Hiking Vs Trekking: What are the Differences?

When planning for an outdoor event have you ever had to decide between a trek or a hike? Most people use the words interchangeably, but are they actually different? Simply enough, yes, they are different.

By knowing the differences between the two and the benefits that each one has, you will not longer use them to describe the same hike and will be able to decide what type of outdoor adventure you are truly wanting.

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What is Hiking?

To start off, hiking involves walking on trails that are well-marked, accompanied with terrain that may vary from flat to steep. Hiking is easier and less vigorous, compared to trekking. It is a leisure activity that takes up most of the day, depending on the length of the trail.

Another distinction for hiking is that they often begin and end at the same point or location. As you will see, this is not the case for trekking. If you have decided to extend your hiking trip for longer than one day, you will be now be backpacking (1).

Backpacking is an activity of its own altogether and is different from trekking. It’s overnight and you’ll have to carry your own camping gear and food. An good example of this is the West Coast Trail (2).

Benefits of Hiking

Hiking is good for your physical and mental fitness. You will need to exert more or less energy, depending on the length, elevation, and many other factors. Research has shown that hiking also helps reduce anxiety, depression, and can increase your self-esteem.

Hiking also gives you the opportunity to enjoy nature, waterfalls, and other natural sounds. All of these sights and sounds can bring a tranquility to your hike and relieve you of any built up stress.

What Equipment do you Need for a Hike?

As a hiker, it is advisable to carry anything that you feel you might need. This does not mean to pack everything in your closet, but a backpack that has a jacket, water, medical kit, and some extra food will suffice, and of course correct footwear. For a conclusive list of what you need to bring with you can follow this link (3).

What is Trekking?

On the other hand, trekking is more rigorous and difficult compared to hiking. Trekking takes more time, in terms of days not hours. A good trekking example is Tour du Mont Blanc – (4), which takes 9-10 days to complete.

Unlike hiking, trekking will have you venture out on unmarked trails and on varied terrains. It is usually advisable to have a guide since the paths are unmarked.

It is also much more physical than hiking and will be strenuous both mentally and physically. Trekking focuses on people who have multi-day endurance and patience in order to reach their destination.

Lastly, trekking will start and end at two different points, or locations. The Tour du Mont Blanc, for example, will have you trekking through three different countries in England.

What do you Need to Carry When Trekking?

Considering trekking is off a marked trail, bring a detailed map of the location, a compass, and boots with you (along with the other necessities of camping). Your camping gears will also come in handy since trekking will be in mountainous areas since you will not get access to a hotel. Some locations, however, have camping sites and provide the camping essentials.

According to Taylor Phillippa (5), a medical supply kit, survival kit, and breathable layers will also come in handy due to the different temperatures experienced during the trek.

Some of the Benefits of Trekking

Despite the challenges, trekking, of course, does have some benefits. First, you get to enjoy the natural scenery in a world that is far from the cities and that most people will never see. Since trekking requires days, the average hiker will not be next to your on the trail.

Another benefit is that it challenges you physically and mentally, helping improve your overall health. Your body will be constantly on the move and, over multiple days, will face challenges unlike any hiking.


Although hiking and trekking are commonly referred to as exchangeable words, it is important to understand the differences.

Hiking is more relaxed and shorter in duration compared to trekking, which has multi-day treks through rough terrain. Additionally, hiking is on a marked trail while trekking branches off of the usual trail and, normally, requires a guide.

Both activities have tremendous health benefits and should be considered. Nature will never stop offering you more adventures to take. Try a different spin on your workout and push yourself to new heights.

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Justin Archer
Hi, I'm Justin Archer a family man with 2 boys and a wife. I'm an outdoorsman who loves hunting, fishing, hiking and lots of other outdoor activities. I love testing new outdoor gear, learning new things and passing on the knowledge I have gained. Feel free to contact me anytime - justin@outdoorveteran.com

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