We've all heard the cornball adage that the couple that plays together, stays together. We think it is absolutely true; sharing adventures with your significant other is one of the best parts of a relationship. But taking the love of your life on an outdoor adventure can also be stressful, and end badly if you aren't prepared. So we've gathered a few tips that can take the stress out of a couples weekend of hiking, backpacking, or camping.
If your significant other isn't as experienced or outdoorsy as you are, start small. If you want to plan an epic backpacking trip, start with day hikes and a few shorter backpacking weekends before working up to the big trip. Your first adventures need to be fun and not overwhelming so as to nurture a love of the outdoors that will last a lifetime.
More Reading: Tips from a couple's first backpacking trip.
A couples trip should focus less on being ultra-light and more on preparedness. Start with the 10 essentials, so that you are prepared for the unexpected. Make sure your significant other is properly prepared for the weather and temperatures. If they don't have proper rain gear, footwear, or hiking socks consider surprising them with some new gear!
Pro Tip: Newbies tend to want to over-pack - don't let their pack weight get out of control. See number 6.
Invest in a high-quality tent that will comfortably protect both you and your gear from the elements. If your partner hasn't spent many nights in the mountains, a good tent will lend a sense of comfort and protection that will allow them to sleep soundly at night, and not wake you with every rustle of the wind.
Pro Tip: Consider a 2 plus or 3 person tent. The extra elbow room is worth a few more ounces in your pack.
If you have compatible sleeping bags, zip them together for extra warmth and cuddling. If your partner is new to sleeping in a tent in the woods, the comfort of being in the same sleeping bag might make sleep easier.
Bringing a group is not only more fun, but having friends along can also take some of the pressure off of you to make the trip amazing. Bringing a deck of cards to play, making s'mores, and telling stories around the fire is an easy recipe for an enjoyable evening. A larger group also means you can divvy up some of the gear leaving room for a few heavier luxuries like beer and wine.
As with all aspects of your relationship, it's important that you each carry your weight and do your share. However, if it's your date's first backpacking trip consider carrying a little more than your share of the gear. The brownie points you earn will be well worth a couple extra pounds in your pack.
Hiker Hunger is real and so is Hanger: anger brought on by feeling hungry. Bring snacks and make sure you eat and hydrate early and often to avoid anyone getting hangry.
This one is pretty self-explanatory, after a couple hours on the trail you probably won't smell so good. Depending on your destination and the time of year a quick swim is ideal for cleaning up. If you are camping in cooler weather then bringing wet wipes and using deodorant are a great backup plan for freshening up before sharing a tent.
Even if we aren't in bear country my girlfriend brings a can of bear spray. We don't ever plan on using it, but having it makes her feel safe and the extra pound in our packs is well worth her peace of mind. Plus it will fend of more than just bears; cougars, elk, serial killers, and even Sasquatch are no match for bear spray.
Making dinner special is not only romantic, but everything tastes so much better after a day on the trail. Plan the big meals together, and try and make something you will both love. The freeze-dried meals available are usually pretty good and you can spruce them up with a few fresh ingredients to make something extra delicious.
Pro Tip: You can also make your own homemade dehydrated meals from your favorite recipes.
In the words of G.K. Chesterton, “An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.”
This might be the most important tip. Weather can turn bad, campsites can be full, packs can feel heavy, and people sometimes get hangry, but if you stay flexible and make the best of whatever the mountains dish up you will both have a great time.
Looking for a good book to read in the tent? We've hand selected our 12 Favorite Adventure Books