Rest Periods When Hiking

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    Andrew Browne
    BPL Member


    Locale: Mornington Peninsula AUSTRALIA

    I'm interested in how other hikers time & manage their rest periods during the day.
    It's something I've not come to terms with yet.
    Ray Jardine in "Beyond Backpacking" chapter on "Supercharging Mileage" talks about hiking for 45 minutes and then resting for 15 minutes and follows this thru a dawn to dusk day.
    I've tried various regimes from his to walking until I start to hurt…..when 15 mins is not long enough
    What method/regime do you use?
    Looking forward to your input

    Doug Johnson
    BPL Member


    Locale: Pacific Northwest

    Here is the regime I've used for a 47 mile day and will use for what I'm calling the Triple 50 this coming summer (3 50 mile days back to back):

    Schedule- Oregon PCT (sunrise~4:30, sunset ~10:00)

    Up at 4:00- coffee (0.5 hours till sun!)

    • Start hike at 4:15
    • 3.25 hrs. hike (12 miles)
    • .5 break- mile 10.5 (7:30-8:00)
    • 3.0 hrs. hike (10 miles)
    • .5 break- mile 20.5 (11:00-11:30)
    • 3.0 hrs. hike (10 miles)
    • break/nap- mile 30.5 (2:30-3:30)
    • 3.0 hrs. hike (10 miles)
    • .5 break- dinner- mile 40.5 (7-7:30)
    • 3.0 hrs. hike (8 miles)

    done at 10:30- mile 50- dinner, camp set-up
    asleep at 11:00 (1 hours in the dark)

    Trip Data:

    average speed: 3.25 mph (18.5 min. miles)
    total hiking: 15.25 hrs.
    total breaks: 2.5 hrs.
    total sleep: 5 hrs + naps (more if I make better time)

    Other than this nutso hike, I've never kept much of a regimen.

    Nat Lim


    Locale: Cesspool Central!

    Get up in the early in the morning hike for 3-4 hours

    'Stop' for about 1/2hour hour eating breakfast, which means basically walking at a slower pace and eating at the same time, or completely stopping depending on the situation. May even take a nap!

    hike for 3-4 hours more, taking rest stop breathers in between (example find a tree lean against it and regulate breathing; or on a steep uphill, stop at a switchback and take a 30second to 5 minute breathers)

    Stop for about 1-2 hours: eat light lunch,and take a nap!

    wake up from nap and keep hiking well into dusk/night, with breathers in between.

    Break camp and sleep.

    Hope this helps!

    P.S. I find that naps allows me to hike at a more consistent pace overall, and can also help make up for the lack of sleep over the evening (eg. cold, noise, snoring)

    Chad Miller


    Locale: Duluth, Minnesota

    I typically hike for about 8 hours a day when doing a long trip / through hike.

    Here's my typical schedule:

    7am; up, pack, eat
    8am; Hiking
    10am; 15 minute break with stretching
    12:30; one hour break for lunch and filtering water
    3:30; 15 minute break
    5pm or so; make camp

    Vick Hines


    Locale: Central Texas

    On the AT this year, an experienced wilderling told me that after 5 minutes of rest with legs elevated, 35% of the lactic acid will have left your leg muscles. After 5 minutes the rate of recovery is slower. I tried resting and elevating every 55 minutes for 5 minutes after that. It worked when I could find a comfortable place to lie down and elevate.

    I did my highest regular mileage (20-25 miles)when I also rested hard at noon. That means lying down, often in my hammock, for a nap for 60-90 minutes.

    David Wills


    After hitting the trail, I try to stay regimented to keep my body energized, hydrated, and not too weary. To keep the healthiest and in best condition, I drop pack for a swig of water on the hour and half hour. On the hour, i take a little time (5-10 minutes usually) to stretch and elevate my legs. Every two hours I have either a trail bar or one of my 2 lunches (tortilla or bagel and pbj, nutella, or cheese and summer sausage). With this system, I stay supremely hydrated, fully energized, and feeling good when I come into camp at sundown. It's not the 'fastest' way to hike because of dropping pack every 30 minutes, but I feel like it increases my overall range for the day without taking a heavy toll on my body. I did a rough version of this to hike about 17-18 miles a day for 10 days straight. I usually awoke at 8-9 am and never got into camp later than 4:30, sometimes around 1 pm. sadly, I was meeting friends at the end of those 10 days for resupply, so i couldn't push further, but i was nice having hiked a solid days worth of miles in such a short period of time.

    P. P.


    Locale: PNW

    Doug! That dosn't even sound CLOSE to fun!
    Personally, I'm not one for long breaks, especially in the winter. I generally take a 5 minute break after a couple of hours, a 15-30 lunch break after another couple of hours, 5 minute break after a couple of hours and then hike another couple and stop for the day. In other words, I hike about 8 hours a day, don't take many breaks, but I am in camp early.

    Andrew Browne
    BPL Member


    Locale: Mornington Peninsula AUSTRALIA

    Thanks Guys for your input
    Thought there may have been more input/posts
    Possibly a lot of people are like me and hike until they're done, rest for an indefinite period and then start again…no science or rationale to their technique
    I liked Vick Hine's input stating that 35% of lactic acid is removed after a 5 minute rest break with legs elevated after a 1 hour hike
    I'd like to know whether to rest for ? minutes every hour or ? minutes every ? hours of hiking???
    Whilst I know everyone is different there must be a comfy level between time hiking & Time resting

    P. P.


    Locale: PNW

    Andrew, I think everyone pretty much hikes their own hike. What I stated as my usual routine has worked for me for 35+ years but that is just the way I am. People I hike with usually HATE my short breaks and my fast pace.
    The only saving grace I offer is that if I go on ahead, I will have camp set up and dinner cooking when they arrive. :-)

    Andrew :-)


    Locale: Sydney, Australia.

