Trekking and hiking are outdoor activities which most people love to use interchangeably when the truth is, these are two different things. Yes, they do share some major similarities, and they are also both done outdoors in nature with the use of feet. However, trekking and hiking still have their differences.
Probably the main reason why a lot of people think that they are just the same thing is because both hiking and trekking involves walking by foot, physical exercise, exploring nature, amazing scenery, serious physical efforts, and self equipment for lengthy walks.
Having said these, what makes them different, then?
When it comes to the biggest differences between trekking and hiking, you can list several things. For instance, some of the most significant differences lie in the location, approachability, duration, distance, and equipment required to completing the route.
Approachability and Location
Although hiking could be considered as an extremely demanding activity that engages your physical abilities, knowing that it often means walking through established and well known hiking trails and nature routs can make it to be considered as a much easier form of nature walking. This is not in terms of the physical demands that remain to be very high in hiking but due to the fact that the hiking routes and trails involved can be less easy or more accessible to certain forms of transportation.
You can definitely agree that this is a rather important factor to consider when deciding if you will go on your hiking trip or not. While the use of the word safer might be a bit strong, known that it will be easy for you to go back and ask for help when needed since you are just walking near or alongside frequent and well known roads can give you some sense of reassurance. Hiking is often done in beautiful natural environment and surroundings which will definitely take your breath away and these environments are often made of stunning hills.
On the other hand, demanding routes are also involved in trekking although in general, this could be more or less considered as the mountainous form of waling than any other types.
Hiking is a very famous holiday experience particularly in the countries of Chile, Hawaii, Costa Rica, New Zealand, and Europe. Meanwhile, trekking is a favorite activity in the Himalayan foothills in Bhutan, India, and Nepal, as well as in the Andes in South America.
Although there are several notable differences between trekking and hiking, there is a single common feature as far as the environment is concerned. These two both adhere to the Leave no trace policy in order to reduce the effects on the environment.
Duration and Intensity
The primary difference between hiking and trekking is probably the intensity involved. In general, hiking is easy pace, with the hikers sticking to established trails, while trekking takes place through the undeveloped terrains.
People often go hiking in areas of natural beauty. The established hiking trails guide the hikers through the areas that are often signposted to help people avoid losing their way. Meanwhile, the path in trekking is usually unmarked and not yet charted in the past. Trekking can also happen in places of great natural beauty but not like in hiking, this is not exclusively so. Also, trekking can be a means of necessity in areas where vehicular transport is not available.
The difference of the two is also in terms of the duration of the walk involved. Normally, hiking can take about one day to finish but with trekking, it can take several days from beginning to end.
You can go on a trek for several days without knowing what to expect, and this is why there are some equipment and kits that you will surely find necessary and useful if you will go and explore the wilder areas of nature and even sleep there as well. On the other hand, when you go on a hike, you will need hiking boots which pretty much resemble trekking boots, hiking poles, spare water, day backpack, compass and map, sunscreen, and a night backpack, although this is rarely needed.
On the other hand, trekking equipment will usually need some other things such as necessary survival kit, camping gear, extra clothing that is necessary due to colder weather in the mountains and abrupt changes in the weather, as well as a medicine kit.
The pieces of equipment required for trekking and hiking will vary a lot depending on the activity as well as the individual and unique need of the person. Most of the time, trekkers travel with some durable equipment in tow, and they are also trained with the required skills of being able to find or build a shelter. The essential gear items for trekkers include a compass, camping gear, and a survival kit. There are also trek adventures which feature people who are specifically hired for carrying equipment, cooking meals, and setting up tents. In such cases, there is no need for the trekkers to carry their own gear, making the whole activity less strenuous on the part of the trekker.
The hikers mainly count on their sturdy backpack and their physical fitness for travelling the distances that they planned in advance. The pieces of gear that a hiker will have will depend mainly on the time and the weather. The most commonly used pieces of gear among hikers are probably compass, hiking poles, and appropriate clothing.
Being able to know the differences between hiking and trekking will make it easier for you to choose which of these two activities really suit as well as the goals you plan to accomplish. So, will you go for a hike or would you rather trek?