Backpacking trips are a thrill because you visit many gorgeous places and get your walk on. But there is one thing that backpackers always ask - that is, how many miles can you backpack in a day?
This is not a question that has a short answer, as there are many things hikers need to consider to determine their daily mileage. In short, it depends on the hikers themselves and the type of trip they are planning.
If you want to learn more about all the things that can affect your mileage, you should stick around for the rest of the guide. I will tell you everything you should know to make your backpacking trip great while not exhausting yourself. If that is clear, let's get right into the guide!
How Many Miles Can You Backpack in a Day?
I could talk about average miles hiked in an hour or a day, but those numbers could only confuse you. Do not let the things you read on the internet trick you into thinking you are not doing something right, that you are not fast or prepared enough.
As a piece of general information, the average person can hike from 15 to 30 miles a day. But many factors will cause those numbers to vary. Depending on these factors, they could go up or down, which is very important to hikers.
Wondering what those factors are? I could tell you more about them - let's get right into the list:
Your physical abilities play a huge role in your ability to keep up to speed while backpacking. Many hikers start slow - going to the gym a couple of times a week, hitting the more accessible trails for a while, and gradually adding more distance to the walks or hikes. These things can help you get into better shape while also helping you build stamina.
If you have never worked out and you are on the heavier side, you might not be able to backpack or even walk greater distances. You will need to get into decent shape before walking 10 or 15 miles in a day.
So, start building endurance, building muscle, and losing excess weight. Then, you can start going on demanding or long-distance trails as your fitness levels improve.
Beginner hikers might not be aware of the toughness of hiking and the dangers of not listening to your body while hiking. You need to gain experience before worrying about hitting a certain number of miles in a day.
Your hiking experience is also connected to your fitness level, so you can get into better shape while going on short and simple hikes. Start with day hikes with fewer miles, then gradually move into more demanding hikes that require experience. If you trust and follow the process, you will be ready to go thru-hiking in no time!
Whenever hitting the trail, remember what your goal is. Suppose your goal is to reach a specific destination within a short timeframe. In that case, you might need to go over your trail methodically. If your goal is to enjoy your surroundings, you should expect to walk slower and pass fewer miles a day. It is up to you and your plan, so whatever the plan is, make sure that you stick to it!
Time management can be crucial to a trip, especially when you want to walk more miles a day on a demanding trail. You will have less time to enjoy the views, take pictures, make lunch on the trail, or even take breaks. You will have to stick to your schedule, which can be tricky, especially if you are a beginner.
To manage your time wisely:
Get up earlier and put all daylight hours to good use.
Prepare your meals the previous day and eat them while backpacking.
Take short rest breaks of a few minutes and only when necessary.
Walk faster and keep your energy levels high - that is the only way to go over the miles without falling behind.
Your equipment is also essential when you want to walk longer distances. Imagine having to hike 30 miles in shoes that hurt your feet and pants that are too tight. If you add a heavy pack to the equation, you will be headed for disaster - fast!
So, you need to invest in proper hiking gear before backpacking demanding trails. Do not even consider the Appalachian trail if you do not have quality lightweight equipment, a pair of hiking boots, waterproof clothing, and a comfortable pack.
You cannot expect to be quick when the weather is taking a turn for the worse. The best time to hike and keep a good pace is when the weather is warm, and sunny but not too hot, and there is only a slight breeze and a couple of clouds in the sky. In this type of weather, you can walk miles without feeling drained.
If you suspect high winds, heavy rain, snow, or ice, you would be better off backpacking some other time. Mountainous terrain can be quite dangerous when damp or icy, which is also something to consider.
The trail, elevation gain, and terrain can greatly impact your daily miles. Uneven, rough terrain covered with rocks can be draining. The same goes for trails involving significant elevation gains, which can strain your muscles and drain your energy.
On the other hand, walking trails with flat, level terrain are the easiest. On those trails, you can easily walk up to 30 miles even if you are not in the best shape.
Finally, your mood can also impact your miles in a day. Your hiking pace and miles can be affected by how happy you are. You can run through the miles if you are excited about your trip and happy to spend a few hours hiking. So, try putting yourself in a positive mindset before heading out on any trip.
How Many Miles Can an Average Person Hike in a Day?
On average, a person can hike anywhere from 15 to 30 miles a day. As you know from the previous section, these numbers can vary depending on several factors. Still, the average will stay within these two numbers.
If your goal is to walk only a few miles but to enjoy your surroundings, that is okay. You might even walk about 5 miles and not be bothered by that because you can see many beautiful views, take great pictures, and enjoy the peace and quiet.
If you are a thru-hiker and want to walk as many miles as possible. Or if you have a specific destination in mind, you might get through 30 miles fairly easily, if that is your goal. You are an experienced hiker capable of hiking long distances without straining your body. Go for it!
How Long Does It Take to Backpack 1 Mile?
You can expect to backpack 1 mile in about 20 minutes if you maintain a good pace while hiking. That time frame will depend on many things, but most of all, your energy level.
If you take a mile at the beginning of your hike, when you have the most energy and feel pumped to backpack, you can run through it in a dozen minutes.
But if you take a mile at the end of your hike, you should expect it to take longer to backpack that mile. This is because you feel drained at the end of the trip, so you might slow down and start taking longer brakes.
Remember that an average person can hike a mile in about 20 minutes, while an average hiker can go a bit faster.
How Long Does It Take to Backpack 10 Miles?
You should expect to backpack 10 miles between five and seven hours when maintaining an average hiking speed.
Experienced hikers who have paid close attention to hiking speeds have also reported that the average hiking speed is from 2,5 miles to 3,5 miles per hour. You can use this information to see how long it would take to backpack those 10 miles.
Most hikers who have gone hiking many times over the years should be able to walk 10 miles in approximately 4 hours. Inexperienced or new hikers who are not in good physical shape might take longer, maybe up to 7 hours.
Again, these numbers will depend on other factors crucial to your speed. So, make sure you consider them when making your calculations.
After reading this guide, I hope you clearly know the miles you should expect to backpack in a day. Remember that many factors can affect your miles walked - from your fitness level to the gear, trail, hiking pace, and so on.
Have you ever measured the average miles and speed you can backpack in a day? If you have, share the details with me in the comment section below. I cannot wait to read all about it!