Plus Minus is my idea of how to track general hiker speed. I imagined plus/minus as another way to track your speed which would give another hiker a way of knowing how fast/slow you are hiking in addition to miles per day and hiking speed. The system operates on the idea that if someone started before you, they should finish before you and vice versa. The plus minus system is simple
– People that start on days before you are a Plus
– People who started on days after you are a Minus.
– People who started on the same day as you do not matter in the system.
– Plus/Minus is calculated by adding or subtracting all of the hikers you have passed or been passed by.
– Only hikers you meet count towards the system
– If you pass someone and they quit their plus stays.
– If you are passed by someone and they quit their minus stays.
Thats it, it is alot of rules but this is my system and it is the product of many hours of on trail debating.
A real life application
Toward the end of my hike in NC I was passed for the first time in multiple states. At the time my plus/minus was +28. The hikers who passed me were
– Wolfburger started June 5
– The Kid started June 24
– Arbor started June 26
– Scuttlebutt started August 3
– Twinkle Toes started in Gorham, NH early September
Although 5 people passed me, I only dropped 3 down to +25 because The Kid started on June 24, the same day as me and Twinkle Toes was not a thru hiker and therefore does not count.
The Plus/minus system has some weaknesses that I acknowledge. First the whole, if a person drops off the trail, their plus or minus counts for the duration of the thru hike. I know it seems unfair but my reasoning is, if someone passed you, but then quit you may never know. On the same coin, if you pass someone and they drop off you may never find out, these two rules work together to try and make the system effective. Secondly if you leave towards the start or end of the season, chances are your number will be either lower or higher respectively, in this instance I will say it can be not very effective.
Also NOBOs will tend to have a more dramatic plus minus because the sheer amount of people. During my entire hike the highest I ever was, was +33, in NOBO season many more people start every day, giving more people to pass or be passed by. While a +33 is high for a SOBO, I am sure a fast NOBO may go over 100 in plus minus easily.
The way the plus minus system will be the most accurate is if a hiker leaves mid season and accounts for being a NOBO or SOBO.
Plus/minus on my thru hike.
During my thru hike my lowest plus minus was -2 in 100 Mile Wilderness when I was passed by Paul and Zest, and the highest it ever got was +33 after rushing through the state of Virginia in 26 days. At the end my Plus/Minus was +25
Plus: (people who started before me that I finished infront of)
Ranger stack and Thor
Human torch, knee deep, girl, took
Yak, and the 2 boys she was with
Unplugged and knives
Mike and redbeard
jim and Corrine
Minus: (people who started after me that finished infront of me)
So my final plus minus: +25. I think thats right, if not sue me.
This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!
To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.
Why does it matter?