While many people may use “trekking” and “hiking” interchangeably in everyday conversation, these terms actually refer to two different activities. While they certainly have similar elements, it is crucial to know the differences before getting too far along in your research and planning. So what is the difference between hiking and trekking?
What is Hiking?
To put it simply, hiking is typically done on shorter trails and typically takes less than a day but may even extend overnight. It may involve going for a long walk in the woods or following a marked trail for a mile or two. These trails can typically be found near heavily populated areas. While they’re secluded at times, civilization is never too far away. Hiking is generally accessible to most people. It is common to see individuals, couples, families, and groups participate in the activity. While hiking is not typically considered a strenuous activity, it is still an efficient form of exercise and is a delightful way to experience nature.
What is Trekking?
Trekking is a type of hiking, and it generally involves long, strenuous journeys through rugged terrain. Experienced trekkers may refer to their travels as “thru-hikes” or “long-distance” trails. Treks typically extend for a few days or weeks, commonly taking place far off the beaten path without marked trails or camping facilities. These routes may involve all kinds of terrain. They may present opportunities to view beautiful natural areas, visit remote locations, and see things very few people have ever laid eyes on. Popular treks within the United States include the Pacific Crest Trail, Appalachian Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail. If you are still new to hiking or going on long walks, it is best to build strength and endurance with hiking before attempting trekking. Since trekking is much more difficult, it requires more equipment, different skill sets, and more endurance.
What Are Some Key Differences?
Perhaps the most notable difference between hiking and trekking is the amount of time required to complete the two. A hike can often be completed in a couple of hours. This means you could easily finish up your workday at 5 and make it outdoors to a nearby trail for a leisurely stroll. Trekking, on the other hand, takes multiple days to multiple weeks. It requires extensive planning and forethought to ensure everyone stays safe and makes it to the final destination.
Trekking requires a different skill set that may not be as natural to most people. Most hikers understand trail etiquette and know to keep the environment clean from trash and debris. But trekking in remote areas requires knowledge of survival, first-aid, navigation, camping, and the ability to repair items should they break or tear.
Trekking is much more of a financial investment than hiking as well. Hiking requires basic gear such as hiking shoes, water, and food. But trekking requires hiking basics along with a tent, sleeping bag, durable athletic equipment, navigational tools, water filtration system, plenty of food, and other necessities for surviving in the wild for many days.
If you’re considering venturing into the wild for the first time, start with a hike! Enjoy the great outdoors with your friends and family, and stay safe. As you become more accustomed to the wild and the potential dangers, you may decide to undertake a trek. Be sure to prepare accordingly. Take a survival class and/or learn from someone who has more experience than you, then have fun!
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