What is a Good Pace for Backpacking: Pick the Right Pace and Enjoy

Last updated on September 17th, 2023 at 05:25 pm

what is a good pace for backpacking

This is a hotly debated topic in the backpacking world. Some say that you should go as fast as you can to get to your destination, while others believe that the journey is more important than the destination. So, what is a good pace for backpacking?

Deciding what pace is best for backpacking can be difficult. There are many different ways to hike and each hiker has different preferences.  In this article, we’ll explore some of the things you should take into account when trying to determine what a good pace for backpacking is for you.

Why is Pace Important in Backpacking?

The pace is incredibly important when backpacking, especially when solo hiking. Maintaining a certain pace can mean the difference between making it to your destination and having to turn back.

Assuming you are in good enough shape to complete the hike, your pace will ultimately determine how successful your backpacking trip will be. Going too slow will encourage blisters and other injuries, while going too fast will lead to exhaustion.

Pacing yourself also allows you to enjoy the scenery more. When you are not focused on making it to the next water source or campsite, you can actually take the time to smell the flowers, so to speak.

Hiking is meant to be enjoyed, not just endured. So find a pace that is comfortable for you and stick with it. Your backpacking trip will be all the better for it.

a hiker

What is a Good Pace for Backpacking?

a trekker

Whether you’re new to backpacking or a seasoned pro, setting a comfortable pace is key to having a great time on the trail. But how do you find that perfect pace, and what even is a “good” pace to begin with? In this section, we’ll explore what factors into setting a good pace for backpacking, and how to find a pace that works best for you.

Why is it Important to Have a Good Pace?

Some people might ask why having a good pace is so important while backpacking. After all, isn’t the point of backpacking to take your time and enjoy the scenery? While that is certainly part of the point, there are other reasons why having a good pace is important.

One of the most important reasons to have a good pace while backpacking is safety. If you are hiking in unfamiliar territory, it is important to be able to cover the ground quickly in case you need to turn back. Additionally, if you are hiking in an area with potentially dangerous wildlife, you will want to be able to move quickly if necessary.

Another reason to maintain a good pace while backpacking is to avoid getting lost. This is especially true if you are hiking in an area with no cell coverage. If you are moving quickly, it will be easier to retrace your steps if you do get lost.

Finally, having a good pace while backpacking can simply make the experience more enjoyable. If you are moving quickly, you will be able to cover more ground and see more of the scenery. This can make for a more varied and interesting trip.

Of course, there is no one perfect pace for all backpacking trips. The recipe is to discover a pace that is effective for you and stick to it. This will vary depending on factors such as the terrain, the weather, and your own fitness level. However, as long as you have a general idea of a good pace for your trip, you should be able to stick to it and enjoy your time backpacking.


Factors to Consider When Choosing Your Pace

woman hiker

When you are planning a backpacking trip, one of the first things that you need to do is to decide what pace you are going to hike at. This decision can be a difficult one, because if you choose a pace that is too slow, you may not be able to cover the distance that you had hoped to. On the other hand, if you choose a pace that is too fast, you may become exhausted and have to cut your trip short.

Here are some important factors to consider when choosing your pace:

Fitness Level

The first factor to consider is your level of fitness. If you are not very fit, it is important to choose a pace that you know you will be able to maintain for the duration of your trip. It is better to hike slowly and enjoy the scenery than to try to hike too fast and end up having to turn back because you are too tired.


Another important factor to consider is the terrain. If you will be hiking on mostly flat ground, you will be able to hike faster than if you are hiking on hilly or mountainous terrain. If you are unsure about the terrain, it is always best to err on the side of caution and choose a pace that you know you can maintain on the steepest sections.


The elevation gain and loss is also an important factor to consider. If you are hiking uphill, you will want to go at a slower pace so that you don’t tire yourself out too quickly. On the other hand, if you are hiking downhill, you can afford to go at a faster pace.


The fourth factor to consider is the weather. If it is very hot, you will not be able to hike as fast as you would be able to if the weather was cooler. Similarly, if it is raining or there is snow on the ground, your pace will be slower than if the conditions were dry and sunny.

Distance You Cover Each Day

If you are covering a shorter distance, you can afford to go a bit slower and enjoy your surroundings more. If you are covering a longer distance, you will need to maintain a steadier pace in order to make good time.

Pack Weight

The sixth factor to consider is your pack weight. If you carry a lighter pack, you can hike faster. That’s because a heavier pack requires more energy to carry, which means you’ll naturally hike more slowly.

Hiking Partners

Finally, you also need to consider your hiking partners. If you are hiking with others who are faster or slower than you, you will need to adjust your pace accordingly. If you are hiking alone, you can set your own pace.

How to Find Your Ideal Pace

A good pace for backpacking is around 16 miles per day. This will allow you to hike for a good number of hours each day without tiring yourself out too much.

Ralph Waldo Emerson says, “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” Yet, many backpackers are all too focused on how fast they can complete the journey. The key to any journey, however, is finding the right pace – not too fast and not too slow. Here are some tips on finding the ideal pace while backpacking.

The first step is to set a realistic goal for your hike. This includes considering the distance you want to cover and the terrain you’ll be hiking on. Once you have a goal in mind, it’ll be easier to find the pace that’s right for you.

A good rule of thumb is to add 10 percent to the distance you would normally hike in a day. So, if you normally hike 10 miles in a day, you would aim to hike 11 miles while backpacking. This will allow you to account for the extra weight you’ll be carrying and the fact that you’ll be hiking for more hours each day.

If you’re just starting out, it’s best to take things slow. Start by covering shorter distances and with lighter packs. You can always increase the difficulty of your hike as you get in better shape.

