How Many Miles Can You Hike in a Day?

When you’re in the wild for the first time you will be wondering how many miles you can hike in a day. Many people want to walk as far as possible, trying not to stop and look around them or simply wishing the experience is over. Once you become a bit more experienced, you will know how to enjoy the world around you as you’re hiking.

You can walk between 3 to 10 miles a day if you are still beginning hiking, with this number increasing to just over 15 miles in 8 hours. The true distance that you can hike will be measured by several things, chief of which is how fit you already are.

Apart from your fitness level the terrain, elevation, and weight of the equipment you have with you will heavily affect how far you can go. Some of the best hikers in the world have had enough experience to easily pack the perfect amount for their trip, without weighing themselves down too much.

If you are looking to easily learn how to pack the perfect amount for your hiking trip, wondering how many you can hike, this is the best place to find all the basics!

How many miles can you walk in a day?

Many people think that hiking is not at all different from walking down the street, or just around the house a few times. Unfortunately, this is not the truth and many people that are not prepared properly will go into hiking and find themselves gasping for air within an hour. If you are not super active in the gym or go for regular walk you may be surprised how few miles you walk each day, even while you are taking regular trips to the coffee maker at you office.

The average person only walks around 2 to 3 miles per day, which is close to 4 000 steps each day that. Most people will be able to easily walk just over 6 miles a day if the surface is flat and easy to walk on, usually this would involve either Olympic track fields or just a tarred road. This average can increase dramatically if younger people are the only ones considered and will drop significantly if only people over 40 are considered.

Walking in your everyday life is nothing like backpacking or hiking, with many people forgetting the terrain they will be walking on. Some of the most capable walkers down the road would not be able to hike for more than a few miles through mountainous or bush terrains.

How many miles can you backpack in a day?

Hiking is the act of going up a hill, down a hidden path, or just the forest for one or two day, usually with nothing but a few snacks and the same base camp already there. You would rarely go into the wilderness and get lost for several days, always going back to your starting point to rest and eat.

Backpacking is the older, tougher, and slightly more extreme cousin to hiking, going through the wilderness with nothing but the provisions you have on your back for an extended length of time.

You can easily backpack between 8 to 10 miles per day when you are still beginning, which will increase to over 18 miles per day once your body has been trained properly.

However, it should be noted, that this estimate is only if you are already fit enough to go hiking for several miles without the backpack. The average person that is only just starting the life of a backpacker may not be able to go for more than 3 miles without needing an extended rest. It is always good to be reminded that when you go backpacking you will be carrying all of the provisions you and your friends will need on your back.

What affects the distance you can hike and backpack each day?

Now that you know how far you should be able to walk, hike, and backpack you may be wondering what exactly affects the distances you can travel. Many people underestimate how much these individual elements can affect the overall distances that you will be able to go. Each one can shave off several miles from your daily trip, leaving you miles away from the camping location you may have aimed for.

Considering each of these when planning your hiking trip through the wilderness will allow you to plan with great accuracy where each rest camp will be, and how long the trip will take.

Elevation

Most people live close to the level of the ocean, rarely going above 2000 feet in elevation. As you start hiking you will find that most hiking trails have some element of mountaineering included, which means you will ascend several thousand feet in some instances. The higher you go the lower the oxygen levels will be, which will affect how well you can breathe, and how your body performs.

Terrain

Mountain and hiking trails are some of the most elusive and illusionary things you will ever experience, many of them hiding problems you could never have imagined. The terrain you are hiking on could be the biggest hindrance on your hiking adventure, with rocks, sand, plants, and even just flat ground all slowing down how far you can walk each day.

young woman hiker legs on sunrise mountain peak rock

Physical Fitness

Whether you are physically fit or just now getting off the couch for the first time in months, your fitness levels will be tested while hiking. Many people underestimate how much work it is to walk through the bush, up hills, around forests, and along beaches. When you are hiking if your physical fitness is not as best it could be you will quickly find yourself doing far fewer miles than you had planned.

Equipment

No hiking is ever done without some type of equipment to help you; some people have backpacks that they carry with them to easily and comfortably camp once they reach their destination. Other hikers simply have their camping equipment taken to each campsite beforehand, the heavier your equipment that you are taking with you is, the slower you will be moving. The wrong planning with your equipment can easily cause you to travel only a few miles each day.

