YOU LOVE SPENDING TIME IN NATURE.
You go walking for hours with a group of friends, setting up your campsite, making a fire, cooking food and sleeping under the stars. You go on three-day trips and take everything you need to rough it out.
When you go for longer trips to more remote areas, you plan a little better. You pack smarter, and maybe take a smaller tent (because walking for ten days will make things seem heavier).
And one day, that 20-day trip, in that very remote area, needs to be ticked off the bucket list. You’ve been thinking about it forever – you must do it!
On your first day back at work after your trip, everyone is asking you questions. Tou tell them of all the beautiful scenery that you saw on your…?
A lot of people get confused on this topic. Was it was a hike, or is it a trek? Was it a backpacking or mountianeering trip? “No, it’s a hike, definitely a hike. But it was longer and really difficult, so maybe it is a trek…”
Not sure what to tell the people at work or at home? Well, you are not the only one.
So let’s talk about the differences between hiking, trekking, backpacking and mountaineering. Make sure that the next time you go on one of the four, you’ll know which is which.
WE’LL START WITH HIKING AS IT THE “EASIEST” ONE
Hiking, in general, refers to the act of walking for longer periods at a time.
It is done for enjoyment and to spend time in nature. Walking next to a river on a path, or through the woods on a narrow trail, is considered a hike.
Usually, it’ll last for half a day or full day trip on a specific route. The route is laid out, maintained and marked. You usually go from point A to B and then back again to where you started.
The routes will vary in degree of effort requires and level of fitness. Is the trail an easy or hard one. We will talk about “easy’ a little further into the article.
Hiking can include a half-day or a full day trip. For these types of trips, not a lot of planning or supplies is required. Basically, it’s just a long walk in nature, with some food, water and maybe an extra layer of clothing. Oh, and extra batteries for the camera!
Examples of day hikes include:
- The Tiger’s Nest in Bhutan
- King’s Canyon in Australia
- Puez-Odle Altopiano, Dolomites, Italy
- Plain of Six Glaciers above Lake Louise
- Faulhorn in Switzerland
THEN THERE’S BACKPACKING
When the hike includes an overnight stay, it is referred to as backpacking.
These are your three, five and ten-day trips. It requires planning, food, supplies and gear and that you camp.
You walk on narrow trails, and carry your own equipment. Then, you set up your own tent and cook your own food. When you backpack, you have to be prepared and ready for anything – and to handle it yourself.
- Mount Rainier Circuit
- Torres del Paine Circuit, Chile
- Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
- West Coast Trail, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
SPECIAL POINT OF CONSIDERATION*
Now, before we talk about trekking, let’s talk about the concept of “easy” when comparing hikes, backpacking, mountaineering, and trekking.
It would make a lot more sense to use the word difficulty instead. Trails are usually classified in this way when describing the level of effort it takes to navigating a trail.
However, it wouldn’t really be very accurate to use level of difficulty of a trail to distinguish between hiking, backpacking, mountaineering and trekking. The difficulty of a trail is a subjective concept.
As an example: a trail might have a steep elevation and two people with more or less the same level of fitness has to walk up the trail. One person is a runner and has the stamina to walk up without getting tired, but has weak knees, and so it becomes difficult. The other person is physically strong but doesn’t do a lot of cardio workouts, so while their body doesn’t feel tired. They are still really winded after walking up the steep elevation.
So the difficulty when completing a trail is really dependent on the persons’ abilities.
We will look at another comparison of difficulty between hiking, backpacking, mountaineering, and trekking later on.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HIKING AND TREKKING! ABOUT TIME.