Calculating Your Pace and Pacing Distances


What is a pace?

pacing A pace is equivalent to two natural steps. Starting with your right foot as the first step, when your left foot hits the ground you can count that as one pace.

Why should you know your pace?

Your pace can be used to keep track of distances traveled while hiking. Most people won't use pacing to record long distances but it is possible if you have a system (pacing beads, etc.) to help you keep a pace count. You will most likely use your pacing skills while backpacking when you find yourself needing to choose a campsite a certain distance such as 200 to 400 feet away from water, trails, or historical sites because of backcountry regulations or general leave no trace practices.

How many feet are in a pace?

The average length in feet of a pace will vary between people and will also vary across different types of terrain. Most people will have a pace somewhere around 4.5 to 5 feet.

To determine or "calibrate" your pace follow these directions:

  • Step 1: Accurately measure out a course that you will pace over several times. 200 feet is a good distance.

  • Step 2: Walk the course with a natural stride and count each pace (double-step).

  • Step 3: Calculate your pace by dividing the length of your course by the amount of paces it took to travel it. So if my course was 200 feet and I counted 40 paces then that equals a 5 foot pace.

  • Step 4: Walk the course multiple times to figure your average pace. Try pacing while wearing your full backpack to see if it changes your results.

Estimated Paces Chart

Distance to Pace If you have a
4 foot pace
If you have a
4.5 foot pace
If you have a
5 foot pace
If you have a
5.5 foot pace
If you have a
6 foot pace
100 feet = 25 paces = about 23 paces = 20 paces = about 19 paces = about 17 paces
200 feet = 50 paces = about 45 paces = 40 paces = about 37 paces = about 34 paces
300 feet = 75 paces = about 67 paces = 60 paces = about 55 paces = 50 paces
400 feet = 100 paces = about 89 paces = 80 paces = about 73 paces = about 67 paces
500 feet = 125 paces = about 112 paces = 100 paces = about 91 paces = about 84 paces

Things that will affect your pacing

Your paces will be longer while:
  • going downhill
  • hiking with a strong tail wind

Your paces will be shorter while:

  • going uphill
  • hiking against strong winds
  • wearing a full backpack
  • hiking on loose surfaces like sand, gravel, etc.

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