Hiking Calorie Estimator

Some background is explained in this post. Basically this is a rough estimate of the workload and calories burned during a hike.

For terrain, assume a value of 1 unless you have a feeling that the terrain you are hiking on really adds on more work that normal. In that case, you might want to scale the energy by some factor - say 1.1 (10% increase), but this is highly speculative. (I have disabled the 'terrain' option for now and set it at 1)

I personally would trust the uphill estimates pretty well, but the downhill may be underestimated.

UPDATE #1: I think generally we all feel the downhill could be quite underestimated. The study & equation I used did the research on a treadmill, where friction on downhill is quite consistent and this is not the case in reality. For now, I am going to assume that one mile downhill (at any grade) is equivalent to walking a flat mile. Even though this isn't the best assumption (probably more work descending 20% grade than flat, but less at 10%), it's probably a decent guess until I get a lot of data collected.

Summitpost discussion / debate on the topic


Distance Round Trip (miles):
Elevation Gain (ft)
Bodyweight (lbs)
Backpack Weight (lbs)
Terrain Scaling (1-2, normal to all very rough)




Average Grade %

Work Ratio relative to Flat Walking
Equivalent Number of Flat Miles
Base Calories Burned (kcal)
Adjusted Calories Burned


  1. The calculator on your hiking science blog isn't working any more. You might consider posting a link from that location to this one, as it took me a while to find this page.

    1. It should still work, I'm not sure what the issue is. Does it even come up? How/where is it not working? Thanks

  2. Ah, it's working again now. It was showing an error with the 'gadget' or 'widget' or some other *dget before.