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Wilderness Sports > Hiking, Trekking and Backpacking Training and Conditioning

Hiking, Trekking and Backpacking Training and Conditioning

Backpacking in the wilderness

Hiking, Trekking and Backpacking: Overview

Hikers, trekkers, and backpackers all must cover great distances of non-technical terrain while carrying a pack. Carried gear for day hikes ranges from water and a snack (less than 10 pounds) for easy hikes (< 5 miles) to map, compass, change of clothes, headlamp, additional water and snacks, and other essentials (15-20 pounds) for more advanced hikes (up to 30 miles in a day).

Trekking consist of a series of day hikes linked together with overnight stays in huts, inns, or local bed and breakfasts. They range from beginner multi-day desert tours or daily hikes to advanced multi-week high-altitude treks. Gear carried daily is limited to lunch, snacks, camera, water, and clothing for the day's weather. Trekking is generally more taxing than hiking, requiring repeat endurance efforts with minimal recovery.

Backpacking also involves overnight stays, but you carry everything you need for the length of your trip rather than having pack animals or Sherpas to assist. Backpacking can range from an overnight trip close to civilization to several weeks in remote backcountry, to months-long trips such as segment- or thru-hikes along the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide, or the Appalachian Trail.

Training Overview

Training for Hiking, Trekking and Backpacking is usually going to involve a combination of training for specific fitness qualities, doing sport specific outings and practicing sport required skill elements. There are five major fitness qualities your general training should focus on for Hiking, Trekking and Backpacking. Those qualities are:

  • Aerobic Endurance
  • Anaerobic Endurance
  • Upper Body Strength
  • Lower Body Strength
  • Flexibility

To learn more about the needed levels of fitness components for Hiking, Trekking and Backpacking and to understand more about sport specific and skill training read our Hiking Program Development section. Below you can find a directory of other pages to visit to get a greater understanding of training for hiking including potential goals, trip reports and special considerations.

Training for Hiking, Trekking and Backpacking

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Recommended Products for
Hiking, Trekking and Backpacking Training

The Outdoor Athlete by Courtenay and Doug Schurman

The Outdoor Athlete book. Learn how to optimally train and prepare for hiking, backpacking, trekking and other wilderness sports. Learn more

Preparing to Hike the Pacific Crest Trail E-Book
You don't need to be a professional hiker to succeed on the PCT, CDT or AT, but you do need to have a strong baseline of conditioning. This e-book features a 12-week program designed to increase your strength, cardiovascular conditioning, and pack-carrying endurance you must have in order to travel for months, carrying as much as a 35lb pack during a week-long segment of the PCT.

Train Yourself to Hike a 30-mile Day E-Book
In this e-book you will find a 3-month program that will help you build a sufficient cardiovascular training base, strengthen those muscle groups important for hiking, teach you how to stretch any muscles that tend to get tight, and understand and identify your proper pace.


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