How Many Calories Burned Hiking – Explained

A question we get asked a lot from readers of this blog is: how many calories will I burn whilst hiking? With many people becoming more focused on their health and well-being this is an extremely important question. Furthermore, hiking is one of the most accessible forms of exercise. All you need is a pair of boots and an idea of where you want to go. It is so easy to get started that you will be burning calories in no time. In this article, we are going to answer how many calories burned hiking, explain the science behind this, and give you some ideas on how you can maximise your hiking workout and get the best result.

The easiest way to calculate how many calories burned hiking is by measuring your heart rate whilst out on the trail. This is because your heart rate correlates to the amount of oxygen (VO2) you take in whilst exercising. VO2 tells you how intense your exercise is. The higher the intensity, the more calories you will burn. As a rough guide, a 125lb person will burn 340 calories. A 155lb person will burn 421 calories. A 185lb person will burn 503 calories. 

You will notice that the more you weigh the more calories you will burn. This is because (as a rule) the heavier you are the more intense hiking will be as an activity. Let’s explain this further.

Imagine you had to rank how hard physical activity is on a scale from 1 to 10. An athlete would probably rate a hike at level 1 or 2 – this means that the activity is really easy and not that intense. An obese person, doing the same hike, might rank it as an 8 or 9 – this means that the activity is hard and pretty intense. As a result, the obese person is having to breath heavier, take in more oxygen which means that their body is working hard. This hard work results in a higher calorie burn during a hike.

Is Hiking Good For Weight Loss?


To lose weight you must burn more calories each day than you consume. That is the basic equation. If you are looking to lose weight hiking is a fun and interesting way to do this. A common mistake that people make is to think that by walking further they will burn a load more calories – this is not the case. The best way to increase calorie burn when hiking is to increase intensity. There are a few ways to do this. 

How To Increase Hiking Intensity

How Many Calories Burned Hiking? How Do I Know if My Hike is Intense?

This is a great question. There are two ways. The modern way and the old fashioned way. 

Modern Way

You can invest in a pedometer or smartwatch which will count the steps you take, your heart rate and even your calories burnt. These are, by far, the most accurate measure of how intense your workout is. Most will come with an app so you can monitor and track data over time.

Traditional Way

Here are some clues to help you judge your exercise intensity. Moderate activity feels quite hard. Your breathing should quicken but you should not be out of breath. You will also develop a light sweat. An easy gauge for this is that you should be able to comfortably carry on having a conversation but you won’t be able to sing. Vigorous exercise will feel a lot harder. You will be breathing heavier, sweating a lot and you will struggle to say more than a few words without pausing for breath. 

Beware of pushing yourself too hard. If you are short of breath, or in pain, you need to lower the intensity of your workout.

Conclusion: How Many Calories Burned Hiking?

How many calories burned exercising depends on several factors. We have discussed weight, terrain and intensity. If you are looking to lose weight hiking is a fantastic aerobic activity which will help burn fat and calories. If you are unsure about how to get started we have put together a great beginners guide to backpacking which you can read here. Also, It is worth mentioning that hiking and camping have a load of other mental and physical health benefits. We have written a full article on these which you can read here

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