Aug 16, 2010 at 8:53 am #1262284
@babymattyLocale: Western/Central PA, Adirondacks
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.Aug 16, 2010 at 9:01 am #1637774
Tony WongBPL Member
@valsharLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
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.
-TonyAug 16, 2010 at 9:04 am #1637775
Art …BPL Member
Results can vary greatly depending on the terrain.
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.Aug 16, 2010 at 9:51 am #1637795
Kevin BabioneBPL Member
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.Aug 16, 2010 at 10:01 am #1637798
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
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.
–B.G.–Aug 16, 2010 at 10:38 am #1637808
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.Aug 16, 2010 at 11:50 am #1637824
Hiking MaltoBPL Member
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.Aug 16, 2010 at 12:11 pm #1637830
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
"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?
–B.G.–Aug 16, 2010 at 12:30 pm #1637841
Michael RayBPL Member
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.Aug 16, 2010 at 12:42 pm #1637846
@apacherunnerLocale: New England
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).Aug 16, 2010 at 1:16 pm #1637865
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.Aug 16, 2010 at 1:48 pm #1637869
Scott BentzBPL Member
@scottbentzLocale: Southern California
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.Aug 16, 2010 at 1:55 pm #1637872
Trevor WilsonBPL Member
@trevor83Locale: ATL -- Zurich -- SF Bay Area
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.Aug 16, 2010 at 2:12 pm #1637879
@cbertLocale: N. California
I used to be full-fast, but tend to be about half-fast nowadays, and I usually start slow and taper off.Aug 16, 2010 at 3:17 pm #1637895
Hiking MaltoBPL Member
""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.Aug 16, 2010 at 3:28 pm #1637897
Jim MacDiarmidBPL Member
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)Aug 16, 2010 at 3:34 pm #1637899
Stephen AdamsBPL Member
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.Aug 16, 2010 at 4:28 pm #1637915
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 periodsAug 16, 2010 at 4:42 pm #1637919
Tom KirchnerBPL Member
@ouzelLocale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
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??Aug 16, 2010 at 5:22 pm #1637932
Dale WambaughBPL Member
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
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.Aug 16, 2010 at 7:02 pm #1637961
Tom, those figures are for straight up vertical gain, linear distance not taken into account.
Though it'd be interesting to study the grade at which vertical gain speed can be optimized. Steep enough to get up fast, but not too steep that it just tires you out.Aug 16, 2010 at 7:23 pm #1637972
Tom KirchnerBPL Member
@ouzelLocale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
"Tom, those figures are for straight up vertical gain, linear distance not taken into account."
Ah. Now that makes a lot more sense.
"Though it'd be interesting to study the grade at which vertical gain speed can be optimized. Steep enough to get up fast, but not too steep that it just tires you out."
That would indeed be an interesting exercise. When I was seriously into running we used to figure that out instinctively and tend to gravitate to inclines where a high rate of turnover could be maintained for the intended interval being run. It varied according to body type and fitness, running surface, temperature, IME, along with a certain mental toughness. I'm sure exercise physiologists have got it scientifically doped out by now. We used to sort of fly by the seat of our pants, with recovery, or lack thereof, between intervals being the primary measure of whether the incline was too steep. I
don't see why the same approach couldn't be applied to hiking. 1320 m/hr is pretty impressive, BTW. Seriously fit.Aug 16, 2010 at 9:09 pm #1637997
Paul McLaughlinBPL Member
On typical Sierra trails, at altitude:
Average all day long – 2 mph
uphill – 1.5-2 mph
on the flat – 3mph
Gentle downhill – 3.5-4 mph
steep downhill – 2 mph
Off trail – varies a lot, but I generally assume 1mph for planning purposes and it works out.
The average and uphill numbers get a little faster if it's a longer trip – over a week – so that I get really well acclimatized.
At sea level, add .5-1 mph to average and uphill numbers numbers.Aug 16, 2010 at 10:00 pm #1638006
I know that there are some hikers who like to lose track of time and just "get lost" in the woods; I'm not one of those hikers. I keep a close eye on my map and watch on any given hike. On most terrain when I'm hiking solo, I know I average between 2 to 3 miles per hour, which seems to be pretty standard.
Of course, on any particular hike, I recalculate based on the speed we've been going and the terrain up ahead. A few weeks ago, I was out with my GF's extended family. One of her cousins wondered out-loud "when will we be above the tree line?" and I told him the exact number of minutes. He looked surprised and I'm pretty sure he didn't believe me. My GF even told him I was serious. Eighteen minutes later we were above the tree line, right on schedule.
In my mind, knowing where you are on a trail is critical to safety. Thus, knowing the speed that you're traveling on a given section of trail is important.Aug 18, 2010 at 3:05 pm #1638498
Stephen OwensBPL Member
@walknhighLocale: White Mtns, AZ
I am 53 and 130 pounds. On my daily walks with the dogs I do a 3 mile loop in 1 hour. Hiking at 7000 to 9000 feet in the mountains with your typical ups and downs my MPH seems to always works out to 1.8 with very little difference with pack loads up to 25% of my body weight. What I have noticed is that I loss about 1 hour of walking per day for every 10 pounds of weight on my back. I can do a ten hour day with 10 lbs. (day hike water and food). But with 30 lbs. I seem to want to stop at 8 hours.
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