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How to Measure Distance By Counting Your Steps

Counting your steps is a good way to estimate distances as you hike, but first you need to know the length of your footsteps. Discover the length of your step with this method:

  1. Use a tape measure to mark a 100-foot course on flat ground.
  2. Walk at a normal speed from one end of the course to the other, counting your steps as you go.
  3. Divide the total number of steps into 100, and you’ll find out the length of one step. For example, if you took 50 steps to go 100 feet, your step length is 2 feet. If it took you 40 steps, figure 2 1/2 feet per step.

In the field, you can measure distances by counting every step along the way. Multiply that number by the length of your step, and you’ll know how far you have gone.

2 Comments on How to Measure Distance By Counting Your Steps

  1. Scouter Tim // May 18, 2020 at 2:29 am // Reply

    Another Scouter I know uses beads on two pieces of paracord tied to his belt to make a ‘hike abacus.’ He counts his steps, and for each 100 steps he slides one bead to the other end of the cord. When he gets to the tenth bead he moves a bead on the other cord and resets the first ten.

    Two thousand steps, or one thousand paces, was what the Romans called a “mille passum” or what we today call “a mile.” Of course, your “mileage may vary.” 😉

  2. That is a very simplistic explanation. I would first recommend counting the steps over longer distances, to get a more reliable average. Also, be aware that, when outdoors, it is rather unlikely you will be going over flat ground. Your steps will be of variable length depending on slope, vegetation, ground firmness and whether it’s slippery or not.

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