Why can you only hike limited distances?

First time hikers will always want to walk as much as they can on their first day, disregarding the effect of pushing their body its limit. However, this can be dangerous, as pushing yourself to the limit can cause long term negative effects, with short term problems of muscle cramps and pains.

Having planned stops, with hiking routes already chosen will mean that those not traveling with you will know where to find you, and you can rest your muscles as needed. However, this is not the only reason that you should only plan on walking a limited distance each day, returning to a base camp, or going home after each hike.

Unfit hikers will barely be able to move their legs on the second day of hiking, usually having leg and back muscles that have all been pulled tight. Hiking exercises every muscle in the body, making a mad dash from point to point will only cause you pain and discomfort. You’ll also be unable to enjoy the beautiful sights all along the way.

How do you prepare to walk further distances?

Once you have been bitten by the hiking bug you will quickly outgrow the local hiking locations around your city. Many hikers start doing weekend trips where you can see mountains you never were open to the public all around your state. However, this may still be only the start of your hiking life, soon you will be bitten by the backpacking life.

You will need to see where each camp location is when you plan a backpacking trip before you plan anything else. Usually, there will already be a guide on what to pack for more complicated trips, some hikes cannot be undertaken without a guide taking you. Once you have the camp locations and you know how long it will take to reach them, you will need to decide how you will get food to these locations.

Most hikers will want to carry all of their equipment in their backpacks, however, some longer trips through remote locations will offer more than just a guide. If you are unsure that you can carry enough equipment you can usually pay to have your equipment delivered to each campsite. However, if you are going completely off the grid you will have to take enough of everything with you to last the entire trip.

Hiker portrait. Female hiking woman happy and smiling during hike trek on volcano Teide, Tenerife, Canary Islands. Beautiful young mixed race Asian Chinese / Caucasian sporty model joyful.

What are some of the dangers of hiking too far?

Many hikers, even experienced ones, will constantly think that no distance is too much, underestimating the damage that can be done. There are many dangers to pushing your body too much each day, each one requiring emergency medical help that can cost thousands of dollars.

The most obvious, and likely to happen one, is fatigue in walking too far each day of the hiking trip. This is usually a silent danger, with many hikers feeling fine the first few days that they do this, however, as the hike continues the fatigue sets in. Unlike fatigue in a mall if you have overworked your body and collapse while hiking you can seriously injure yourself.

Most young hikers that get lost and go missing, die from fatigue while they are pushing themselves too much each day. Not telling their hiking companions that they need to slow down, endangering everyone else on the hike as the hiker needs to either be carried out of the hiking trail or airlifted out. Sometimes falling behind the group, leading to them collapsing when no one can see or help them.

Day-Long Hiking: FAQ

How Many Miles Can Average Person Walk in a Day

The average person can walk around 3 miles per day in their average working life. This distance is put down while walking around at work, going shopping, or even just going for a walking exercise in the morning. This distance is increased for people that work jobs where they stand or walk the whole day, however, this does not translate to the ability to hike further.

How Many Miles Can Experienced Backpacker Hike in a Day?

An experienced backpacker can easily hike more than 18 miles in a single day from sunrise to sunset, usually only stopping to rest. These backpackers are experienced in which trails to walk in their areas and will have equipment that does not weigh nearly as much as low-cost equipment. Interestingly, these backpackers will not stop to eat while hiking, usually depending on snacks and energy bars to get the required calories each day.

Can You hike 30 Miles in a Day?

With lightweight equipment, proper shoes and an easy trail even experienced beginners can hike 30 miles in one day. However, you will have to wake up before sunrise and you will reach your destination long after sunset. Further, your muscles will be in pain, your feet will be unusable the next day, and you will be severely dehydrated. Hiking 30 miles in one day should only be done in absolute emergencies and is not a pace that anyone should consider normal or healthy.

Conclusion

Hiking is one of the most amazing things you can do while simply walking, the fresh air, the outdoors, and the constantly changing scenery will allow you to experience things that few other people have. Once you have the distances down, the backpacks packed, and the map safely packed in you will be able to enjoy every step you take.

Just be sure you never exceed the maximum distance you know you can walk; no one wants to be the person with stiff legs on only the second day of hiking!