Hiking and trekking offer many benefits to our physical and mental health. But to prepare for the best experience outdoors, it is important to differentiate these two activities.
Do you know what are the differences between hiking vs trekking yet?
Read here for the detailed answer.
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What Is Hiking?
According to the dictionary, hiking refers to the activity of walking over long distances, mostly in the great outdoors. When hiking, you often follow an established trail. And as it includes the word ‘walkling’, hiking is often something easy and pleasant.
It does not necessarily mean that the terrain is entirely flat, but you still have enough energy to look around and enjoy the scenery.
A hike can last for several days, but individual hiking trips generally last within a day at most. At the end of the day, hikers will return to their accommodation to sleep. This offers more control over the distances they want to travel.
What Is Trekking?
As far as the dictionary is concerned, trekking is to go on a long arduous journey, especially on foot. It is more challenging than hiking. And as a journey, it often takes more than one day, so trekkers need to carry food and tents along.
There is no established trail as with hiking. In addition, a trekking trip requires more effort and stamina.
The best thing about trekking is that you can go further and witness the sceneries that others rarely see. It is suitable for strong outdoor enthusiasts who do not mind hardship and want to challenge themselves.
Benefits of Hiking And Trekking
Hiking and trekking is beneficial for our health and well-being in many ways.
In terms of health benefits, hiking can:
- Improve cardiovascular health by keeping the heart rate at a moderate level
- Reduce ‘bad’ cholesterol levels and hypertension
- Improve balance
- Build major muscle group
- Strengthen the bone tissue and improve bone density
- Help lose weight
From a mental perspective, hiking and trekking will:
- Improve mental health and wellbeing
- Relieve stress by reconnecting with nature
- Stabilize our mood
- Give a sense of achievement and improve self-esteem
- Improve brain function and memory
- Relieve insomnia and improve sleep
Hiking Vs Trekking: What Are The Differences?
The first and foremost difference between hiking and trekking is the intensity. Hiking can be a leisure activity as you take a walk and go sightseeing in the great outdoors. Although the trails are not as smooth as silk, hikers can manage to hike across all the terrains without draining all the energy.
Meanwhile, trekking is much more intense than hiking. It involves trekking over different rough terrains over several days, so it expects strong mental and physical health from trekkers.
That is why trekkers often have to undergo intense physical training before a trip. Also, extensive planning is required.
It is clear to see that trekking lasts for an extended period, ranging from a few days, weeks to even months. Meanwhile, a hike takes place within one day only, between 2 and 8 hours.
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Hiking trails are often pre-established for hikers to follow up, while trekking trails are subject to changes depending on the trekkers. Trekking brings people to anywhere they want and gives them a chance to see sights that few have seen before.
As hiking typically lasts within a day, hikers do not have to camp out in the wilderness, but return to the accommodation at the end of the hike.
Treks last for several days, so trekkers cannot return to their bases at the end of the day. They will either camp out or sleep in a lodge en-route.
What you need to bring for hiking and trekking is also different. Read the next section for more details.
Equipment Overview of Hiking And Trekking
A major advantage of hiking is that there is no need to bring along a tent during the trip. At the end of the day, you will return to the base to eat and sleep, which means less food and less stuff to carry around all day.
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Some basic hiking and trekking equipment that every hiker should prepare before a trip includes:
|Backpack||A small one that holds 11–20 liters of gear is enough.||Something between 20 to 30 liters.|
|Clothing and Footwear||Suitable clothing for the weather conditions.||Extra clothing along with raincoats.|
|Water||A 2-liter bottle and two additional 1.5-liter bottles.||A compact water purifier needed.|
|Illumination||Headlamps or handlamps.||A torch with a dynamo.|
Clothing and Footwear
You should pack suitable clothing according to the weather forecast. A long sleeve or a moisture-wicking T-shirt will come in handy as they keep you dry and stay protected against the sun.
T-shirts with sun protection are worth your consideration if you are going to hike in the summer. Is it recommended to pack extra clothes for fear of unexpected incidents such as changing weather.
A raincoat is not necessary unless there are signs of rain in the weather forecast. But if you are planning to hike for several days, I advise you to bring one. It is lightweight and takes little space in the gear. More importantly, it can save you in extreme situations.
Regarding footwear, a pair of hiking shoes or trail runners should be enough. Hikers and trekkers will benefit from high quality footwear with ample support, durable outsoles, excellent ventilation, along with extra cushioning.
Keen trekkers should consider getting boots for more support on rocky, rugged trails.
Socks are no less important as shoes in hiking and trekking trips. Do not wear your average cotton socks on the hiking trails since cotton holds moisture and makes your feet sweaty. Instead, go for wool to regulate the temp and wick away moisture.
Food and Water
You should pack snacks that are easy to prepare and consume on the go, including nuts, protein bars, granola and energy bars, dried fruit, etc. For more exact consideration, and how many times you eat during the day, and calculate the amount of calorie needed.
