Backpacking provides you with the opportunity to see beautiful vistas, observe wildlife and enjoy a variety of different flora. As if this wasn't reason enough to backpack, it also burns off a surprisingly high number of calories. Get yourself a comfortable pack and get serious about hiking. You will find that it provides more benefits than you ever suspected.
A 180 lb person can burn almost 600 calories for every hour spent backpacking. Since most backpackers spend several hours hiking, you can burn a significant amount of calories each time you strap on your pack and step out the door. Backpack in hilly areas, and you'll burn even more calories. You have to burn 3,500 calories above your intake to lose a pound -- backpacking is a sport that can make burning large amounts of calories enjoyable and doable.
Increasing Your Burn
A simple approach to burn more calories by hiking with a pack is to perform the activity for a longer duration. If your time is limited, however, you can still increase the calorie burn of your hike. Pick up your pace as much as possible, as moving quicker burns calories faster. Travel uphill more than downhill, as moving up an incline requires more effort from your body.
Tips for Beginners
If you're not accustomed to hiking with a pack, start small. Begin by taking short hikes with a day pack. Later, as you gain fitness, you can begin hiking with a full-sized pack. If you plan to embark on a camping trip, load your backpack with all of your gear and spend time walking hilly areas in your town to become accustomed to the increase in weight. Be sure to pack plenty of water, and don't get so excited about the calories you are burning that you under eat. You'll likely lose weight on a backpacking trip even if you don't make a conscious effort to diet.
Weight Loss Potential
If you go on a two hour hike three days a week with your backpack, you'll burn approximately 3,600 calories -- enough to take off one pound a week. Add in a six hour hike on the weekend and you might lose as much as two pounds a week. Be prepared to see your calves, thighs tighten up, as backpacking will help you gain calorie-burning muscle as well. Chances are, after a couple of months of backpacking, you'll be shopping for a new wardrobe.
- ProHealth: Exercise and Activity Calculator
- "Backpacking Magazine"; Lighten Up!; March 2011