Estimating the Number of Calories You Burn Hiking and Backpacking
Hiking is a great way to get in shape — you burn tons of calories, it’s loads of fun, and who couldn’t use another excuse to spend time enjoying the outdoors? Since you’ll be working your cardiovascular system and your muscles, it’s no surprise hiking is such a great way to live a healthier, more active life.
How Many Calories Does Hiking Burn?
On average, an adult person can expect to burn around 300-400 calories per hour of hiking on moderate terrain. For example, a 150-pound person can burn approximately 360 calories per hour while hiking on moderate terrain.
For more challenging terrain such as uphill hiking, the average person can burn around 400-550 calories per hour.Everyone will burn calories at a different rate, and various factors like body weight, pack weight, distance, intensity, metabolism, and more all factor into your total. If you’d like to get a better idea of your own caloric burn, keep reading.
Calculating how many calories you’ll burn during your next hike
If you have a smartwatch or other fitness tracking device, you already have a helpful tool for calculating calories burned. Or, you can bring out the paper and pencil to do some math.
First, start with a base rate of calories burned per hour, based on your weight. Calculate a number for both moderate terrain (flat or downhill) and for difficult terrain (uphill). Then multiply each of these numbers by the distance, in miles, of each type of terrain on your hike. Divide these two numbers by your speed for each type of terrain. Finally add the two to calculate total calories burned.
Here are some averages to start with:
- Calories Burned Per Hour (Moderate Terrain): 300
- Calories Burned Per Hour (Difficult Terrain): 450
- Speed (Moderate Terrain): 2.5 miles per hour
- Speed (Difficult Terrain): 1.5 miles per hour
Hiking Calorie Calculator
Note that these aren’t scientifically robust results by any measure, and you’ll probably get different figures depending on the tool you use. Regardless, calculators like these are a great way to get a general idea of how many calories you’ll burn on a hike.
Body-weight's impact on caloric burn
Bodyweight plays a significant role in determining the number of calories burned during physical activity, including hiking. A person with a higher body weight will generally burn more calories during the same activity compared to someone with a lower body weight.
According to estimates, a 160-pound adult burns between 430 and 440 calories per hour of hiking. Contrast that with 550 calories burned per hour for someone who weighs 200 pounds, and you can see that the more you weigh, the more calories you’ll ultimately burn.
Heavier pack, more calories
The heavier your pack, the more calories you’ll burn. If your goal is to get in a great workout that torches calories, try adding a gallon of water or another heavy object to your pack. Just be careful not to injure yourself, and make sure you’re using a backpack that’s designed to help carry a heavier load.
You can increase the fitness benefits of a hike in other ways, too. Try sprinting or lunging up hills, using sturdy tree branches for pull-ups, jumping over logs, or turn your hike into a trail run.
Burning calories is great, but don’t forget about hiking’s other perks
But, remember, hiking isn’t just about working off last night’s pizza binge.
The best part of hiking is simply being outside in nature, which has plenty mental and physical benefits beyond burning calories. The next time you go hiking, try to focus on enjoying the opportunity to be moving around outside, and feel your stresses melt away while your legs and lungs carry you down the trail.
Hopefully, this information helps you get a general picture of how many calories you’ll burn on your next hike so you can pack the ideal meal plan. Browse our nutritious, lightweight meals.