Loc: Washington State, King County
I brought my fitbit on my PNT hike this year, and spent a little time this weekend getting summary data. My hiking partner Lucky and I hiked 804 miles in 53 days, of which 5 days we did no hiking (so 48 hiking days), for a per-day average of 16.8 miles.
In those 48 days I walked just a bit over two million steps, and we climbed the equivalent of a little over 25 vertical miles along the way.
What I found interesting is how much fitbit's daily mileage estimate was high. I expected it to be high; I used a level track at a local school to establish my average stride length, and unless you're road walking on pretty level roads, real trail involves on average shorter steps. But for the PNT this came out to be 30% high, and if I did some more work to remove Nero's, and even more to remove known road walking miles, for actual trail it would be higher than that. Perhaps 30% would be more reasonable for better quality and better graded trail like the PCT.
FWIW, I have the fitbit "one", which I kept in a key pocket at my hip; I personally can't stand to wear a fitness tracker on my wrist all the time (I guess I'm in the minority on that one, at least based on what's being sold today).
I had to laugh at myself when I first read the post. I read it 5 or more times trying to find out where you called the hike "long-ish" and then realized it was in the post title.
I don't have a fit bit, but I do see how it could produce a 30% greater distance reading. I've done some map & compass work and orienteering in the past, and for my natural pace measurements, I'm consistently 11 paces for 10 meters, and 110 paces for 100 meters. Of course that's like your track reading... nice even flat ground.
Any type of uphill slope is going to shorten your steps a bit, but not by 30% unless it's a really rough steep climb. So why would the fit bit ready 30% further distance? Well, I think it's more subconscious than anything. If I'm consciously pacing my distance, and trying to maintain a natural stride, that stride length will be longer than a normal hiking stride would be. I would be willing to bet that if you set your fit bit distance based upon a fully geared hiked trail distance, it would be more accurate in the end.
For me, I could see me doing 15 steps for 10 metres in hiking conditions compared to the 11 when pacing. That with ups & downs along a trail would get me to 30% more steps easily, which a fit bit would read as 30% farther.
Then again, maybe I'm way off because I haven't had my coffee this morning yet. All I can say is, 804 miles, 53 days... nice. Really, really nice! I'd love to be able to do something like that someday. I'm still trying to fit in a 5-7 day hike into my schedule. 2 months though, what a vacation that would be!
Loc: Washington State, King County
"Any type of uphill slope is going to shorten your steps a bit, but not by 30% unless it's a really rough steep climb."
It seemed on the high side (of high) to me too, with the caveat that mile for mile, and when not walking on forest service road to connect trail pieces --- the PNT is the toughest trail I've hiked. Again, that's "mile for mile", not in absolute terms, but the overall trail quality isn't good. Think in terms of the average tread quality and pitch of the AT, but often not maintained (or signed). On flat, level ground my stride is relatively long; on trail like that, it is credible to me that 30% more steps are required per unit distance.
"I'd love to be able to do something like that someday. I'm still trying to fit in a 5-7 day hike into my schedule. 2 months though, what a vacation that would be!"
Hopefully you can make it happen someday. OTOH, it's a the type of vacation from which you generally feel the need for another vacation when it's done! :-)