Chapter 16: Hiking Light – Share the Load with a Friend so You Can Both Carry Less Gear

If you’re hiking with a friend, sharing the load is another technique to lighten up. Some quick math tells you a 4-pound tent becomes a 2-pound tent if you’re sharing the load.

When you split up the weight of a tent, the tent body is usually about equal to the fly, poles, and stakes. Each person should have enough of a shelter to be safe if you become separated, such as an emergency blanket. Each hiker should carry the 10 essentials in case you split up.

Cooking gear is another area where you can share weight. But kitchen items are the same as all shared gear. It only works if you stay together.

The dynamics of a hiking buddy compared to hiking with your spouse are far different. Couples tend to stay closer together even if they have different hiking styles. Husbands tend to carry a little more of the load. That seems reasonable since the husband often talks the wife into coming along. It’s only right to make sure she’s comfortable and happy.

If you’re hiking with your spouse, you may be able to save some weight by sharing your sleeping gear. The shared body heat allows you to have a somewhat lighter system. If the pad underneath you is comfortable, you can have a very light layer under you and single, fully-opened semi-rectangular bag over you. Or, you may choose to use two, connected bags that are lighter than what you would have used individually.

Before you divide the gear with a friend, be sure your hiking styles are compatible. Are you both in good physical shape? Do you enjoy roughly the same pace? Do you break camp at about the same time in the morning? Do you like the same number and length of rest stops during the day? Do you stop at about the same time? Would you prefer to have some separation while you hike?

Do you enjoy the same types of camp at night? Some people like to use established camps at night that are near water. Others like the solitude of being away from water and camping where others have never camped.

A camera and other non-essential gear are good items to share. Pictures can be shared when you get home.

Think of ways you can share gear with a hiking partner. If you’re compatible, you can both lighten your load and have more fun.