What Is The Difference Between Trekking and Hiking

The terms trekking and hiking sound similar, don’t they? Well, it will surprise you that there are many differences between them. The technical difficulty, terrain, and equipment used to set the two apart. While hiking is associated with long hours walk through trails, trailing, on the other hand, is even longer and requires numerous days. Before dwelling any deeper into the differences, let us first get to know their definitions.

Trekking is defined as undertaking a long and demanding journey on foot. It is a rigorous activity that is set to test your sanity, endurance, and perseverance. Hiking in lay man’s language can be defined as walking through long distances like in the woods or cross country. Hiking is done for leisure and on roads and trails. In short, hiking is walking through long distances while trekking involves multiple days. While hiking doesn’t require any planning, trekking requires months or years of planning.

What Is The Difference Between Trekking and Hiking? Beyond the Basics

Are you looking for a new and fun activity, but haven’t yet decided on what to settle for? Are you torn in between trekking or hiking? Have you always craved for the difference between trekking and hiking? Well, you are in the right place. This article tackles everything you need to know about trekking and hiking. In addition, we will also look at the equipment, health benefits, and any other additional resources needed. One thing is for sure, by the time you are done with our article, your knowledge of hiking and trekking will have shifted from that of a young kid to a college student. Read on!

What is Hiking?

As earlier defined, hiking is a recreational activity that involves long hours of walking through roads and trails and normally doesn’t entail intensive planning. Hiking can be as short as one mile to whatever distance that you’re comfortable with. In our opinion, once evening reaches and you pull out your sleeping materials, then that disqualifies for being referred to as hiking.

The Health Benefits of Hiking

Apart from being super fun, there are numerous health benefits associated with hiking. The next time you are at the doctor, and they prescribe hiking for you, don’t be perplexed; they are aware of what you can reap from long hours of walking. Below are the outlined health benefits associated with hiking:

Controlling your workouts

You are in total control of your workout when hiking; going at your own pace, distance, and course. No one is there to dictate to you how long to walk each day. Everyone loves this freedom, and hiking provides exactly that. With hiking, you are the one to decide what route to use. There are those who prefer scenic mountains, while others opt for the trails.

You are your own boss with hiking. You are the one to decide whether you will hike on an afternoon or morning, whether it’ll be during the weekends or weekdays. There is no fitness trainer to keep shouting on your face to work harder!

Tones your body

Regular walking keeps your butt in shape, but hiking through inclined steep terrains using poles to propel your body forward and clambering above rocks gives your entire body the workout it needs. Hiking is a workout for the whole body; if you didn’t know, now you do. It is especially great for the lower body- hamstring, glute, and quads. If you have your backpack on, you will also be working out your upper body. You will be challenging it on strength and endurance.

Lowers cholesterol and blood pressure

One great way to lower your cholesterol and blood pressure is through hiking. Hiking has been proven and highly recommended by practitioners as a way to reduce your blood pressure. That’s not all; heart-related diseases, stroke, and diabetes are also reduced by hiking. A fun fact to note is that hiking downhill is twice as effective when it comes to enhancing glucose tolerance and eliminating blood sugars in your body.

Hiking is a healing aid

Hiking heals, according to medical experts. Research shows that the benefits of hiking further extend to cardiovascular health even to the point of assisting cancer patients in their recovery process. Research courtesy of the International Journal of Sports Medicine suggests that hiking for long distances goes a long way in improving your antioxidative capacity. This is essential to oncological patients as it helps them fight diseases off.

Another different study indicated that breast cancer patients who undertook regular exercise, mainly in the form of hiking, had a better chance of surviving as the physical activity complemented the recovery process. This is evidence enough to show you how essential hiking is. Whether you’re a cancer patient or suffering from any heart and blood-related diseases, your turning point may lie with hiking.