Staying hydrated is a key to a joyful experience.
Navigation is one of the must-have items for hiking and trekking. While modern smartphones work well as a digital compass, it can be totally useless in the wilderness.
That is why I recommend analog devices such as a paper map and a metal compass. Which one to choose depends on the type of the trip and your preferences.
If you still want to stick to technology, you can try specialized electronic navigators.
Even if you are not planning to hike at night, it is still important to bring a light source.
Do not forget to bring along some stormproof matches that stay dry even when exposed to water, or some wind-proof lighters to start a fire when needed. Anyway you should always keep an eye on the fire and be extra careful.
Also, only start the fire if it is permitted in the area.
Health and Hygiene
You may get sunburned even on cloudy days, so always remember to put on sunscreen before going on a hike. Any lotion with 50 SPF will work, but it takes some time to decide on the best one that suits your skin type.
You will have to apply sunscreen every 50-100 minutes. Wearing a long-sleeve is a good idea to Protect your skin against the sun rays, especially if you have pale skin.
A broad-brimmed hat is essential as it protects your face, neck, and from overheating, since sunscreen cannot cover these areas.
Do not forget to protect your eyes with wrap-around sporty models and polarized lenses. These sunglasses will provide full eye protection during the hike.
Consider getting an insect repellent to keep away all the annoying insects, especially when you plan to visit the tropical forests.
Emergency and First-aid
Signaling devices such as whistles are important. You never know what happens in the wild; it is wise to always stay prepared.
There is no need to explain the importance of having a first-aid kit at hand. It is incredibly helpful when someone in your team accidentally gets hurt. You can either by first aid kit from drugstores or prepare one on your own by gathering all the essentials.
A basic first aid kit should include bandages, tweezers, antiseptic ointment, gauze pads, and tape. You should learn how to provide first aid in the natural environment as well.
Tips for Hiking
Learn these hiking tips for a more comfortable experience in your next hike:
- Check the weather: Before leading up to your hike, check the weather forecast to know how to dress and what to pack. If the weather is going to be awful, change your plans.
- Pick the right route for your fitness level: Do not feel tempted to choose demanding trails. Rather, stick to the one that fits your stamina, especially if you are a beginner.
- Familiarize yourself with the trail: Read and understand the map of the area. Normally, you can find all the valuable information online. Take note of anything special, for example misleading trails where you are likely to go the wrong way, or simply a good spot for lunchtime.
- Tell your friends where you will be: You never know what will happen on the trail, so it is important that someone knows where you will be and when to worry and call for help.
- Pack enough: Do not miss a thing on the 10 essential items (navigation, sun protection, insulation, illumination, first-aid supplies, repair kit and tools, nutrition, hydration, and emergency shelter).
- Keep it light: While you should pack enough 10 essentials, Is it important to keep your backpack as light as possible. No one wants to carry a heavy load while climbing up and downhill, right?
- Leave no trace: The number one slogan for every outdoor trip. Make sure you leave no trace to keep the natural environment as beautiful as they are.
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Tips for Trekking
- Start training as early as possible: Start with doing short and long walks up to the length you will plan to trek. Add some leg-based cardio such as cycling into your routine. Make sure you have rest days to let your body recover.
- Try different terrains: You will be exposed to various terrains on your trek, so try to train on different surfaces from now on.
- Train a backpack: Challenge yourself with a weighted bag since you will be carrying a daypack throughout your trip.
- Use walking poles: Walking poles will be your new best friends on the trek since they take the load off your knees and thighs and give you extra support on steep climbs.
- Fuel yourself: It means to fuel your energy while you are trekking by drinking water or eating snacks. Some quick sources of protein such as nuts, and muesli are all good.
- Stay hydrated: With water, try to drink small amounts of water frequently throughout the day. Do not leave yourself thirsty, as by that time, you are already dehydrated.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is hiking better than trekking?
A: There is no such thing as a better option between hiking and trekking. It mostly depends on your preferences. If you want to enjoy the wild natural environment with little effort, you should go hiking. On the other hand, trekking is for those who want to challenge themselves in the wilderness.
Q: How to determine whether trekking or hiking is suitable for me?
A: As mentioned above, the ultimate choice depends on your preferences. Also, you should consider your health conditions as well. It is important if you want to go trekking for multiple days.
Q: Is hiking good for a short holiday?
A: Yes of course. Going hiking is a great idea for short holidays as you can immerse yourself in nature and relieve the stress built up in everyday life. You will have fresh energy to come back to work after the trip.
Q: What is the biggest difference between trekking and hiking?
A: The biggest difference between trekking and hiking must be the intensity. Hiking can be considered as a leisure activity, while trekking involves much more intense physical training. There are more differences related to duration and trails as well.
The Bottom Line
I hope you know the differences between hiking and trekking now. Both are great for the heart, mind, and soul, but it is important to choose the right activity for yourself. So if anything seems unclear to you, leave the concern in the comment section so that I can help you out.
Thank you for reading.