View Full Version : Feeling the need... the need for hiking speed

Plays With Foxes
07-06-2016, 13:02
So I've been planning my thru hike for some time, I've got all my gear, I've practiced using said gear, and I've hiked with the gear and I'm confident in my abilities... what I am doubting is my pace.

On a rocky, uneven, albeit fairly level surface I covered about 2.3 miles in an hour when not pushing my limits. What is the average speed for someone who doesn't have their trail legs yet?

Plays With Foxes.

Odd Man Out
07-06-2016, 13:31
I don't have the need for speed. But it is convenient to know you typical pace so you can determine where you will be at what time. So on my last section hike (3 days in SNP) I jet track. If I didn't stop and was just walking, I usually covered abot 2 mph. A bit more if that hour wad easy. A bit less if it was hard.

07-06-2016, 13:35
Anywhere from 1 to 3 mph. There is no way of predicting until you have more experience.

Plays With Foxes
07-06-2016, 13:49
perhaps "need" wasn't the best way to phrase it. I'm trying to figure out my pace so I know where I'll stop each night (in theory anyway)

07-06-2016, 13:55
On my first 1000 mile hike on the AT I figured I usually averaged 2.3-2.5 mph. This indicates walking faster than that, maybe 3 mph, but the average is brought down by breaks. In those days we carried heavier packs... I did meet thru hikers who were experimenting with walking at 4 mph; you can do it for a while if you are very fit, but it is tough.
On later hikes with my wife (in our 40's) we averaged about 1.2 mph on the AT in Maine. You can generally hike faster alone than in a group.
So it depends on a lot.
But I think the more important question is, what are you getting out of hiking, besides a physical workout?
There needs to be good answers for this, or else stay home.

07-06-2016, 14:53
Here are the biggest variables in Miles-per-day:
1) How long will you hike each day? The person who walks for 15 hours almost always goes further than the person who walks for 6.
2) How fast you go per hour.

I'd wager 2MPH *while hiking* for someone who is in decent shape is a good beginning estimate. If you plan on a 12 hour day on the trail, figure 4 hours of breaks, that puts you at 16 MPD.

07-06-2016, 15:25
2 MPH average with short breaks is pretty typical.

07-06-2016, 17:16
Few thru hikers will have your question prior to the hike. For all, it will become an obsession within 2 weeks of starting. I think its the realization of the grim reality of just how far 2200 miles is. You just wake up somewhere around the Georgia/North Carolina border and the mileage monster is just there. It nags at you in the back of your head all day. You start thinking about all the things you can do to get more miles per hour and more miles per day. Is it my poor and lazy camping skills? Too many breaks? Too much pack weight? Is it the slow pace of my new hiker buddies? Too much time in town? Too much stopping to talk to day hikers? Am I too much of a weather wimp? The mile monster will prod you to action. And act you will. You will start asking the right questions. How can I make more miles? What are the tricks? AT Thru-hiking will no longer be about camping or eating or scenery or anything else. Feed the mile monster!

07-06-2016, 18:54
Depends on so many factors -- the load you're carrying, the trail conditions, the weather, how much sleep you got the night before, your general fitness, diet, hydration, etc. It's the overall average that counts.

I'm slow. I average maybe 1.5-1.7 mph in the easier AT states, and closer to 1 mph in the hard parts of Maine and New Hampshire.

07-06-2016, 19:19
2-2.5 mph is about avg backpacking pace.

Energetic inspiring music with a positive empowering message on trail always gets my hiking rate(pace) higher.

Significant to your goal think not just in terms of faster pace - that at which velocity you hike - but more along actually hiking longer hrs at a more moderate pace with an eye on greater efficiency of movement(F L O W). For me, it's the time actually spent, 14-16 hrs per every 24, at a more reasonable efficient 1.5 - 3.5 mph pace that gets a thru-hike done enjoyably.

Knowing pace is simple. Rate = Distance / Time. Got a watch? Time yourself over various conditions and terrains between two know points knowing the mileage between points. After a while you'll fairly accurately know your pace under various scenarios. Then, instead of micro managing your hike to know exactly where you have to stop each night consider a window, a range if you like, of where you might find decent campsites by looking at your maps and guidebook.

07-06-2016, 19:20
...1) How long will you hike each day? The person who walks for 15 hours almost always goes further than the person who walks for 6. ...