How to determine calories burned hiking?

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Hello! I'm going on a hike this weekend and I'm wondering the best way to figure out the calories burned since I don't have a Fitbit. Depending how far we can go it will either be a 3 or 5 hour hike, uphill and relatively challenging but not extremely steep. How would I go about estimating this?
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Replies

  • Duck_Puddle
    Duck_Puddle Posts: 3,224 Member
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    I generally use an average of a few calculators-then divide that by 2 or 3 depending on how strenuous the hike was.

    I also have a fancy schmancy Garmin and it generally gives me numbers roughly the same as that.

    Hiking is so variable due to terrain and grade - it can be just like a walk through the park in places and practically rock climbing in others.
  • keithwp99
    keithwp99 Posts: 83 Member
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    Well, I just want to put a vote in for Runkeeper. It's a free downloadable Android or Apple app for your GPS phone.
    I first used this when I got back in to running and didnt have a Garmin. It will give you basic miles/pace and calorie output.

    This assumes your phone has GPS, of course....
  • lorrpb
    lorrpb Posts: 11,464 Member
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    I assume that half of it will be uphill and the other half downhill? I would use the MFP entry for walking and maybe be a "little" generous on the calories.
  • lalalacroix
    lalalacroix Posts: 834 Member
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    I would not use the walking formula for hiking. Just because there are ups and then also downs does not mean it is the same caloric burn as walking on flat terrain.

    There are some hiking calorie calculators that take elevation gain into account, I would use one of those. I personally find the MFP hiking burns to be very elevated.
  • lorrpb
    lorrpb Posts: 11,464 Member
    edited January 2019
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    I would not use the walking formula for hiking. Just because there are ups and then also downs does not mean it is the same caloric burn as walking on flat terrain.

    There are some hiking calorie calculators that take elevation gain into account, I would use one of those. I personally find the MFP hiking burns to be very elevated.
    That’s why I suggested using s generous walking number. I didn’t mean that up +down= flat. I was just pointing that the whole hike would not be strenuous up hill.

    MFP gives me 364 cals for 1 hr walking at 4mph, 437 for walking 3.5 mph uphill, and 518 for hiking hills with a light pack. If the hiking burn of 518 is too high, as you suggest, then walking at 4mph for 364 is probably about right. You wouldn’t want to use 3.5 uphill for the whole hike because it’s not all uphill. And yes, I know that most of us don’t hike at 4 mph. I sure don’t!
  • NorthCascades
    NorthCascades Posts: 10,970 Member
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    http://hikingscience.blogspot.com/p/calculate-calories-burned_22.html?m=1

    This is the one that gets recommended on the local hiking forum.
    lorrpb wrote: »
    I assume that half of it will be uphill and the other half downhill? I would use the MFP entry for walking and maybe be a "little" generous on the calories.

    Probably most of the time people hike to something pretty, then turn around the way they came.

    If you do a loop it depends what you mean by half. As long as you start and end in the same place, you have to have done the same amount of up/down. A lot of loop trails are really steep in one direction but longer and gentler the either way. I don't know if that matters. The calculator above lets you put in different steepness for the up and down hill legs.

    Sadly it's really hard to get a ride up a long and bumpy dirt road. I've been wanting to hike from Harts to Rainy for a few years now. That would be three days of downhill. :sunglasses:
  • NorthCascades
    NorthCascades Posts: 10,970 Member
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    Interestingly, it looks like a consensus that walking downhill burns more calories this walking on flat ground. Your muscles are performing work (in the physical sense) overcoming gravity, for braking instead of climbing. A lot of people feel this in their knees.

    Somebody on that page said "I just went down Mt. Meeker's south face (30-50% slope) and I'd rather walk 5 flat miles than do that single mile of descent over."
  • NorthCascades
    NorthCascades Posts: 10,970 Member
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    Sorry to keep spamming this thread. I just read something insightful about this topic. Don't think many people in here are going screeing, but this does seem to lend credence to the idea that hiking downhill burns more calories than the same distance on flat ground.


    Re calorie usage on decent. It is quite obvious that energy is expended as the body fights against gravity (the only efficient way to descend is to descend from a rooftop at a gradient of -90 degrees, whilst making no lateral progress) . Any walker knows that the thigh muscles get a good workout on steeper downhill terrain and are thus consuming energy.

    I did expect that there is a quite linear relationship between gradient and extra energy requirement. However, people who scree-run and fell-run will often tell you that theirs is a more efficient method of descent (they use their speed and skill to descend quicker, resisting gravity far less than someone moving very slowly holding their weight for long periods between downward steps). In the end, I believe that downhill calorie consumption is largely controlled by the individuals skill level.
  • yirara
    yirara Posts: 9,429 Member
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    Why not use 0.3*weight in lbs including backpack * distance in miles and add a little bit extra for the uphill segments?
  • Mrsindepenant1
    Mrsindepenant1 Posts: 196 Member
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    I just use my phone step counter. I walk every day and it counts my steps and I go by that, never mind most of my walking is wrestling young horses, carrying numerous 25kg-30kg sacks of feed. When I hike I just count the steps, allbeit most of my hiking is when I’m hunting and while I have to go up steep terrain, I spend time stopping and doing some spotting so I do stop and rest. I’m loosing weight and it’s working really well so far.
  • NorthCascades
    NorthCascades Posts: 10,970 Member
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    yirara wrote: »
    Why not use 0.3*weight in lbs including backpack * distance in miles and add a little bit extra for the uphill segments?

