Why I hate breaks while hiking

I hate breaks while hiking. There, I said it. In contrast to what is often said about taking regular breaks while hiking, I often find breaks to be killing your speed, flow and morale. So, please allow me to explain why I hate breaks while hiking.

Breaks while hiking take insane amounts of time – even more than you think

My first

Kumano Kodo Lookout on Day 1
Kumano Kodo Lookout on Day 1

Ok, a quick example to explain my point.

Let’s say you take a 15-minute break. If you would walk 4 kilometers per hour, a 15-minute break equals a kilometer of trail you could have covered in the same time. If you take 4 15-minute breaks during the day, that equals 4 kilometers.

Let’s say you are walking a 20-kilometer trail and walk 4 kilometers per hour. If you take 4 breaks, this will take you 5 hours plus 1 hour of breaks (4*15 minutes), makes 6 hours.
If you take no breaks at all and keep the same pace, the 20 kilometers will take you 5 hours.
If you want to finish the 20 kilometers within 5 hours and want to keep your 4 breaks, you will need to walk the 20 kilometers in 4 hours, meaning an average pace of 5 kilometers per hour – a whopping 25% faster.

So lowering your pace, but keeping it steady and limit your stops to a minimum will massively increase the distance you can cover on a day. 

This is the case for every break. Not only a 15-minute break, but also 5-minute breaks to take pictures. So be mindful of how you use your time.

Breaks while hiking cool your muscles down

You’ll probably recognize the sore feeling often in your upper leg muscles after a long break. Apart from being sore, it will take you a while to loosen up your muscles again and to get back up to speed – another reason to be mindful of the breaks you take.

So, what do I do when it comes to breaks while hiking?

I usually take one larger break per day during my hikes, around lunch times. As I usually try to be up and hiking around civil twilight (and thus start my days early), that will be somewhere between 11h00 and 12ho0. I often have a thermos bottle with hot water I boiled in the morning to limit the time I need for cooking my food.

To limit other breaks, I make sure to carry my morning and afternoon rations of food in a place where I can access them while walking (often in my pockets). When I break camp in the morning, I will pack everything before lunch, during my lunch break I will pack everything for the rest of the day.

Additionally, I try to limit the number of breaks I take to make pictures or videos by carrying photo/video gear in my hip belt pockets so I can access them quickly.

So, what is your routine when it comes to breaks while hiking?

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