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Calculating walking time when hiking

If you want to calculate the walking time of your hike, you have to take various factors into account. I'll tell you what they are and how you can use them to calculate the walking time in this article!

hiking distance calculator


1. factors

2. calculation of walking time

3. example

4. tip

5. other factors

6. terrain

7. breaks

8. age

9. luggage

10. physical condition

11. weather

12. altitude

13. conclusion


Three important factors play a role in calculating the walking time that you should take into account: The metres in altitude, the length of the trail and the metres downhill.

The alpine associations have agreed on a standardised procedure for the calculation and work with determined average times that are used as a rough guideline for the duration of the planned tour.

Those who hike a lot and often, or who are on the mountain, can of course also fall back on their own empirical values. In any case, the actual walking time varies depending on the pace of the climber or hiker and the existing adversities in the terrain - and also depends on other factors such as age, luggage, physical condition, terrain, weather and altitude. But I will come back to these other factors later!

 how to calculate hiking time

Calculating walking time when hiking

The calculation model of the alpine associations assumes that a hiker or mountaineer can manage an average of 300 metres of ascent, 500 metres of descent and 4 km on the level in one hour.

Based on this, the walking time is determined as follows:

Firstly, calculate the time for altitude metres

Secondly, calculate the walking downhill

Thirdly, calculate the distance and halve the value (why? I'll explain in a moment)

Finally, add up the values

Take other factors into account

"The sun also shines behind the clouds." Quote from Karl Friedrich Wilhelm Wander
walk distance calculator


The planned tour is given as 1,500 metres in altitude and 16 kilometres.

First, the metres in altitude are calculated: After you have to allow an average of 1 hour of walking time for 300 metres of altitude, this results in a duration of 5 hours for a climb of 1,500 metres of altitude.

Secondly, going downhill is calculated. On the descent, you manage an average of 500 metres in altitude per hour. This means: For 1,500 metres of descent, you have to reckon with a walking time of 3 hours.

So in the meantime: 5 h ascent + 3 h descent = 8 hours.

Thirdly, the distance is calculated: After covering about 4 kilometres per hour on the flat, it takes about 4 hours to cover 16 kilometres. Attention! In our example, we always walk uphill and downhill, so this value is now halved to give 2 hours.

Fourth, the values are now added: 5 h + 3 h + 2 h = 10 hours

Fifth, take into account other factors such as breaks, age, luggage, physical condition, terrain, weather and altitude. Unfortunately, there are no guidelines and you can only estimate these factors. As with everything in life, it is best to start small and increase slowly. Over time, you will develop a feeling for how long you need, for example, in wet conditions with a heavy pack.

Result: For the tour with optimal conditions, a total of 10 hours of walking time must be included.

(The basis for this calculation is DIN 33466, which can also be found under item in the routes manual of the alpine clubs)

Don't forget to take an emergency bivouac with you. It consists of an emergency blanket that is cold-resistant, a whistle and a mini compass. It should be in your rucksack on every hike anyway.

As the old Scottish saying goes: "There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes!"

Tip: I recommend adding at least one additional buffer hour to the calculated time. After all, you want to be able to take breaks and react to any unexpected obstacles with a corresponding time window.

As always, I recommend a video of one of my hikes:

Other factors in detail

The general rule is to research all the details of the planned tour well in advance, e.g. the altitude and the luggage required, and then include these factors in your own calculations using common sense.

Considering difficult terrain

A hiking tour often takes place in mountainous terrain. The terrain is therefore always comparatively difficult. Therefore, walking on rock, scree, ice and snow, on loose ground such as lava sand or on boggy ground requires special mention. Allow more time then!

Here is the important trail classification

The classification of the difficulty of a trail is usually based on the most difficult part of the trail.

The following categories are also available:

BLUE: Mountain trails with a blue dot are easier trails that can be narrow and steep. (Note: I reduce the calculated walking time a little for blue trails only).

RED: Mountain trails with a red dot are predominantly narrow, often steep and can have passages that pose a risk of falling. There may also be short, secured walking passages. (Note: I leave the calculated walking time for red paths only).

BLACK: Mountain trails with a black dot are narrow, often steep and dangerous. In addition, there are often secured walking passages and/or easy climbing sections that require the use of hands. Surefootedness and a head for heights are absolutely necessary here. (Note: I am slightly increasing the calculated walking time for exclusively black paths).

walking time calculator


Hiking breaks keep you fit! For every hour of hiking, you should plan a 5-minute break. This is a relief for your feet, which will become noticeable in the course of your hike. But you should also give your back enough rest, especially on long-distance hikes with heavy luggage.

You should enjoy a hike, so plan a lavish lunch break of a good 1 hour.


Depending on their age, people have a different physical constitution. Here I am referring in particular to older people and children. Children may already be able to walk 16 kilometres. However, the walking time required increases massively with children. You should therefore plan for a lot more time.

Berechnung der Gehzeit beim wandern

Luggage: Ultra-light is best

The luggage can significantly affect the actual walking time, especially in combination with bad weather or adverse terrain. Therefore, plan a little more time, at least for long-distance trails. In general, I recommend ultra-light and waterproof equipment for hiking.

Long-distance hiking trails in Europe: 90 routes, all countries

Wild & adventurous: these are the most beautiful long-distance hiking trails in Europe.

Fitness: What are the walking types for hiking?

In principle, there are two types of walkers. One is the endurance type or constant walker, who walks persistently at moderate speed but without short stops. The other is the sprinter type, who walks a little faster but takes a break after each stretch. The best way is to walk continuously, not too fast, with an even flow of movement. A permanent change of pace requires a lot of effort. It is best to start small and find your rhythm.


As a general rule, it is important to check the weather forecast before every hike. The weather can have a considerable effect on the time you spend on the trail. Plan extra time, especially in case of strong winds, poor visibility in fog or wet ground due to rain. Tip: If you don't want to be in a dicey situation, make the weather check part of your hiking ritual.


The adaptation to altitude is successful if you follow important rules of conduct. You have to get used to high altitudes, which is why you have to take a slow start. It is therefore essential to plan more time at higher altitudes from around 3,000 metres upwards. Furthermore, drink plenty of fluids to help your body adjust to the altitude. Attention! The following symptoms indicate a lack of adaptation to altitude:

  • Headache

  • Shortness of breath

  • Fatigue

  • Sickness

  • There is no recovery during breaks.


Whether you have sporting ambitions or just want to get away from it all for a while, safety is always a priority when planning your hike. Always take the weakest members of the group into consideration, both for hiking groups and for family hikes. If you are hiking alone, however, it is most important that you first walk in familiar areas on safe hiking trails with markings. This way, with a little experience, you can also master challenging hikes without any problems.

As always, I would be very happy to receive feedback on one of my channels.

You are also welcome to leave a comment here.

Foto des Inhabers Hikingfex

Hello, I am Christian, the chief globetrotter of this Site and an enthusiastic adventurer, hiker and filmmaker. I love to explore new paths and inspire people with them, and I love to share my hiking knowledge with you! You can also find my videos on YouTube! On my blog you can find tips for beginners and professionals on the greatest and most beautiful hiking tours there are. I want to encourage people to explore the world as a hiker, whether in the countryside, through the forest or in the mountains. True to the motto: If you haven't hiked, you haven't seen the world,

On my blog, I also write about hiking gear, the right summit training and nature conservation, as well as tips and information about hiking.

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