Hiking Speed: Does it Matter?

Hiking Speed

Hiking requires you to consider several things, not only the equipment you will pack but also the speed and time you are going to consume during your hike. Knowing this will aid you to learn your limits and how to compress and restrict your time. That will give you an idea to estimate the factors to contemplate.

You can calculate your hiking speed by learning your average hiking speed, the factors that affect the hiking speed, know the dos and don’ts in increasing your pace, and track the average hiking speed. By having this knowledge, you will determine the importance to improve your hiking experience.

In this article, we will be talking about everything that influences the hiking speed of a certain person, may it be a beginner or expert level. We will also tackle how to increase your hiking speed and how to track it in numerous ways.


Choosing the right footwear for your hike is very important. Wearing the wrong footwear could lead to sore feet and blisters which will prevent you from enjoying your hike to the fullest. Lucky for you, we have a list of the best hiking shoes for men, women, and children all in one article.


Average Hiking Speed

Hiking speed is heavily influenced by the kinds of terrain you will be hiking and their difficulty level. Terrains consist of flat, moderate, and climbing types. For hiking level, it is leveled into beginner, intermediate, and expert. Whether you are hiking alone or with a group also influences the speed.

These are the following elements you need to consider in measuring your hiking speed:


  • Flat terrain

    Flat terrains are easy to walk on even if you carry full backpacks though the weight can still slow you down. About 3 miles for an hour is the usual distance that a person can reach. It is a plus if you wear lightweight equipment and a backpack as you can extend to 1 or 2 more miles.

  • Moderate terrain

    In this type of terrain, a hiker can sustain about 2 miles per hour carrying a standard backpack. A total of 18 miles from morning up until night time hike can be achieved. You will be able to have shortstops and eat.

  • Climbing

    We consider this as the most difficult kind of terrain to hike. If you carry a full backpack, estimate to take a hiking speed of 1 mile in one hour. You should slow travel moderately because if you are going to climb already, there is about 1500 feet you can have in every 1 mile per hour.


  • Beginner

    For beginners, we suggest you take a total of 5 miles for a day. This is the common distance that a novice can withstand. Consider the type of terrain, choose a place that is more of a flat or on a moderate type of terrain. A total of 2 to 3 hours can be consumed with such distance.

  • Intermediate

    Most hikers can reach up to 24 miles in a day on a 3 miles per hour basis. Meaning, they can reach the said total distance for 8 hours.

  • Expert

    Professional hikers can endure 30 miles or more in one day. If we time this for 8 hours, they can hike for almost 4 miles per hour. It will still be influenced by the types of terrain they are hiking.


Factors that Affect Hiking Speed

Keep in mind that when you estimate your hiking speed, there are several factors you need to consider which have a huge influence on this activity. Factors that affect the hiking speed are the types of terrain, fitness level, backpack weight, weather condition, break time, and elevation.

  1. Terrain

    If you walk on rough ground surfaces or rocky roads, it will highly affect your speed. As we discussed above, flat terrain is less exhaustive than the moderate and climbing types. The more challenging the surfaces, the higher possibility that it can slow you down.

  2. Fitness level

    This applies to the beginner level compared to the experts. Newbies are not used to using much strength that you can exert in hiking so they tend to reduce their speed. Unlike expert hikers, they can’t withstand far distances in an hour.

  3. Backpack Weight

    A piece of ordinary information that all of us knew. You can’t move fast if you are carrying heavy loads. This is, of course, similar to the situation in hiking. If you are going for a short hike then don’t bring a heavy backpack.

  4. Weather condition

    Even if we are just strolling around the city when raining, we can feel that everything slows down. Apart from the fact that your things can be dampened by the rain, we try to be careful also to avoid accidentally slipping. In terms of hiking, this goes the same. You got to be mindful not only of the rain but also of the heavy winds.

  5. Elevation

    Elevation affects the measurement of feet you’ll be climbing on a specific distance. Hikers use Naismith’s formula to calculate this.  For example, there is 3 miles per hour walk then there is an additional hour in every 2,000 feet of climbing.


Hiking is a very exhausting activity. A person needs to be physically fit before hiking as it will use up a lot of energy. There are preferred distances for beginner hikers and expert hikers. Before engaging in this activity, you should know how far you can go on a day hike


Here is the level of difficulty measurement:

100 feet per mile = Easy

500 feet per mile = Moderate

1,000 feet per mile = Difficult

Data Source wikipedia.com.Opens in a new tab.


Do’s in Increasing Your Hiking Speed

In increasing your hiking speed, you should improve your physical fitness, reduce the stuff in your backpack, eat a good amount, and be cautious of taking breaks. By following these techniques, you can increase your speed greatly enhance the miles you cover then your usual pace.

1. Enhance your physical fitness

Constant exercise can increase your endurance. Start slowly then increase your rate. Remember to bear the exercise but stop already if you feel pain. Do some trail running, walking, or interval hill sprints to condition your body before hiking. It is an activity that requires a lot of strength and tolerance.

2. Reduce your backpack weight

Heavy loads can slow you down so it is best to leave the least important stuff you have packed. Bring only those gears that are essential in your hiking adventure for a smooth escapade. Light packs are easy to carry and with that, you can walk faster than your usual momentum.

3. Eat before you go

Eating a good amount will not only help you to increase your strength but also to hamper the timely stops just to eat your snacks. If you have eaten your breakfast, it will boost you for the next hours of this activity.

4. Limit your breaks

Limit your breaks if possible. This is connected to the breaks you take when eating. Discipline yourself and attentively follow the time because you can reach the planned distance you want to achieve if you are obedient to the schedule or itinerary.


Hiking is healthy for both our body and our mental well-being. That’s why many people are enjoying the advantages of hiking. We have gone on countless hikes and we have a few tips to help you enjoy hiking even more


How to Track Average Hiking Speed

To track a hiking speed, a hiker should bring a GPS, hiking apps for phones, and fitness trackers. If you don’t have this equipment, then you can measure it manually. But it is indeed recommended to use the said gears for an easy calculation.

  • GPS

    A lot of hikers prefer to use hiking or GPS watches from Garmin. It can calculate your speed in any type of terrain or climbing and going down. There are also other watches that you can control or cease the tracking. GPS devices are recommended to properly trace your speed.

  • Hiking Apps

    If you don’t have GPS, another choice is to install hiking apps on your phone but this works only for those that have GPS features. Check some applications that may work on your phone. Better to test it out before you hike.

  • Fitness Trackers

    These are sometimes seen to be worn on the wrist and it looks like a watch. It is lightweight which is an advantage. Just by checking your wrist, you will easily know the calculation.

  • Manually

    Bring paper and small notebooks. In this method, you will be solving the time and distance of the place you are traveling. We recommend you to read some tips and tutorials online so that you can do it quickly and easily.



Knowing your hiking speed is a vital technique to estimate your time of travel and your capacity. You can’t just assume that you will be able to come back after 2 hours without being mindful of the time you will consume.

The speed affects the time so it is best to properly calculate and track it. To increase your speed, practice self-control, and discipline especially in the aspect of physical conditioning. Be prepared and know your limits. Don’t push yourself as it will result in accidents and injuries.

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