Hiking Challenge - Everything You Need to Know

The PATHFINDER Hiking Ruck Challenge is a series of varied-mileage hikes on marked, blazed trails in regional, state and national park systems.

Each program has it's own weight requirements. The distance requirements are the same across all programming.

Challenge Purpose

  • The PATHFINDER Hiking Ruck Challenge is designed to test your body, pacing and equipment on various trails.
  • Get off the concrete and asphalt and enjoy a new environment! The benefits to hiking extend well beyond training and into quality of life. This Challenge is a great opportunity to test your gear, footwear and basic navigation skills (if you are practicing those).

Challenge Distance Requirements

Trails can be hiked in any distance order, as long as all distances have been completed.

  • 2 miles
  • 3 miles
  • 4 miles
  • 5 miles

Challenge Weight Requirements

Life, Forward and Endure: There is no stated weight requirement for rosters in these programs for this Challenge. An appropriately challenging weight for the roster's fitness level must be in the ruck at all times.

Advanced: 45# ruck dry weight for body weight of over 150lbs or more, or 30# ruck dry weight for body weight less than 150lbs.

Advanced: OCALA/Stirling/Compete/Horizon: This Challenge is not available to rosters in these programs.

Challenge Time Requirements

  • There are no time requirements for this Challenge.

Challenge Parameters


  • The roster must ruck a 2-mile, 3-mile, 4-mile and 5-mile trail in order to complete this Challenge. The hikes may be done in any distance order, over any time-frame of their choosing, within their 12-week PATHFINDER Class.
  • The entire PATHFINDER Hiking Ruck Challenge must be conducted on A MARKED, BLAZED TRAIL. Unmarked trails should not be followed. We highly recommend using the AllTrails app to find trails in your area around the world.
  • Each Trail Ruck should be conducted in one continuous movement, like the other PATHFINDER distance rucking Challenges.
  • A weighted ruck will be worn for the entire Challenge. (See Weight Requirements.)


  • Hiking should match your skill level, so if you are new to hiking, stick with easy trails. As you get more comfortable with hiking, you'll know when you can advance to more challenging trails. Always consider the following when choosing a route:
    • Distance
    • Time of Day
    • Hiking Elevation
    • Weather Conditions
    • Fitness Ability
  • Be mindful of trail conditions. If a trail is muddy, wet or icy, save your hike for another time. Trail conditions like those listed can be dangerous, and can damage the trail condition and the ecosystem around the trail.
    • Carry mapping tools if the trail is unknown to you. A smartphone with gps is something nearly everyone has now, but be mindful that you may not always have service, especially on hard trails and ones far from cities. Download the trail map for offline use. We recommend taking photos of the trail map at trailheads and carry a power bank phone charger and cord with you too. If you are going on a Hard trail (but Intermediate trails can certainly qualify), and you're not quite sure what you're about to encounter, carry a paper map.
    • Buddy system or solo hiking? Hiking is more enjoyable with at least one other person, and is safer too. If you hike by yourself, always be sure to let someone know where you are and what trail you are taking. Always stick with well-marked trails and check the weather before you leave. Hiking with your ruck club is always our favorite recommendation!
    • Bring food, water and extra clothing* If you are planning for a quick hike out and back and know the trail, these items aren't as necessary. But if you are hiking an Intermediate or Hard trail, are unfamiliar with the trail, or anything else that makes you wary (trail reviews, etc.), be smart. Carry water, a LifeStraw, food and extra socks (we like to carry extra shirts and keep flip flops in our car too).
    • Do not mark your Challenge as complete until ALL of the legs of your Hiking Challenge are complete. Record each leg of the Challenge individually in your log in the Notes section (ie: 2 miler for Hiking Challenge) so you can keep track and only once you have completed each leg can you log the Challenge as complete.

    Challenge FAQ

    Can I do this Challenge all in one hike? We love the enthusiasm of our rosters! But in this case, the spirit of the Challenge is to enjoy a smaller-scale hike, over the course of a few days, on a trail you might not have been on before. This Challenge is to enjoy a different facet of rucking. There's great benefit to shorter hikes (and shorter doesn't always = easy) and if you traditionally haven't been a hiker, this is a great bite-sized way to explore a new area.

    Do I have to find a 2-mile trail to do a 2-mile hike on? No, that is not necessary. You can do a 2 mile (or any distance) hike on any distance trail, and just enjoy the experience for what it is.

    Does the trail HAVE to be dirt/gravel? No, it does not. While we will always prefer you get out and experience different ground conditions during your ruck, in some areas, finding an unpaved trail may be difficult.

    Challenge Restrictions

    • Ruck safely. Communicate your route and estimated times to another individual/party who can alert
    • YOU MUST COMPLY WITH ALL APPLICABLE LAWS AND RESTRICTIONS. DO NOT TRESPASS. If you are in doubt contact facility management for a clear understanding of access to and usage of any facility’s property. PATHFINDER assumes no liability whatsoever for any actions taken by a PATHFINDER roster.

    PATHFINDER assumes no responsibility or liability for any injuries, damages or death. A roster assumes all risk associated with their participation in any and all PATHFINDER programming.


          1 comment

          • Loved the tips. I took a proof of life photo and one of the trailhead maps to send to my husband. Asked a neighbor to join me for safety and packed the extra items suggested + my firearm ;-)


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