Estimating the Number of Calories You Burn Hiking and Backpacking


Hiking is a great way to get in shape — you burn tons of calories, it’s loads of fun, and who couldn’t use another excuse to spend time enjoying the outdoors? Since you’ll be working your cardiovascular system and your muscles, it’s no surprise hiking is such a great way to live a healthier, more active life.


Everyone will burn calories at a different rate, and various factors like body weight, pack weight, distance, intensity, metabolism, and more all factor into your total. If you’d like to get a better idea of your own caloric burn, keep reading.


Body-weight impact on caloric burn


According to Livestrong.com, body weight plays a big role in how many calories your hike will help you burn.


According to their estimates, a 160-pound adult burns between 430 and 440 calories per hour of hiking. Contrast that with 550 calories burned per hour for someone who weighs 200 pounds, and you can see that the more you weigh, the more calories you’ll ultimately burn.


Load up your pack to burn more calories


The heavier your pack, the more calories you’ll burn. If your goal is to get in a great workout that torches calories, try adding a gallon of water or another heavy object to your pack. Just be careful not to injure yourself, and make sure you’re using a backpack that’s designed to help carry a heavier load.


You can increase the fitness benefits of a hike in other ways, too. Try sprinting or lunging up hills, using sturdy tree branches for pull-ups, jumping over logs, or turn your hike into a trail run.


Calculating how many calories you’ll burn during your next hike


If you have a smartwatch or other fitness tracking device, you already have a helpful tool for calculating calories burned. If you don’t have one of these tools, online calculators have you covered. Here are two that you can try:


NWHiker.com’s Calorie Burn Calculator

Fitwatch.com’s (simpler) Calories Burned Hiking Calculator


Note that these aren’t scientifically robust results by any measure, and you’ll probably get different figures depending on the tool you use. Regardless, calculators like these are a great way to get a general idea of how many calories you’ll burn on a hike.


Burning calories is great, but don’t forget about hiking’s other perks


But, remember, hiking isn’t just about working off last night’s pizza binge.


The best part of hiking is simply being outside in nature, which has plenty mental and physical benefits beyond burning calories. The next time you go hiking, try to focus on enjoying the opportunity to be moving around outside, and feel your stresses melt away while your legs and lungs carry you down the trail.


Hopefully, this information helps you get a general picture of how many calories you’ll burn on your next hike so you can pack the ideal meal plan. Browse our nutritious, lightweight meals.