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Hiking vs Trekking – Learn 5 Main Differences between Hiking and Trekking

Do you know the difference between hiking and trekking? In this article, we show you the 5 main differences and you will know which one is better for you.

By Lane | @Lane

Updated on Aug 28, 2019

Hiking vs Trekking

Are you torn between hiking and trekking? Do you want to get into nature but aren’t sure which one is better for you? We all know both are outdoor recreational activities and sometimes they are used interchangeably. But do you know the difference between hiking and trekking? In this article, we will show you the main differences between the two and you are able to determine the type of outdoor adventure depends on your personal situation easily.

The Definition for Hiking Vs Trekking

To understand the difference between hiking and trekking, we first need to know what the two terms mean. Hiking is defined as an outdoor activity that involves walking in a beautiful natural environment on a predetermined path called a hiking trail. There are day hikes and night hike. Trekking is a long demanding journey be undertaken on foot in areas where there is usually no transport. Trekking is walking on uncharted paths, in challenging environments that could be hilly or mountainous. It is a rigorous outdoor experience to test your ability and sanity.

Approachability and Location

Hiking trails usually in natural environments or hills that are well-marked to guide people to go through the areas to avoid getting lost. The trekking paths are usually in mountainous areas where there is no vehicle transportation and no signs and may not have been charted before. Hiking usually starts and ends at the same place while trekking often starts and ends at two different points or positions. So hiking is easier and less vigorous compared to trekking. Hiking is a popular outdoor recreational activity, especially in Europe, New Zealand, Hawaii, Costa Rica and Chile. Trekking is popular in the Himalayan foothills of Nepal, Bhutan and India and in the Andes in South America.

>>>Read More: 12 Things You Need to Know about Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike

Duration and Intensity

The main difference between hiking and trekking is probably the intensity involved. Generally speaking, hiking takes less intensity than trekking as the paths are different. The difference also lies in the duration. Usually, hiking can take about a few hours to one day to complete while trekking can take days to finish.

Equipment for Hiking Vs Trekking

Difference between Hiking and Trekking 

The equipment for hiking and trekking are different. For a simple hike, you need to wear hiking shoes, weather-appropriate clothing, a trail map, compass, outdoor GPS tracking device, water, hiking food and a first aid kit. For the overnight trekking, the equipment includes a pair of trekking boots, a lightweight backpack, tend and sleeping bag for camping, fire lighting tools, food, water and water purifying tablets, survival kit, flashlight, map, insect repellent, trekking pole, a real-time GPS tracker without cell service. The equipment is designed to reduce the risks associated with hiking and trekking, such as getting lost, dehydration or hypothermia, sunburn or frostbite, animal attacks, sprains of the ankle and other internal injuries.

>>> Read More: Hiking Essentials for Beginners [Hiking 101 Tips]

Different Benefits of Hiking and Trekking

Hiking is good for physical and mental health. Depending on the hiking length, elevation, and many other factors, you need to exertion more or less energy. Research shows that hiking helps reduce anxiety, depression, and can increase your self-esteem. You also can enjoy nature beauties and natural sounds. All these sights and sounds can bring peace and relief on your hiking. Despite the challenges, trekking certainly has some benefits. You can enjoy the natural scenery in a world far away from cities that most people will never see. Another benefit of trekking is that it challenges your mind and body and helps improve your overall health. Your body will be constantly on the move and will meet many challenges.

A Comparison Chat for Hiking Vs Trekking


Hiking Trekking
Overview An outdoor activity of walking in natural environments often on pre charted paths. A long journey on non-designated paths which could last several days and could be challenging. It is more intense and energetic than hiking.
Locations In beautiful nature trails or hills. In areas where there is no transport and usually in mountainous areas.
Equipment Fewer necessities to bring along depends on the weather, day or over-night hiking. Hiking shoes, water, compass. Backpack with survival kit, food and first aid kit. More equipment includessurvival kit, camping gear, boots, compass, GPS tracker, trekking pole, clothing, flashlight, map, insect repellent and more equipment to survival.
Duration time A few hours to one day. Two or more days.
Intensity Hikes range from easy to strenuous. Trekking is more intense.
Signs Man-made sign posts. Few to no sign posts.
Environmental impact Hikers over many years in an area can destroy the natural environment they walk in through wood gathering, fires, fecal matter, leaving non-biodegradable matter. Trekking takes longer than hikes, so the environmental impact is greater.
Participants Great for beginners. A step up in difficulty from hiking.

The Bottom Line

As you can see, the difference between hiking and trekking are huge. After reading the hiking vs trekking, which do you like better now? If you are not familiar with aerobic exercise, hiking will be the best choice for you. However, if you want to hike and want to take it to the next level, try trekking!

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