View Full Version : Formula for estimating hiking distances

Shutterbug

08-09-2009, 19:04

Do you have a formula you use to estimate how far you will hike on a given day?

I have developed a "rule of thumb" for estimating how far I can hike in a day. It is based on my own personal experience and might not work for you.

My formula is "miles = (n-e)*2 when "n" is the number of hours I will be hiking and "e" is the feet of elevation I will gain/1000.

For example, if I will be hiking 10 hours and have 4,000 feet of elevations gain, I should make 12 miles.

In 4 hours with 1,000 feet elevation, I should make 6 miles.

I can turn the formula around to estimate how long it will take me to cover a distance. time in hours = (miles/2) + e.

For example, an 8 mile hike with 2,000 feet of elevation gain will take me 6 hours.

Do you have a formula that you use.

Estimated mileage is based on past experience

Lone Wolf

08-09-2009, 19:26

Do you have a formula you use to estimate how far you will hike on a given day?

I have developed a "rule of thumb" for estimating how far I can hike in a day. It is based on my own personal experience and might not work for you.

My formula is "miles = (n-e)*2 when "n" is the number of hours I will be hiking and "e" is the feet of elevation I will gain/1000.

For example, if I will be hiking 10 hours and have 4,000 feet of elevations gain, I should make 12 miles.

In 4 hours with 1,000 feet elevation, I should make 6 miles.

I can turn the formula around to estimate how long it will take me to cover a distance. time in hours = (miles/2) + e.

For example, an 8 mile hike with 2,000 feet of elevation gain will take me 6 hours.

Do you have a formula that you use.

why you gotta make walkin' so difficult? cuz that's just all it is.

[QUOTE=Shutterbug;877931][FONT=Comic Sans MS]Do you have a formula you use to estimate how far you will hike on a given day?/QUOTE]

What kind of engineer are you? Only an engineer thinks like this :>))

:D:D

Clyde

Lone Wolf

08-09-2009, 19:43

[QUOTE=Shutterbug;877931][FONT=Comic Sans MS]Do you have a formula you use to estimate how far you will hike on a given day?/QUOTE]

What kind of engineer are you? Only an engineer thinks like this :>))

:D:D

Clyde

and only true hiker trash thinks and walks like me. ain't too many of us. thank christ

My brain could not keep up with that. ha.

Pretty much I average 2 miles per hour (counting breaks), and I go with that.

From where do you get your elevation gain data?

Darwin again

08-09-2009, 20:27

I don't estimate. I just hike for the day and use my guide book for waypoints that measure how far I've gone. Estimating before the fact is daydreaming. Estimating after the fact can be useful. Estimates of miles that have not been hiked yet are invalid. The reality of miles hiked depends on hiker, trail and weather conditions, including but not imited to quality of food, sleep, weather, trail difficulty, elevation gain, mental state, pack weight, potential availability of town food, companionship, degree of hiker funk, condition of gear, and/or illness or injury.

x = (Hc) (Tc) (Wx) (Td) (E) (Ms) (Pw) (F) (C) (St) (Ge) (Ill)

where x = estimate of miles

Most hikers average 12 miles per day during a thru.

It's not a math problem.

Darwin again

08-09-2009, 20:29

FWIW, my lifetime AT average mileage per day is 12.5.

I use that as a guide. Sometimes.

My formula is ENJOY THE HIKE (oh, and don't overplan :)).

My formula is "miles = (n-e)*2 when "n" is the number of hours I will be hiking and "e" is the feet of elevation I will gain/1000.

I have a better formula...

For every weekend backpack I do, I have one large burger (medium rare) washed down with a beer or two. My current favorite is the Silo Burger at Oskar Blues. (http://www.oskarblues.com/restaurant/)Half pound of burger, topped with bacon, shredded pork and hot sauce. (Yes, beef an two forms of pig) I like to chase it down with Old Chub.

I leave the hiking formulas to internet bulletin boards. ;)

I have a better formula...

For every weekend backpack I do, I have one large burger (medium rare) washed down with a beer or two. My current favorite is the Silo Burger at Oskar Blues. (http://www.oskarblues.com/restaurant/)Half pound of burger, topped with bacon, shredded pork and hot sauce. (Yes, beef an two forms of pig) I like to chase it down with Old Chub.

I leave the hiking formulas to internet bulletin boards. ;)

Now that is a formula! I prefer it with some of Mamas Little Pils, with a Tenfiddy as apertif. I'd be on jet power the next day. :eek:

The AMC guide books figure 30 minutes per mile, plus 30 minutes for every 1000 feet for the trails they cover.

Here is a calculator.

http://home.earthlink.net/~ellozy/calculator.html

But math in the head is a good anesthetic on steep climbs.

Shutterbug

08-09-2009, 22:13

From where do you get your elevation gain data?

I get elevation gain data from trail maps.

Rain Man

08-10-2009, 10:20

Do you have a formula you use to estimate how far you will hike on a given day?

Kinda odd to read anyone on here telling you to hike THEIR hike by denigrating YOUR formula. Oh well.

