New to this – how fast can one backpack (miles/day)?

Forum Posting

A Membership is required to post in the forums. Login or become a member to post in the member forums!

Home Forums General Forums General Lightweight Backpacking Discussion New to this – how fast can one backpack (miles/day)?

  • This topic is empty.
Viewing 16 posts - 26 through 41 (of 41 total)
  • Author
  • #1719693
    Evan McCarthy
    BPL Member


    Locale: Mid-Atlantic

    I couldn't agree more with those fellows who simply mentioned time management (hours of hiking time) as the key ingredient. This inherently, but not necessarily, could mean a) getting up early, often around the twilight before sunrise, b) taking far fewer and shorter breaks, and c) hiking until very late in the day, possibly sunset itself.

    I prefer to hike this way but completely understand those who would rather invest time in enjoying the scenery and the non-moving aspects of the backcountry trail experience. I find it enjoyable while moving, but that's just my way of hiking.

    As a random example, I'm setting up a three day, three night 71 mile hike for in May that we plan to break down as 9 miles at night on Thursday, 24 on Friday, 20 on Saturday, and the final 19 on Sunday. I'll be indoctrinating some newbies to the fun of long days and hope that with a steady pace and good attitude everyone will finish the trail and enjoy themselves.

    Chris Morgan
    BPL Member


    Locale: Southern Oregon

    My favorite way to hike:

    Wake up at 6:30

    Moving by 7:30

    4 hrs at 2.5 mph = 10 miles

    11:30-12 Lunch

    4 hrs at 2.5 mph = 10 miles

    4p-10p sitting around, doing nothing, making a fire, eating dinner, etc., etc.

    Kevin Cody


    Locale: Los Padres NF

    I would advise getting all your gear together loading your pack and give yourself a goal for miles. Then setting out for a long distance day hike and if worse comes to worse you set up camp. Or you can just plan a trip with a goal and time and if you see yourself slipping on your time frame pull back and turn around.

    I also suggest getting some (if you don't have any already) body glide. I tried a 24 mile day hike to see if I could do it and lets just say the chaffing in the nether regions kicked in at about 18 miles in. So I pretty much walked funny the next 6 miles back to the car but I managed & learned my lesson.

    Good luck

    Bob Gross
    BPL Member


    Locale: Silicon Valley

    Back when I was trying to cover lots of miles, my rule of thumb was to get up and hike starting at sunup, and to cover ten miles by 10 a.m. Then I would cover another ten miles by 2 p.m. Then the last ten miles I would cover by whenever in the evening.


    Jason Elsworth


    Locale: New Zealand

    20 miles per day is very doable, as many have said, especially if you hike for ten hours. 30 mile days are also doable (haven't done many myself since I was a teenager though). Stringing together multiple 30 mile days is a bit more interesting :).

    Currently my health isn't great (regardless of how fit I get myself), so I tend to hike for about 5-6 hours a day only, stopping every hour for 15 minutes, so I am actually on the trail for about 7 hours plus. I also start very late 10 AM, as this helps with my health problems. I would love to be doing 20-30 mile days (I love to be on the move), but just can't at the moment. However without UL gear and UL philosophy I would have to have given up backpacking and this would break my heart.

    Barry Pollock


    Locale: Media

    Hey, 10-15 miles a day is still an awesome trip! Better than 0 miles at the office.

    Sky Horne


    Locale: Vagabonding..

    Back in '09 I completed a 70 mile day coupled with a 68 immediately after. I was thru-hiking the AT, and was coincidentally in PA most of that stretch. I did it to test my limitations a little bit. It took me all 48hrs and no real sleep. Despite my light pack, I was pretty wasted of energy and didn't get to experience the culture of Pennsylvania as I had wished.

    Most full days I'll prolly get in around 20 miles. I don't dawdle much except for when I eat or take pictures. I'll prolly be doing 30 milers on the PCT later this year. It should keep me happy, and tired enough to sleep at the end of the day.

    josh wagner


    if you are a newer hiker then i wouldn't even think about 20 miles a day. that's a sure fire way to get hurt or end up hating hiking. look towards an upwards goal of 15 until you get your legs…

    i've not done any thru hike, which is really when one develops the ability to do 20s day after day after day, but can tell you the few times i've gone over 20 doing little 3 or 4 nighters. the next day i was hurting :D

    Antti Peltola


    I was once stupid enough to walk 75km in 24 hours and I did sleep 6-7 hours, being in not so good shape at that time. 75km = 46,6 miles.

