Calculate hiking time (distance + altitude difference)

Calculating hiking time according to DIN norm depends on route and altitude difference

Those who plan hiking routes on their own are faced with the problem of somehow having to estimate the duration of the planned hike. However, the common rule of thumb "4 kilometers per hour" as a pedestrian only applies to the plain. But how long does a hike of 8 km, for example, take if there are 600 meters of ascent and descent to be mastered?

The solution: There is actually a DIN standard for this! The DIN standard 33466 regulates the labeling of signposts for hiking trails, on which there are often times. Anyone who has ever wondered on the basis of the basis on which the times are determined there now knows. And if you have always had the feeling that the times apply to you fairly well, then you can now be sure: you are walking at DIN-standardized speed ...

We have integrated the requirements of the DIN standard into the following small calculation tool - we explain below how it works:

The hiking time calculator

Distance in kilometers
Increase in meters
Descent in meters
Net travel time
Realistic travel time
(+ 20% for short breaks, etc.)
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Calculation rules for the hiking time

In order to estimate the walking time for a planned hiking route, the height difference and the horizontal distance are first considered separately and the respective time requirement is calculated separately. Different speeds are assumed according to the DIN standard:

  • 4 kilometers per hour in the horizontal direction
  • 300 vertical meters in the ascent per hour
  •  500 meters of descent per hour

However, the time required for the horizontal and vertical must not simply be added up. Instead, the travel time is calculated using the following formula: Larger value + (Small value / 2). Or in other words:

Travel time = Max (time required for horizontal distance, time required for altitude) + Min (time required for horizontal distance, time required for altitude) / 2

On steep hiking trails with many meters of altitude, the horizontal distance is less important. Conversely, if you have a long, flat route, you can manage a few meters in altitude.

Our example from above is calculated as follows:

  • For the distance of 8 km, 2:00 a.m. are estimated (4 km / h).
  • For the ascent and descent, 3:12 hours are calculated (ascent: 600m through 300m / h = 2:00 hours, descent: 600m through 500m / h = 1,2h = 1: 12h).
  • Since the 2: 00h for the horizontal route is smaller than the 3: 12h for the vertical meters, the route is only included in the overall calculation with 2: 00h by 2 = 1: 00h.
  • The net travel time is 1: 00h + 3: 12h = 4: 12h

As a rule, a buffer of 20% should be included in the net travel time for short breather and drinking breaks. Who plans to take a long lunch break or something along the way? must also take this into account. 

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  1. Henning Hünemohr
    27 April 2020

    Hi Frank,
    great article. Thanks for your conversion help.
    The descent can be done with the help of easily determine.
    This saves you from counting contour lines.

    Best Regards


  2. Guido
    March 11, 2021

    Grazie molto interesting

  3. Thomas Tarp
    August 1, 2021

    Hugely beneficial! Thanks a lot, Frank :-)

  4. Françoise
    27 January 2022

    I really like using this calculator to plan tours with groups. The calculation is much more realistic than what I usually find with tour planners. Very helpful.

    1. Frank
      30 January 2022

      Thanks that makes me very happy!

  5. Johan
    March 1, 2022

    Super useful! Un grand merci.

  6. Bernard
    March 17, 2022

    other mode de calcul
    paramètres : Va = nombre de mètres de dénivelé en 1 heure par ex. 450m/h
    Vd = vitesse de marche sur plat par ex. 4,5 km/h
    calculs : Ta temps pour l'altitude Ta = dénivelé (m) / Va (donne Ta en heures)
    Td temps for the distance Td = distance (km) / Vd (donne Td en heures)
    Temps total en heures : Tt = racine carrée de (Ta au carré + Td au carré) (somme vectorielle rectangle)
    The paramètres are not modifiables except for the "personnel equation" acquired on the terrain

    Example with the paramètres chosen: distance 4,5 km dénivelé 450 m temps total 1,4 h soit 1 h 24 min.

  7. Toshi
    March 28, 2022

    Hi Frank

    There seems to be a bug in the calculator.
    After putting in the following values, the result was 6:60.
    The input values:
    The distance 13.9km
    The ascend 1102m
    The descent 791m

  8. Elea Eluanda
    June 22, 2023

    Thank you so much! I saved the URL this ages ago and I come back here to use the calculator all the time! Amazing.

    1. Frank
      June 25, 2023

      Thank you for the positive feedback!

  9. marileu
    July 5, 2023

    I am a pleasure hiker. The calculation is interesting. Everything in the green.


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