Trekking vs Hiking: What's the Difference?
Most of us know hiking and trekking as popular outdoor activities that involve walking long distances, usually for recreational purposes. These activities allow you to explore the beauty of nature and stay fit at the same time. However, only a few of us know the differences between hiking and trekking. In this article, we shed light on trekking vs hiking.
What is Trekking?
Trekking is a form of long-distance hiking that typically involves covering a distance of several kilometers or miles over multiple days or weeks. While trekking, you will mostly travel on foot through rugged and often mountainous terrain. Mountain climbing can be a form of trekking. If you love trekking, trekking in Nepal would be a life-changing experience.
Trekking varies in distance, duration, and terrain, depending on the paths and location. Some treks cover only a few miles a day, while others are demanding and require several hours or even an entire day of walking. Trek durations can range from a few days to several weeks, depending on the length and difficulty of the route.
The terrain you trek varies, ranging from well-defined trails and paths to rocky or steep terrain, dense forests, or snow-covered mountain passes. In some cases, trekking may also involve mountain climbing and crossing rivers, or other bodies of water, which can require additional equipment or skills. In general, trekking is a physically demanding activity that requires a good level of fitness, endurance, and preparation.
What is Hiking?
Hiking takes place on trails or footpaths in natural environments such as forests, mountains, or national parks. The distance and duration of a hike vary depending on the specific trail and location, but it generally involves walking for several kilometers or miles in a day. Hike duration can range from a few hours to a full day or even some days. Hiking is also called backpacking. In backpacking, you are hiking with all supplies you need to spend one or two nights in nature.
The terrain encountered during a hike varies widely, ranging from flat and easy paths to steep and rocky terrain. You might even cross streams or rivers during your hike. Some of these hikes may also involve ascending or descending hills or mountains. Overall, hiking is also physically demanding and requires reasonable fitness and endurance.
Trekking VS Hiking: The Main Differences
Although hiking and trekking may mean similar things to you, they are different. The Oxford Dictionary defines trek as “to spend time walking, especially in mountains and for pleasure and interest,” and hiking as “the activity of going for long walks in the country for pleasure”. If you compare these definitions, you can see that trekking is for pleasure and interest, but hiking is for fun only. Furthermore, trekking has a destination to reach.
Here are the major differences between trekking vs hiking
Purpose: Hiking and trekking are done for fun and pleasure, but trekking has a destination that often stems from personal interests.
Trail conditions: Hiking takes place on established routes that are often well-managed. This is not true in trekking. You will face dirt roads, poorly kept trails, or even the absence of trails into the wilderness.
Length: Trekking involves walking great distances. Generally, trekking is walking over 50km, while hiking covers a distance from 4 km to 50 km.
Duration: Hiking is shorter and can be completed in a day. However, trekking lasts several days until the trekker reaches the destination set.
Preparations: As the hiking lasts at most overnight, you need to pack a few things. However, trekking needs more things, and as a result, you will need a larger backpack. This means you need to make detailed plans for trekking rather than hiking.
Gear: Trekking requires specialized gear, such as sturdy boots, backpacks, and camping equipment. However, you can hike with minimal gear, such as comfortable shoes, a day pack, and some water.
Extra help: Hikers carry their backpacks, but most trekkers employ porters to carry their clothing, gear, and equipment.
Risks: Hiking trails are well-kept and most hiking is local. It entails minimum risk. Trekking takes you to exotic places, and trails might not be well-kept. Hence, treks come with greater risks. Hence, in risky trek regions, trek companies will look for your insurance certificates.
Planning: You can hike with minimum planning. There are only a few things you need to worry about, but it is different from trekking. You need extensive planning. This is the reason that there are companies that organize treks for you.
Fitness level: Trekking can be physically demanding and requires you to be at a higher level of fitness than hiking. If you're in good shape and enjoy a challenge, then trekking might be a good fit. If you're just starting or prefer a more relaxed pace, then hiking is a good option.
Choosing Between Trekking vs Hiking
The choice between trekking and hiking comes down to personal preference and the type of experience you're seeking. Both activities offer opportunities to connect with nature, challenge yourself physically, and enjoy the great outdoors. However, trekking is a bit more intensive. Hence, it is important to be fit and have good stamina. If you are not in good shape, we advise you to start hiking and then after some hiking experience, you can go on your favorite trek.
