If you are an avid hiker, it is inevitable that you will ask yourself, how many calories are burned while hiking? The answer to this question will vary depending on your activity level and physical condition. For people who are in good shape, hiking may burn up to 500 calories depending on the distance of the hike and the type of terrain. Even for those who are not in good shape, hiking can still be a fun and healthy activity, it just takes a bit more planning and preparation than if you were walking or jogging in place.
In general, the number of calories burned while hiking is dependent on your body weight. The more you weigh, the more calories your body is likely to burn on a hike. For example, a 160-pound person will burn somewhere between 430 and 440 calories per hour of hiking, while a 200-pound person will burn closer to 550 calories per hour of hiking.
Besides body weight, here are some other factors that affect one’s caloric burn rate:
1. Fitness Level
The fitter you are, the harder it is to burn calories simply by logging more hiking miles because the human body adapts to higher physical activity thresholds. If you’re thinking about piling on more miles to your hike for calorie count alone, keep this fact in mind.
Hiking at a faster pace for at least 45 minutes can increase the number of calories you burn during and after your hike. The sustained vigorous pace helps to increase your metabolism, meaning your body continues to burn calories for an average of 14 hours after you finish your hike.
3. Pack Weight
The weight of your hiking pack influences the number of calories burned on a hike. A light daypack adds about 50 to 100 calories to your hourly calorie burn rate. A heavier load, like you might carry on a backpacking trip, can raise your calorie burn count by roughly 200 calories per hour.
The more challenging the terrain, the more calories you’ll burn. Trails with uneven, rocky ground and steep,long uphill sections cause your muscles to work harder and you to burn more calories.
Why It’s Important to Know How Many Calories You’re Burning on a Hike
Having a rough idea of how many calories you’ll burn on a hike is useful for figuring out how much food you’ll need to bring on your hike to keep you properly fueled and energized. It’s also useful for anyone planning a detailed workout regimen and tracking their caloric intake and burn.
OutsideOnline.com has a backpacking calorie estimator that factors in your body weight, pack weight, hiking speed and the slope of the terrain you’ll be hiking. Find it here.
Using hiking poles can also help you determine how many calories are burned while hiking. Using a hiking pole will increase your heart rate and help keep you motivated throughout your hike. Some hikers carry bottled water, so carrying a bottle of water with you can also help with one’s energy levels. Other methods of determining how many calories are burned while hiking can be as easy as taking your pulse with a pulse oximeter, or by keeping track of how many steps you are taking each hour, which can help you know how many calories you are burning.