How to Estimate Your Average Hiking Speed?

Last Updated on July 1, 2022 by Ecorf

The aim of hiking is to achieve various goals such as enjoying the beauty of nature and this can only be achieved through proper planning. For instance, if you want to cover a specific area, you should know the average time that may be required depending on your average speed. 

Therefore, it is imperative to know how to estimate your average hiking speed so that you have an idea about the distance that you can cover within a certain period. This article highlights the method that you can use to estimate your hiking speed so that you can properly plan your expedition.  

Estimating Average Hiking Speed

In some instances, you might have limited time to complete a specific trail which means that you should be properly prepared. It is crucial then to have a general understanding of the average time you are going to take to complete the adventure. The average time is determined by your hiking speed along your trail. 

You must be able to estimate your hiking speed in order to calculate the average time that may be required to complete a trail. However, you should bear in mind that you cannot get hiking speed that is 100% accurate.   

According to ‘Naismith’s rule’, the basic walk time for a distance of three miles or five kilometers over a flat terrain is one hour. In other words, the estimated speed is denoted as 5km/hour or 3mph. Using this basic rule, you can estimate the average distance that you cover along your trail by gauging your time. 

How to estimate your average hiking speed?

When altitude is taken into consideration, your speed will significantly drop. This means that for every 300m or 1,000 feet of ascent for a person of average fitness, you should add an extra half hour. This translates to one hour for every 2,000ft. Therefore, your estimated speed would be 2,000 ft per hour.   

If your route is measured in kilometers, you divide it by 5 (km/h) to be able to get approximate time in hours. On the other hand, for every descent, you should add an extra minute for each 10 m. When the descent is continuously steep, this means that your speed will also be lowered. 

The basic rule that you should know when estimating your hiking speed is that it is determined by terrain. There are different types of terrain as illustrated above and these play a significant role in determining your average walking speed. There are also other factors that can affect your average hiking speed. 

How to Find your Average Hiking Speed?

If you are an ardent hiker, then you must be in a position to find your average hiking speed so that you at least know the time that you will take to complete a trail. To do this, you must know that your hiking speed is subjective and it will never be similar to anyone mainly due to elements like experience as well as fitness level.

You can simply measure your hiking speed by taking a walk closer home and start a timer on your clock or phone then start walking. Whenever you take a rest along the trail, you should stop your timer then start it once you resume walking. 

How to estimate your average hiking speed?

When you have completed your hike, it becomes easy to do the math where you can calculate your average speed. You can use Naismith Rule to calculate your average hiking speed based on the time you take to complete it. The actual results will help you to estimate the time that you can take to complete a different trail. 

To get your average hiking speed, you divide the distance/miles hiked by the time. Whenever in the jungle, you can just use this simple formula of recording the time you take to cover a specific distance then do the math to come up with your average speed. 

Other Factors that Can Affect your Average Hiking Speed

Essentially, the aim of hiking is to enjoy nature’s beauty. This means that if you travel faster, you can cover a larger area in a short period. However, there are other factors that can affect your speed which are highlighted below.

Type of Terrain

The type of terrain significantly affects the time you will take on your trail. If the terrain is flat, then you can move at a faster speed but this is not the case with either ascent or descent. You must take into account the obstacles that you are likely to encounter on your trail. 

Weight of Gear

The other thing that you should take note of is the weight of your backpack. However, Naismith’s rule does not take into consideration the element of extra weight. If your load is too heavy, then your hiking speed is significantly lowered. When backpacking, you should be clear about the terrain since the load on your back can affect your speed. 

How to estimate your average hiking speed?

Fitness Level

Your fitness level also impacts on the total time you will take on a trail. Experienced hikers are likely to walk faster than inexperienced hikers. Regular exercise can help to improve your fitness, which also affects your hiking speed. 


Depending on the terrain, you may be compelled to take some breaks and these can affect your total hiking time and speed. You should take these into account to come up with decent estimations of hiking speed for a particular trail. You also need to take into account stoppage time to be able to come up with a decent estimate of your hiking speed.


If you truly love hiking, then you can observe that it is not very difficult to estimate how long your walk should take. You can achieve this using Naismith’s rule but you should not that it is subjective therefore not 100% accurate. Your hiking speed based on this formula may never be the same as any other person. 

There are also other factors such as terrain, weight, fitness level as well as breaks that can determine your hiking speed. I hope you have enjoyed reading this post. You can leave your comments below and feel free to share the article with other interested hikers.