couple holding hands hiking

How to get by when you’re a passionate hiker and your partner isn’t

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When I was a single man looking for someone to spend my life with, “hiker” wasn’t on my list of must-have traits.

Why? Well, aside from the fact that every must-have trait you put on that list decreases your chances of finding someone suitable, the main reason is that relationships are about compromise.

I did find the right woman for me eventually and she would never call herself a hiker.

This doesn’t matter because she’s willing to compromise and put herself out of her comfort zone to enjoy my passion with me from time to time. I compromise too, by doing the things she loves with her, and by making sure I choose suitable hikes when she agrees to come along with me.

This won’t be the case for everyone though and that should be okay, too.

So, the person you love isn’t a hiker, either. How should you handle this?

I’m guessing you’ve got no plans to end this relationship, or to stop hiking altogether, so the way I see it you’ve got two options.

Two walkers on the Bibbulmun track between Walpole and Denmark

  1. If they’re willing to hike with you sometimes, make the most of it.

The golden rule is to choose a hike that’s suitable for them. You’re already pushing them out of their comfort zone by taking them along. Make sure you don’t push them too far.

It goes without saying that you need to consider their fitness level, but also think about the rewards along the way. Non-hikers generally aren’t going to enjoy themselves as much if they’re just walking with no destination in mind. Give them a trail with waterfalls, spectacular views, historical landmarks, or even with a pub at the end.

Make sure they don’t carry too much. You’re the seasoned hiker here, so taking their water or their big heavy jacket (or even everything) off them won’t kill you, and it might make all the difference to their hiking experience.

Don’t take them along with all your hiking buddies. You’re much better off keeping it just the two of you. They’re doing this for you after all, so make it quality time.

If you’re like me and you constantly stop to take photos, let them hike on ahead if they want to. It’ll make it easier for them to get in the flow, and you shouldn’t have too much trouble catching up.

In between hikes, inspire them with photos and stories of your favourite places you want to take them.

Finally, be patient. They might struggle. They might even complain a little bit. But remember why you wanted them to come hiking with you in the first place. This is the person you’ve chosen to walk through life with and they’re doing this for you. Everything you say during your hike should motivate them and make them feel supported.

Solo walker on the Bibbulmun Track

  1. No way you’re ever getting them out on the trail? Accept it and appreciate your time apart.

They say one of the markers of a healthy relationship is spending time apart and pursuing your individual hobbies and goals. Why not take this as an opportunity to spend a day out with your friends, or have some alone time, while they do the same?

Hiking solo is one of my favourite things to do for myself. I always return feeling refreshed and clear-headed. A solo day hike (or even an overnighter) always ends up being a good thing for my relationship.

If you’re lacking in friends who hike, you could join a hiking club or MeetUp group, or sign up for a group guided hiking tour and meet a whole new group of likeminded hikers.

Got children? Maybe the hiking partner you’re looking for doesn’t have to be your life partner. A day out hiking with your kids can be the perfect bonding experience.

One of our favourite things to do is plan holidays that allow us to travel together but spend time apart. Why not camp somewhere that gives you the option to spend your days on the trail while your partner reads a book at a beautiful campsite by the river, or head into town for coffee, lunch, and shopping?

Your partner can be involved in and support your hiking plans without ever setting foot on the trail. There’s no reason they can’t help you plan a trip and share your excitement about the destination, or even help you prepare and dehydrate your food, and pack your bag. They don’t need to be coming with you.

If your partner is anything like mine, they’ll probably be a bit anxious whenever you venture into the wilderness without them, especially if you go solo. Get yourself a PLB emergency beacon, even if you have to hire one. It will give the one you love some extra piece of mind while you’re away.


There’s no reason your partner not being a hiker needs to be a downer for either your relationship or your hiking obsession. Just like hiking, relationships are about putting in the hard yards and reaping the rewards.

-Neil Fahey

Guest Blogger

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