Well, I never thought I would ever ask or consider this question – ‘How far can you walk in one day on an average hike? We have been walking in the summer, how about you? They said it would be fun, join us;)they said. Well, on the long distances, I did rethink my life choices and decisions.
Do give this some thought though, be prepared and have fun.
What do you average in a day when you go hiking?
Are you fit or is this a beginning for you?
So many questions, but they are real – how far to walk on an average hike in one day?
There are some things to consider.
who are you and how far can you walk in one day on an average hike?
Are you a beginner hiker, an average hiker or are you an experienced hiker? In other words are you in good shape? What personal experience do you have, are you setting yourself up for success or a day of torture? The most important things to remember are that you need to be well prepared, know yourself, know who you are walking with, and know what you are letting yourself in for.
New hikers should take it easy if they want to come back and do this again. I would suggest starting out on a very average distance of no more than 5km/3,2 miles. It is a good idea and distance that will challenge you but will also have you coming back for more. The first time you go on a hike, you want to enjoy yourself and also be able to look around a bit and enjoy nature.
somewhere in the middle of the pack
An average person hike is for someone who does a bit of sport and is used to being on their feet for a certain time period or distance. I think I am in this group. My physical fitness level is very average and I can walk on level ground for up to 8 or 10 km before I start thinking about my life choices and preparation for what I am doing;). I am also slowly recovering from plantar fasciitis and so I’m all about taking it easy and knowing what I’m planning for the day. I can manage a faster pace and can cover longer distances in a single day on a good day but nursing a long-term injury had me setting my own pace.
The avid hiker has a lot of hiking experience and is also physically fit. They are able to go well beyond 10km on any given day and on any terrain. They can walk easily on flat surfaces as well as climb hills.
This is a general rule of thumb and worth considering before you head out of the door.
but that is not all
But that is not the only factor to consider.
I am also very aware of my energy level and how it affects my capacity to enjoy the day’s outing. I can spend quite a number of hours and can maintain a pretty decent average hiking speed, but I have to watch that I eat and drink regularly. This has made all the difference in being able to rack up the extra miles on any given day out.
distance or how far can you walk in one day?
When you start out, go on a few shorter hikes, and then you can build from there. Fewer miles or kilometers will help you both mentally and physically. The number of miles or kilometers determines the time you will be out, what type of gear to have, and what to take with you. These are all super important but on the shorter hike, 5km or less you will not have to plan for too much. It is a great way to get out and enjoy the outdoors, and that is an excellent starting point.
The long trail or long-distance hike is another matter. The best way to enjoy it is to be well-prepared. The long-distance or long hike can be anywhere from 10km and beyond. Longer hikes are taxing on your body and the most important thing is to be well prepared. If you don’t do this you may be setting yourself up for a hard time. You will have a good rough estimate of the planned route but know that you may miss a sign, misread a sign, or just get lost so you will possibly be spending extra time out than what you expected. This happens, so be prepared.
The speed that you usually walk will also be slower on a hike. We can easily walk 5km in one hour but on a hike, it is slower, we average just over 3km/2 miles per hour on a hike.
Beginner: up to 5k/3,2miles
Average fitness: can aim for up to 13 to 20km/8 – 12 miles
An experienced hiker or if you are in decent shape: head out for 25-32km/16-20 miles
So, does this help you answer the following question: how far can you walk in one day on an average hike?
what to carry or to take with you on the day hike
There are a lot of factors to consider when you pack what you will be taking with you. The weight of your pack is the most important factor. If you have a heavy pack, it will tire you out the further you walk. If you carry too much of what you do not need, this will discourage you and you will have no way of lightening your load when you are far from your car or home.
Important to note: YOU CANNOT LEAVE ANYTHING BEHIND IN A FOREST OR ON A MOUNTAIN! What you take in, you bring out with you again. Be very mindful of your pack weight, this can be a deal breaker and it may make you stop before you have even started.
To keep this real and realistic, please make a good study of the weather forecast of where you are heading. The weather conditions can and often do change some have a few contingency plans for changes in weather. Two key factors would be changes in precipitation and temperature.
Take note too, that if you are in the northern hemisphere July and August can get very hot, and dealing with heat exhaustion can lead to some scary scenarios and be a huge deciding factor when deciding how far can you walk in one day on an average hike.
This year we inadvertently walked on the hottest day recorded in our region – we hit 34 degrees centigrade. It was very challenging but we had no option but to keep moving forward. What saved us was taking regular dips in the river, and having a fantastic supply of liquids – both electrolytes and with plain water. Our snacks and eats were great too. In other words, we were prepared. Be prepared and you will enjoy the scenery and the beauty of being outdoors.
For a one-day hike, you do not need to carry a heavy backpack, the extra weight will not be necessary, and a day-pack will serve you well.
Packing list for a day hike: (and the wish list, as in a small compass and poncho) and better bug spray.
water bottles, at least 2, one with water and one with an isotonic drink
compass (on our wish list;)
poncho (on our wish list;)
map, in paper form or booklet
map downloaded on your fully charged phone
above and beyond how far can you walk in one day?
This is where the challenges begin. If your elevation changes (elevation change = going up a hill or mountain away from level ground) then this will both slow your pace down and challenge your fitness. My husband can march up a hill, I need to take it far slower. His physical strength far exceeds mine. Know where you are at with that and adapt.
The feet of elevation gain also depends if it is gradual as in a gentle incline or a sudden climb when you are in mountainous terrain. The type of terrain can be challenging too. An easy trail is where it is flat with no elevation and nothing challenging like climbing over rocks or boulders. Difficult terrain is where you need to concentrate on where you are going and are not really able to look around and take in the view. This could either be because you are climbing over boulders and rocks or navigating a steep incline. Trail conditions and the hiking distance go hand-in-hand and need to be taken into calculation when you plan and set out on your hiking trip.
Easy terrain and short distances are key to starting this adventure because this will have you coming back for more. The more challenging routes are what you can aim for as your abilities improve but the flats and short distances also provide you with a great experience out.
Last but not least, you need air to breathe and the higher you go the less air or the oxygen levels will drop. This is especially relevant if you change the elevation from where you live. If you live at sea level (lots of oxygen) and head out for a mountain climb over 1500m or 4900 feet, you will struggle with your breathing. Plan well.
to wear or not to wear on an average hike?
The gear you carry and what you wear all depends on where and for how long you will be walking. Please do not try anything new.
Side note. We walked with some farm young people and they walked 11km in flip-flops. Also in this group were some young people who had never ventured outside, a shopping mall was the extent of their experience. Their advantage was that they were young.
Good shoes are probably where you want to pay the most attention. Walking shoes or hiking boots will also make a hike a success or a failure. Good shoes can carry you over dry ground, mud, or even through some snow.