    That was with really light load: no rain gear (keep walking to dry it up), no pack (everything I needed was in my pockets + big water bottle on my shoulder), no shelter (sleeping under a big tree), no stove (eating dried fruits and bars). The weather was great and I completed, felt success in the end etc. But I did not enjoy the places I went through, it was just kind of physical exercise. I could push that further by training better, but would it be worth it? For me, not.

    IMO the only way to find out what is one's own enjoyable distance is to try different ones.

    Eric Blumensaadt
    BPL Member


    Locale: Mojave Desert

    Nick, I hear you. At a fit 68 I'm now training for the southern half of the Colorado Trail. Luckily I have the Speing Mountain range just northwest of 'Vegas where I can train at 9,000 to 10,000 ft. a few days a week.

    And luckily my knees are still in good shape.

    Like you I have become a lightweight backpacker (not UL) with an 18 lb. base weight.

    When I'm with a Sierra Club group I am the designated 1st aid guy (I'm a ski patroller) and tail sweep. That means 10 to 18 mile days, some in mountains in California, Nevada and Utah and some walking in S. Utah's streams for miles, which is harder than you may think.

    Solo mileage tends to be 15 to 20 miles in moderate terrain when I'm in a hurry and 10 miles when I want a lot of photos. "It all depends."

    Nick Gatel
    BPL Member


    Locale: Southern California


    Maybe we should set up a trip with some of us 'senior citizens' one of these days ;-)

    I am very familiar with the Spring Mountains and other locales near Vegas. You live in Henderson, don't you?

    I have many in-laws in Vegas, so we go there several times every year. I park my tent trailer at Lake Mead; my wife visits relatives and I go hiking. I really like some of the areas near the lake. You can find a lot of red rock formations that are away from the crowds.

    My son just got a job as a field biologist and will be working mostly in the Vegas and St George areas, so hopefully I will be able to do even more hiking out there… especially Utah.

    Don't know if you saw it, but I did a pretty cool 4 day loop in Dec 2009 near Lake Mead. Actually it was more like 3 days, as I started around noon of day 1 and finished around 2 PM on the 4th day. It was maybe 50 miles… not sure I really didn't calculate it that closely, since I am fairly familiar with the area. Doing 15 – 20 miles a day isn't that hard (even for us geezers) if you just keep a steady pace, and don't stop for too many pictures.

    I don't know why I didn't post this picture in the TR. It is a Google map, which I thought was pretty cool.

    Google Lake Mead

    M B
    BPL Member


    Obviously it depends on: terrain, physical condition, pack weight, and how much time per day one wants to spend walking, stopping, looking, eating, resting, and goofing off. Simple.

    I read long ago that 20 miles per day on foot is a rough average for travel from about 8am to 4pm with a break for lunch, in decent terrain. True for armies, wagon trains, travelers, etc throughout history.

    Some yrs ago I met a guy at a campground that said he did 40 miles per day, on roads, every walking day. He was retired, widowed, and he decided to spend his time walking around the US, seeing it on foot, and meeting people. A different kind of backpacking from most here, but one that would be rewarding in its own way.

    He also swore by the Dr. Scholls gel insoles.

    cary bertoncini


    Locale: N. California

    I don't like more than 10-12 miles per day, and am often happy with 6-8. But I like to fish, birdwatch, sit and think, catnap, read and hate rushing.

    Travis Leanna
    BPL Member


    Locale: Wisconsin

    Cary, see my first post in this thread :)

    "I prefer to keep it 8-13 miles a day because that gives me time to "smell the roses."

    Nick Gatel
    BPL Member


    Locale: Southern California

    I remember reading Colin Fletcher years ago on mileage. He said that on flat ground he averaged about 3 miles per hour, including a 10 minute break. Also said he generally did about 2 mph on trails. That was with a 40lb pack and boots. But he was not one to hike more than 7 or 8 hours per day. So it puts us right back where we started :)

    Matthew Zion


    Locale: Boulder, CO

    Hi, my name is Matthew and I am addicted to long days. Think it all started with testing my physical limits but now the longer I am away from backcountry the more I want to get up before sunrise and start walking and keep going until the sun sets. It use to be about miles now its about enjoying the walk.

    Enough with the personal philosophy but my experience in PA was really easy miles. I think a lot of the time you do a 800 ft climb to the top of the ridge and then you walk that for the next 10, 12, 18 miles until you drop down and do it over. If your feet can handle the rocks I found PA to be a great place to sit around during the meat of the day but still be able to put in 20 without much effort. I count on a 3 mph pace with some variation with steep elevation profiles.

Viewing 16 posts - 26 through 41 (of 41 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.
Forum Posting

A Membership is required to post in the forums. Login or become a member to post in the member forums!