How Many Calories Do You Burn Hiking?

There’s a reason why many outdoor enthusiasts are generally fit. The combination of walking, carrying gears and backpacks, and even climbing promotes fitness and health. Backpackers who love going on long hikes are also known to have great stamina.

calories hiking burn

But how many calories do you burn hiking? In this article, we will explore the health benefits that you enjoy while doing outdoor activities. We will also identify common factors that help you burn more calories.

How Many Calories Do You Burn Hiking?

Hiking is not as intense compared to other outdoor activities such as running or swimming. However, the slow and steady rate that you take while hiking means you can last much longer. On the other hand, running takes about an hour or two.

Even a day of hiking on an easy trail will burn more than running. Hours on your feet can add to the total calories burned. While running burns more calories per hour, hiking is a much more leisurely activity, which means you can last for a few hours up to a day.

For example, a person that weighs around 160 pounds burns around 850 calories when running at 8 miles per hour. On the other hand, if the same person goes on a hike, he would burn around 500 calories per hour. Spending three hours on a trail would burn around 1500 calories.

Here’s an example of calories burned by a male and female with typical weights during a hike. We assume that they are not carrying any gears and the trail is fairly easy with minimal elevation. Additionally, we assume a moderate pace of 4 miles per hour:

Additionally, the calories you burn will depend on various factors. The length of your hike, your weight, the terrain, and the weight of your backpack contributes to the overall calorie burn.

calories hiking burn desert

Factors That Contribute To The Overall Calorie Burn During Hiking

Hiking is one of the most versatile activities that you can do to lose weight. Aside from the opportunity to explore and travel, you can burn more calories as you adjust various aspects of your hiking. Of course, the more you hike, the more calories you burn. It is especially true if you go on extended hiking trips.

1. Body Weight and Fitness

Just like any physical activity, the body weight of a person plays a significant factor in the calories burned. A higher body weight means a person needs to work harder for any activities.

For example, a person who weighs around 130 pounds will burn up to 370 calories per hour of hiking. On the other hand, someone who is about 200 pounds can burn up to 570 calories with the same activity.

Additionally, your fitness level also determines how long you can hike. While fit people burn fewer calories during hikes, that just means the body is adjusting to such physical activity. It is a great opportunity to go on longer hikes or take on more challenging terrains.

2. Length of Hiking

A study in PLOS One showed that hours of outdoor activities would improve your overall mood better than physical activities indoors. The research showed that people who spend a lot of time mountain hiking for hours showed more increase in elation and calmness. This also helped decrease anxiety and fatigue.

Because it improves one’s overall mood, many people are likely to spend more time doing outdoor activities. Hiking is qualified as moderate physical activity. That means, walking leisurely for 10 miles can burn about 900 if you weigh around 180 pounds. You will also burn more calories if you are carrying gears or walking much faster.

calories hiking burn snow winter

3. Gears and Backpack

Much similar to your body weight, the extra weight that you are carrying while on a hike will contribute to how many calories you burn. You will have to do more work and use more calories if you are carrying a heavy backpack.

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For example, a typical backpack with essential supplies would weigh around 40 pounds. This will increase the calorie burn to up to 750 calories for a male hiker and around 650 for a female hiker assuming a fairly challenging trail.

Longer hikes will require more gear and supplies. Water will probably be the heaviest supply to pack. As such, extended hikes with a fully packed backpack will burn more calories. Consequently, it is important to bring along the right backpack to help you manage the weight of your supplies and gear.

4. Type of Terrain

A hiking trip on a mountain will definitely burn more calories than a leisurely walk on the flats. Just like any exercise, the more you increase the intensity of the physical activity, the more you will expend energy.

If you are looking to lose more weight during your hikes, try a rugged trail with significant elevation. You will use around 28 percent more energy on uneven terrains such as steep hills or a forest trail. Your leg muscles, especially your hips and knees, will be harder when you walk on uneven ground.

For instance, hiking on a moderate elevation will burn about 600 calories per hour for a hiker with a weight of 185 pounds. The calories burned will further increase to up to 750 when the same hiker navigates a steep uphill terrain.

calories hiking burn terrain

5. Intensity of Hike

Increasing your general pace during the hike can also contribute to the total calories burned. If you are able to maintain a vigorous pace throughout your hike, your body increases its metabolism and even keeps burning calories 14 hours after the hike.

For example, if you are about 165 pounds, walking at a speed of 2 mph will burn around 185 calories per hour. If you go faster to about 3.5 miles per hour, you will increase the calories burned to up to 275.

