10 Tips on Backpacking with your Boss

by Liz Blair

It’s pretty safe to assume that when you start a new job there's some type of orientation. It usually includes introductions, a little paperwork, an overview of your job, and perhaps even some concrete training. Apparently, not everyone has the same understanding of orientation.

I started working at Backcountry Experience a little over a month ago. I didn't necessarily expect a formal orientation, but I also did not expect to go on a 4-day backpacking in the Weminuche Wilderness with my boss and a couple co-workers. For most people, backpacking with your boss isn't even a consideration after 20 years of working together. That said, backpacking is a pretty good gauge of how well you jibe with someone. In fact, my current boyfriend and I’s first date was a backpacking trip in the Grand Canyon. Not surprisingly, the idea of backpacking with my boss wasn’t that terrifying. In fact, my only anxiety about the trip was the weather forecast, which turned out to be validated.

The forecast called for scattered rain part of the weekend. Apparently, in the San Juan mountains that translates to all precipitations, all the time. It ended up being a trip of firsts for me; my first time backpacking with a boss, and my first experience with thundersnow. Let’s be honest, the odds were against me on this trip

Spoiler alert: We all survived and yes, I still have my job. Now, as the unofficial expert in the world of backpacking with your boss, here are my top 10 tips:

  1. Carry your own gear. For one, it looks bad if you can’t carry your own gear and second, sharing a tent with your boss is never a good idea. For the record, I had my own tent.
  2. Consider the brands you’re sporting, especially if you work for an outdoor retailer. Your boss will notice that you're the only one without an Osprey backpack.
  3. If they elect to wear a kilt one day, hike in front of them. Enough said.
  4. Bring your game face. When hail is ricocheting off your face, and the rain has penetrated your Gore-tex rain jacket, keep smiling. Better yet, make a joke (then cuss to yourself).
  5. Master the bear bag. There’s something very sad about watching someone try to toss a climbing rope over a dead branch 10 feet up. Food security is important on the trail!
  6. Be the first one ready to go each morning, or rather, don't be the last one ready to go.
  7. Don’t talk about work the entire time, or at all. Hopefully you’re both out there to have fun and explore.
  8. Limit the potty talk. I know it’s tempting to talk about your bowel movements, especially while backpacking, but at least for the first trip, keep it to yourself.
  9. What condition is your gear in? Does your stove work? Don’t be the loser trying to light your JetBoil with a lighter because the piezo is broken.
  10. Most importantly, don’t forget to stop every now and then and let them catch up ;)

Happy backpacking!