At some point in your life before you began to question the difference between hiking and trekking, you have probably been on at least one hike.

But was it a hike, or was it a trek? What is trekking exactly?

Trekking, the word “trek” is defined as “a long arduous journey, typically on foot” – though some may argue that “hiking” holds identical connotations. In fact, the dictionary defines hiking as “the activity of going for long walks, especially across country.”

So what is the difference between hiking and trekking, and more importantly, which one is the better choice for you?

Let’s take a closer look at those definitions, and the subtle nuances between the different wording.


some of us can confuse between two terms “trekking” and “hiking”, but NO they completely different, even though have some similarities.

Hiking versus Trekking: Duration

For starters, both hiking and trekking are defined as “long,” but there are no clear guidelines to define specific timeframes for the activities.

That being said, an “arduous journey” sounds like a lot more work than going for “walks, especially across country.”

Not only does the definition for “trekking” sound more challenging than that of hiking, but it is also described as a “journey” – which is typically something thought of as taking longer than a day.

Yet hikes can also take days or even weeks, so where is the line really?

Well, when it comes to hiking, a hike could take only a few hours – with hikers returning to their homes before sunset.

A hike could even take only one hour and still be defined as a hike, although this would need to involve an incline of sorts in order to be differentiated from a walk.

It wouldn’t take less than an hour though, as the word hike implies that there is more work to be done than a mere stroll. It also wouldn’t take longer than a month, as then it would be classified as a trek.

That being said, the oxford dictionary expands on the definition of hiking (the activity of going for long walks in the country) to include the words “for pleasure”. This clarifies the enjoyable connotations associated with hiking, as a key difference between hiking and trekking.

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Hiking versus Trekking: Terrain


The word “trekking” conjures up visions of challenging walks through mountainous terrain, or possibly even through dense forest areas. One thing that doesn’t come to mind though, is a breezy walk in the park – let alone a stroll on the beach.

That being said, hiking doesn’t bring to mind visions of beaches and parks either. Beaches and parks are more commonly thought of as great for walks.

Even if the duration of a walk is longer than an hour, it would still be defined as a walk and not a hike due to the flat terrain.

Hiking is not limited to the countryside – and both hikes and treks could easily take place in mountain and forest areas.

In the case of trekking through mountainous and forested terrain, treks generally take on areas that are inaccessible to hikers. Picture rockier mountains and denser forestation for trekkers, as the arduous journey may take trekkers off the beaten track.

On the other hand hikers always stick to a route and trail, generally from point A to point B and back again. Alternatively, hikes could take the form of a “round route,” which is a trail designed to loop back towards the starting point.

Treks are even known to cross through borders, whereas hikes typically remain within one region.

It is rare for walks through urban or suburban areas to be referred to as hikes, although there are those who describe their movements this way.

These urban walkers are mistaken to believe that they are hiking, as the definition has strong connotations of natural surroundings.

Hiking versus Trekking: Equipment

Given the fact that trekking is described as a long and difficult journey it seems fitting that trekkers would be carrying rucksacks.

Trekking is hard, and some treks take weeks or even months, so trekkers must wash their own clothes, and carry extra supplies and equipment. 

Tents are mandatory for trekkers – as are sleeping bags, foam mattresses, gas cookers, and other camping equipment.

When it comes to hiking though, this is not always the case. Hiking, like trekking, may involve an overnight camp –  as well as carrying rucksacks filled with equipment, food and gear.

The key difference is that hiking doesn’t always take longer than a day, whereas trekking does.

For this reason it is possible to imagine a group of hikers marching along a mountain path, with only one or two of the group carrying backpacks.

Often, group hikes will designate a single rucksack-bearer, who will carry snacks and water for the entire group.

In terms of apparel, both hikers and trekkers need to invest in a solid pair of boots or sneakers. It is very important to use a high quality shoe, in order to prevent foot and knee injuries of all natures.


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So now that you’ve learnt about the key differences between hiking and trekking, lets take a minute to consider why anybody would embark on a trek in the first place.

Well, for starters the word trekking sounds cool and has re-emerged in modern times as a contemporary description of a long hike, through difficult terrain.

Professional athletes and serious sportspeople who love hiking, often find walking addictive and want to take their training to the next level.

Trekking is an advanced form of hiking, and requires training and a significant amount of fitness. Short hikes on the other hand, only last a few hours and can easily be managed by those new to exercise.

Depending on the length of a hike, the weight of the backpacks, as well as the inclines involved, hikes may require a degree of training as well.

At the end of the day, the choice of hiking versus trekking is a personal one, based on a number of factors, but mainly fitness levels.

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