The Art of Slow Hiking


Over the past year I've taken up the philosophy of slow hiking.

I've gotten burnt-out from the hustle/optimization/productivity culture that's become so pervasive in society. And, unfortunately, I've seen it start to infiltrate the hiking community as well.

I don't have anything against tracking, pacing, optimization, summit-chasing, and FKTs in principle. But, for me, that's not why I go on adventures. I'm not looking to "conquer" anything. I don't want my adventures to feel like I'm checking a box. I don't want to have an incredible experience interrupted by pacing stats. Or to feel disappointed because I didn't miss a mark, even though I was in one of Earth's most beautiful places. I just want to enjoy my existence outside.

And so I've been embracing slowing down, hiking without purpose, and walking fewer miles, but ones that are more intentional, present, and focused.

I filmed this video with my Daybreak pack as a bit of a manifesto. It serves, for me, as a reminder to go light, slow, and with intention. And that there's nothing to accomplish other than enjoying the present moment.

What are your thoughts on slow hiking? Is this something you might embrace moving forward? Or are you more in the data-driven camp? I'd love to know what people feel about this!


  • steelemaley
    steelemaley Member Posts: 1

    Each to there own and I am a professed quantified self adherent but I have to agree that I worry sometimes people are not enjoying the wilderness we all go into, but rather, are “logging a peak”, or “completing the loop in 1 day”. Last weekend in the Pemi (White Mountains) I encountered at least two examples. One, a man loudly complaining that he’d been essentially robbed by the cloud cover enveloping the peaks. A short hour later it had cleared and we backpacked across beautiful peaks in sunny sky’s. I thought the could cover was wonderful and welcome on our ascent;). The other example was a set of folks running the loop that day. As we filled water at a hut they asked where we were going and I shared that we were heading a few more miles to a tentsite for the eve. One of the runners said, “oh, I have always wanted to do something like that… we always just jam in here and out…”.

    I don’t consider whether my backpack, or hike is “slow”, but I take my time. Yes, I have done “two day” this and “one day” that but my love is being in wild places, smelling them, seeing them, dwelling in them. Long miles, often technical cause my work brain to shut down and my creative brain (also often benefiting my work) to flourish. But often I find myself just focusing on the rocks in the trails, moss, trees, peaks and flowing water, birds, toads, and all manner of other things.

    Being aware often equals seeing the unseen and feeling, the wild. It’s a choice we make, On a walk, backpack or lifestyle. I wish it for everyone.

  • gnadto
    gnadto Member Posts: 2

    Amen, Peter

  • joehaub
    joehaub Member Posts: 1

    Old age's slower pace of life isn't a curse; it's a gift. As my miles per hour decline, I find that I observe more details, become more attentive to sounds, and relish experiences that I raced past in earlier years. There are plenty of other rewarding backcountry objectives than numbers of miles or peaks in a day.

  • MJM013
    MJM013 Member Posts: 1

    In my 20s, I was a competitive marathon runner who approached hiking and climbing as a competition, even if it was against myself. Now in my 60s, I cherish the majesty of stands of old-growth ecosystems in the rainforests of Olympic National Park in Washington that I'm sure I missed years earlier as I tried to achieve distance and elevation goals that now seem meaningless. I recently paused while hiking to enjoy the views as a ghost of my young self sprinted past me, head down to charge to the next milepost. Slow-Hiking is a gift.