I usually figure 2 mph and add something (up to an hour) per 1,000 feet of elevation gain, depending on steepness. Sometimes I don't add anything for elevation if it's over a long day and I figure the ups and downs even out. It's not a formula, but more a "feel."

I happen to like knowing where I might end up on any day. But that's MY hike. :)

Rain:sunMan

.

Seems like no matter what I do or where I hike it works out to 2 mph at the end of the day. If I want to go further, I hike longer - not faster.

Seems like no matter what I do or where I hike it works out to 2 mph at the end of the day. If I want to go further, I hike longer - not faster.

Same. Unless it is a flat graded surface. With a purpose in mind.

fiddlehead

08-10-2009, 10:55

I was out trailblazin my trail today here in the jungle.

After 3 hours, i made 2 kms.

We are in the middle of the rainy season and the jungle grows so fast, one time it took me about 10 minutes to go 100 feet.

Not many formulas would work for that.

Snow, sleet, hail, mud, rocks, wild elephants, good lookin women, beer, picnics, fires, typhoons, raging rivers, incredible views, trails washed away, whiteouts, bees & wasps, bears eating your food that you hung,...........they all work together to make hiking more interesting, but they do damage to schedules.

Best to throw the schedule away when you start and pack an extra days food.

Cannibal

08-10-2009, 11:15

I have a better formula...

For every weekend backpack I do, I have one large burger (medium rare) washed down with a beer or two. My current favorite is the Silo Burger at Oskar Blues. (http://www.oskarblues.com/restaurant/)Half pound of burger, topped with bacon, shredded pork and hot sauce. (Yes, beef an two forms of pig) I like to chase it down with Old Chub.

Somebody else told me about this place recently; gonna have to take a little roadie. :D

I rarely plan my days beyond basic goals. I figure I average about 2 MPH; faster on the flats, slower on the ups. Walk till I find water late in the day, good enough for me.

chefjason

08-10-2009, 11:38

Seems like no matter what I do or where I hike it works out to 2 mph at the end of the day. If I want to go further, I hike longer - not faster.

Ditto. I have tried to make guestimated calculations with increased speeds, but it never pans out. I almost always hit 2mph. So I hike for 8 hours and go 16 miles. Then camp. Easy.

Plodderman

08-10-2009, 11:48

No formula. Usually set up the distances for the trip before I hike and then if I have a good day and wnat to keep going, I do. Like to hike all day and not set up camp untill late.

jersey joe

08-10-2009, 11:56

My formula is "miles = (n-e)*2 when "n" is the number of hours I will be hiking and "e" is the feet of elevation I will gain/1000.

Do you have a formula that you use.

Nice Shutterbug!

I don't have a formula of my own, but I'd imagine if I came up with one it would have to include my pack weight as a factor in my miles.

Something like:

(b-(e/10000)-(p/100))*n

where

p=Pack Weight

b=base MPH with no pack and no elevation gain

HS=DFCB vs. DTCB Where HS=hiking speed, DFCB=desire for cold beer, DTCB=distance to that cold beer. All other data appears to be irrelevant and extraneous.

Somebody else told me about this place recently; gonna have to take a little roadie. :D

It really is quite good. Go to Rocky Mtn NP, hike then chow after. Life is great.

Being less of a smartacre for a little bit, a good rule of thumb is 2MPH plus an extra 1/2 hr for every 1000' gain.

So..if you hike 10 miles with 2000' gain, the hike will take ~6 hrs total w/o breaks.

If you hike faster, do that math accordingly. It is a standard rule of thumb found in most guidebooks and is fairly accurate for on-trail hiking during 3 season hikes. (Winter, off trail, higher than normal altitude and inclement weather of course are all factors that affects the equation).

EDIT: I just noticed Rick's formula from the AMC website. Call me "redundant man" today.

(Appalachian Mountain Club..not the website for shows about ad-execs in the early 1960s (http://www.amctv.com/originals/madmen/))

I still swear by my BIG HIKE = BIG MEAL equation being the most accurate, enjoyable and true equation, however. :D

Kinda odd to read anyone on here telling you to hike THEIR hike by denigrating YOUR formula. Oh well.

Denigrating and mild fun are two different things. No one came out and said it was stupid. Rainbows, flowers and fluffy kittens type discussion is boring. My closest friends all bust my chops. But, then again, I am a rude and sarcastic Northeast transplant. I don't know any better. ;)

max patch

08-10-2009, 14:00

Its a shame that some of the usual suspects found it necessary to mock the OPs information.

Knowing your pace can be very helpful when planning a day hike or a weekend trip when you absolutely gotta be at work Monday morning.

Darwin again

08-10-2009, 18:52

Seems like no matter what I do or where I hike it works out to 2 mph at the end of the day. If I want to go further, I hike longer - not faster.

Longer = farther.

Not faster is key for me.

Darwin again

08-10-2009, 18:55

I still swear by my BIG HIKE = BIG MEAL equation being the most accurate, enjoyable and true equation, however. :D

That nails it.

I ate an entire mac and cheese dinner with a pouch of tuna mixed in for breakfast one day and hiked 22.7 miles!

Hmmm...:-?

