It is quite common for people to use the terms hiking and trekking interchangeably. We usually refer to a trek as hike and vice versa. Indeed, a similarity exists between the two activities as they both initially refer to going outside and taking a walk in nature. However, they are both uniquely different.
Knowing the difference between the two activities can help you decide which adventure is perfect for you. It is very important that you choose the activity that bests suits your physical abilities and skill level. We dig a little deeper to uncover these differences in better detail by defining each term and categorizing them according to benefits and difficulty.
What is hiking?
Hiking refers to walking a long distance mostly for pleasure or exercise and it usually takes place in beautiful scenic surroundings or in a natural setting. A hike can last for about two to eight hours or more within a day and it does not require a lot of prior planning and organizing. The natural environment of forests, hills, mountains etc. are absolutely ideal for hiking as they usually contain hiking trails which make the activity easier and more pleasurable.
For someone interested in mild or soothing exercise, hiking is an excellent choice. Hiking is an amazing cardio exercise that can: improve your blood pressure and lower your risk of heart disease. Since walking is a weight-bearing exercise, hiking boosts your bone density and helps to build strength in your hips and lower thighs. A hike through nature can be essential when it comes to combating mental health issues like stress and depression. Hiking works wonders for your mental health and it is an excellent way to clear your mind.
Hiking can be quite challenging but if you are in good shape, it is relatively easy. A hike rarely exceeds a day and you have the benefit of well-marked trails which makes it near impossible to get lost. Most hiking tours have the same start and finish points and you only require minimal equipment and a little planning and organization before you begin.
What is trekking?
A trek consists of multi-day hiking trips through rural and often rugged territory. Unlike a hike which lasts for a couple of hours, a trek usually takes much longer than that and a great deal of preparation is required before you begin. A trek can take you across various types of terrain like paved roads and dense wilderness alike. Trekking can be incorporated with a number of outdoor sports like backpacking or mountaineering.
Benefits of trekking
If you are looking for a challenge that will test the limits of your mental and physical strengths, a trek is an answer. A trek can benefit your physical health immensely. Spending multiple hours walking on rugged terrain, climbing around boulders and ascending hills vastly improves your strength, agility and cardio fitness. Trekking is also a great way to boost your mental health as it requires to focus on the task at hand. Therefore, it is quite easy to forget the stress and worries of the regular world. Trekking with other people helps to stimulate social bonds and create lifelong friendships. Members of a group can motivate and encourage each other when times get tough and since you will be spending so much time without much access to technology and social media, it is easier to have one-on-one conversations. Other benefits of trekking include better cultural understanding and exciting wildlife encounters.
Trekking is far more difficult compared to hiking. A trek can last for a few days to a few weeks and even a whole year. This requires a great deal of preparation and equipment such as maps, camping gear, survival kits, compass and clothing applicable to temperature changes. Your skill with a compass and a map will be tested as you attempt to find your way to your destination. Sometimes trekkers hire people to carry their gear, cook their meals and set up their tents. Small lodges, mountain huts or even bed and breakfasts are available when trekking in some locations. A trek usually starts in one place and end in an entirely different area.
In conclusion, even though both activities require taking long walks, a trek lasts longer, costs more to plan and it is obviously more intense and challenging. A hike can be equally challenging but it has a softer and more relaxed vibe to it.
Now that you are aware of the differences between these two activities, you can go ahead and choose whichever one is suitable for you.