You can hike 20 miles in a day or more, it depends on many factors like body weight or fitness level, experience, terrain, time on the trail, weather or season, backpack, elevation, and others.
Fitness Level and Experience
If your body is not familiar with hiking long distances, you will naturally achieve fewer miles in your first days of attempts. Over time, you can train your body so you build stronger muscles for endurance.
The average hiker can typically walk between 2-3 miles per hour. If you walk consistently at that pace for 8 hours, you will walk between 16-24 miles. However, hiking for 8 hours is quite tiring and exhausting, especially if you are not used to long distances.
The total number of miles you can hike for a day depends on how well-conditioned your body is for hiking activities. The more experienced you are, the longer the distance you can take.
Another factor affecting the time distance you can hike in a day is the type of terrain. If you are walking through straight and flattened terrain, then you are likely to cover more distance ins a shorter time. However, if you encounter a scramble-filled trail, you might have difficulty achieving your desired distance in a certain time. Additionally, muddy and wet areas in the terrain will take you more time to hike because you need to be careful in crossing those places.
Climbing uphill takes more energy and effort. Thus, it takes more time to finish hiking. On the other hand, going downhill is easier and faster. However, for some instances, this might not be the case. There are times when you need to walk slowly when going downhill to keep your balance. It will prevent you from stumbling and will protect your knees.
Weather and seasons
Weather and seasons are the two most important factors you need to consider if you are planning to hike. The weather will dictate whether your trip will be easy to manage or not. It has a direct impact on the number of miles you can hike in a day. If the weather is in good condition, where there is no too much sunlight and no rain, you could hike hours and not feel too tired because the atmosphere is conducive to hiking activities.
On the other hand, you also need to consider the season in planning a hike. It will determine how much sunlight will be present on any given day. If you the season is summer, expect that there will be high exposure of the sun, which could hinder you from hiking more distance than you can. Having a hot season would exhaust you and tire you easily. In this season, you will likely hike 10-12 hours, while if it is winter, you can hike 6-8 hours.
Backpack and gear
Your backpack and gears also affect your ability to hike longer distances in a shorter period. The logic here is based on the weight of your stuff. The heavier your backpack is, the more time it will take you to cover a distance in a certain period. It is why when you are planning for a hike, it is recommendable to bring lightweight stuff and only pack things that you need for the activity. Do not bring unnecessary things that will make your backpack heavier.
If you are physically fit, it will be easier for you to move and do exhausting activities like hiking. Additionally, if your body is accustomed to walking trails and strenuous activities, you are more likely to sustain multiple hours in hiking.
On the other hand, if you are less physically fit and don’t exercise every day, you will likely take more time to cover the same amount of terrain that an experienced hiker could do. However, if you are just starting and want to improve stamina, you can begin by walking 15 miles in one day. Until you accomplish that goal, assess what you feel, and improve the areas you think can still develop.
Remember that you can always train your body to be physically fit. If you want to achieve the same thing that experienced hikers attained in their records, you should start working on your physical fitness.
Setting your goals in hiking is fine. However, before you set your objectives, make sure that you consider the factors that might affect your performance. For the best results, it is recommendable that you plan carefully and prepare what you need.