How to calculate the time to hike and plan your absence

One of the most essential elements when planning a hike is to estimate the time it will take to complete the hike. Whether you are embarking on a long mountain hike or a shorter hike in a local forest to enjoy nature, knowing how long it takes to hike a mile will help you estimate how long you need for your adventure. hike of your choice. . Many hiking guides and apps show the distance of a given trail or route, as well as the elevation gained in the terrain. However, for planning purposes, you should be able to translate the distance of the hike into miles in an estimated time. After all, you want to start your hike with enough time to complete the loop or trail and with enough food and water, both of which are informed by knowing how long it will take you to hike for miles, which is also known as your average walking pace.

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Once you understand how to calculate your average hike pace, you will be able to work out how long it takes to go a mile, how long it takes to hike five miles, and how long you can anticipate a hike of n. ‘any length. as long as you have an idea of ​​the characteristics of the route. So, before you go on your next exciting outdoor hike, read this quick guide on estimating hike pace and how long it takes to cover miles.

Factors that affect the pace of the hike

Essentially, the question of how long it takes to hike a mile, 5 miles, or even 15 miles is a question of knowing your average hike pace or average hike speed. Several factors influence your hiking pace:

Your fitness level and desired intensity

Of course, just as two people can have very different average gaits for running, they can also have very different gaits for hiking. The fitter you are, the faster you will likely walk, as long as you try to walk at a decent pace. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a leisurely stroll, you’ll want to factor that into your intended pace.

Altitude gain

It goes without saying that it takes longer to cover a mile with significant climbs and steep climbs on flat, covering ground. Estimates of time to hike per miles should always take elevation changes into account.

The altitude of your hike

It may take longer to travel a mile at altitude because oxygen availability is compromised, so you may need to slow your pace.

Terrain during the hike

Obstacles on the trail and rough terrain like slippery rooftops and rocks, craggy rocky cliffs, and rivers to cross without bridges can all add a lot of time to the time it takes to walk a mile on this trail. Read the description of the hike, if available, to assess these details.

Packing weight

man hiking with pack.
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A heavy backpacking bag or backpacking bag will make the hike more difficult and may slow down your average hike pace.

Breaks

Anytime you are not moving on the trail, whether for a snack, photos, or a full meal, it will influence the total trip time and the average pace of the hike.

Weather

Heavy rain, winds, snow, or high humidity and heat can slow your hiking pace and extend the walking time by a mile.

How long does it take to travel a kilometer?

man hiking in the mountains.
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Once you have an idea of ​​the variables that affect average hiking speed, you can begin to estimate how long it will take you to cover a certain number of miles. If you are an experienced hiker, you may have noticed that sometimes an estimate of how long a hike will take is listed in a guidebook or app, called a “reservation time”. Almost everywhere these hike time estimates are calculated using the Naismith Rule (Time Estimation), which basically says it takes about an hour to travel three miles plus an additional hour for every 2,000 feet of elevation. won. Therefore, if you go a mile on a flat trail at a fairly aggressive pace, it will take about 20 minutes. However, most hiking experts say it’s a bit ambitious and the average time it takes to cover a mile is around 30 minutes once you factor in some of the variables that affect the pace. hiking in addition to the altitude (weight of the bag, weather, difficult foot or terrain, breaks, etc.).

Also, if you climb a mountain or climb, it will take longer. Let’s say you walk a mile and gain 500 feet in elevation, by Naismith’s rule that elevation will add 15 minutes to your time. Therefore, if you are using the 30 minute per mile pace, you are considering 45 minutes to go a mile and 35 minutes to go a mile if you are using Naismith’s rule, without adding any extra time. Again, you’ll want to consider where each of the variables surrounding hiking and fitness level fall on the continuum to help you make the most accurate estimate of how long it will take to walk a mile.

How long will a hike take?

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The same calculation principles can be scaled for a hike of any distance. Here are some examples:

How long does it take to travel 3 miles?

