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Hiking Vs Trekking - What’s The Difference?

Posted by Luke Green

The terms “hiking” and “trekking” are often used interchangeably, however have you ever wondered what the real difference is between them? While both activities certainly share their similarities and benefits, there is a distinct difference between hiking vs trekking. Let’s take a closer look at the definitions of each. 

Hiking = a long walk in natural environments on hiking trails or footpaths for a day or overnight

Trekking = a long and vigorous hike in a wild natural environment, often away from trails or footpaths, and completed over multiple days

In the most basic terms, a trek is longer than hike, and usually completed in more demanding outdoor conditions. However, the difference between hiking and trekking is a little more nuanced. Let’s take a closer look at the main points of comparison. 


Trekking will always involve covering a long distance, and will cover multiple days or even weeks. A trek can range from anything between 30 miles to 15,000 miles. Hikes on the other hand vary a lot more in terms of distance, and can be very short. A hike can be completed in a morning, a day, an afternoon or overnight . 


Another key difference between hiking vs trekking is the significance behind it. Hiking is usually done for recreational purposes, providing a chance to reconnect with nature whilst getting some exercise in the fresh air. Trekking can also be done purely for pleasure, however treks will often be made with a special destination in mind, such as on a pilgrimage. 


Generally speaking, a hike will be completed over paths and trails, however trekking provides a little more opportunity for off roading. A trek will often cover areas of complete wilderness, alongside mountain trails and dirt roads. 


Another key difference between hiking vs trekking is the equipment required. For day hikes, usually a lightweight waterproof backpack with water, food, spare clothes and a first aid kit will suffice for your hiking gear - for overnight hikes, sleeping gear will of course also be required. Treks will require a larger backpack and a number of additional items including tent, sleeping gear, cookware, compass etc. Supportive hiking boots are an absolute must-have for both.

Hiking Vs Trekking - Which Is Right For Me?

It certainly doesn’t need to be a case of choosing between hiking vs trekking, why not give both a try? If you’re looking for a real physical and mental challenge that you’re able to dedicate a portion of time to then trekking presents a great opportunity to reconnect with the outdoors and achieve your personal goals. It may be that you have a destination in mind that you’d love to trek. Either way a trek will be a unique and memorable experience. 

The great thing about a hike is that it can be as short or as long as you like, and there are an abundance of different trails waiting to be explored. A short hike is a great way to destress after work, whilst a longer, overnight hike can be a great way to get away and explore a new location at the weekend.