If you’re a woman, you also have to acknowledge that your guy, woke as he may be, could be struggling against a buttload of cultural assumptions about how he should be the leader-protector-provider—and that by joining you outdoors and stepping out of any position of relative authority, he’s already taking some big steps to clear himself of that baggage.
First up, big kudos to him—and you also get points for taking the lead on logistics. Outdoor gear is like sex toys: fun and exciting, but it won’t add chemistry to a relationship that doesn’t already have it, and it won’t make someone, um, good if they haven’t already taken the time to learn.
(Gear can also be expensive, but you didn’t mention that as a stressor, so I’m guessing it’s not a matter of him blowing your thru-hike budget before you’ve filled your first bag at Dick’s.) Because you’ve been backpacking since childhood, I’m assuming you’d be confident crossing the country in old sneakers and thrift-store wool sweaters.
The fact that the presence of you and your beloved in the Northwoods is remarkable—that strangers feel entitled to remark on it—is a constant suggestion that you might not belong, that this isn’t your place.
So let me promise you this, something I know in the very deepest parts of my heart: you belong in the woods.