View Full Version : Pack weight/ daily mileage

04-23-2011, 18:21
Hey I'm writing a essay for my English class arguing benefits of reduced pack weights. I would like to put a graph together showing an increase in daily mileages resulting from a decrease in pack weight. For the graph I would like to have peoples total pack base weight and then how many miles a day they do on average.

For example I carried a 12 lb base weight on PCT and averaged 25 miles a day.

Thanks for your help guys. I want to incorporate this into a paper for an assignment due this monday, and will put the graph together late sunday night.

Once again thanks for your help.


04-23-2011, 18:58
I think you'll find that average mpd will be higher on the PCT than AT for the same pack weight, although it may be more correlated to experience.

You'll also want to make sure you're getting an average over multiple days. Folks with heavy packs can easily crank out a 25-mile day, but there aren't very many that can do it day in and day out.

I carried 40-50 pounds of total weight prior to lightening up a decade ago. Most of those AT miles were between central VA and VT. Over that time my average daily mileage was about 13.

I dropped my pack weight to 24-28 pounds in 2003, at which point my average daily mileage increased to 18 for week-long section hikes even as I entered my late 40's. The notable exception was my trip through the Whites where I only averaged 11 mpd despite beautiful weather.

To me, the biggest difference was that my feet weren't killing me after 10 miles. I probably walked about as fast, but was able to walk longer with fewer breaks with a lighter pack.

04-23-2011, 19:37
A good rule of thumb would be that for the same effort, a 10% reduction in total weight on feet will allow you to increase your daily mileage by 10%.

Wolf - 23000
04-24-2011, 01:28

One of the rules that most hikers know is don't carry more than 1/3 of your body weight. A 12 pound baseweight is going to feel different to a hiker who weigh 100 pounds compare to the same 12 pound baseweight on a 200 pound hiker.

Also at some point it all levels off. For example, my last time hiking the PCT (1997) my base weight was just under 4 pounds. I averaged 28 miles per/day. My last time hiking the JMT, 2008 my base weight was just a hair over 1 pound. My actually hiking days was 7 full days of hiking.

Just a different way of looking at things.


04-24-2011, 09:10
What you are looking for is unlikely to exist. Much of backpacking is practical experience, not well documented science with all kinds of experimental data backing it up.

In "Trail Life" by Ray Jardine, on page 23, is a graph that shows daily mileage and pack weight. This plot is actually composed of observations on his personal results of Ray Jardine.

I am over 70 years old, and even if I got my pack weight down to 10 pounds, I would not come anywhere close to Ray Jardine's 30 miles per day, as shown on his chart.

The same chart was also in his earlier book "Beyond Backpacking".

I haven't seen anything else like it.

Perhaps there is data gathered on the effects of carried weight on marching distance for military soldiers that you could look at.

04-24-2011, 09:12

I agree with Wolf's points that there are more variables than base pack weight, and it's definitely a non-linear curve. But it's an English essay, not a scientific study, so have fun with it.

I'm also in awe of Wolf's pack weights.

The argument that convinced me to lower my pack weight was not miles per day, but just the ability to keep hiking as I got older. Hiking longer days was an unexpected side-effect.

My first long trips were with a 30+ pound base weight and I would struggle to make 12 mpd. And that was 20 years ago. And I would need three months to fully recover from a three-week trip. My last few trips have been with an 8 pound pack and my average over a whole season has been just over 20 mpd, with no pain or recovery needed.

I wouldn't even be thinking of doing these trips with the pack I used as a younger man.

Good luck in your course and on the AT this year.

Happy Easter,