Increasing Mileage

We at want to share some of the concepts we've learned over the years of hiking. You're not a machine; everyone has a limit in daily mileage. The point of this page is to help you find your limit, and then extend it using some of these techniques.
Seize the Day!
Ray Jardine, in his epic "Beyond Backpacking" book, describes the concept perfectly. "In pilot training we learn to take off from the beginning of the runway. 'The runway behind you does you no good,' as the flight instructors say. And so it is with the hiker's day." To put it simply, get hiking before sunrise and keep hiking for thirty minutes or so after sunset. Use all the sunlight you can and keep hiking! We advocate for taking a 30-minute dinner break a couple hours before sunset to re-charge (this, of course, requires a quick meal preparation). But don't waste the energy you just gained! Put the pack back on and hike beyond sundown, making use of all available light. When you get to your remote campsite, you won't need to do anything but set-up your shelter and sleep!

Using 2.5 miles an hour as an average hiking rate, here's a comparison of distances achieved.

Effective Use of Time
Part of continuous hiking involves creative usage of time. For example, we eat mostly bars and trail mix--food that can be eaten while hiking. When you wake up, pack everything up and get hiking right away. Put a couple of bars in your pocket and enjoy on the trail. Instead of stopping for lunch, do the same. You'll be amazed at how much time is wasted for unnecessary food breaks. For a warm "dinner", make something that only requires hot water added. Additionally, if you use a lightweight stove (e.g. a Pepsi can stove), it will be cool within minutes and you can gain some additional mileage, fresh and re-charged after some warm food!

Don't Stop!
Okay, this sounds obvious. If you keep hiking without constant breaks, obviously you'll be able to go farther. This requires endurance, but also simply just some thinking about the breaks you are taking. Try this: keep breaks under 5 minutes or, occasionally, over 20 minutes. Breaks between 5-20 minutes can lead to cramped muscles.

Get "In the Zone"
If you're thinking about each step ("left, right, left, ouch, right..."), you're going to get tired more quickly. Don't focus on your every step. Try to get "in the zone". Sing a song in your head or, if your hiking partner isn't around, out loud! Do some mental exercises while enjoying the scenery. As long as you're following the right trail, you might find hours have passed since you thought about the effort of the trail.

Embrace "Free Mileage"
Flat or downhill trail should be considered free, mostly-effortless hiking. Instead of thinking about how the downhill is only going to lead to more uphill, enjoy the moment of easy movement. After all, you have a set length of trail to hike. The steep uphill will be there no matter what, so embrace the easy--the "free"--mileage when you can! Some people say their knees hurt when hiking downhill. For most people, this shouldn't be the case and we offer a few blunt pointers: 1) Lose weight. 2) Strengthen knees and legs before your hike. 3) Lighten your pack.

Equipment- Go Lightweight!
Yes, the lighter your load, the faster you can travel. Invest in some good equipment. It's actually probably cheaper than the fancy heavy stuff at your local outdoor equipment store. Check out our recommendations.

Lightweight Hiking Concepts