While backpacking can be an empowering solo sport, it can be comforting to hike a trail with companions. If you’re new to backpacking, it’s important to have a supportive community of other backpackers to teach you the ropes, and suggest places to go. Nowadays, in a world that’s so connected, the ways to meet other backpackers are endless and almost overwhelming. How will you know where to start?
If you haven’t heard of Meetup, then stop what you’re doing and check it out (after you finish this article, of course). With thousands of groups all over the world for every kind of niche, it’s a great way to not only meet other backpackers, but also find out about what’s going on in the backpacking world. Depending on where you’re planning on going, there’s bound to be a group out there for you. From Hudson Valley Hikers to Colorado Backpackers, there’s truly a group for everyone. To get a more broad outlook, you can try the main Backpackers Meetup page. If you still aren’t finding something, you can always start your own Meetup group, too.
Okay, so it might be the Tinder of backpacking, but Backpackr is extremely useful if you are looking to meet others. Wherever you go, the app will connect you to other backpackers in your vicinity, and you can message them to figure out a spot to meet and hike together. There’s forums to get groups together, and you can use hashtags to let people know where you’re hoping to hike. You can create ‘trips’, and edit your profile so the app will find great backpacking companions for you. You can use it anywhere in the world, for any variation of backpacking. Of course, be smart about using this app.
Facebook is by far one of the best ways to meet other backpackers. Simply do a search with ‘backpacking’ or ‘hiking’ + your location, and you’re guaranteed to find something that sparks your interest. Request to join a group, and you’ll find people that are just as interested as you to get together and head out into the backcountry. You can also just search your town or city for social groups, and see who might want to go hiking.
Just like there are food exhibitions and Comic cons, there are also expos for backpackers. Imagine, a huge event hall filled with endless booths and people all interested in the same exact thing. There are tons of different events out there which change locations and dates from year to year, so just do your research ahead of time. However, to get you started you can try out Outdoor Fest or the REI Backpacking Expo.
Couchsurfers and Airbnb
Like Meetup, these websites are meant to bring people together who have similar interests. Although both these websites started off as a way to find accommodation, they’ve recently taken off to include get togethers and trips, especially Couchsurfers. Utilize these websites to their fullest, and the next time you take a trip to somewhere unknown, you might just make best friends with a stranger who wants to conquer the outdoors just as much as you!
Next time you go to the mall, walk into your favorite hiking store. Stores like REI, EMS, Columbia, and even Dick’s Sporting Goods will be home to lovers of backpacking, just like you. While you could just strike up a conversation with others in the store, you might not want to come off as creepy or too straightforward; or you might just be shy. Ask the employees if they’re organizing any hiking groups or trips in your area. If they aren’t, they can at least direct you to where you can find more information.
Travel Hiking Groups
There are many companies out there that specialize in hiking trips, including National Parks. If you’re unsure how to plan a hiking trip, inquire at a park or company to find out about one of the many groups. Not only is it a great way to make a friend on the trail, it also takes out the hassle of figuring out the map.
Backpacking websites are wonderful resources for backpackers. If you sign up and become a member of all the various websites out there, you’ll find out information on popular hiking destinations and get connected with others who are also following. Sign up on our homepage to find out just how much being part of an online backpacking community can help you meet others.
Start it Yourself!
Why wait around to find other backpackers when you can just start a group yourself? Invite your own friends or make an event on Facebook to encourage those in your network to get outdoors. You might spark a common interest with someone you’ve met but never interacted with, or you might motivate your close friends to get outside with you more often.