SassyWindsor

08-10-2009, 20:10

My daily mileage formula is:

1.5 to 2.5 mph x when my butt starts dragging . This allows for

Bad Weather / elevation and/or Beautiful Views.

I walk till I stop. Yes, I sort of have a planed destination, but its just a plan & I barely follow it, usually doing more miles than planned, but I also do less from time to time. :p

I never look at the profile or even the elevation thingys.

Lone Wolf

08-10-2009, 20:51

Its a shame that some of the usual suspects found it necessary to mock the OPs information.

rockets and such require formulas. walkin' don't

fredmugs

08-11-2009, 07:23

Before a section hike I look at the number of hours of daylight I should have and subtract one hour for slack, camp setup, etc. I tend to average 2.2 mph with breaks included but use 2 mph for planning which gives me extra time for whatever I happen to encounter during the day.

If I have 14 hours of daylight I plan a (14-1)*2 = 26 mile day.

The AMC guide books figure 30 minutes per mile, plus 30 minutes for every 1000 feet for the trails they cover.

Here is a calculator.

http://home.earthlink.net/~ellozy/calculator.html

But math in the head is a good anesthetic on steep climbs.

Others, including the Green Mountain Club, also use this same formula. I find it pretty good. At the very least, it provides a standard computation of time that I can then judge my own personal pace with.

I frequently use this formula when people ask me about hiking times.

But, the original question was about a formula for how many miles in a given day. So, applying the above formula, it becomes a matter of how many hours do I want to hike in any given day.

Anyone who has ever thru-hiked can tell you what their average mileage was. But, on any given day, this can vary from zero to over 20 miles. So, I figure that a better way to estimate duration is by figuring weekly mileage.

Experience is probably the best way to figure out how much mileage in a given day. That's what Baltimore Jack has done in the articles section where he lists the approximate number of days between places along the AT.

I hike from breakfast to lunch then lunch to hour near dark, setup for the night and have dinner. Oh and I have the map that shows how far you gone from point a=breakfast to point b=setup for the night. thats my formula

Kerosene

08-11-2009, 12:03

I've found that my pace over the course of a day is impacted more by the smoothness of the trail surface than the elevation change. South of Harpers Ferry, I have consistently averaged 2.2-2.7 mph, although I tend to slow down towards the end of 20+ mile days. In the Mid-Atlantic states I averaged closer to 2.0 mph; 2.5 mph from Connecticut through Glenncliff, and then about 1.5 mph through the Whites.

Shutterbug

08-11-2009, 14:57

The AMC guide books figure 30 minutes per mile, plus 30 minutes for every 1000 feet for the trails they cover.

Here is a calculator.

http://home.earthlink.net/~ellozy/calculator.html

But math in the head is a good anesthetic on steep climbs.

This calculator is the same as mine except that I allow twice the time for elevation gain. The logic is identical.

I agree with those who factor in pack weight. I find that pack weight doesn't really impact my speed on level ground, but it sure makes a difference when I am climbing a steep hill.

My own formula assumes a 30 - 35 lb pack.

Shutterbug

08-11-2009, 14:58

[quote=Shutterbug;877931]Do you have a formula you use to estimate how far you will hike on a given day?/QUOTE]

What kind of engineer are you? Only an engineer thinks like this :>))

:D:D

Clyde

[FONT=Comic Sans MS]It doesn't take an engineer, but it does take someone who passed 9th grade algebra. I am not an engineer, but I played one on tv.

[quote=rcli4;877942]

[FONT=Comic Sans MS]It doesn't take an engineer, but it does take someone who passed 9th grade algebra. I am not an engineer, but I played one on tv.

I didn't say it took an engineer to do the simple math, I could do it with a simple MBA from the University of Florida. I said it took an engineer to have the thought process to think up and write down long winded formulas for hiking. It was a joke. Did ya see the smiley faces? It's just walking.

Clyde

An engineer would include variables for weight, temperature, depth of snow, and other trail encumbrances

Kerosene

08-11-2009, 22:04

An engineer would include variables for weight, temperature, depth of snow, and other trail encumbrancesSuch as wind resistance, tread depth, number of viewpoints, humidity, hydration level, rocks-to-roots ratio...

I write down how many miles I hiked, the elevation gained, and how long it too.

Ten years later, when I talk about the hike, I double the mileage and the elevation gained.

After 20 years, I cut the time it took by 60%.

After 30 years, I change the season to winter and add a blizzard.

After 40 years, I forget where the hell I put that paper is with all the data written down.

during dinner (or shortly afterwards) i look for a water source @ 15 miles from where i'm currently camped and the next day i walk until i get to it. i will estimate that as 1 day. sometimes the mileage is 12, sometimes it's 20. i prefer 15

fredmugs

08-12-2009, 06:55

An engineer would include variables for weight, temperature, depth of snow, and other trail encumbrances

An engineer would figure out it's too hard and build a hiking simulator.

Rockhound

08-12-2009, 07:52

My formula is to hike until I'm done for the day then look in the handbook to see how far I've gone. It's very acurate.

Seems like no matter what I do or where I hike it works out to 2 mph at the end of the day. If I want to go further, I hike longer - not faster. i agree! hike longer, not faster!