Difference Between Hiking and Backpacking

Hiking vs Backpacking

Hiking, camping, backpacking, walking in the woods, etc. are different names given to outdoor activities that are similar in nature but are indeed exciting and full of adventure. Hiking and backpacking are activities that confuse many as they cannot make out the differences between these two forms of travelling. There are many similarities in the two activities as both involve a lot of walking out in natural surroundings. Despite considerable overlapping, there are differences between hiking and backpacking that will be highlighted in this article.


Hiking is an outdoor activity and involves walking in natural surroundings, mainly trails that are made in mountainous areas. Hiking takes a person close to nature, and it may or may be without camping depending upon the duration of the trail. There is a single day hiking that gets over in a day though there are trails that require walking in the woods for several days. Hiking is mostly undertaken to be in close company of nature, and the pleasure it provides. It is advisable to take as little as possible gear while hiking to remain light and flexible. One should have hiking shoes to avoid any discomfort as walking is done in rugged terrains.


Backpacking is a word that comes from backpack, a type of sack made from cloth that is carried over one’s own back as it is secured with the help of straps that are tied along shoulders and waist of the person. All the objects, called gear, get packed into this handbag that remains on the back of the person while he travels out in rugged terrains. These objects are typically all the food items, water and other drinks, knife, torch, crèmes and medications, first aid items, bedding, and even shelter to help one when facing rough weather during the trail.

Backpacking has become extremely popular activity and a very good way to see and explore foreign countries. Students and all those who want to save money while touring foreign countries are now doing backpacking as they spend nights in dormitories or even in camps rather than paying high hotel tariffs.

What is the difference between Hiking and Backpacking?

• Backpacking involves essential use of a backpack, whereas many short hikes can be undertaken without a backpack.

• Backpackers go to long distances over a long period and often across countries, whereas hiking trails are shorter and take much less time.

• Backpacking involves hitchhiking and taking rides on modes of public transport, whereas hiking requires reaching the trail and then walking all the way.

• Backpacking is a cheap or inexpensive way to explore foreign countries.

• Backpackers pack themselves to the hilt and carry a lot more objects than hikers.

• Backpackers get inside a country much deeper than hikers as they rely on