What is considered a long day hike? [Plan and Prepare guide]

People who are new to hiking want to know about the general knowledge of it. If you haven’t hiked before, the question may come up, what is considered a long day hike? So many places offer different proposals about considered things.

It is wise to know about a place before visiting there. It is also good to know about how much you can possibly hike in one day. Actually how much a person can hike depends on various issues.

A regular hiker can hike more miles than a new one. Consult with an experienced person who is used to hiking a lot. There are many books available in the market. Some TV channels are also helpful. Gather knowledge about body weight and whether you’re a fit person, level and experience, terrain, time on the trail, weather/season, your pack/gear, altitude of the trail, your overall desire to hike.

How to Plan and Prepare for a long day hike

When you go on a hike, you have to consider few things to avoid any annoying situation. With a good plan, your hike will be safe, comfortable and enjoyable.

1. Consider Seasons

You should also consider the season in which you’ll go for hiking. Not only does the season directly correlate to the weather conditions, but also determines sunlight that you’ll have on any given day.

For instance, if you’re hiking in the summertime, you’ll have anywhere from 10 to 12 hours of beautiful sunlight. If you’re hiking in the winter, you’ll have 6 to 8 hours of sunlight. Unless you really want to hike in the dark but it is not recommended, it’s important to acknowledge that in the winter, there are fewer hours to hike. So, you’ll be able to cover fewer miles in a day.

2. Consider Weather

The weather on a particular day can have a direct impact on how many miles you can hike per day. Consider that you’ve got the perfect day –comfortable heat, no rain, no direct sunlight. In those conditions, you can probably hike for many hours and your body won’t feel too tired.

Consider that it’s the middle of a winter and a snowstorm has started. If you haven’t decided against hiking, you will need to modify your routine when it comes to distance and pace. The same goes for a blistering hot summer day too.

Also Read: Is it ok to hike in the rain?

 3. Naismith’s Rule

There is a more scientific way for measuring the expected amount of miles you can hike in a day which is called Naismith’s Rule. Naismith was a man from Scotland. This mountaineer developed an equation to determine approximately how many miles you can expect to cover in a day.

If you’re hiking on a more flat trail, the equation gives you 3 miles per hour. If you’re hiking on hilly terrain, the equation has you add an extra hour. Naismith factored in an additional hour for every 2,000 feet of altitude.

4. Terrain

The terrain that you’re hiking on has an effect on the speed at which you can hike. If you’re walking on primarily flat trails, then you’ll be able to cover more distance in a short time than you were to hike a particularly scramble-filled trail. Besides, if a trail has lots of water that you need to cross through or muddy, it will take more time to hike.

Climbing uphill takes more energy and effort and therefore, more time is taken. Something that might not make sense at first, however, is the fact that walking downhill can also slow you down significantly. This is because when you’re walking downhill, you often have to compensate by going more slowly to maintain balance and protect knees.

5. Time taken on the Trail

When determining how many miles you can hike in a day, consider how much time you’re planning for remaining on the hiking. If you’re hiking all day and your 10 hours into the hike, the next two or however many hours can start to feel more exciting. If you hike for 10 hours on the first day, you can’t expect to hike another 10 miles the next day because your body needs rest.

Our bodies are not naturally inclined to hike long distances over rough terrain with a backpack that adds more weight. Determining how long you can remain on a trail also will depend on how frequently you’ll need to resupply the backpack.

6. Pack and gear

The number of miles you can hike in a day will be directly proportional to the weight of your backpack and gear is. The weight of gear can be beneficial for calorie burn. The more weight you’ve got on your back, the slower you’ll be able to hike.

Backpacking is about finding the perfect balance between pack weight and size to your body’s ability to carry and distribute that weight while still being able to exert the energy needed in order to cover the desired mile-amount in a day. The more you hike with a backpack, the more comfortable you will become with wearing one and eventually, it will become second nature to have a backpack while you hike.

7. Altitude of the trail

Similar to the seasons, when you hike you’ll also need to consider the altitude of the trail that you’re hiking. Especially if you’re traveling to an area where the altitude is much higher than what you’re used to, the altitude will affect the total amount of miles that you’ll be able to hike in a day.

Some hiking trails climb up a few thousand feet in just a few miles. When your body is hiking at a higher altitude, the oxygen levels decrease and that has an impact on the body’s ability to hike efficiently.

8. Physical Fitness

If you are physically fit, it is easier to move at a quicker pace – even if you don’t hike regularly. If you’re less physically fit, you’ll take more time to cover the same amount of terrain. If you’re looking to increase your stamina, start out 15 miles in one day.

Start hiking until you accomplish that goal, observe how you feel. Increase your goal the next time you hike. Continue like this until you can easily hike more in one day. New hikers can’t last longer because their feet are not trained to handle the blisters that can often come with a long day-hike.

9. Your overall desire for hiking

If you are determined to hike a certain amount of miles in one day with a good company, it’s absolutely possible. Joyful and determined people tend to hike faster and so cover more ground in a shorter amount of time. Be sure to take protein-rich snacks and sufficient water for keeping your body well fueled on the trail.

10. Experience that effect on hiking duration

Don’t try to hike a long distance at first. Slowly you will get used to it. It creates a lot of pressure if a new exercise is done for the first time. On average, a hiker can hike for about 2.5 miles to 3.5 miles in between in a day. Day by day your body will get used to it.

You can even walk for 18 to 28 miles if you walk for 8 hours in future. On average a hiker can walk for 8 to 10 miles in 2 to 3 hours. 

Final Thoughts on Planning A Day Hike

When it comes to determine how many miles you can hike in one day, it depends on the hiker. If you’re more experienced and more physically fit, then you can hike more miles in one day than a less experienced hiker. Your safety is the most important thing to consider on the hiking. Have a  chart about how much you have trailed per day.

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Justin M. Neal
Justin M. Neal

Justin is a freelance writer specializing in adventure, camping, hiking, home improvement, pet and technology. He is an avid animal lover since he was a little boy. He lives with his wife Malina, son Oliver, and their purrfect angel cat, Fifi.

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