    Pack weight counts slightly less than body weight. The link above explains why.
  • puffbrat
    puffbrat Posts: 2,806 Member
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    keithwp99 wrote: »
    Well, I just want to put a vote in for Runkeeper. It's a free downloadable Android or Apple app for your GPS phone.
    I first used this when I got back in to running and didnt have a Garmin. It will give you basic miles/pace and calorie output.

    This assumes your phone has GPS, of course....

    This is what I use.
  • collectingblues
    collectingblues Posts: 2,541 Member
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    Echoing Runkeeper. It tends to give me about 100 calories per mile -- and that works out pretty accurately, based on what my actual intake/deficit/loss experience has been.
  • Duck_Puddle
    Duck_Puddle Posts: 3,224 Member
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    keithwp99 wrote: »
    Well, I just want to put a vote in for Runkeeper. It's a free downloadable Android or Apple app for your GPS phone.
    I first used this when I got back in to running and didnt have a Garmin. It will give you basic miles/pace and calorie output.

    This assumes your phone has GPS, of course....

    This also assumes you’re hiking somewhere with cell service. If you are, it’s usually pretty good for calorie count on GPS activities.
  • jjpptt2
    jjpptt2 Posts: 5,650 Member
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    yirara wrote: »
    Why not use 0.3*weight in lbs including backpack * distance in miles and add a little bit extra for the uphill segments?

    That's basically what I do.

    .3 * weight * distance = resonable cals burned for walking.
    .6 * weight * distance = reasonable cals burned for running.

    I figure hiking is somewhere in between those numbers. If I've got a heavy pack and/or the hike is especially strenuous, then I'll use a number closer to the running figure. If not, I'll use a number closer to walking.

    Works for me, and is "accurate" enough for my needs.
  • lalalacroix
    lalalacroix Posts: 834 Member
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    Sorry to keep spamming this thread. I just read something insightful about this topic. Don't think many people in here are going screeing, but this does seem to lend credence to the idea that hiking downhill burns more calories than the same distance on flat ground.


    Re calorie usage on decent. It is quite obvious that energy is expended as the body fights against gravity (the only efficient way to descend is to descend from a rooftop at a gradient of -90 degrees, whilst making no lateral progress) . Any walker knows that the thigh muscles get a good workout on steeper downhill terrain and are thus consuming energy.

    I did expect that there is a quite linear relationship between gradient and extra energy requirement. However, people who scree-run and fell-run will often tell you that theirs is a more efficient method of descent (they use their speed and skill to descend quicker, resisting gravity far less than someone moving very slowly holding their weight for long periods between downward steps). In the end, I believe that downhill calorie consumption is largely controlled by the individuals skill level.

    This is good info. There is a good bit of rock scrambling and walking on scree on my hikes. The downhill sections can be very difficult and slow going. There are a lot of trail runners on the Boulder area hikes. They do go down the scrambling portions faster, which does look easier. But I just don't have that skill level at my current weight.

    Fwiw I'm currently calculating about 100 calories per mile of hiking. I suspect this might be a bit low and will up this number if I find I am losing weight faster than planned.
  • collectingblues
    collectingblues Posts: 2,541 Member
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    keithwp99 wrote: »
    Well, I just want to put a vote in for Runkeeper. It's a free downloadable Android or Apple app for your GPS phone.
    I first used this when I got back in to running and didnt have a Garmin. It will give you basic miles/pace and calorie output.

    This assumes your phone has GPS, of course....

    This also assumes you’re hiking somewhere with cell service. If you are, it’s usually pretty good for calorie count on GPS activities.

    In my experience, it'll hook back up with the right calories and tracker after you get back to coverage -- it needs to pull the elevation markings to get the right calorie amounts. GPS also doesn't rely on cell service (at least not on the iPhone or Androids).
  • Duck_Puddle
    Duck_Puddle Posts: 3,224 Member
    Options
    keithwp99 wrote: »
    Well, I just want to put a vote in for Runkeeper. It's a free downloadable Android or Apple app for your GPS phone.
    I first used this when I got back in to running and didnt have a Garmin. It will give you basic miles/pace and calorie output.

    This assumes your phone has GPS, of course....

    This also assumes you’re hiking somewhere with cell service. If you are, it’s usually pretty good for calorie count on GPS activities.

    In my experience, it'll hook back up with the right calories and tracker after you get back to coverage -- it needs to pull the elevation markings to get the right calorie amounts. GPS also doesn't rely on cell service (at least not on the iPhone or Androids).

    Must be my iPhone or maybe my carrier. I haven’t been able to use any GPS app successfully when I don’t have cell service.
  • jjpptt2
    jjpptt2 Posts: 5,650 Member
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    keithwp99 wrote: »
    Well, I just want to put a vote in for Runkeeper. It's a free downloadable Android or Apple app for your GPS phone.
    I first used this when I got back in to running and didnt have a Garmin. It will give you basic miles/pace and calorie output.

    This assumes your phone has GPS, of course....

    This also assumes you’re hiking somewhere with cell service. If you are, it’s usually pretty good for calorie count on GPS activities.

    In my experience, it'll hook back up with the right calories and tracker after you get back to coverage -- it needs to pull the elevation markings to get the right calorie amounts. GPS also doesn't rely on cell service (at least not on the iPhone or Androids).

    Must be my iPhone or maybe my carrier. I haven’t been able to use any GPS app successfully when I don’t have cell service.

    Could also be the specific app. Some apps need cell signal (or wifi) to load certain features (maps, routing, etc etc), but then use GPS to actually track.
  • WickedPineapple
    WickedPineapple Posts: 701 Member
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    I found this calculator for a variety of walking speeds/inclines, which I've found useful.
    https://captaincalculator.com/health/calorie/calories-burned-walking-calculator/