Of course, the terrain and the pack that you are carrying will affect your speed. A general flat terrain is much easier to hike. You can reach around 4 miles an hour on average on this trail. However, an uphill hike may reduce your speed down to about one mile per hour. However, take note that you will be working harder on this trail, so you have the opportunity to burn as many calories (or more) even at a reduced speed.


calories hiking burn field

The number of calories burned during your trip will depend heavily on your weight, fitness level, and the intensity of your activities. Additionally, if you will be covering more miles in one hike, then you have the opportunity to burn more calories. Furthermore, the extra weight that you are carrying and the terrain will have an effect on how much energy your body will use.

Aside from burning calories, hiking, or any outdoor activities will provide great benefits to your overall mental health. Exploring nature will also take your mind off your tiredness, which can encourage you to challenge yourself further.

On the same note, you should always come prepared when taking on challenging trails. Make sure that you have all the gear, such as a multitool. You may also want to bring along a backpacking tent that best fits your needs during the trip.

Does Hiking Burn More Calories Than Walking?

Many people are dilemmatic and want to know does hiking burn more calories than walking? Well, Hiking is an excellent way to get some exercise and fresh air, but it can also be a great way to burn some extra calories. Walking, on the other hand, is a more low-impact form of exercise that is often recommended for people who are just starting to get active.

You may wonder how many calories you can burn by hiking or walking. The answer depends on a few things, including your weight, the terrain, and the intensity of your activity.

This article explains will does hiking burn more calories than walking, as well as explore how other factors can affect your calorie burn.

Calories Burned Hiking

The number of calories you burn while hiking will depend on your weight, the terrain, and the intensity of your activity.

For example, a 160-pound person will burn around 298 calories in 30 minutes of walking at a moderate pace on the level ground. But that same person will burn around 413 calories in 30 minutes of hiking uphill at a moderate pace.

does hiking burn more calories than walking

Calories Burned Walking

While some walking terrain is more difficult than others, in general, walking burns fewer calories than hiking.

A rule of thumb is that you’ll burn about 100 calories per mile when walking. So, if you walk four miles in an hour, you can expect to burn around 400 calories. This number will be higher or lower depending on your weight and the intensity of your activity.

Calories burned running

Running can burn anywhere from 100 to 300 calories per mile, making it one of the most efficient forms of exercise.

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The number of calories you burn running will depend on your weight and the intensity of your activity.

For example, a 180-pound person will burn about 11 calories per minute of running at a 10-minute-per-mile pace.

This same person will burn about 8 calories per minute while running at a 6-minute-per-mile pace.

How to Increase the Number of Calories You Burn

There are a few things you can do to increase the number of calories you burn while hiking or walking.

  • First, try to hike or walk uphill whenever possible. This will force your muscles to work harder, resulting in a higher calorie burn.
  • Second, carry a backpack filled with some weight. This will increase the amount of effort your body has to expend and, as a result, the number of calories you’ll burn.
  • And third, try to hike or walk at a faster pace. This will cause your heart to work harder, resulting in a higher calorie burn.

does hiking burn more calories than walking

Other factors that affect calorie burn

In addition to your weight and the intensity of your activity, there are other factors that can affect the number of calories you burn while hiking or walking.

These include temperature, humidity, and elevation.


In general, colder temperatures will cause your body to burn more calories in an attempt to maintain its core body temperature.


Humidity can also play a role in how many calories you burn. When it’s humid, your body has to work harder to cool itself, which can lead to a higher calorie burn.


Walking or hiking at high altitudes can also lead to a higher calorie burn. This is because the air is thinner at high altitudes, which makes it harder for your body to get the oxygen it needs.

Does Hiking speed up metabolism?

Hiking can help to speed up your metabolism, but the effects are relatively small. A study found that hiking for 30 minutes can increase your metabolic rate by about 5%. However, this effect is only temporary and will only last for a few hours after you finish your hike.

In general, the more intense the activity, the greater the metabolic effects. So, if you’re looking to speed up your metabolism, you may want to consider a more vigorous form of exercise like running or biking.

Backpack Load Contributes to Improve Calorie Burning

Walking with a backpack loaded with weight will help you burn more calories. A study showed that when people walked with 20% of their body weight, they burned about 8% more calories than when they walked without any load.

Exercising in the Cold Encourages More Calorie Burning

Exercising in the cold activates brown fat, which helps to burn more calories. A study showed that people who exercised in the cold burned about 5% more calories than those who exercised at a comfortable temperature.

Does Hiking Burn Belly Fat?

Hiking can help you burn fat, including belly fat. A 155-pound person will burn about 300 calories in 30 minutes of moderate hiking.

While it’s not possible to spot-reduce fat from specific areas of the body, burning more calories through exercise and a healthy diet can help you lose weight overall, including belly fat.

How often should I hike to lose weight?

The frequency of your hikes will depend on your goals. If you’re looking to lose weight, aim for 3-5 times per week.

If you’re trying to maintain your weight, 2-3 times per week may be sufficient. And if you’re simply looking to improve your fitness, 1-2 times per week may be enough.

