Hiking: Boot Camp & Marine Combat Training Hikes

Written by Kevin Webb


Marine Corps Hikes

What is the hiking like at Boot Camp and at Marine Combat Training (MCT)?

If you are planning on joining the Marine Corps, then you better get used to the idea of hiking everywhere you go. One of the Marine Corps foundational training methods is forced marches and conditioning hikes. What is forced marching and conditioning hiking? It is putting 150 lbs. of weight into a 90 lbs. pack, grabbing your rifle, your Kevlar and your flak jacket and doing a light run (which the Marine Corps calls hiking). Here’s some details on the hikes that will take place in Boot Camp and during Marine Combat Training.

Boot Camp Hiking
In Boot Camp you’ll hike approximately 120 miles in your 13 weeks of basic training. They will start off as 1.5 mile hikes and a small day pack (assault pack). They will gradually get more aggressive, increasing to a 3-mile, a 6-mile, a 7-mile and two 10-mile hikes with a full ILBE pack, rifle, Kevlar and flak jacket. This doesn’t include your daily hikes to class and during the Crucible. You’ll quickly pack the night before for your hikes, and the Drill Instructors will teach you how to pack, tape up your straps, prep your gear and how to stage your gear.

You’ll hike as a platoon, but the entire company will be executing the hikes as well. Be sure to keep your canteens full. You’ll need the water, especially in the summer.

You’ll be yelling the entire hike. I’m not talking about talking loud either. I’m talking about screaming until your veins pop out and you start sweating blood. This is part of the conditioning process. It helps strengthen your core, and your Corps.

Marine Combat Training
The hikes at MCT are not any better or worse than the Boot Camp hikes. You will only do 3 main hikes. You’ll do a scheduled 5k (3.1 miles), a 10k (6.2 miles) and a 15k (9 miles). You’ll also hike every day to either class, or the range which can be anywhere from 2 miles to 5 miles per day… every day while you’re there. You won’t PT much, but the hiking will keep you from getting fat, just expect to lose some muscle mass during Marine Combat Training.

Any questions?

Kevin Webb

About the author

Kevin Webb


  • So would you say physical activity during MCT is predominantly hiking? What other kinds of physical stuff should we be preparing for? Activities that were heavily focused on using upper-body strength during boot camp, especially during the Crucible, were what challenged me the most as that has always been my weaker side of physical fitness (in contrast to hiking and stuff). I mean I’m going to work on that during my boot leave as it is but I wanted to know what aspect of things I should be really focused on most, you know?

    Thanks a lot for this site, it’s an interesting and useful read for a brand new Marine who’s just graduated PI.

    • Semper Fi PVT Sharp!

      Congratulations on graduating Boot Camp from the place where real Marines are made… Parris Island!

      MCT is primarily hiking. In fact, we only PT’d a total of 4 times during the 29 days at MCT (other than hikes). You do a TON of hiking. When you’re out at the range, you’ll hike every day… sometimes 3 or 4 times a day. Some days you’ll hike 2 miles, sometimes 6… and your big hike is a 15k. The worst thing about MCT is being in the weather. If it’s cold, then you’ll be miserable… and it appears that you’ll be going in the cold.

      Just remember. You’re a Marine and you can do anything now. It’s only 29 days!

      LCpl Webb

  • Thanks for the info! Hiking I was generally good with so that’s good to know. Cold is going to suck ass but hey it’s whatever. Nothing for a Marine at the end of the day, like you said.

  • Thanks for the heads up, your blog has been a godsend with all the MCT knowledge on here.

    The hikes during boot didn’t really bother me, thanks to a well fitting, and now totally destroyed, pair of boots and having naturally good endurance. I found the worst parts of all the humps were the fact that we had to scream knowledge or “Step it…OUT!!! Tighten it…UP!!!” the whole time. Also, if Pvt. Sharp is going to Camp Geiger, I’ll be seeing him there.

  • Good info, thanks a lot. I have been pretty nervous over the course of my 10 days of boot leave. I can’t help but worry about MCT even though I’m always told that it’s only 29 days long and it will go by fast.

