How to Prepare to Hike for 5 Miles

For the average hiker, a five-mile hike should take between 90 minutes and three hours. There are several factors that can affect how long it takes you to hike a trail. Some of these include your fitness level and the terrain you’re hiking on.

If you’re hiking on flat ground, most people can expect a hike to take between 90 minutes and three hours. Some people can complete a five-mile hike in as little as 45 minutes, while others may take up to three hours.

What’s Your Level of Fitness?

When hiking, it is important to consider your fitness level and physical condition. Beginning hikers will take longer than experienced hikers.

A 5-mile hike is considered moderately strenuous, depending on location and elevation gain.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to how far you should walk each day. Depending on your fitness level, age, and goals, you may be able to comfortably manage a distance of 2 miles or 5 miles. However, with a little physical preparation and dedication, you can easily increase your walking distance over time.

What’s in Your Hiking Backpack?

You should also consider the amount of water and hiking gear you want to bring with you. The weight on your back will add up, and a heavy pack can certainly can affect your average hiking speed.

Trail Terrain and Elevation

Trail terrain and elevation can play a big role in how long it takes to hike a certain distance. For example, if you’re hiking on a grueling trail with lots of up and down hills, it will take you longer to cover the same distance as if you were hiking on flat terrain.

Every hiking trail has its own unique terrain and conditions.

There is a wide range of terrain types in the world, with some areas having level ground while others have hilly terrain, rocky surfaces, or sandy soils. Some areas are more wild and uncontrolled than others.

Trails can be difficult to navigate in rough terrain or during poor weather conditions, which can make a short-distance hike challenging.

It’s always a good idea to check out a new hiking area before you go – what others have experienced can help you plan your trip more wisely.


More than likely, you’ll plan a hike on a pleasant, sunny day–but the weather can be unpredictable! The weather can easily change over the course of a 5-mile hike. Rain showers can pop up at a monent’s notice. Or the humidity can make the air feel hotter than it is.

Naismith’s Rule

In 1892, William Naismith, a Scottish Mountaineer, devised Naismith’s Rule to help predict how long it will take someone to hike any nature trail. 

The Naismith rule of thumb is that a hiker who isn’t carrying any weight or taking breaks will typically walk at a pace of three miles per hour. 

Elevation gains will affect the amount of time it takes to complete a trail too. For every 1,000 feet of elevation gain, an extra hour is required to complete the hike.

Here are a few examples of the amount of time it may take for the average hiker to complete a 5 mile trek:

  • 2 hours: This is on a relatively flat trail that’s well-maintained. You’re carrying a small backpack that’s big enough to hold a water bottle and your phone and car keys.
  • 3 hours: This is on a well-maintained trail with 1,000 feet elevation. The trail has some rocks and tree stumps that you need to maneuver around. You’re somewhere between a beginner and an experienced hiker.
  • 4 hours: You’re about to embark on a hike on a good day, but the trail is rough and you’re climbing 1,000 ft in elevation. You’ve never done a hike this long before. You’re in pretty good physical condition but you’re also not used to walking up steep slopes. You take a few rest breaks along the way.

How to Prepare for a 5 Mile Hike

First things first, research the area you will be hiking in. Make sure there is no flooding or dangerous wildlife in the area, and familiarize yourself with the landmarks and trails. Then there are a few hiking essentials you should bring with you in your hiking backpack.

Pack your hiking backpack

It is important to pack your hiking backpack correctly so that you are able to carry all of the necessary supplies while hiking. Make sure to pack enough food and water, appropriate clothing, and a first-aid kit. Hiking trails can be difficult to follow, so make sure to bring a map and compass if you are planning on hiking in unfamiliar territory. Allow yourself at least 8 hours for a 5-mile hike, so you aren’t rushed during your journey.

Wear comfortable hiking clothes

Wear appropriate clothing and footwear for the weather conditions and the hiking terrain. Sweat-wicking shirts and leggings are a good starting point.

Wear hiking boots

Hiking boots are also helpful because they will protect your feet from rocks, and tree roots, and keep your socks and feet dry if you encounter any water.

Bring plenty of water

A good rule of thumb is to drink 2 cups of water per hour of hiking for adults. It’s always best to bring more water than you think you’ll need for the hike, depending on weather conditions, personal thirstiness, and filtering abilities.

Pack healthy snacks

Select snacks that are portable, easy to eat on the go, and give you some much-needed energy while you’re out hiking. Some good snack options include:

  • Peanut butter or other nut butters: A great source of protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. Just make sure you pack a spoon!
  • Trail mix: You can create your own mix or buy a pre-made one. Make sure to watch the sugar content if you’re purchasing a store-bought mix.
  • Beef jerky: This snack is a great source of protein and easy to eat on the go. Make sure to find a low sodium brand without any added preservatives.
  • Granola bars: Many different kinds of granola bars are available on the market. Make sure you choose one that has a lot of protein and is low in sugar for sustained energy.
  • Fresh fruits: Fruits are a great way to get your daily dose of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They’re also easy to eat on the go, so you can take them with you wherever you go.
  • Dried fruit: In addition, you can also pack dehydrated fruits like bananas and apple slices.

Here is a complete list of everything you should pack for a day hike. Make sure you’re prepared with all the right gear you’ll need before you head out for the day!

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