Similarly, since hiking is a shorter activity, compared to trekking, if you do not have much time, you should choose to hike instead of trekking. ‘
Choosing to trek or hike also depends on determination. If you are determined for a longer walk, you should choose trekking. To trek, you will also need to spend more money on gear and equipment. Moreover, many trek regions require you to book the treks with trek and tour companies. This means you should be ready to spend a reasonable amount of money for trekking.
Tips for Beginners Trekking vs Hiking
No matter whether you are planning a hike or a trek, here are some things you need to take care of.
Choose a trail: Before starting a trek or hike, you must list down the trails you plan to trek or hike. Make sure the trails match your skill level, fitness, and tastes.
Check the weather: If you are hiking, look at the weather forecast in the hiking area. Similarly, you must carefully look at the weather condition in trek regions during your scheduled trek. However, as treks last for multiple days, most probably, you shouldn’t trust the weather forecasts completely. Bring with you clothing and gear, keeping in mind, the probability of weather changes in trek regions.
Pack the basic things: For hiking, we advise you to bring water, snacks, a map or GPS, a first aid kit, and other essential items like sunscreen, insect repellent, and a whistle. You might also consider bringing a headlamp or flashlight if you plan to hike during dawn, dusk, or nighttime. You need to pack much more extensively for the trekking, such as many pairs of clothes, socks, thermals, gloves, trekking poles, etc. However, it is always better to travel light and we suggest you pack only the essentials for the trek.
Let someone know: Before you go, let your near ones know where you are going, the trails you will be following, and when you will return. This will help if you get lost or have an emergency. If you are trekking, it is always a good idea to contact your near and dear ones at least once a day. These days most trek region hotels/lodges are internet-connected.
Check regulations: Several trekking and hiking trails pass through restricted areas such as national parks. Hence, you need to check if you need to acquire permits and which activities you cannot perform in the trek or hike regions.
Dress properly: For a good trek experience and to take care of your health properly, you must dress accordingly. Whether hiking or trekking, you will need good shoes or boots. If you are trekking in high altitudes, you might also need crampons, down jackets, and other warm clothes.
Save the environment: Both hiking and trekking take you deep into nature where you can connect to your roots. So, you should not disturb the sanctity of the environment for future visitors. You should dispose of waste properly, and leave campsites in a better condition than when you arrived. Try not to disturb the ecosystem as far as possible. Do not take anything from the trek/hike regions.
Extra things you need to pay attention to during the trek
Trekking is more intensive than hiking, and there are other things you need to take care of while trekking.
Acclimatize: If you are trekking to higher elevations, you must acclimatize properly. There are several guidelines, such as you should not gain more than 9,000ft or 2750m in one day. At elevations over 9,000ft, you should sleep at a height not more than 1,600ft higher. If you are trekking in Nepal at Annapurna Circuit, Mount Everest Base Camp trek, or other high-altitude treks, you must acclimatize properly.
Prepare yourself physically: Hiking is less physically intensive, but trekking can be very exhaustive. You will encounter steep uphills and downhills, rocky and slippery paths. Hence you must be physically fit. If you have sensitive diseases like lung, heart, or blood diseases, you must consult your doctor before trekking. If you are not fit, start exercising at least a few weeks before the trek. Remember, the fitter you are, the more you will enjoy your trek. Rock climbing can also help you prepare to trek on the steep slopes.
Treks are longer, costlier, physically demanding, require more preparations, and can come with risks, especially if the trek regions are at high elevations. Hikes, on the other hand, are less demanding and shorter. Hence, you can hike to prepare for longer treks. Both activities are physical and help you stay in shape. Moreover, hikes and treks help to connect with your inner self in a peaceful environment.
Nepal is a Himalayan nation with hundreds of trek and hike opportunities. Some of the most famous trekking trails, such as the Mount Everest Base Camp Trek and the Annapurna Circuit, are in Nepal.
If you want to enjoy a hassle-free trek in Nepal, visit our homepage https://www.discoveryworldtrekking.com to explore the trekking packages we offer and find the one perfect for you.
If you need assistance, please don't hesitate to Call, Viber, or WhatsApp us at +977-9840055491. We will provide you rich trek experience while trekking in Nepal.