How Many Miles can you Hike in a Day?

You may know how fast you walk or run, but want to know how that translates to hiking on rough terrain, up and down hills, and maybe carrying a extra weight on your back. A leisurely stroll is going to be around 2mph, a brisk walk will closer to 3.5mph. So how many miles can you in a day…

Hiking speed is going to be slower, certain factors will determine how much slower. Based on average walking speeds, you can assume you aren’t going to be hiking much faster than 4mph unless you are jogging. So we are probably looking at somewhere between 2 to 4mph depending on various factors.

Let’s take the average of that, 3mph, and run with it. Let’s say you set aside 8 hours for sleep, snack and water breaks, and relieving yourself. So you are hiking 16 hours straight at 3mph, that’s 48 miles in one day. Sure I guess anything is possible, but highly unlikely. I would say half of that or so would be a more realistic number for miles hiked in a day, for an extremely fit seasoned hiker. A beginner hiker trying a hiking marathon in one day is probably going to be more at 12-15 miles max before reaching sheer exhaustion.

A few factors that determine how many miles you can hike in a day:

How much does my pack weigh?

According to this article on REI, a loaded backpack should weigh no more than 20% of your body weight. Let’s take 200 lbs as a nice round number. That would mean a 200 pound man should have a backpack that weighs no more than 40 lbs. Add this amount of weight to your back and it will certainly slow you down.

What kind of physical shape am I in?

Even if you are in peak physical shape an all day hike is taxing on your body, especially carrying extra weight. I consider myself to be in pretty decent shape and I am exhausted after a 9 mile hike. After about 6-7 miles my body just goes into autopilot mode and I try and go somewhere else in my mind and just keep trekking.

Now if you are in poor physical shape, then it’s going to be even tougher and you are going to get even less miles in. Maybe you smoke cigarettes or are overweight. If you are out of shape don’t try and do an extra long hike, much less try for a hiking marathon.

How difficult is the hike?

If it is a flat smooth trail the whole way then this is going to make things much easier for sure. Even if it were though, that’s still a lot of miles in one day. If we are talking many hills, rocks, roots, rivers to cross, and everything else that comes with a normal hike then that’s going to make this even tougher.

Obviously most of this article is just speculation and guessing, but these are all things to take into consideration before trying a long hike. If you found this page by googling “how many miles can I hike in a day” or something similar, then I am guessing you are a beginner or a novice in which case you should not bite off more than you can chew. 

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