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Wilderness Sports > Hiking, Trekking & Backpacking > Hiking, Trekking, and Backpacking: Representative Goals and Suitable Training Baselines

Hiking, Trekking, and Backpacking: Representative Goals and Suitable Training Baselines

Wherever your destination may be, you can find training information specific to your goal. Below are sample destinations, trip reports, and client success stories that can motivate, inform, and help you prepare for your similar trip. The Outdoor Athlete contains additional sample programs for goals including an intermediate hike, intermediate backpack to the Grand Canyon, and advanced high altitude trek to the summit of Kilimanjaro.

Hiking, trekking and backpacking programs should all begin with suitable baseline training: 2 to 4 weeks of at least 4 weekly workouts, including 2 strength workouts of at least 30 minutes each, two cardiovascular workouts (a 45-minute workout at 65-75% MHR and a higher intensity 30-minute workout at 75-85% MHR), and one sport-specific hike of at least 4 miles that involves an elevation gain of at least 700 feet and a pack weight up to10 pounds. Suitable aerobic training options include walking stairs or hills; exercising on the incline treadmill, elliptical trainer, stair-climber, or StepMill; or hiking.



Hiking Goals

Sample Beginner Hikes A beginner hike might be any distance up to 8 miles on a sand or dirt trail that gains less than 1,500 feet of elevation. Carried gear for easy day hikes usually includes water and a snack (less than 10 pounds) and added mileage for children should be roughly .5-1 mile per outing, for adults 1-2 miles over previous outings. Allow 4 weeks.
Little Si (5 miles round trip; WA)
Twin Falls (2 miles. round trip, 300 gain; WA)

Sample Intermediate Hikes An intermediate hike ranges from 8-14 miles round-trip with 1,500 to 3,500 feet of elevation gain. Allow 8 weeks.
Mt. Si (WA)
Suggested Hikes along the I-90 Corridor

Sample Advanced Hikes An advanced hike might have an elevation gain greater than 3,500 feet (1,067 m) and be 14 to 30 miles (22.5-48 km) round-trip. Carried gear for advanced day hikes typically include map, compass, change of clothes, headlamp, additional water and snacks, and other essentials, up to 15-20 pounds. Allow 3-4 months.
Hiking to Camp Muir on Mt. Rainier
Trip Report for Mt. St. Helens 2003
Mailbox (WA): Early Season Quad Conditioner: 2007
Granite Peak (WA)
Mt. St. Helens 2002, 2001

Backpacking Goals

Sample Beginner Backpacks Allow 6 weeks to train for an overnight trip up to10 miles round trip and elevation gain less than 2,000 feet. Beyond baseline training for beginner hikes, be sure to include at least one back-to-back outing a few weeks before your first trip to determine how you feel with repeat exertion on successive days.
Barclay Lake Backpack (4 mi/400 gain; WA) - coming soon...

Sample Intermediate Backpack An intermediate backpack would include a 3-night trip in the Grand Canyon that involves a rim-to-rim hike with a 35-pound pack over varied terrain and a 5,000-foot elevation gain. A suitable hiking foundation would start with someone being able to hike 8 miles carrying a 20 pound pack on a hike with 3000 feet of elevation gain (see Sample Intermediate Hikes). Allow 3 months and at least one shorter overnight or back-to-back to test out gear, boots and pack weight distribution.
Grand Canyon Preparation
Preparing to Hike the Pacific Crest Trail

Trekking Goals

Sample Advanced Trek An advanced trek would include a 6-day backpacking trip to the top of Kilimanjaro (19,340 feet) with a pack weight of 20 pounds. African expeditions require porter assistance; hikers carry a day pack only. A training program to meet this goal needs to consider the following: (1) the goal is a repeated effort that includes 2,000 to 4,000 feet of elevation gain on consecutive days and ends with more than 15 miles of descent on days 5 and 6, (2) high-altitude exertion demands a high level of fitness and will require anaerobic training in the latter weeks of training, and (3) additional acclimatization time (such as travel, extra day hikes, or even a safari) ahead of the trip is recommended. Allow 4 months.
Ascending Kilimanjaro (Africa) plus Serengeti Safari




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