Backpacking Vs. Hiking Vs. Trekking | What’s the Difference Between Hiking, Trekking & Backpacking?

Last Updated on May 20, 2021

trekkingPeople who often go for outdoors activity like shooting or traveling, backpacking, hiking, and trekking are very familiar words to them.

Although these three things seem quite similar, they equally have some characteristics that distinguish them from each other.

All three are apparently the same in case of how they are executed, but they differ when it comes to considering how long the journey will take. To a pro traveler, it’s essential to know about terms anything related to travel.

After going through the article, you will be able to differentiate and use them in exact places where they suit.


When you walk on the trail and your tour length is about a day, know that what you are doing is hiking. So, generally, it’s walking for about a day or less for pleasure or exercise in the countryside.

If you are touring in any flat or steep trail for about 2 to 8 hours, it is also considered as hiking even though it’s less than an entire day.hiking

People can get confused with hiking and walking in the park. If you walk in the park for hours, by no means, it’s hiking. It always includes trails and paths either of man-made or in the countryside.

Hiking is relatively easy than the other two. Not your every walk comes under hiking; the trail and track are important factors to consider. The terrain of this activity can be flat or steep. Most of the hiking tours finish at the same place where you start from.

You can hike on man-made or natural trails. Some hikes can be difficult due to elevation gain. To some extent, a traveler can hike 400 meters of elevation gain per hour. The distance may vary depending on the steep of the mountaineering.

One most common difference between hiking and trekking is, you will need fewer gears and equipment when you hike. It’s a walk of a day, so there is no reason for taking loads with you. All you need to do is, take a path and get lost in the mother nature.

In some cases, hiking gets more difficult than backpacking and trekking. You get less time to finish the trail while having a few pieces of equipment. Therefore, you need to be in good shape before hitting the trail.


One can get confused with trekking and hiking as both of these are quite familiar with each other. Hiking doesn’t usually take more than one or two days, and that’s where the trekking starts from.women in trekking

Trekking is associated with a long-distance tour or journey that takes more than two days to complete. It can even take up to 7 days. It is somewhere in between hiking and backpacking. However, some people hesitate to call a tour trekking if it takes less than a week.

Hopefully, you will be able to make things clear if someone asks you, “what does trekking mean?”

Know that, when you go out in the mother nature for trekking, you are dealing with the next level of hiking. It’s more challenging than hiking, as you have to be on the trail for multiple days. The distance for trekking varies from 40 km to a few hundred kilometers.

Unlike hiking, here you have to start from place A and finish at place B within a day. In the next morning, you will start from place B and finish at place C. The journey will continue with regular intervals until you reach the ending point. When you are on trekking, the starting and ending place will be different.

Immersing in the landscapes is one of the prime essences of trekking. When you focus on a journey day after day, it will cast your everyday life worries and stresses. It’s a great tour to swept yourself in the trail.

To achieve these, you will need to walk on the trail at least for a week with regular intervals of night staying facility.

If you go for trekking, you must take your foods and equipment with you. There will be places for taking rest; you can refill your foods during intervals. For staying overnight, you will find accommodations such as mountain huts, lodges, etc.


The duration of a backpacking trip usually ranges from a few days up to several months. Backpacking and trekking are very identical to each other. Both of them are long-distance travel.

While trekking, you carry only necessary things on your backpack, but when it comes to backpacking, you are carrying everything on your back for survival; including foods, clothes, cooking apparatus, tent, and camping equipment.backpacking alone

Unlike trekking, there is no mountain huts, lodges for night-staying. When it’s time for taking rest or night-staying or staying in an area for a few days, you need to set up a tent and live inside it whenever you come back to the camping area.

There is a misconception among new travelers that, backpacking and trekking routes are different. If you find any trekking location attractive, you can backpack to that trekking area without any issue. The only difference would be you cannot stay in hostels or mountain huts.

During backpacking, you have the chance to build an even stronger connection with the landscapes and nature around you. It will make you feel a sense of self-sufficiency. This is something you don’t get either in hiking or trekking.

One distinct difference between hiking and backpacking is, when you backpack, you are free to follow or not follow the trails and routes. You are free to explore the mother nature and go wherever you want.

A backpacker can remotely walk into terrain and utterly be alone in the wild. It will make the person feel that he/she is the king of the wilderness. If you spend a few days in such a natural environment, surely you will not be the same person when you return to your busy life.

Difference Between Hiking and Trekking

Hiking takes a few hours to an entire day. On the other hand, tours or journeys that take at least two days to a week to finish is considered as trekking.

Unlike hiking, the starting and ending points are not the same when you trek.

There will be no staying in hostel and mountain hut. But when you trek, you will have night staying places.

Trekking requires you to take more things and equipment with you than hiking. When you are a pro and going for hikes regularly, trekking is the next level to become a pro traveler.

When it comes to choosing between trekking vs. hiking, both of the tours have their benefits. But if you have a window of a couple of days to a week, you shouldn’t lose the chance to get lost in mother nature and great landscapes. And if you can only take a short tour, going for a hike would make more sense than trekking.

Difference Between Trekking and Backpacking

For trekking, you take only things that are needed until you reach a certain stop. And before starting touring again, you can take new things and leave things that don’t concern you for reaching the next destination.

It’s the opposite when it comes to backpacking. If you are on a 7 days backpacking tour, you need to take everything in a huge backpack that you will need in the upcoming 7 days for survival.

There will be no place for resting in hostels, B&Bs while backpacking. You need to have your camping gears to set up a sleeping tent.

Difference Between Hiking and Backpacking

When it comes to backpacking vs. hiking, the major difference is, a hiking journey takes a few hours to an entire day; while backpacking takes at least two days up to a few months.

But you need to carry pretty much everything in a backpack that you will require to survive in the wilderness for upcoming weeks.

Hiking only covers the distance you will be able to walk on for a few hours up to a day. For backpacking, the distance can be hundreds of miles.

Beneficial Tips Before Hitting the Trail

Here are a few tips to consider before you start the tour.

For Hiking

  • Select a trail which is shorter than what you normally cover by walking on a plain surface. Calculate the hiking time by considering walking 2-miles per hour. Add an additional hour for elevation for every 1000 feet.
  • Gather knowledge about the trail. Get the map, read reviews and reports about the terrain.
  • Before going out, be sure to check the weather.
  • Don’t forget to tell your family where you are heading.
  • Wear light hiking shoes with synthetic or wools socks.
  • Walk on a pace that you can maintain throughout the tour. Don’t walk too fast.

For Trekking

  • To prevent injury, give your body time to adjust to the wild environment by increasing your strength and fitness gradually.
  • Get hiking shoes with ankle protection.
  • Try to do training more often before going to trek. Going for a short distance hike would help a lot.
  • Be hydrated and fueled while trekking. Eat small and frequent meals in order to maintain energy levels.

For Backpacking

  • Don’t pack things unnecessarily that will increase the weight of the backpack.
  • Bring enough snacks to maintain energy levels.
  • Pre-purchase train pass if possible.
  • Instead of taking cabs randomly, get a cab using services such as Uber.
  • Watch out for pickpockets.
  • Travel with a group. It will make things a lot easy for you.
  • To save money, eat where the locals eat; don’t always go to where tourists go to have meals.


Not all the explorers will start straight from backpacking. Depending on each other’s capability and strength, travelers of different stages can still enjoy nature and landscapes.

If going for hiking on a regular basis becomes a piece of cake, it means you are ready for trekking. And when you are a pro on trekking, prepare your backpack for camping in the mother nature.

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