    I'm often hiking with someone less fit than me so usually I rest when they want. When alone or with my missus (who is probably fitter) we select a pace that is swift but meditative and just go – let the terrain and surroundings dictate when to rest.
    Nice view or photo opportunity;
    Opportune place to check the map;
    Good place to jot down milage and track notes;
    If I spot an animal or bird to watch;
    Pause to check shoelaces and ventilation at bottom of hill;
    Take a minute to look where you came from at the top of the hill.

    Just match the tone of the the environment and flow with it.

    Andrea Hafner


    While the longest trips I have done so far are overnights, my preferred style is pretty much to keep going, at a fairly brisk pace, without making a lot of stops (and I like to keep any stops fairly short, especially if it's cold out). However, I have been able to find very few hiking partners who share this preference so I generally end up having to go slower and make more stops than I otherwise would. I just find that making a lot of stops, or long stops, makes it hard to get into a rhythm. That said, there's a time and a place to take a brief break–when there's a good view, for example, or for lunch if it's not cold enough that eating on the go is preferable.

    Kevin Clayton


    Locale: Greater Yellowstone

    On long hiking days I generaly prefer to keep hiking all day and only stop and actually sit down for lunch. otherwise I prefer to keep going. If I stop for to long I have found that after starting again it takes to long to get back up to the same pace I was hiking at before. I do stop to admire views, to filter water, or retrieve something from my pack but never for long and I never sit down. at the beginning of the day and at the end I always try to get a good stretch in.
    This regimine is what I have always done and seems to work for me, but I am interested in trying new things out.

    Steven Evans
    BPL Member


    Locale: Canada

    I used to push all day – sometimes even skipping a break for lunch to make better mileage. But last year I did a 5 day trail with a buddy down from Calgary. He was regiment about a 55 walk/5 rest. Then a 1.5-2 hour stop for lunch. I found it much more enjoyable, and have stuck to that routine since. It's weird to stop after only 55 minutes and rest, but I guess it's sort of a preventative maintence logic. Try it out.

    Greyson Howard


    Locale: Sierra Nevada

    I was part of a group thru-hike of the Tahoe Rim Trail this summer, and we followed a hike 50 rest 10 regiment.

    When I hike on my own, I sometimes have a hard time pacing myself, going too hard and burning out early, so being forced into the 50/10 helped me, but sometimes felt restrictive.

    Kevin Clayton


    Locale: Greater Yellowstone

    I tried out elevating my legs for 5 minutes every hour on a hunting trip this weekend. It worked great. sometimes after going up and down ridges and on side slopes while tracking game my legs really feel like rocks. It was sometimes tough to find a spot to lay down once I did after getting up i felt great. cant wait to try this out on a long backpacking trip. normally I tend to go to long without breaking and I burn myself out.

    Jim Colten
    BPL Member


    Locale: MN

    Jardine is an adamant proponent of elevating feet on rest breaks. Also sleeping with feet higher than head.

    Can't say I've made either a practice but it's interesting seeing an independent testimonial. Maybe I'll give it a try.

    Greyson Howard


    Locale: Sierra Nevada

    Elevating your legs during rest breaks makes sense to me, but his idea of sleeping head-downhill is a headache waiting to happen.

    Kevin Clayton


    Locale: Greater Yellowstone

    I could not lay down hill for to much more then 5 minutes before experiencing head discomfort. But after standing up slowly it was not a problem. I don't think that I could sleep this way.

    P. P.


    Locale: PNW

    I use a slant board at home to take pressure off my spine but I actively avoid sleeping with my head downhill. It is just plain uncomfortable.
    I do elevate my legs during my one long break per day and when my camp is set up for the day. My personal preference is getting there, setting up camp, fishing, exploring, relaxing, cooking, etc. and preferably while it is still light out…………….

    Adam Kilpatrick
    BPL Member


    Locale: South Australia

    This method sounds logical.

    I will put it to the test in a couple of weekends time, when a friend and I are likely going to attempt a 50/50 weekend-two 50km days with about 15kg rucksacks, on relatively hilly trails, for training purposes. It will be into summer here though…we might have to break more, aswell as for a couple of hours in the longest part of the day. I would put money on copping two consecutive 40 degrees C plus days for the walk.

    Trying it out on something tough and long like that will be a good indicator I reckon of whether the method will work for me-normally we will walk for alot longer but perhaps with longer breaks when we do stop. (On rogaines we just keep going, until after midnight when we are starting to really feel it and I sit down quickly at every opportunity-even to look at the map sometimes).

    Maybe some scientific testing is needed in order to determine the ideal ratio of rests in order to remove this apparent lactic acid build up for long term high mileage days. A curve of lactic acid reduction from the feet/legs vs time would make it relatively easy to pick a rest length. If the aim is solely to remove this lactic acid (with the assumption it is the main inhibitor to performance), then there would be no point in continuing to rest once the curve starts to plateau.

    Anyone know if this 35%/5min thing was from a peer reviewed study?

    Personally one of the main inhibitors for me with high mileage is foot soreness. Other factors such as muscle fatigue and energy/hydration aren't a factor any more with experience and training.

    Does anyone here know about the effects of lactic acid on foot pain? I always thought that lactic acid built up in muscles if you were working above VO2 max, ie converting energy anaerobically. And after a brief period (as much as your body is trained to deal with) you move back into the aerobic zone and stop producing lactic acid-and your muscles start removing it (somehow). I am guessing the thought is that over time some of the lactic acid somehow floes downhill to your feet and legs?

    Sorry about my metrification to the American members.

    Adam (South Australia).

    Dave T



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