  • To walk 5 km on a flat trail: 3 mi / 3 mph = 1 hour
  • To hike 3 miles with 1,000 feet of total elevation gain: (3 mi / 3 mph) + (1,000 / 2) = 1.5 hours
  • To hike 3 miles with a total vertical drop of 2,000 feet: (3 mi / 3 mph) + (2,000 / 1) = 2 hours

How long does it take to travel 5 miles?

  • To hike 5 miles on a flat trail: 5 mi / 3mph = 1 hour, 40 mins
  • To hike 5 miles with a total elevation gain of 1,000 feet: (5 mi / 3 mph) + (1,000 / 2) = 2 hours, 10 minutes
  • To hike 5 miles with a total vertical drop of 2,000 feet: (5 mi / 3 mph) + (2,000 / 1) = 2 hours 40 minutes

How long does it take to travel 6 miles?

  • For a 10 km hike on a flat trail: 6 km / 3 mph = 2 hours
  • To hike 6 miles with a total elevation gain of 1,000 feet: (6 mi / 3 mph) + (1,000 / 2) = 2.5 hours
  • To hike 6 miles with a total vertical drop of 2,000 feet: (6 mi / 3 mph) + (2,000 / 1) = 3 hours
  • To hike 6 miles with a total vertical drop of 3,000 feet: (6 mi / 3 mph) + (3,000 / 2,000) = 3.5 hours
man hike 10 miles.
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How long does it take to travel 8 miles?

  • To hike 13 km on a flat trail: 13 km / 3 mph = 2 hours 40 minutes
  • To hike 8 miles with 1,000 feet of total elevation gain: (8 mi / 3 mph) + (1,000 / 2) = 3 hours, 10 minutes
  • To hike 8 miles with a total vertical drop of 2,000 feet: (8 mi / 3 mph) + (2,000 / 1) = 3 hours 40 minutes
  • To hike 8 miles with a total vertical drop of 3,000 feet: (8 mi / 3 mph) + (3,000 / 2,000) = 4 hours, 10 minutes

How long does it take to travel 10 miles?

  • To hike 10 miles on a flat trail: 10 miles / 3 mph = 3 hours 20 minutes
  • To hike 10 miles with a total vertical drop of 2,000 feet: (10 mi / 3 mph) + (2,000 / 1) = 4 hours, 20 minutes
  • To hike 10 miles with a total vertical drop of 3,000 feet: (10 mi / 3 mph) + (3,000 / 2,000) = 4 hours 50 minutes
  • To hike 10 miles with a total elevation gain of 4000 feet: (10 mi / 3 mph) + (4000/2000) = 5 hours, 20 minutes
  • To hike 10 miles with a total vertical drop of 5,000 feet: (10 mi / 3 mph) + (5,000 / 2,000) = 5 hours 50 minutes

How long does it take to travel 15 miles?

  • To hike 15 miles on a flat trail: 15 miles / 3 mph = 5 hours
  • To hike 15 miles with a total vertical drop of 2,000 feet: (15 mi / 3 mph) + (2,000 / 1) = 6 hours
  • To hike 15 miles with a total elevation gain of 3,000 feet: (15 mi / 3 mph) + (3,000 / 2,000) = 6.5 hours
  • To hike 15 miles with a total elevation gain of 4000 feet: (15 mi / 3 mph) + (4000/2000) = 7 hours
  • To hike 15 miles with a total elevation gain of 5,000 feet: (15 mi / 3 mph) + (5,000 / 2,000) = 7.5 hours
  • To hike 15 miles with a total elevation gain of 7,000 feet: (15 mi / 3 mph) + (7,000 / 2,000) = 8.5 hours

Last takeaways

Estimating how long it takes to travel miles is pretty straightforward, once you get a feel for the basic formula. However, you will be able to refine your estimates with more precision once you have a better idea of ​​your average hike speed and how the various factors that affect hike pace affect your personal hike speed.

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