One of the best ways to find your ideal pace is to experiment with shorter hikes before embarking on a longer backpacking trip. Pay attention to how you feel at different paces, and take note of what works for you.

happy trekker

How Can You Maintain a Good Pace?

happy backpacker

Once you have an idea of what a good pace is for you, there are a few things you can do to help maintain that pace on the trail. First, be sure to give yourself enough time to complete your hike. If you’re constantly looking at your watch and rushing to make miles, you’re likely to burn out quickly.

Second, take breaks when you need them, but don’t overdo it. A few minutes here and there to catch your breath and have a snack will do wonders for your energy levels. And finally, focus on your form. Good posture and a strong, steady stride will help you maintain a good pace and avoid injury.

By following these tips, you’ll be sure to find a comfortable and sustainable pace that will help you enjoy your time on the trail.

What if Your Pace is Too Slow or Too Fast?

We all know how frustrating it is to be stuck behind a slow poke on the trail, or how annoying it can be when our hiking buddy blasts ahead and we can’t keep up. But what if our pace is actually too slow or too fast?

If you’re hiking too slowly, you might find yourself getting restless and bored. After all, there’s only so much scenery you can take in at a snail’s pace. Similarly, you may find yourself holding up the group and feeling frustrated. In this case, it may be helpful to try and increase your speed, even if it is just for short periods of time. This will help you get ahead and hopefully maintain a better pace for the rest of the hike.

On the other hand, hiking too quickly can be dangerous. If you’re huffing and puffing your way up the trail, you’re likely not getting enough oxygen to your brain. This can lead to headaches, dizziness, and even nausea.

In addition, if your pace is too fast, you might miss out on some of the best views before you reach your campsite.  In this case, it may be effective to slow down your pace. This will help you conserve your energy and sustain a more comfortable pace.

tired backpacker

How to Use Your Pace to Your Advantage?

backpacker resting

There are a few different ways that you can use your pace to your advantage. One is to keep a consistent pace throughout the day. This can be difficult, especially if you’re hiking in hilly terrain, but it will pay off in the long run. Your body will be able to better handle the stress of a consistent pace, and you’ll be less likely to get injured.

Another way to use your pace to your advantage is to take breaks when you need them. If you’re feeling tired, take a five minutes break and drink some water. It’s better to take a few short breaks throughout the day than to push yourself too hard and end up getting injured.

Finally, listen to your body. If you’re feeling pain, slow down or take a break. It’s better to take it easy for a day or two and then make up for lost time than it is to push through the pain and end up sidelined for weeks.

If you use your pace wisely, you’ll be able to hike further and faster in the long run. And you’ll be able to enjoy the scenery along the way.

Tips for Picking Up the Pace While Backpacking

Here are a few tips to help you pick up the pace while backpacking:

Start slow

You’re not going to be able to hit your stride right away. It takes time to get used to the weight of your pack and the newness of your surroundings. Give yourself some time to adjust and ease into things.

Find your flow

Once you’ve got the hang of things, you’ll start to find a rhythm. This is what we mean when we talk about finding your flow. It’s that sweet spot where you’re moving at a pace that feels comfortable and sustainable. You’re not going too fast and you’re not lagging behind. You’re just in the moment, enjoying the journey.

Know your limits

It’s important to know your limits when you’re out on the trail. If you’re pushing yourself too hard, you’re more likely to make mistakes or get injured. Pay attention to your body and how it’s feeling. If you need to slow down, don’t be afraid to do so.


Few more tips:

  • Use a light daypack: A heavy backpack can slow you down, so opt for a lighter option.
  • Travel during the day:  Nighttime travel can be slower and more difficult, so try to stick to daytime hours.
  • Break up your journey: If you can, break up your backpacking trip into shorter segments. This will help you maintain a faster pace and avoid fatigue.
  • Don’t over-pack: Only pack the essentials and leave unnecessary items at home. This will save you time and energy.
  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and avoid dehydration, which can slow you down.
  • Be prepared: Before you set off, make sure you know the route and plan for any possible detours. This will help you stay on track and avoid wasted time.

Also Read: Why Hike the Appalachian Trail


While there is no perfect answer to what is a good pace for backpacking, there are a few things to keep in mind when trying to find the right pace for you. First, consider the distance you will be hiking and the terrain you will be hiking on. Listen to your body and the conditions around you, and adjust your pace accordingly.

Ultimately, the best pace for backpacking is the one that works for you. The most important thing is to enjoy the journey and be safe. We hope you enjoyed reading this article and have a better understanding of what may work best for you.

What is a Good Pace for Backpacking: FAQs

What is the average backpacking speed?

On flat terrain, the average person can hike at a rate of 2 miles per hour. If you are carrying a backpack that weighs less than 30 pounds, you may be able to hike a bit faster. If the terrain is hilly or mountainous, your speed will likely be slower. And if you are inexperienced or out of shape, you may only be able to hike 1 mile per hour.

What is a fast backpacking pace?

Most experts agree that a fast backpacking pace would be around 3 miles per hour. This pace would allow you to cover a lot of ground quickly, but it would also be taxing on your body. If you’re looking to set a personal record or to challenge yourself, then a fast backpacking pace might be right for you. However, if you’re just looking to enjoy the scenery and take your time, then a slower pace would be more suitable.

How far can a beginner backpack in a day?

For a beginner, it is best to backpack no more than 8-10 miles in a day. This will allow you to enjoy the scenery and experience the wilderness without tiring yourself out too much. If you are experienced, you can backpack up to 20 miles in a day. Then again, it is essential to pay attention to your body and take breaks when you are required to. The most important thing is to have a safe and enjoyable experience.