Calories Burnt While Hiking
On this page, you will find the most accurate way to calculate how many calories you will burn while hiking or walking. You can simply plug the numbers into your phone calculator or click to have this spreadsheet calculate your results.
Use the table of contents below to skip to the calculation without reading more about it, or just click here.
Why Would You Want To Know How Many Calories You Burn While Hiking?
There are a few obvious reasons why you might want to know how many calories you will burn while hiking or walking.
1. Calculating How Much Food to Take
This is especially true for longer hikes where you won’t be able to buy more food along the way. Calculating how much energy you will burn will help you take just the right amount of food to make sure you keep energy levels high and recover efficiently.
2. Calculating How Much To Eat After A Hike
If you’re super into the numbers and want to replace all the calories you burnt, you can work out how many that was by using the calculations below.
3. Weight Loss
If you’re aiming for weight loss and you want to balance your intake with how many calories you burn, then again you can calculate how many that was using the formula below.
Factors That Affect How Many Calories You Burn While Hiking
There are a few factors that affect how many calories you burn while hiking.
1. Body Size
Basically, your height and weight. The more mass you have to move, the more effort it takes and so the more calories you burn. Also body composition – fat vs muscle mass will also vary the amount of energy used by the body. Someone with a higher level of body fat will burn more than someone with a higher level of muscle mass.
2. The steepness/elevation
Going uphill requires much more effort, so you burn a lot more calories.
3. Speed of Walking
The faster you walk a trail, the more your body is working, so the more calories you burn in less time.
However, at the same time, you will be walking the same distance in fewer hours if you are walking at a faster pace.
One thing that most people also don’t consider is that you would burn calories at rest anyway, so if it takes you longer to hike, then these calories need to be added to the total calories burnt figure as well.
4. Fitness Level
If you are fitter, your body generally tends to be more efficient so you end up burning fewer calories than someone who is less fit.
Weather will have an effect on calorie burn during your hike! If it’s hot your body is going to have to work harder to cool down. Similarly, if it’s cold your body will have to work to keep you warm.
6. How Much Equipment You Carry
As with body size above, if you carry more with you on your hike, then it’s going to take more work and you’ll burn more calories. This includes clothing weight as well as hiking backpack.
The Calculation – How to Calculate How Many Calories Burnt While Hiking
Use the following equation to work out how many calories you burn while hiking.
MET VALUE X 3.5 X Body Weight (KG) / 200 = Calorie Burn Per Minute
You need to use the tables below to get the MET value for your activity.
Multiply your result by the length (time) of your hike to get the final value, OR by 60 to work out how many calories you burnt per hour.
Use the values in the table below to find your MET value. These are limited numbers so use what you feel is closest to your activity.
An example is given here.
Activity MET table
Backpacking (5% slope, 20kg backpack)
Calorie Calculation Example
A 75kg person walking at 5km/hour…
Walking 5km/h (3.2 METs) x 3.5 x Body Weight (75kg) / 200 = 4.2 Calories/min
= 252 Calories/hour
Note: Add your backpack weight to your body weight to get a better result.
Some Calories Burnt While Hiking Examples
|Body Weight KG||Body Weight LBS||Calories Burnt/Hour|
Note: To make the numbers more accurate for you, add your backpack weight onto your body weight before you select from the table. It’s essentially part of the weight you are moving!
Calories Burnt Hiking Calculator
Click this link to calculate how many calories you burnt while hiking.
What is a MET?
A MET stands for Metabolic Equivalent and is basically the resting metabolic rate.
It’s the amount of oxygen required at rest and is approximately 3.5 ml 02/kg/min, hence the 3.5 value in the equation above.
So sitting has a MET of 1. Every other activity has a MET value above 1 which you can plug into the equation for calorie burn.
For example, walking at 5km/hour has a MET value of 3.2.
You can see the table in this research paper here to find out MET values for different activities.
How METs Are Calculated
The MET values in the paper above were obtained by testing various subjects and working out energy expenditure (oxygen consumption) for given tasks.
How Accurate is This Method?
As far as any calculation for calories using METS is only as good as the numbers you can plug into the equation.
As stated above, different factors affect calories burnt including fitness level, weather and backpack weight.
Also, the number of 3.5 ml of oxygen per minute at rest is obtained from an average.
How About The Calories Shown By Your Fitness Tracker?
Your fitness tracker like Garmin, Fitbit etc…can only estimate calorie burn by the factors it knows.
If it knows your body weight and can measure heart rate then it can get a good estimate of the amount of work you are putting in. However, as with all calculations, the number outputted will only be a guess based on what your tracker knows about the situation you are hiking in.
What’s the Best Way To Measure Calories Burnt?
The absolute best way to measure calories burnt is in a scientific lab. You wear a mask as you perform a task which measures the intake and output of gasses and is able to work out energy burn as a result.
What if you’re trying to lose weight?
So once you know how many calories you burnt or might burn during your hike, what does this mean in terms of weight loss?
We know that 1lb of body fat contains 3,500 calories. For 1kg, it’s 7,700 calories.
Knowing this, you can work out if you might lose weight or not across the week based on how much you are eating.
Let’s simplify this.
To lose 1lb of fat in a week (3,500 Calories), you need to be eating 500 calories less than what your body needs per day (3,500/7 days).
So if you burn 2,000 Calories while hiking and only eat 1,000 back, then you’re almost ⅓ of the way to losing 1lb of body fat.
Remember with all this that there are 24 hours in a day and you’ll be burning calories constantly at different levels, even when not hiking. This number needs to be added on to the hiking calories burnt number.
Who This Post Is For
This post is for anyone a bit geeky like me, or just someone who wants to work out their calorie burn in a more accurate way than their fitness tracker or watch might tell them.
As mentioned at the top of this post, the calculation can then be used to work out how much food to take, how much food to refuel with, or how to create your calorie deficit if you’re trying to lose weight.