Speed over ground

Last time I was talking about using pace to measure distance.
Only hows about your speed over the land?

No I’m NOT going to cite the military figures to you.
I’m not 18 and super fit anymore and I suspect 90% of readers aren’t either. So I’ll also leave the “DO MORE PT” out of this little chat. After all my personal philosophy to all that running round with packs on is why run when you can walk?

overloadLets get realistic shall we and talk about the VAST majority of wanna-be survivors. Probably the most horrible sight to lay your eyes on is a refugee column. They come in all shapes, sizes, ages, and health so I’m going to talk about them AS THE NORM.

The first time you see a foot bound refugee column, most people tend think how slow they are moving. It’s a curious thing to watch too. It’s not so much a conscious act but for the most part the speed evens out to suit everyone.


That universal speed averages out to about 2 mph (3.2 km/h).

WHAT, that slow?
Yep, on average about that. Walking during the day, a few stopping for breaks, some toileting and the other needs of life, usually only during daylight hours, 2 mph.

A tale to tell.
I was describing this 2 mph mass movement of people to a group once. The group was full of bush craft and light campers, a few ex-military, and yes Mr. Macho and his sidekick RAMBO were present. The exclamations of disbelief in what I was saying was to put it mildly “loud”.

Right up until we ran 10 minutes of video in the background showing a refugee column and highlighting just one person walking with a backpack over that 10 minutes. Then we presented a composite picture of how far this obviously “fit” man had traveled. And it all went quiet.

The distance traveled was just about a 1/3 of a mile, 530 meters.

Now I’ve probably blown a few prepper plans apart here.
After all the usual quoted figure for walking is around 3 mph, 5 km/h (ish). So there you are thinking you can walk 20 miles in about 7 hours. Me, I’m a little more realistic, 20 miles would take me 10 hours or 2 days.

Whoa, I’m now talking in days?
Yep, and even better, if I have to move at all I plan only to move in the wee small hours of the night, 02h to at least till dawns early light.

Back to route planning and ground speed.
We all move at different speeds and that is dependent on a huge range of factors but using the 2 mph (3.2 KM/h) as a baseline (especially by night), this is my “calc” chart.

trudgeNow I’m pretty certain a few “experienced” hikers will baulk at those figures and the professionals will talk about Naismith’s Rule. He wrote the book on speed over ground and his basic rule was:-

  • Allow 1 hour for every 5 km (3.1 mi) forward, plus 1 hour for every 600 m (2,000 ft) of ascent. (Naismith’s Basic Rule)
  • When walking on uneven or unstable terrain, allow 1 hour for every 4 km (2.5 mi) forward.
  • On a gentle decline (about 5-12°), subtract 10 minutes per 1000 feet of descent. On a steep decline (over 12°), add 10 minutes per 1000 feet of descent.

Impressive isn’t it?
Only I wonder what he’d manage in a city, at night, with rioting, and it peeing down with rain with no lights. Plus the thought of trying to marshal a mixed age and ability family to safety. After a week of poor food, lousy water, and little sleep.

I said right at the start I won’t quote military doctrine and now I’ve sort of rubbished one of the civilian experts. There is a reason for this. You have to think realistically.

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6 Responses to Speed over ground

  1. Brittius says:

    Reblogged this on Brittius and commented:
    Mass migrations will reduce the ground covered by 50% when considering elderly and children within the group. Ambient weather conditions are also a factor. Observation of physical condition of the group will reveal which ones are better conditioned and might possibly be enemy troops mixed/seeded, within a migrating mass of humanity. Lack of mechanization will also indicate the “order givers”, within the group, should hostile contact be taken, their elimination is a priority. Tracking of speed-of-travel, will also reveal forward scouts and recon unit of the group. They are generally lighter in weight and better conditioned as they move quickest, and present a tactical situation when confronted.

    • That was what we were looking for “in service” but now I’m more concerned with possibility of a large number of dispossessed.

      Worse bit about it is when an enemy commander (aka POS) brings down fire on those people. I’ve watched the full gambit of response from hitting the deck, lemming like running into cover (liberally seeded with mines), to them who don’t even look up but keep on trudging.

      That and the fallen just dragged out of the way, covered, and left, and parents still carrying a blooded sheet.
      Leaves a bit of a scratch on the mind does that.

      • Brittius says:

        Brings back some unpleasant memories when NVA did exactly so to their own people seeking to leave a hostile area. They always had “plants” from the population eager to cause further damage to the masses, all for a political ideal. We were helpless to offer any real assistance. Company commanders had us pinpoint those throwing orders as they were armed and obviously by paperwork on KIA, were military personnel, combatants, and out of uniform. We would time their travel, because it was not uncommon that they were being led into enemy ambush locations. Once located and confirmed, our mortar teams would open up on them before they could commit to ambush against civilian non-combatants. We live in a world with two legged animals. Bastards.

      • Not quite my war ‘B’, but it happened in Europe and probably still is. Snipers loosing off at columns for example. Pure bad. There is no other interpretation for loosing rounds off at the fleeing and unarmed.

  2. yokel. says:

    general opinion is that a young fit person will walk at 4MPH, a bit older person say over 40-50 will walk at 3MPH, both on level ground, say a path or a road, on a uneven path or track maybe uphill you’ll be down to 2MPH, and off track, in inclement weather, in winter, you’ll be down to 1MPH maybe even less.

  3. yokel. says:

    don’t forget, when walking in a group, you’ll all be walking at the pace of the slowest, could be a young child or it could be granddad.

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