Everyone is different. We’re all different shapes and sizes, and we all have metabolisms of varying speed. These are only a few of the factors that help determine how much ground we can expect to cover if we walk all day long. There are others. Hiking isn’t for the faint of heart, especially when done over an extended period of time, but here are the best indicators for how much a human can hike in a day.
First, here are the factors that could make your hike easier or more difficult.
Water is a hiker’s biggest concern. If you’re new to hiking and expect to go no further than five or ten miles, then a few water bottles will suffice. If you’re on a backpacking trip, you need to invest in a canteen so you can drink more water and drink it more often.
Weight is a hiker’s second biggest concern. A thru-hiker’s backpack will usually weigh between 20 and 30 pounds, although ultra-light packs might only amount to 10 or 12. If you’re only hiking for a day, you probably don’t need more than 5 or 10 pounds of food and water.
Food is important. Make sure you eat more than usual for breakfast, and then continue to snack throughout the day. Your body will start to burn calories faster than you consume them. You can compensate by eating more often and drinking.
Rest is another issue with which you may have to contend. You’ll notice how much this factor affects your physical limitations if you hike for more than a day at a time. Even an hour or two less rest than you normally get can make an enormous impact on your overall hike.
Obviously weather is a factor as well. Rain doesn’t always slow you down, but heat will definitely lower your physical limitations. Try to hike on a cool, brisk day if possible.
Over normal terrain, a healthy individual can expect to walk at least 20 to 30 miles in summertime daylight hours when well-hydrated and in low heat conditions. Food will also determine eventual outcomes. While it is possible to cover this distance even while hiking up and down mountains, it’s much more difficult. This is a feat better attempted after one or two months of low-mileage days. That gives your body time to adjust physically so you can prevent overuse injuries.
The current record for average miles hiked in a day on the Appalachian Trail was set by a Belgian dentist, and stands at a whopping 53!