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The DAILY DIRT - The nitty and the gritty of outdoor news

Calorie Calculator

Just how many calories did you burn on that hike?

One of the fantastic perks about backpacking is that you have a free license to eat almost anything you want. The key word is almost. The number of calories you actually burn in the backcountry depends on many factors—distance, elevation gain, temperature, pack weight, and so forth. Use these formulas to calculate roughly how many calories you’ll need each day, to make sure you're getting, not too many nor too few, but just the right amount. And for more precise calorie counters, based on activity, time, and weight, check out

Also, look for our blowout Cook Like a Pro feature in the September issue for a wealth of delicious, filling, and easy recipes, as well as essential cooking tips, tricks, and techniques from expert backcountry chefs.

Calorie Calculator
Less active (rest day)
Body weight (lbs.) x (both) 13.5 to 15 calories per pound = range of calories used per day
Moderately active (60 minutes of easy day hiking, climbing, or skiing with no pack)
Body weight (lbs.) x (both) 16 to 20 calories per pound = range of calories used per day
Very active (60 to 120 minutes of hiking, climbing, or skiing that involves hills and carrying a pack)
Body weight (lbs.) x (both) 21 to 25 calories per pound = range of calories used per day
Extremely Active (long strenuous day of hiking, climbing, or skiing with a heavy 
Body weight (lbs.) x (both) 25 to 30 calories per pound = range of calories used per day
—Source: Backcountry Nutrition (Stackpole Books, 2008)


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