Benefits of Hiking

Hiking has been shown to offer a number of health benefits, including:

Weight loss

Depending on the intensity of your hike, you can burn a significant number of calories. This can lead to weight loss, as well as a reduction in body fat percentage.

Improved heart health

Hiking can help to improve your cardiovascular fitness and reduce your risk of heart disease.

Stronger bones and muscles

Hiking can help to build strong bones and muscles, particularly in the legs and lower body.

Reduced stress

Hiking can help to reduce stress levels and promote relaxation.

Increased energy

Regular hiking can lead to increased energy levels.

Improved mental health

Hiking has also been shown to improve mental health. It can help to increase your self-esteem and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Bottom Line – Does Hiking Burn More Calories Than Walking?

The calories you burn while hiking or walking can depend on a number of factors, including your weight, the intensity of your hike, and the terrain. In general, hiking burns more calories than walking and walking burns more calories than sitting.

Hiking can also help to speed up your metabolism, but the effects are relatively small. If you’re looking to lose weight or improve your fitness, aim for 3-5 hikes per week.

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If there’s one thing Matt loves, it’s getting people outdoors and active. As a hiking guide and camping enthusiast, he knows the best spots to get away from it all and how to make the most of your time in nature. When he’s not leading hikes or out on his own camping trip, you can find him playing guitar or spending time with his wife and dog. He loves nothing more than finding new adventures and sharing them with others.

Hiking vs. Running: Which Activity Burns More Calories?

Which one’s better worth your time if you’re trying to lose weight–hiking?

Running burns 2-3x more calories per minute than hiking. However, hiking can be more effective than running at burning calories because we can hike longer than we can run. Calorie burning depends on the heart rate change with time, terrain, speed, and body weight during the activity.

Many factors go into which activity burns more calories, even though running burns more than hiking on a general scale. The type of hiking trail, the distance, and body weight can influence the amount of energy you burn or the muscle you build.

By the way, as an Amazon Associate, I earn when buying qualified products through links on my site.

Which Burns More Calories, Running or Hiking?

If all else is equal (time exercising, bodyweight, elevation changes, etc), running burns more calories than hiking per minute of exercise.

If you’re looking for an exercise that will be the most efficient at burning calories, then running is the best choice. I did a lot of research to find the calories burned and came out with these average ranges:

For a 175 lb person for 1 hour of running:

Running at 5 MPHHiking at 2.5 MPH

Calories burned for a 175lb person for 1 hour of exercise on level ground

Running is a completely different gait than walking or hiking–you are essentially leaping from step to step, whereas hiking or walking you always have one foot on the ground.

Running Or Hiking With An Incline

However, this isn’t the end of the discussion. Hiking is rarely on level ground. Let’s take a look at some steep climbing, at about 15%:

Running at 4 MPHHiking at 2.4 MPH

Calories burned for a 175lb person for 1 hour of exercise on a 15% incline

To be fair, running on a 15% incline for 60 minutes is extremely difficult. Hiking at 2.4 MPH on a 15% incline is pretty hard as well.

The key point is that the places where you hike vary a lot in incline–you’ll be going downhill and uphill quite a bit. It’s really difficult to calculate the calories you burn this way because going downhill burns fewer calories than going uphill. Since there is so much of a difference in climbing vs. descending, it’s tricky to get an accurate calorie estimate.

The data consensus, though, is that you will have to hike anywhere for a longer amount of time (from 2x to 3x) to burn more calories hiking than running.

you will have to hike anywhere for a longer amount of time (from 2x to 3x) to burn more calories hiking than running.

How Much Energy Does Hiking Use?

Hiking is a moderate-intensity workout, and when done in rough terrain with elevation changes, it will ensure you reap the cardio and strength-building benefits. It is an excellent way to stay physically active while enjoying the sights and sounds of nature.

The intensity varies based on the ruggedness of the trail, and so do other factors such as temperature and weather conditions.

You may wonder how many calories hiking can burn in both casual and intense sessions. It depends particularly on your body composition and terrain or the steepness of the path.

Here is an estimated breakdown of the number of calories burned per hour based on weight and trail grade at an average walking speed of 2.5 mph.

Hiker WeightCalories Burned At Grade: 5%Calories Burned At Grade: 10%
125 lb.298413
150 lb.357495
175 lb.417578
200 lb.477660
225 lb.536743
250 lb.596825

I used because their numbers seemed the most reasonable.

A 1-5% grade is mild, and a 6-15% grade ranges from mild to steep. Some trails can have a grade as high as 30% or more and will burn even more calories. You can increase the incline on a treadmill to understand the feeling of different grades.

It’s hard to grasp how steep a 30-degree slope really is. This is kind of a silly video, but to me, it illustrates how steep a 30-degree slope can be.




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