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HomeHomeDiscussionsDiscussionsGeneralGeneralPack weight and mobilityPack weight and mobility
New Post
7/3/2019 12:33 PM

This thread may be way to broad or context and terrain dependent, but it would be neat to have a discussion on it. 

What are some rough baseline distance and time expectations for a fit person on flat ground?

Is there a tipping point in pack weigh where mobility or travel speed really plummet? 

How much does going from a 20lb to 40lb to 80lb pack cut your trail speed?

How much does going from a 5mile to 10mile to 20mile trek cut your trail speed average?

How much does multiple days of the same distance traveled slow the average speed?

How much does elevation gain per mile cut speed? 


Daytime travel vs night?

Ambient temps?

What are some general backpacking standards?

Military, Forest Service, Fast Packing, Adventure Racing?

Evan, I have my clipboard handy...

Talk is cheap...lets compare fur checks.
New Post
7/3/2019 2:30 PM
I am glad you are wanting Evan to answer cause I wouldn't know where to begin nor would my answers necessarily apply to anyone but me. I walk with a 35# pack to get ready for hunting and can go at about the same speed as I do unencumbered but I know that when off trail and/or with a slope (up or down but especially down) I have to slow way down and be really careful. Plus it takes more out of me than just training on smoother environs. God what a can of worms you hath opened Strow!
PS I just answered 1/1,000,000 of your question in a few sentences.
New Post
7/3/2019 7:48 PM

Army EIB (exp inf badge) standard was 12 mi in 3hrs, carrying 25#, on a road.  Army Special Forces ODA standard was 14min miles carrying 45lb plus water and weapon for 12 miles.  I had a young guy I was training for selection and he could do 12 min miles with 45lb on a gravel running track and never run a step.  That is about as fast as a man can walk and it still actually be a walk.

As for altitude, varying weight etc.  Mark Twight (Gym Jones) has probably studied and documented more on that sort of stuff than any man alive.  Never read it, but his book "Extreme Alpinism" delves into that stuff pretty deep.


New Post
7/4/2019 4:13 AM
In general the hiking speed in the FS for fire crews, at least back in the day where I was at, was 3 miles per hour, and on trail crew we were expected to be able to do that over any terrain on trail for as long as it took, and day in an day out. Now that being said, typically on trail crew we moved at our own pace because we were bumping up to do work during the day. That bump might be 15 yds or half a mile depending on what we were doing or working on. For the most part if we were walking as a crew it was that same pace (morning and evening hikes to and from camp or into camp). That was with day packs and tools. Even then 3 mph was pushing it for me speed wise. I could do it, once I got in trail shape, but that was fast walking for me. All I was doing was walking. If we were brushing out trails and not doing construction we would do a lot more moving, and it wasn't unusual to cover 10miles in a day with stops to cut out brush and down logs and such across the trail. In some cases, it was 100+ miles in 8 days.

These days trying to go that fast for me is dang near a jog, so I rarely push that fast. My personal fast pace is somewhere around 2.5 mph over rolling or level terrain, on trail. If I am going uphill then it goes down pretty fast. Off trail I tend to go a lot slower as well. I have found up to a certain point pack weight is less of a factor then going up or down hill. I am working harder with a heavier pack, and can notice it, but my speeds seem to be about the same, that is until I get up in the heavy backpacking weight.

As to the rest, you are wanting numbers and I simply don't have them for you, and outside major organizations doubt anyone does. Well there are probably some folks that collect information like that. Yes all of the factors you mention will change performance, but you already knew that. Maybe look at some of the military manuals for field stuff?

I will throw it back at you, pull out your clipboard and provide the answers to all your questions.

Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
New Post
7/7/2019 8:21 PM
Thank you all for the replies!

My numbers seem to reflect everyone else's. With a 25lb pack and rifle I can make 3.5mph without to much effort. Bump the pack weight to 45lbs and I have to work hard to stay above 3.0mph on rolling trails. Once the pack weight gets over 65lbs while bushwhacking with consistent elevation gain and loss...I break out the trekking poles and my mileage and speed plummet.

The hunting season is coming up. I will see if I can make 6 miles with a 45lb pack and rifle in sub 2hr as a goal. Maybe even bump it to 60lbs.

Talk is cheap...lets compare fur checks.
New Post
7/8/2019 7:37 AM

Verified some times this AM. A 4 mile loop, 25lb pack, gravel and hard pack sand two tracks, in 1:10 without to much effort. Trekking poles and no rifle. Will see if I can double the loop with a 45lb pack in less than 3hr in a couple days. Will switch from the Umlindi/Pals to the Ute/Pals with a waist belt.

(edited...origanlly posted 6 miles.  Correct mileage was just over 4. I'm having GPS issues...)
Trekking poles really help you "get after it." And a smartphone, GPS, or workout watch sure helps to keep an accurate pace.

