Using Pacing to Measure Distance

This is a very valuable skill in the hills and particularly in poor weather.  Sometimes the only way to determine whether you have reached a particular point on your journey is by measuring the distance you have walked since your last waypoint.  This is called dead reckoning.  To do this, you need to know your Pace Count or PC

Select a level piece of ground, measure 100m and count how many double steps it takes you, walking normally, to cover the distance.  This will vary from 55 for very tall people to 75 for short people.

Several factors will increase your pace count (i.e. decrease your average pace length).  Make adjustments to your PC accordingly.  These include the following

  • moving up a slope
  • walking into a headwind
  • walking in snow, sand, gravel, mud, heavy undergrowth or tussocky grass
  • falling snow or rain
  • a heavy rucksack
  • poor visibility, i.e. in thick mist or at night
  • mental or physical exhaustion

One useful technique for pacing multiples of 100m, e.g. 400m, is to put 4 pebbles in one pocket and transfer one to another pocket each time you complete 100m.