Curbs depression and increases levels of happiness

We’re sure that the term ‘depression kills’ isn’t foreign to you. Did you know that hiking is one proven method of curbing depression? If not, now, you know. Research indicates that using hiking as a form of therapy helps people suffering from depression. It is a way of inspiring people to see the positive sides of life and lead a more active and happy life.

Controlling diabetes

One health benefit of hiking that not so many people are aware of is that it prevents and controls the effects of diabetes. Regular hiking helps you control and even to some point, prevent the spread of diabetes. How does this occur? Well, hiking assists in giving your muscles workouts. These workouts are important in sapping glucose from the bloodstream to provide your body with the energy that it requires.

Boosts creativity

Research has indicated that spending most of your time outside comes with the benefit of increasing your attention span and problem-solving skills by 50% more. The research further indicated that this effect is brought about by spending a lot of time outside technology because hikers spend most of their time outside away from tech.

Another separate research carried out by Stanford University showed that walking activates the creative juices. People who walk a lot are more likely to be more creative than those who spend their time sitting.

Spending time with nature

Nature is beautiful, but you will not realize this unless you spare some time outside hiking. Hiking gives you time off from your daily routines. Get to spend time away from technology, chaos, and noise. You get time to connect with yourself and nature in a manner that brings out a sense of well-being and inner peace.

What is Trekking?

Defining trekking is normally difficult, but this shouldn’t be the case. In the simplest definition, trekking should last anywhere between two days and two hundred years. If you are planning to go out on a multi-day expedition, then that is also considered to be a trek.

When the route to be taken involves one very long trail, then the process is referred to as thru-hiking. Some of the most popular thru-hikes include the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Coast Trail. When it comes to its difficulty, trekking is obviously more energy consuming than hiking. There are, however, exceptions, with some hikes being more difficult. The level of hardness is also dependent on the nature of the terrain.

Click here to read how long does it take to climb mount Whitney?

Health Benefits of Trekking

Increased fitness

Did you know that one hour of hiking burns up to 500 calories? Yes, that’s right. And depending on the weight of your luggage and inclination of the terrain, you can burn even more. Trails undertaken in hiking are normally softer and easier on the joints as compared to concrete and asphalt.

Going for steeper terrains such as mountains and hills is even better. The atmosphere there is great for burning serious calories; from the steep terrain to the low altitude. So, if you aren’t the type of person to hit the gym and work out on a daily basis, or if you just want to keep fit and burn a few calories, hiking might be just what you’re lacking.

Development of soft Skills

On top of your health, social, and mental benefits, trekking also benefits your management skills. You might be surprised by this, but it is actually true! Trekking requires intensive planning. By doing so, you find yourself setting targets, organizing schedules, setting up goals, learning on tricks of adapting to change, enhancing your mental capabilities, and planning for the whole exercise at large.

All these skills are highly valuable in the current world. These are skills that form the foundation for growth both on a personal level and career-wise. They enhance your self-confidence to tackle any challenge that comes along your way.

Learning and understanding different cultures

The exercise of trekking exposes you to a whole new world that you knew nothing about. You visit different places and archeological sites which are rich in history. You get to find ancient rocks and paintings that have been preserved for thousands of years by local communities. Some routes expose you to wildlife, birds, and beautiful water bodies. You are provided with unique and beautiful insights into the ecosystem of different places.

In addition, you also meet different people from different communities. You interact with them, share their cuisines, and even learn a few words of their language. Doing this helps you to understand, learn, and appreciate different cultures around the world. If you contemplate it, trekking is a form of tourism.

Cleansing your inner self

During trekking, you are less likely to drink alcohol or coffee, and plenty of water, fruits, and other healthy foods. Consuming healthy foods and cutting out junk and hard substances for a week has a huge impact on your body. It cleanses your inner self. It also assists in rejuvenating your skin and empowering your body to go natural. By the end of the trek, you will feel fantastic. You will even notice some change in your face. You will begin to glow and look much younger.

