Keeping a steady pace is essential if you want to reach your campsite before dark while backpacking. How fast should you hike when backpacking? About 2 to 3 miles per hour is a good pace for most backpackers. Approximately 5-10 miles can be covered per day at this speed.
Walking faster than 1 to 2 mph might be impossible with a heavy pack or off-trail hiking. The pace of an ultralight backpacker, on the other hand, can often be maintained at 4 to 5 mph. When calculating distance, consider the terrain and pack weight.
Walking speed on a backpacking trip doesn’t have a right or wrong answer because it is important that you maintain a pace that is comfortable for you.
The more you know about what is a good backpacking pace, the better prepared you will be for your trips to the mountains. To help you make the most of your outdoor experience, we will discuss what an average and fast pace is for backpacking.
What is the Average Backpacking Speed?
When people discuss setting a “good pace for backpacking,” they are referring to this average backpacking speed. Although 2 to 3 mph may seem slow for someone who is used to zooming down roads at 70 mph in their car, this is the pace at which most people hike on trails.
On flat ground, people usually walk around 3 and 4 miles per hour (which is slightly slower). However, backpackers tend to hike slower on trails than they would on paved sidewalks since carrying a heavy pack and walking uphill can be quite exhausting.
You shouldn’t feel pressured to hike at a certain speed just because other people are doing it. People walk at different paces, so don’t try to follow their lead.
A backpacker’s average speed is 2 to 3 miles if they are carrying minimal weight and hiking on trails at a reasonable altitude. Whether you are hiking off-trail, at high elevations, or with a very heavy or very light pack can all affect your hiking speed.
Also Read: Best Smell-Proof Backpacks
What is Considered a Fast Hiking Pace?
Approximately 4 to 5 mph is a fast hiking pace. Hikers can typically walk at 4 mph, but maintaining that pace over a long distance is tough, especially if they are carrying a backpack or walking up a steep slope.
Few people can hike at a pace of 5 mph, and those who can are usually day hikers or ultralight backpackers. Speed hikers tend to work up to maintaining a pace of 5 mph over time, as it’s extremely difficult.
You are probably running instead of walking if you walk faster than 6mph while “hiking”. If you’re in this situation, your adventure might be better classified as a trail run, not a hike, but it all depends on how you hike.
How Many Miles a Day Should I Go While Backpacking?
When backpacking, most hikers cover approximately 5 to 10 miles per day, so trying to maintain a daily hiking distance within this range is ideal if you want to enjoy a mix of activity and downtime in camp.
Nevertheless, there are many backpackers who hike far more than 10 miles in a day, whereas others prefer to walk about 3 to 5 miles. As far as backpacking distances are concerned, neither is better than the other depending on your goals.
The Appalachian Trail or Pacific Crest Trail thru-hikers might aim to walk 20 or 30 miles in a day. While that is quite a bit of hiking for a short backpacking trip, when you consider that thru-hikers often attempt trails that are 3,000+ miles long, grueling days like that are not uncommon.
The average backpacker, however, might not want to walk more than three to five miles on a day trip. If your favorite part of backpacking is cooking gourmet food and relaxing at a beautiful campsite, you might not want to do more than a few miles every day.
The challenges backpackers face during their expedition might make it difficult, if not impossible, to hike more than about 10 miles a day.
Your hike pace will probably be slower and your total daily distance covered will likely be shorter than someone who follows a well-maintained trail in a forest if you have to navigate extensive off-trail navigation, technical river crossings, or boulder fields.
Depending on campsite availability, you might have to walk more or less than you’d like in a given day, but remember to incorporate your hiking style whenever possible into your route planning strategy.
Backpacking is a Marathon, Not a Sprint
Many hikers find that their trekking speed is a source of pride on the trail, and they love to discuss pace during their hikes.
It’s important to remember that every backpacker and every backpacking trip is unique. Generally, backpackers walk at about two to three mph, but if you’d like to walk faster or slower, that’s fine.
Alex Lowe once said, “the best climbers are the ones who had the most fun.” The best hiking speed depends on your particular adventure style, so pick something that supports yours. I look forward to seeing you on the trail!
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