Hiking Vs. Trekking Vs. Backpacking: What’s The Difference?

For most forms and simple definitions, hiking, trekking, or backpacking is a one-word answer for the forms of walking. Many people do not think this is a topic worthy of discussion, while some need clarification on how the words state slightly different meanings.

Especially if you are a newbie in the world of outside travel, these words may be a great deal in understanding. It does not even matter to the great extent which word you use for which of your activities.

But having said that, it does not mean they are all similar. These three powerful words (hiking, trekking, and backpacking) state different forms of activity, yet they hold many similarities. Usually, these three words offer their differences in simple questions such as: How long will you be gone? Where will you sleep?

Hiking Vs. Trekking Vs. Backpacking

Whether you say hiking, trekking, or even backpacking, the common point of all three is to walk around and appreciate nature. However, they are often differentiated as per the number of days you travel and the terrain you will be scaling.

Hence, you only need to sweat a little on these terminologies; however, we will help and describe the difference between these three.

What Exactly Is Hiking?

You can understand hiking as a simple one-day trip to a particular ascent or descent of a trail. It is the most straightforward form among the three, and beginners often start their adventure walking from it.

So, yes, a hike is a day walk on a single trail which may be around the forest or mountains. Here the hike can also be categorized into divisions as per one’s experience as a beginner, intermediate, and advanced.

hiking vs trekking vs backpacking
Hiking in Nepal (Source – Dolma Tours)

For beginner travelers, hiking is a great start. You can increase your level of fitness while even enjoying the scenery. Workouts such as running, weightlifting, and team sports help you with hiking.

You can pack vital hiking gear: a rain jacket, warm sweater, and comfortable shoes. You should also be ready with an emergency first aid kit, maps, compass, flashlight, plenty of food, and water.

Hikes To Enjoy While In Nepal

  • Kakani Hike
  •  Phulchowki Hike
  •  Amitabha Monastery Hike
  •  Nagarkot Hike
  •  Sundarijal Hike
  •  Shivapuri Hike
  •  Champadevi Hike
  •  Namobudhha Hike
  •  Nagarjuna Hike
  •  Chisapani Hike

What About Trekking?

As simple as that, the difference between hiking and trekking is the number of days you spend. A single-day walk is called a hike, while if you go for multiple days, it is known as trekking. You will need to be prepared for this activity, or even your tour Company can help you with it.

Here, trekkers pass through various terrains, villages, and nature. One moment, you may be walking through a lush forest, while the next, you will be walking through a remote village area with people.

hiking vs trekking vs backpacking
Trekking in Nepal (Source – Flickr)

You will spend nights in the stretching wilderness or a different city. Hence, you will find rapid changes in your scenery, and your starting and ending points might be completely different.

One of the essential things while trekking is your physical and mental fitness. Yes, you will need to be reasonably fit while being about to walk around 7 to 8 hours a day. During this journey, you will have a guide and some porters assisting you throughout.

Likewise, your accommodation during the trek depends on which region you are traveling to, and accordingly, you will spend your nights in restaurants, hotels, tea houses, lodges, or homestays. Furthermore, you must carry all your supplies and gear during the travel. For this journey, you will need comfortable and sturdy shoes to keep you going.

Treks To Enjoy While In Nepal

Some of the best trekking trails are present in Nepal. Here, you will need to walk through the dense jungle lowlands, through yak pastures, and into the high alpine of the Himalayas, passing the world’s highest mountains.

Some of the best treks to enjoy here are as below.

  • Annapurna Circuit Trek
  •  Everest Base Camp Trek
  •  Langtang Valley Trek
  •  Upper Mustang Trek
  •  Mardi Himal Trek
  •  Manaslu Circuit Trek
  •  Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek
  •  Dhampus Village Trek
  •  Upper Dolpo Trek
  •  Nar Phu Valley Trek
  •  Siklesh Trek

And About Backpacking?

The final form of walking is backpacking. It is done for multiple days, among which you will need to spend at least one night in the wilderness, with no extra help. Thus, you will need to carry every essential for the trip yourself.

hiking vs trekking vs backpacking
Backpacking (Source – Hippox)

While saying essential, it often includes shelter, sleeping systems, cooking apparatus, food, water, and more. Generally, a backpacker plans to walk along a fixed route with camping spots, some of which are entirely off-trail. 

Inside backpacking, multiple sub-classes take certain days to accomplish. Backpackers can have two choices; either complete the trail in a single walk or divide them into sections.

Want To Learn Other Forms Of Walking?

If you think these three are only forms of walking, then, well, you are wrong. You can also enjoy many other states, some of which are mentioned below.

Tips To Start Your Adventure Trip

  • Don’t be overly ambitious with the trails. Only go for the levels you are physically and mentally fit to achieve.
  • Always wear and pack accordingly as per the season you are traveling. Some things to pack are a down jacket, thermals for morning and night, water-proof hiking boots, trekking poles, a rain cover for your backpack, a rain jacket, and a wool t-shirt.
  • Drink a lot of water and keep yourself hydrated.
  • Use Diamox if you have the symptoms of altitude. Some symptoms include shortness of breath, slower walking pace than usual, headache, or nausea.
  • Pack only the essential stuff, even if you have a porter accompanying you throughout the journey. Do not pack unnecessary luxury items.
  • Do not leave your carbon footprint. Always clean up after yourself and throw rubbish in the designated area.
  • Respect the local culture. Ask permission if you are taking pictures, and keep public displays of affection to a minimum.
  • Do not expect luxury! The higher you go up, the fewer facilities you will get.
  • Carry enough cash, as you will not find ATMs or credit card facilities at a higher level.
  • Do not forget to carry your TIMS card, permits, and National Park fees.
  • Do not travel alone. Always have at least one partner and a guide with you.
  • It is always useful to carry a map or compass as you travel.

In A Nutshell

To wrap everything up, hiking is done on a trail within a day in a single ascent or a descent. Trekking is done for multiple days, and you will pass through varied terrain while staying in predetermined accommodations. Lastly, backpacking is done entirely in nature, and you must carry all your essentials yourself.
But as many forms as we may discuss, it is all, after all, a form of walking and, yes, putting one leg in front of the other while enjoying the natural scenery. So whether you go hiking, trekking, or backpacking, the essential task is to soak in the surroundings.
Remember to embrace the moment and live for it!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is backpacking?

Backpacking is a form of low-cost, independent travel. It typically involves carrying a backpack containing all one’s belongings and staying in inexpensive accommodations such as hostels, tent camps, or local families.

What is the difference between hiking and trekking?

In general, the term “trekking” is often used to describe longer, more challenging hikes or walks, while “hiking” can refer to a wider range of activities that involve walking in outdoors.

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