wet climate). Stocking cap, 3 pair of wool socks, a hiking shirt, syntetic hiking pants. Get stuff that dries easily, NOT cotton or blue jeans. I take one of those 7-8 oz "puffer" jackets (bought mine at Target for $50) just to be warm when sitting around in the evening. No need for camp shoes, unless you plan to wade across a lot of streams.

I think there is a gear list somewhere in this forum.

#200401 - 03/14/18 07:58 PM Re: Couple backpacking [Re: wandering_daisy]
aimless Online   content

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 3292
Loc: Portland, OR
Wandering Daisy's advice is sound and should be heeded. I only wanted to re-emphasize this:

I think you need to just decide that you two will NOT ever get separated.

Even when you are camped, each of you should have a clear idea of where the other one is at all times.

Additionally, it is a good idea not to be separated from your packs. Exploratory hikes away from camp for the day should be accomplished bringing the ten essentials with you, even if you don't bring all your gear.

#200402 - 03/14/18 10:25 PM Re: Couple backpacking [Re: Michael C.]
OregonMouse Online   content

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6800
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I think there is a gear list somewhere in this forum.

It's on the home page of this site. I used this gear list as a model: 27 lb., 7 day pack Lots of other good articles there, too.
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

#200408 - 03/15/18 11:16 AM Re: Couple backpacking [Re: Michael C.]
HPD Offline

Registered: 12/22/16
Posts: 75
Loc: Colorado High Plains
Welcome Michael!
My only advice would be, if you want her to go with you again, her equipment needs to be at least as good as yours. I would make her pack as light as possible and encourage the 2 of you to not get seperated.

#200409 - 03/15/18 11:18 AM Re: Couple backpacking [Re: Michael C.]
BZH Offline

Registered: 01/26/11
Posts: 1189
Loc: Madison, AL
I think the hardest thing for newbies to learn is how not to bring things. You don't need every little gadget that REI sells. You don't need a change of clothes every day. You don't need the expedition first aid kit with every thing under the sun that you don't know how to use. We tend to pack our fears and newbies have more fears.

The reason I bring this up in this thread is because if you pack your wife's things in your pack it frees her up to pack more extraneous things. If she packs the essentials (like Daisy recommended) she will have less room to pack things she doesn't need.

#200414 - 03/15/18 05:53 PM Re: Couple backpacking [Re: BZH]
balzaccom Offline

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 2233
Loc: Napa, CA
My wife and I have backpacked for almost 1500 miles in the last few years, and Daisy's advice is spot on. In our system, we each carry our own sleeping bag, pad, clothes, and water...which we share--that's one way of bit getting separated, if you're drinking the same water!

I carry the tent and ground over, water filter,and the bearcan and food. She carries the first aid kit, cook kit, and toilet kit.

She usually starts out with about 22-24 pounds, depending on weather and clothing. My pack weight varies by the length of the trip, because of the good. I start with about 30 and go up from there. After a few days of a longer trip, I'll start carrying some of her stuff, like the gas cannisters, because the food in my pack is disappearing.

There's more info on how we do things on our website--we my signature line.
Check our our website:

Or just read a good mystery novel set in the Sierra;

#200416 - 03/15/18 11:12 PM Re: Couple backpacking [Re: wandering_daisy]
billstephenson Offline

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3917
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
What a well thought out response W_D.

The question and your answer should be in a backpacking "FAQ" somewhere.

"You want to go where?"

#200422 - 03/16/18 01:08 PM Re: Couple backpacking [Re: Michael C.]
Michael C. Offline

Registered: 03/14/18
Posts: 3
Loc: Utah, USA
Thank you for all the information/advice, this has helped me greatly. It will definitely be a change from my past experience.

I've talked to my wife about what was said here, and she was actually excited to pack her own pack. She'll definitely be getting mostly new stuff, as she doesn't have any camping gear. Most likely this weekend we'll do a little bit of shopping.

I think the biggest learning curve for me, like most of you said, is to how to pack light. I usually am the one who plans trips like these, so I'm also the one who gets the supplies and gear. It would definitely make it easier on me, plus she'll learn quicker if she has to pack you own pack.

Food wise we have a dehydrator and already have meals made for our food storage, so most likely just bring that up with some other snack/non cook food. So, I don't think food weight will be too much of an issues, we'll see once we start weighing it all out.

It's been ingrained into me that you keep your group within shouting/visual distance as to not become separated. So, I never plan on being separated, but always prepare for it. Which could be counter productive when packing our packs. It makes sense that we pack our fears, and I'm probably packing mine with a little extra since I'm shiny.

I'll definitely look over the gear list and once we start putting our packs together I'll make another post asking about advice on it.

Thanks again!

Edited by Michael C. (03/16/18 01:10 PM)


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