Blog has moved, searching new blog...

Friday, July 12, 2013

Tips for Achieving "Big Mileage" when Backpacking

Sometimes you're looking to take a leisurely stroll through the woods, take long breaks and soak in everything you experience using all of your senses, for any amount of time you please.

Other times, you want to see the sights, experience all the sounds and smells of the hike, but also see more trail (read: more sights, more sounds, more smells) on a daily basis all the while challenging yourself mentally and physically to log some high mileage days...but how?

I'm not going to lie.  This is really, really simple if you think about it.  But the beauty is in the simplicity; don't over-complicate things if you want to do great things.   I'm going to break it down to 2 basic points.

(1) Sun
Most of us stick to 3 season backpacking which basically means we're going to have at least 10 hours of daylight per day (many areas even get 16+ hour days during the summer).  On most hiking trails, backpackers will average (overall for the day) around 1.5 miles per hour.  So during the shoulder seasons, you could achieve 15 miles.  Take into account the summer schedule however, you "easily" get 22.5 miles under your feet!  That's still 15 hours of hiking though, so how do you actually make that happen?

Get up with the sun!  Go to bed with the sun!  Again, simplicity (but a little bit of will power too, especially if you're not a morning person).

(2) Breaks
"Lunch" doesn't exist if you really want some big mileage.  Breaks are limited to doing something productive like a 5 minute sit break or refilling water (or both at the same time).  I normally eat while walking.  A 150 to 300 calorie snack every other hour normally does the trick, then dinner is consumed in or near camp for the night.

Final thoughts:
You don't have to hike quickly.  The math speaks for itself if you want to put in the hours.

These tips apply to regions with reasonable climates; if you're hiking in the desert or in the Adirondacks in the winter, please plan accordingly.

If you do hike quickly, lets say in the 3-4 mph range, you can achieve some serious distance per day...yes over 30 miles...possibly even over 40.  Personally, I've never done more than about 32, but it's definitely possible when you consider the terrain, your schedule, the season, and (especially) your endurance and fitness.  Please don't go out and just try for a 40 mile day (unless you want to get hurt, or hike through the night).  Your body needs to adapt slowly to these distances.

Sometimes you'll need to sacrifice distance for comfort.  2 hour naps, and breaks at stores or road crossings are tempting, but if you want to achieve serious distance, the big picture needs to remain in focus.

These ideas aren't new.  I've borrowed ideas from backpackers before me.

Good luck if you try attempt to use these concepts.  If you don't care for big miles...then...thanks for reading!

No comments:

Post a Comment