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How fast do you hike?
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Matthew Marasco
(BabyMatty) - F

Locale: Western/Central PA, Adirondacks
How fast do you hike? on 08/16/2010 09:53:49 MDT Print View

I usually try to imagine I'm on a treadmill to gauge my speed. I generally shoot for a 3.2. Ascents and descents are completely different stories though.

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: How fast do you hike? on 08/16/2010 10:01:41 MDT Print View

3 mph would be flying on flat ground...maybe with a slight decline.

I shoot for an average of 2 mph as an average.

On the steep uphills, I try to keep a min. of 1 mph.

This is with a load of 20-28 lbs.

Factors like elevation can make a difference to.

If you are training on a treadmill....I would suggest loading up your pack and wearing it and do your work outs.

Should be able to give you a feel of what you might do with a load on your back.


Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: How fast do you hike? on 08/16/2010 10:04:03 MDT Print View

Results can vary greatly depending on the terrain.
1. altitude
2. elevation gain / loss
3. make up of the trail bed (this can be a very significant factor)
4. and of course weight on your back

so if you want to compare apples you need to offer more info.

Edited by asandh on 08/16/2010 10:07:21 MDT.

Kevin Babione
(KBabione) - MLife

Locale: Pennsylvania
How Fast Do You Hike on 08/16/2010 10:51:21 MDT Print View

I really average 2 mph for a day's hiking, including breaks and hills. When it's flat I know I'm closer to 3 mph and uphill I know I slow down considerably.

My philosophy is to keep my energy expenditure relatively constant. That means slowing down when going up hills and picking up the pace when I'm on the flat.

An interesting sidenote here...I've hiked a number of times with a friend who ran cross-country in high school and college. His training was to keep his speed constant and simply expend more energy going uphill. Needless to say he spends time waiting for me at the top of any substantial hill that we climb together.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: How Fast Do You Hike on 08/16/2010 11:01:29 MDT Print View

I led Sierra Club trips for twenty years. There used to be a standard backpacking speed, assuming that each person carried 25% of their body weight as a load. That trail speed was 2 mph with one extra hour allowed for each 1000 feet of elevation gain. As a general rule, I found that an active and young group could maintain closer to 2 mph without the extra hour for 1000 feet of gain. Obviously it changes when you go off-trail, or if your pack is much more or less than 25%.

When I went solo and UL, I found I could speed up to 3.2 mph, assuming that my pack was 10% of my body weight, but that I could seldom maintain that for more than a few hours.


Unknown abc
(edude) - F
Re: "How fast do you hike?" on 08/16/2010 11:38:12 MDT Print View

As fast as the whole group can consistently hike together, although this is hard with new Scouts even on day hikes who haven't learned how to regulate exertion levels. Speed is not as important as everyone in the whole group not only getting there together, but having fun on the way.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Re: How fast do you hike? on 08/16/2010 12:50:40 MDT Print View

Treadmill speed and hiking speed will be two completely different critters.

1) Treadmill speed - 4.5mph @10 deg incline
2) Instantaneous hiking speed - 3.5mph
3) Average hiking speed - 3.0mph (Includes all breaks, elevation gain up to 10k and 48 miles.)

However, at higher elevations (above 10k) all bets are off.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: How fast do you hike? on 08/16/2010 13:11:13 MDT Print View

"3) Average hiking speed - 3.0mph (Includes all breaks, elevation gain up to 10k and 48 miles.)"

You do 10K feet of elevation gain in a day?


Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: How fast do you hike? on 08/16/2010 13:30:15 MDT Print View

I'm an old (43) newbie to this game and on my just completed second trip I was able to do 2.5 mph on the 8.5 mile hike in with 2700' gain (up to just over 11K'). I would not normally go that fast but we were in a hurry to get a site. Interestingly, it took us the same coming back down trying to go easy. NOTE: I live at 600 ASL and don't exercise but have good endurance if I set a suitable pace and stick with it.

John Huth
(apacherunner) - F

Locale: New England
Speed on 08/16/2010 13:42:50 MDT Print View

I'm 52 and we have an interesting situation - typically 3 guys in their early 50's and sons who are in their late teens/early 20's. I usually get out in front to enforce regular breaks, and them am followed by the young'uns, and then the two other older guys are much further back.

When we walk, it's an average of about 2.5 miles per hour, but we have to stop frequently to let the other two guys catch up. So, we tend to average 1.5 mph.

Once, when we were heading back to the trailhead, downhill, the young'uns and I were able to hit 4 mph.

At altitude we slowed to maybe 1 mph. To be fair, one of the older guys has a bum knee. On the other hand, he spent a lot more time last year hiking and doing mountain climbing and his speed has increased considerably.

I see a lot of variation, depending on injuries, altitude, slope, trail conditions. One time we nearly overshot our destination because one of the older guys didn't believe we were hiking as fast as we were (downhill on an easy trail).

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
speed on 08/16/2010 14:16:34 MDT Print View

So many variables. Perhaps best to cite specific cases.

