There are several things to consider when choosing compatible backpacking partners. Some of these questions may be awkward to ask. But clarifying your trip expectations can help avoid major surprises that negatively impact the trip.
- Do you get along and enjoy one another's company?
- Do you have similar interests and expectations for a particular type of route or trip?
- Is anyone capable of reading a map?
- Does anyone have medical training?
- Are you able to communicate and make decisions together?
- Does the group in similar physical condition?
- Has everyone carried a 40-pound multi-day backpack before?
Marathon runners and couch potatoes may want to consider separate trips to avoid one person feeling held back and another stressed out about keeping up. Trip planning should include discussion about the physical demands of your trip and how each member is preparing. Any group is only as strong and fast as the weakest and slowest member.
Group members need to be able to communicate in order to make decisions and voice concerns. It's common for people to remain silent due to fear of rocking the boat, as it's easier to just go along with a group consensus. But it's important to respect each person's comfort level about the terrain, the river crossing, or whatever variables arise. Trust your own instincts and share your thoughts and feelings with group members. Beware of people who have something to prove, or whose ego may get in the way of good judgment.