Conditioning Tips for Long Distance Hiking Trips

Whether you have dreams of completing the Pacific Crest Trail, doing a thru-hike of the Ozark Highlands Trail, or just knocking out 20 miles on some lesser known trail, you need to be in good physical condition for long distance hiking and backpacking. There are a number of things that you can do to prepare yourself for the demands of high mileage hiking. Here are a few conditioning tips for long distance hiking trips.


Walking regularly is a good place to start when preparing for a backpacking trip, especially if you’re not used to walking or hiking long distances. Don’t just walk on level ground, however.

Generally speaking, the elevation changes significantly on hiking trails. There will be lots of ups and downs on uneven terrain. Make sure you’re used to inclines and declines.


Most people find that hiking on even terrain is manageable, while hills are the real challenge. Make a point to take the stairs everyday, or dedicate time to run some bleachers. This can really help you tackle big climbs on a hike.

Day hikes

While walking around town can help you with conditioning for long hikes, it’s not enough on its own. Hiking is possibly the best thing that you can do to condition and prepare for backpacking and long distance hiking. Fit in as many day hikes on hiking trails as you can.

Keep in mind that adding pack weight changes the game significantly. Each step you take gets more challenging with each ounce in your pack. You can expect your pack to weigh 30+ pounds on a backpacking trips, so get accustomed to hiking multiple miles with a weighted pack.

Go on day hikes with a weighted pack, and bring more than you need.


Hiking is great conditioning for backpacking, but if you want to push yourself even further you can do some strengthening exercises. There are countless online sources offering great exercises for hikers.


Work cardiovascular exercise into your routine. Jump rope, jogging, biking, swimming, playing basketball – whatever it is that you enjoy doing that gets your blood pumping, do it. While people often think of hiking as a relaxing activity, a poor level of fitness will leave you gasping for breath on the trail.


Backpacking and long distance hiking isn’t all about the physical. There’s a big mental aspect to knocking out longĀ  stretches of trail. Backpacking can be a gritty grind with long stretches without seeing other people apart from those in your party. Your attitude dictates your experience. Don’t prepare for sunshine and rainbows. Instead prepare for a difficult – yet rewarding – challenge.


Be sure to see us at Uncle Sam’s Safari Outfitters for any outdoor gear or equipment you need before your next hike!

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