Talk is cheap...lets compare fur checks.
New Post
7/8/2019 7:49 AM

IIRC, my daughter and myself averaged 2.1mi/hr several years ago in Bob Marshall.  That was the first time I had hiked and left a GPS running to actually measure it. That includes all breaks/stops of course, and my daughter is quite the shutterbug. We had some significant elev changes, all on a trail of course

New Post
7/16/2019 1:26 PM

There are so many variables involved it's hard to get down to specific numbers. On good trails I can expect to get 3mph with a full sized pack (60 lbs or so) with some elevation gain and loss (500 vertical feet total). I can generally do that for 3-4 hours and then I'm gassed for the day. I can do that for up to 3 days in a row and then I need a significant rest day. Think of that as an upper end baseline. Here's a whole bunch of qualifiers:

  • 55lbs is only 25% of my body weight so it doesn't cost me nearly as much as it does other folks. There came a point where I realized that all of the dedicated ultralighters I knew were pretty small people. Of course... you kind of have no choice if 35lbs is 25% of your body weight. Unless you're Casey who seems to routinely carry 40% body weight.
  • As I've told you before, in the mountains I care very little about distance traveled. It's all about elevation gain and loss. It doesn't matter what the distance is, 2000 - 3000 vertical feet is about all I've ever got in me on a given day with a full pack on.
  • Heat makes a *significant* difference to me personally. 40-50 degrees is optimum. I can perform at the upper end baseline up to probably 70 degrees but 65 would be more of a sure thing. 75 or 80 degrees and I'm getting beaten up pretty badly.
  • Off trail, all bets are off. I've had plenty of VERY long days off trail that were only 3 miles and 1500 feet of elevation gain.
  • Nighttime, I generally pick up more speed due to lower temperature than I lose due to visibility. Headlamps are plenty good these days.
  • As far as absolute elevation is concerned, my performance tends to degrade quite a bit above 9000 feet.

When I was on the Hotshot crew, we only had a 1.5 mile in 10:30 cardio standard plus some push ups and sit ups. We pretty much all thought that was OK but didn't really reflect what the standard should be. Now there's a 45lb / 3 mile / 45 minute pack test that makes a lot more sense. We hiked faster than 3mph up and down handline (really crappy trail) in really heavy boots all the time and most of us had line gear in the 30-40lb range. Get 2 hotshot crews hiking out of an assignment together at the end of the day who each want to prove that they're the tougher crew and I don't want to know how fast we hiked. Sometimes it took discipline not to break into a run.

We are fortunate in this matter that your conduct will be your marker and, thus, your reputation. The conduct of others on this forum has been, and will continue to be, their marker, and thus, their reputation. In the west, a person invests in one's reputation carefully. - 112Papa
New Post
7/17/2019 8:58 AM
Evan thank you for adding to the thread! I was heading out this morning to try and hit Bill Rapier's Advanced fitness standard of 12miles with a 55lb pack in less than 5hr. And since you posted the new Hotshot standards of 3miles with a 45lb pack in 45min...I started with that.

Made the first 3 miles with 55lb pack just under 45min. I had to break into a waddle/jog to make the time, but I made it. Not fun. Then turned in a total of 12miles right at 3:30. As you had mentioned before, I can see where "foot toughness" would be a limiting factor. No blisters, or missing skin...but my feet are tender. I am on the back end of a 72hr no calorie fast and I was surprised how my energy level was pretty consistent throughout the hike. I did stay on top of my fluids and electrolytes.

Any suggestions for toughening up the feet?

TAK, to make the SF ODA standard I would assume you have to break into a waddle/jog for some of it? 12miles in 2.8hr is MOVING.

Talk is cheap...lets compare fur checks.
New Post
7/17/2019 2:10 PM

On foot toughness, the first obvious answer is trail miles. But there are some other things that will help:

  • Wear real boots when it's for real. They will greatly help with foot fatigue particularly on rough terrain.
  • Try not to wear real boots when it's not for real. Your feet will get stronger if you wear less supportive footwear. I've been trying to wear a pair of Lowa Renegades for day hiking because they're so much less supportive than my Garmont Pinnacles. I notice the foot fatigue difference when I've worn them for a long hike.
  • Dunno how regularly you're doing combatives training these days, but doing it barefoot will help a lot with foot strength and toughness.
  • Do the same with socks as with boots. 99% of the time including multiday backpacking trips I'm wearing Sams Club merino socks that come in a 4 pack. However, I carry a pair of nice smartwool socks in my pack. If my feet are starting to feel really beat up, putting on the nice socks can make it feel like I've got a whole new pair of feet.

I've heard of people applying rubbing alcohol nightly to make their skin tougher. I've never tried it myself but even if it works it won't solve the foot strength problem.

Nice day's work on the standards and Happy Birthday by the way!

We are fortunate in this matter that your conduct will be your marker and, thus, your reputation. The conduct of others on this forum has been, and will continue to be, their marker, and thus, their reputation. In the west, a person invests in one's reputation carefully. - 112Papa
New Post
7/17/2019 3:00 PM
strow wrote:

Any suggestions for toughening up the feet?

TAK, to make the SF ODA standard I would assume you have to break into a waddle/jog for some of it? 12miles in 2.8hr is MOVING.
Evan covered the feet to a tee.  All I will add is Rangers (real ones, in the BN's) told me they typically did one 12 mi/3hr road march, or a shorter, even faster one each week and no one ever got a blister or needed to do more than that unless they were training for the "long walk" SMU/CAG/ others
14 min/mile is doable by most anybody but it requires a L-O-N-G stride, esp if you're short.  (The young guy that could do almost 12min miles was a freak,  he cruised through SFAS)  Obviously it is something to work up to.  I'd get the speed down on shorter distances, if that is something you feel you need to do.  I'm not sure it would help with something like packing out an elk.  I'd say moving at 3mi/hr with maybe 60lb and doing squats, deadlifts, and presses would help more I double ditto Evan's foot strength suggestions.


New Post
8/7/2019 3:34 PM
Evan and Scot already shared some very valuable info. For posterity, this discussion made me think of some recent research into fighting loads in the context of the Marine Corps: Evan and Scot's info is more directly applicable, but this might provide another data point on an upper limit of what we should carry (about 50 lbs or 30% of body weight).
HomeHomeDiscussionsDiscussionsGeneralGeneralPack weight and mobilityPack weight and mobility