Calories burned while hiking will depend on your weight, the distance you hike, the amount of weight in your backpack, and the terrain difficulty.
An estimate is that 627 calories per hour are burned by a 180 pound person climbing hills with a 15lb pack, and 417 calories per hour are burned by a 120 pound person doing the same task.
Formula – How many calories are burned backpacking?
Calories burned per minute = (MET x body weight in Kg x 3.5) ÷ 200
“MET” is a measurement of the energy cost of physical activity for a period of time. You can find an activity’s MET on the chart above.
A task with a MET of 1 is roughly equal to a person’s energy expenditure from sitting still at room temperature not actively digesting food.
A task with a MET of 2 uses twice as much energy as a task with a MET of 1. A task with a MET of 10 uses 10 times as much energy as a task with a MET of 1.
MET values “do not estimate the energy cost of physical activity in individuals in ways that account for differences in body mass, adiposity, age, sex, efficiency of movement, geographic and environmental conditions in which the activities are performed. Thus, individual differences in energy expenditure for the same activity can be large and the true energy cost for an individual may or may not be close to the stated mean MET level as presented in the Compendium.” (as quoted from the main page of the Compendium of Physical Activities).
A person weighs 180 pounds (81.65kg) and climbs hills with a 10lb load (MET value of 7.3) for 1 hour (60 minutes).
Calories burned backpacking with a 10lb load (per minute) = (7.3 x 81.65 x 3.5) ÷ 200 = 10.43
Calories burned backpacking with a 10lb load (for 60 minutes) = 10.43 x 60 = 626
How does your weight impact the number of calories burned from backpacking?
Heavier people burn more calories doing the same task. A 200-pound (90.8kg) person will climbing hills with a 10-20lb load for 1 hour will burn 697 calories. A 150-pound (68kg) person burns 488 calories in the same scenario.
How does the weight of your backpack impact the number of calories burned?
The heavier the load, the more calories burned per hour. A 200-pound (90.8kg) person climbing hills for an hour will burn 601 calories with no load, 620 calories with a 0-9lb load, 697 calories with a 10-20lb load, 792 calories with a 21-42lb load, and 859 calories with a 42lb+ load.
How long does it take to burn 1,000 calories hiking?
Most people will burn 1,000 calories every 80-140 minutes, or 500-700 calories per hour. Your weight and the load you are carrying will have the biggest impact on how long it takes to burn 1,000 calories backpacking.
How can I burn more calories hiking?
You will burn more calories per minute of hiking by increasing hiking speed, backpack load, and having a more varied terrain.
Increasing total hiking time will also increase the total number of calories burned while backpacking.
How many calories do you burn on a 10 mile hike?
A 160 pound (72.5kg) person hiking at 10 miles at 2mph (total of 5 hours) while climbing hills with a 10lb load will burn 3,169 calories. A 200 pound (90.7kg) person will burn 3,484 in the same scenario. A 120 pound (54.5kg) person will burn 2,091 in the same scenario.
How many calories do you burn hiking for 1 hour?
A 160 pound (72.5kg) person hiking for 1 hour while climbing hills with a 10lb load will burn 557 calories. A 200 pound (90.7kg) person will burn 792 calories in the same scenario. A 120 pound (54.5kg) person will burn 418 in the same scenario.
Sources and More Resources
- Ainsworth BE, Haskell WL, Herrmann SD, Meckes N, Bassett Jr DR, Tudor-Locke C, Greer JL, Vezina J, Whitt-Glover MC, Leon AS. The Compendium of Physical Activities Tracking Guide. Healthy Lifestyles Research Center, College of Nursing & Health Innovation, Arizona State University. Retrieved May 11, 2015, from the World Wide Web.
- Arizona State University Healthy Lifestyles Research Center – Compendium of Physical Activities – Walking provides MET values for different walking activities, including hiking & backpacking.
- Learn about “MET” and the compendium of physical activities from Arizona State University, University or South Carolina, and Wikipedia. There is a summary of general physical activities defined by intensity from the CDC and the Harvard School of Public Health.
- Recommendations on physical activity for health from the Harvard School of Public Health and the WHO.
- Reasons that hiking is good for your health with “How Hiking Is Good For Mind And Body” from WebMD, “Health benefits of hiking: Raise your heart rate and your mood” from the Harvard School of Public Health, “Lighten Up: Lose Weight Hiking” from Backpacker.com, and “A Step in the Right Direction: The Health Benefits of Hiking and Trails” from The American Hiking Society.
- For food planning and caloric consumption on a hike look to Reddit’s “Trail Meals” forum, a list of over 150,000 foods ordered by caloric density, and “Calorie Consumption on a Long Distance Hike” from A Trail Life.
- Get started with backpacking with “Backpacking 101: How to Get Started” from Backpacker.com, “Backpacking for Beginners” from REI, “Beginner Backpackers: Start here” by Andrew Skurka, and “A Beginner’s Guide to Backpacking” from By Land.