Some people realized the benefits of healthy living thanks to trekking. The little time they spent cutting off wrong choices of food and focusing on the healthy ones, had a huge impact on their bodies that they decided to change for good.

Improves your cardiovascular health

Trekking is popular for its involvement in improving the health of the heart. Trekking increases cardiovascular strength. What it does, is that it forces the heart to pump harder to enable oxygen circulation throughout the whole body. This comes with the benefit of increasing the blood flow to the brain and muscles. In turn, this improves the health of the respiratory and circulatory systems.

Another thing is that the environment around trekking is that which is filled with forests and trees. Here, you can expect to find pure oxygen and fresh air. Such an environment helps to keep your respiratory system clean. The air in the city is normally 75% polluted courtesy of emissions from vehicles.

Trekking is a form of social activity

The same way there are drinking and smoking buddies, there are also hiking buddies. On top of doing it for the health benefits, hiking is another great way of networking and socializing. Meeting regularly on a weekly or monthly basis forms a bond among the hiking parties. You interact with a large community from different places and exchange ideas. You get to engage and learn about different lifestyles and try out different things.

Reasons for Trekking

Why should we trek? Apart from the health and social benefits outlined above, there are three other motivations as to why trekking is really important for you. They are as outlined:

Appreciate the beauty of nature

You will never understand the beauty and importance of nature if you don’t spare some time to appreciate it.  There is a saying that ‘you never see the same scene twice in nature,’ and this is definitely true. This is what makes nature beautiful and phenomenal. The sight of animals and plants being in their natural habitats is also priceless.

Disconnection from the normal world

Trekking takes you to a world of its own; a world away from chaos, noise, and, more importantly, technology. You are forced to get disconnected from the information. Trekking separates you from civilization. Sometimes, all you need is some time off the grid and enough time to recharge your energy and set things straight. Trekking offers you this.

The adventure

The journey through trekking is adventurous. Depending on the route and trek that you take, you will come across rock sculptures, vistas, and waterfalls. You will get to learn new stuff and see things that you wouldn’t think you will ever see. You get to interact with different people, network, learn, and appreciate different cultures and make new friends. The adventure is on its own level.

Equipment used in Trekking and Hiking

Another thing that sets hiking and trekking apart is the equipment used during each journey. As earlier mentioned, trekking is long and requires intensive preparations. With this, the equipment required will be more than those of hiking. Also, it will be impossible to carry with you enough water for a whole trekking journey. With this, what you will require is a water filter for cleansing your drinking water.

Equipment for Hiking

Here is a list of some of the equipment that you will require during your hiking expedition

  • Water
  • Map and a compass
  • A first Aid kit
  • Adequate food to last you the entire journey
  • Headlamp
  • Knife
  • A tool for starting fire

Equipment for Trekking

Here is a list of some of the equipment that you will require during trekking

  • A backpack
  • Backpacking tent
  • Food
  • First Aid kit
  • A tool for starting fire
  • Headlamp
  • Sleeping Pad
  • Duct Tape
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Bladder
  • Backpacking Stove
  • Multi-tool
  • A map and a compass
  • Sun Protection


We have finally come to the end of our article. These are the basic differences between hiking and trekking. One thing to note is that hiking best suits beginners. So, if you’re new to the hiking world, we recommend that you begin hiking. With time, when you’re looking to take your skills to a top-notch level, you can opt for trekking and finally mountaineering.

Another thing to note is that hiking isn’t as straining as trekking. It is less intense and requires less use of energy as compared to trekking. The necessities to carry along are also fewer for hiking. Trekking requires intense planning, and you may find yourself carrying along a lot of items with you.

You might be wondering which is the better option between hiking and trekking. Well, the answer is all dependent on you. Individual circumstances will determine which option is best for you. One thing is for sure; whatever choice you settle for, the experience will be amazing. Both hiking and trekking is fun and healthy too. They give you a chance to appreciate nature and build on your body.

It is healthy to hike at least once every year.

Check out our other hiking articles here.