    • Pvt. Palm,

      The worst part about MCT for me personally was simply the weather. It was miserably cold, snowed 8 inches during our BSRE field exercise, and the sitting around before hikes was pure torture. Outside of weather, it’s not bad. Everything is what you make it. Check back in once you’ve completed MCT and let everyone know how it was.


  • Kevin Webb…. Your ignorance leads me to believe that you are in no way an actual marine. Real Marines graduate from both coasts and act like it afterwards. I know a lot of people that get bug bites and aren’t marines. Grow up son and don’t put down you marine brothers when you actually have no idea what west coast marines go through.

    • Logston – Face the facts. Yes, a Marine is a Marine, but that doesn’t change the fact that Boot Camp and MCT on the West coast is less intense than on the East coast. It’s naive to think that I need to go through training on that coast in order to understand it. I meet Marines from their every day and have thousands of hours of discussion and interview time put in to understand their perspective and experiences there.

      Grow up son? Really? That’s an immediate hypocritical statement. Someone that knows very little about a person and telling them to grow up, while simultaneously calling them “son” as if your superiority is in any way noted or proven. Nice.

      P.S. “Marine” is a pro noun, and is therefore always capitalized.


      Kevin Webb

  • Oh… well you sure showed me. I am truly sorry. You are correct in stating that only real Marines graduate Paris Island. So my brother who died in combat was in fact a psuedo-marine (google it) and that is probably the reason he is no longer with us. I am so ashamed of my son knowing this, as he just graduated from the West coast as well, and the fact that he had no choice as to which MCRD he could go to, instantly makes me lower my head in shame.

    Naive, no. You don’t know the facts SON so please put your computer away and do something for this country other that run your mouth and put your brothers down that happen to live in a different greographical area than you do, which determines what MCRD they graduate from. I have friends and family from both coasts in the Marines and I’m sure that all of them would love to run into you right now Private.

    As far as the spelling/grammar lesson, I apologize for not capitalizing Marines as I am posting from a mobile phone . You son, have no excuse, as Logston was spelled right in front of you, so get my name right and remember it, because hopefully you will come across it soon.

    • Logston – I’m sorry for your loss, and I’m also sorry that you are taking these statements so personally. This is what Marines do. We talk trash (just like brothers do) about which coast is better, what MOS is tougher, why you should or shouldn’t be an officer, reservists vs active duty, and the list goes on. If my sarcastic biased towards the East coast has shamed you, then my apology is only for your lack of understanding its tone and playful reasoning. If you’re truly read through my site thoroughly, then I think you would come to an easy conclusion that you’ve taken my tone out of context.

      Also, please keep in mind that a “WINKING” smiley face is usually notation for a joke… all in good fun. The only comment I found about the West coast had this smiley face included.

      To be honest, I’m not even sure which statement you’re referencing. There is nothing about the West cost on this post except in the debate you sparked. There is a lot of brotherly trash talk on this site, and maybe it would be best if you just didn’t read it. I cannot go around sensitizing everything I say. I’m bound to accidentally hurt feelings or offend people. Not my intentions (at least towards the family of Marines).

      I also have no idea what a psuedo-marine is.

      I fixed your name.

      I’m not a Private.

      I’d be happy to meet your family 🙂

      Here are some links you may find useful.


      Kevin Webb

  • How times have changed. After graduating boot camp from PI in 1980, I was given a two week hiatus before being required to report to Camp Geiger, North Carolina. My MOS was determined before leaving PI and Camp Geiger was my base camp for the rest of my three year enlistment. My MOS was an M-60 machine gunner and I was part of a specialized weapons platoon that included TOWS, 0331’s ( M 60 machine guns) and 60 – 80 mortars. We stayed and trained at Geiger when we weren’t doing Med floats once a year. My second Med float had our Battalion participate in the Peace Keeping force in Beirut, Lebanon in 1982 – 1983. While stationed at Geiger, all field training was in tents and I recall humps with full gear of twenty six miles not including a forced hump on the beach of Norfolk, Va, with full pack of approximately same distance. What I vividly remember was a SEAL team in wet suits and flippers in the chop who swam along side of us the whole time. It compelled me to share this message. Semper Fidelis to all fellow marines out there from both coasts because when your in combat on foreign soil, does it really matter what coast your from?

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