Last summer in GNP I did 28 miles in 7 hours, with an 8 lb pack on good trails with around 5k each gain and loss. The following day I did 38 miles in 13 hours, but that included a 70 minute spagetti and meatballs stop (and I was suffering like a dog for the last 8 miles).

Given a bigger pack and less fitness (ie "normal" conditions) but still on decent trails hiking at my normal pace my overall average tends to be around 3 miles per hour. Moving average around 3.2-3.3 mph.

Obviously when off trails all bets are off. An equivalent effort to the above off trail in the Grand Canyon would have a 2 mph overall average.

10k of gain in a day sounds reasonable to me.

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Speed or Lack Of on 08/16/2010 14:48:30 MDT Print View

We found that on our JMT hike last year, after averaging it all out, we consistently hiked 2 mph all day long. That included any short break and a lunch break. So, if we had a 20+ mile day, we just figured on approx. 10 hours of hiking for the day. I have hiked faster but not for 14 days straight.

The trick to a good average is to not stop too often. Lightweight makes that possible.

Trevor Wilson
(trevor83) - MLife

Locale: ATL -- Zurich -- SF Bay Area
Re: speed on 08/16/2010 14:55:54 MDT Print View

David and Greg - You guys fly down the trail! I am very impressed that you can maintain that speed over those distances.

I just did a 4 day hike on AT through Smokey Mountain National Park this weekend:

Day 1: 16 miles (6k elevation gain) - 8 hours
Day 2: 20 miles (6k elevation gain) - 12 hours
Day 3: 20 miles (4k elevation gain) - 10 hours
Day 4: 17 miles (2k elevation gain) - 8.5 hours

Note the daily elevation gains are very rough estimates although the total for the trip was 18,660. I think this represents my hiking speed fairly well - 2 hours including breaks. I've found I walk 2.5 - 3 mph but typically take enough brakes on longer hikes to take me down to the 2 mph mark. I've found that my average speed begin to go down significantly when I hike more than 12-15 miles in a day.

cary bertoncini
(cbert) - F

Locale: N. California
hiking "speed" on 08/16/2010 15:12:29 MDT Print View

I used to be full-fast, but tend to be about half-fast nowadays, and I usually start slow and taper off.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Re: Re: Re: How fast do you hike? on 08/16/2010 16:17:00 MDT Print View

""3) Average hiking speed - 3.0mph (Includes all breaks, elevation gain up to 10k and 48 miles.)"

You do 10K feet of elevation gain in a day?"

Yes, on all of my AT "training hikes" there is 8-11k elevation gain over the 30-48 miles,confirmed with GPS. BUT, it is relatively low elevation (3-6k). Also, this is with full pack and 2 day foods but still a light 12lb pack. Hopefully by next summer I will be able to maintain that same speed and elevation gain on the PCT.

Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Re: How fast do you hike? on 08/16/2010 16:28:55 MDT Print View

I've never kept a log of distance and time and I wish I had. I'm going on 170 mile thru-hike in October, and I'm conservatively budgeting 2.5mph while moving. Most days I'll be covering ~20 miles, hiking from 7am to 6pm. So that would give me 8 hrs of actual hiking time at that pace to make my mileage, giving me hrs to take breaks, sight see etc. 2.5 mph is a pretty reasonable pace for me based on:

Flat or rolling ground, 25 lb pack - 3.3mph for 8 miles. I've been using GPS to time myself in Central Park

Sierra-esque terrain - 2.75-3 mph (Memory + wristwatch + maps)

The rugged, often steep trail of the Catskills - 2 mph, 2.5 if I'm lucky. (wristwatch + maps)

Stephen Adams
(stevemkedcom) - MLife

Locale: Northwest
how fast on 08/16/2010 16:34:05 MDT Print View

After about 500 miles of section hiking on the PCT in the last year I do almost exactly 3 miles an hour while moving. Averages down to about 2.75 MPH with breaks. The PCT is so nicely graded it does not seem to matter if it is up hill or down. with my ultralight pack it does not seem to matter if it is a 4 day hike or a day hike.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
speed on 08/16/2010 17:28:37 MDT Print View

Just realized I have another way of measuring speed, courtesy of my Sunnto watch: meters/minute gain.

8 m/min: steady movin'
11 m/min: truckin' along
13 m/min: now we're going quick
15 m/min: max observable backpackable speed
18 m/min: holy crap
22 m/min: highes observed in training hikes, on verge of barfing for extended periods

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: speed on 08/16/2010 17:42:30 MDT Print View

Hey Dave,

Given your fitness level I've got to think you slipped a digit or something here. 22 m/min x 60 min = 1320 m = ~ 3/4 mile/hr??

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
How fast do you hike?" on 08/16/2010 18:22:01 MDT Print View

Slow-- I like to stop and "smell the roses."

Trail condtion really makes the difference for me. Put some rocks, mud and streams on your treadmill and try it again :) Steep uphill slows me down as does rough anywhere, but particularly rough downhill. 2MPH average would suit me fine.