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You are here: Home Hiking Information Backyard Science Backpack Weight and Speed

Backpack Weight and Speed

Purpose: To determine the impact of backpack weight on optimal hiking speed.

The Experiment: Every backpacker has experienced the effects of a heavy backpack.  Not only is a heavy backpack hard on the back but it slows down forward progress.  This experiment provides a method to quantify this observation.  In this experiment I carried varying weights on a predetermined one-mile hilly course.  The trial times are tabulated to determine the rate of speed while carrying different backpack loads.

Special equipment required: Stop watch and scale.

Speed Versus Pack Weight

The above chart shows that the heavier the pack weight the slower the hiker's speed.  In my experiment, my speed with pack weights of 0 pounds (no pack), 10 pounds (base pack weight) and 30 pounds (maximum pack weight) was 2.9 mph, 2.75 mph and 2.61 mph respectively.  These speeds are my hiking speed for these particular pack weights -- of course, your speed will vary.

 

Notes:

Runningmap.com provides a reliable measure of a one-mile course.  The course should not cross any major streets that could delay your walking.  A one-mile course with elevation changes is recommended to better simulate a typical hiking trail.  

Speed Equation

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