Hiking Vs Trekking – The Differences
The terms seem to be used interchangeably on many travel websites and books. It gets even more confusing when some companies sell their boots as ‘trekking boots’ and then claim they can be worn on long hikes. And when is a walk a walk and when a walk? It gets even more confusing when the word hiking used to refer to the ascent of a mountain, such as Island Peak or Mera Peak in Nepal, both of which are over 6,000m and require the use of technical climbing equipment. How can they be called ‘trekking peaks’?
The term ‘hiking’ is often used to refer to day hikes in a natural setting, on clearly marked trails. It is held for leisure, recreation and exercise purpose. A small backpack is used to carry water, light fleece and snacks. In places like Canada and New Zealand, the term is often used interchangeably with climber, hiking Prayed wandering.
‘Trekking’, on the other hand, is considered more strenuous, covering greater distances across different terrains and requiring overnight camping and carrying heavy backpacks with food, sleeping bags and equipment. The term is actually derived from the Afrikaans work, hikingwhich comes from the Dutch word, trecken, referring to a long and arduous journey over great distances and often unknown terrain. It is often associated with the migration of people across the land from one area to another.
Does this mean then that if a day hike is tough, over rough terrain and through thick forest with no trails, it’s a hike? In Australia, they would call this bushwhackingand in other places they call it print. When you visit the mountain gorilla in Rwanda or Uganda, it is a day trek, but through dense forest, over very rough and difficult terrain. No wonder there is so much confusion.
But let’s not end the confusion there. Anyone who has tried to purchase travel insurance to cover their ‘trekking’ or ‘walking’ trip will have discovered that these activities are often categorized as ‘dangerous pursuits’. In fact, some insurance companies even lump terms like hiking and mountaineering together because they can be used interchangeably or are lumped together. There are other companies that classify any trek over 2,000m in altitude as mountaineering. Sorry, Scotland, but that means its famous peak, Ben Nevis (1,352m), is not a mountain after all, but simply a hiking peak.
Perhaps the best way to look at it is that a trek is usually completed over several days and consists of walks, hill walks, walks, and walks.
At the end of the day, does it really matter? It is about semantics and interpretation. The most important thing is that you enjoy it.