Your friends invited you to a ‘long hike’ this weekend and you immediately said ‘yes’ to them. However, as you start getting ready now you might be wondering how long that hike will be.
They could’ve meant anything from 20 to 100 miles for the day, but are you capable of covering either one of these extremes? And how far can people really hike in a day?
How Far Can You Hike In A Day?
The answer is dependent on the speed of your hike and the amount of time you can keep up going at the same pace.
A typical hiker’s speed allows them to cover anything from 2.5 to 3.5 miles per hour. Therefore, if you, for example, hiked for 5 hours in a day, you would cover 12.5 to 17.5 miles.
If you traveled for 10 hours at the specified rates of speed, you could very well walk anything from 25 to 35 miles of distance.
Long story short, you can maximize the distance you will cover by simply moving faster and hiking longer.
Even so, your potential to accomplish this will be determined by your cardiovascular endurance, in addition to some other aspects that we will discuss below.
A Scientific Approach As To How Much You Can Hike In A Day
There is an additional science-based method for determining how far you can hike and within what amount of time you can do it.
This is known as Naismith’s rule, and it is a general principle developed in 1892 by Scottish mountain climber William Naismith.
Even though Naismith’s rule is simple, we recommend that you avoid becoming too caught up in it when your daily distances covered are not that important to you.
However, in case you need some accurate estimates, you can use this principle.
The initial concept of the rule was that a person ought to allocate 60 minutes for every 3-mile distance they covered, with an extra hour given for even 2,000-feet elevation gain.
For example, were you to cover a 3-mile distance with 2,000 feet elevation, you would need 3 hours to do it.
Recently, there’s been some adjustments in the rule and the result was that:
For every 2.5-mile walk on uneven ground, you should estimate 2.5 hours to be spent, and when you are descending you should, respectively, subtract 10 minutes for a 1,000-feet 5–12-degree decline.
As for the opposite case scenario, 10 minutes should instead be added to a 1,000-feet incline hill.
How Can You Walk A Greater Distance In A Day?
Now that you have gained a better understanding of the major factors that influence your hiking pace and distance, you might be wondering if there are ways to cover more distance in the day.
You certainly can, so here are some tricks that can make it easier for you to cover more ground in one day:
Carry A Lightweight Backpack
First of all, try to make your backpack as light as you can! When packing heavy, you will burn more energy trying to carry the weight in addition to walking, and your performance will be negatively affected.
Choose A Less Difficult Path
Rough, uneven, and inclined terrain slows you down, so if you want to keep going at a fast pace and walk more miles in total, choose paths that are not as challenging and try to walk on steady slopes.
Wear The Right Shoes
Wearing your Stan Smith or your All-Stars isn’t going to take you far. If you want to cover a long distance in a day, you need to make sure you are wearing the appropriate footwear.
Your shoes need to be lightweight, comfy, and weatherproof.
The good thing is that there are many manufacturers focusing on hiking apparel and footwear, so you wouldn’t have a hard time finding the right shoe for you.
Don’t Be Late
Try to go hiking early in the morning if you would like to walk a greater distance. Once there is enough light for you to see the path clear, then it is a great time to get going.
This piece of advice should be followed especially in wintertime when the sun is out for fewer hours and it gets dark earlier in the day.
Having a breakfast meal mind sounds like a smart thing to do at first; after all, you have to provide your mind and body with enough energy for the hike, isn’t that so?
A high-calorie breakfast, however, has the potential to reduce your output. In addition to that, skipping breakfast can save you time and have you spending more hours on your hiking trip.
So, prefer eating a snack before your hike and keep snacking during the hike if you need to. That way you can replenish the energy expended and keep going.
Have A Break Every 2 Hours (More Or Less)
Every couple of hours, find a resting spot and take a break. Drink some water, have a snack, or simply relax for a bit.
This will help you mentally and give your body some time to prepare for the next miles you are going to walk.
If you can, try taking a power nap too. It will do wonders with your energy once you’re up again!
Keep A Steady Pace
Many people are too eager when they first embark on their hiking trip and too courageous that they speed up.
However, keeping a steady pace throughout your hiking trip is a wiser option. You don’t want to crawl by the end of the walk just because you were walking too fast for the first 2 miles.
Even when you are on a multi-day hiking trip, try to cover the same distance every day. So, if you plan on going on a 30-mile hike, walking 10 miles a day is the best approach.
The Bottom Line
There is no specific number that can be the answer to how many miles you can hike in a day.
Depending on your level, the elevation gain of the trail, the time of the year, the days you will be hiking in total, and many other factors, you can hike for as little as a mile or as long as 60 or more.
All that matters is for you to enjoy the trip, so put on the right shoes and go hiking!