Learn if you’re a Hiker or a Trekker: A Beginner’s Guide

By Kristina

Kristina is a Lithuania-based, London-educated writer who loves going on adrenaline-filled adventures as much as writing about them.

Hiking and trekking, two activities that most adventurers deeply enjoy. The two terms are used online interchangeably, as though it’s the same thing. But is it?

Not at all! Turns out, these are two very different activities. To clear things up, we crafted this hiking vs. trekking guide. In this guide, we’ll cover:

  •  The Difference Between Hiking and Trekking
  •  What are the health benefits to Hiking and Trekking
  •  Beginner’s guide to hiking: Where do I start?
  •  Equipment list


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Hiking vs Trekking

Hiking involves a long energetic walk in a natural environment on hiking trails or footpaths for a day or overnight.

Trekking involves a long vigorous hike in wild natural environment for multiple days. It can be done off hiking trails.Trekking vs Hiking difference


As well as fun and riveting, hiking and trekking can improve your mental and physical health. Here are just a few benefits of hiking and trekking:

1. It lowers the risk of heart disease and improves your blood pressure.

Hiking and trekking are both amazing for your health!

A study conducted by the CDC recommends that you walk at least an hour a day, five days a week. This reduces the risk of you having a stroke in half! Hiking and trekking regularly improves your heart and blood pressure, minimizing the chance of stroke. 

Keep that blood pumping!Woman hiking in Iceland

2. Better overall fitness.

These activities do amazing things to your muscles. Build up strength in your thighs, lower leg muscles, hip muscles and hamstrings. It also builds your endurance. Hiking and trekking are both weight-bearing exercises, which build up bone density. Trekking also boosts your core strength as you hike with a heavy backpack.

The more you do, the more your overall strength and fitness improves.

3. Improves your mental health.

Get away from the stress of everyday life and escape to the outdoors. Stress, depression and anxiety have a way of building up when you’re cooped up indoors too long. Hitting the trail helps to put your life in perspective and take your mind off your worries.

The world around you has a way of demanding your attention, which can ease any stress you may have built up.Senior couple on the hiking tour in Iceland

4. Hiking and trekking burns calories.

Looking to lose weight? Or tone your muscles? Forget the gym and hit the trail instead.

Hiking burns between 440 and 550 calories per hour according to Livestrong research. Imagine how many calories will an overnight hike or a week-long trek burn. Burning calories helps you lose weight and tone your muscles.

5. It makes you creative.

On top of all the physical and mental boosts, hiking and trekking can also make you more creative. It’s true! Spending time outdoors and soaking all the Vitamin D from the sunlight can improve your mind. Vitamin D, “the sunshine vitamin,” increases attention span, and improves our ability to focus. Put a creative spin on our problem-solving skills.

Vitamin D is also great for maintaining healthy bones and teeth, supporting your immune system and boosting cardiovascular health.


Group hiking in Landmannalaugar

Convinced you need to do more hiking? Here are a few tips on where to start:

  • Start with day hikes. If you want to get out there more, start with day hikes. Spend an afternoon strolling around your local park, or drive to the closest forest for an afternoon hike. Make this your routine and increase the length and amount of hikes you take over time.
  • Join your local hiking community. While hiking on your own can be very inspirational and spiritualizing, it often gives very little motivation to get out there again, especially on longer hikes. By joining your local hiking community, you’ll meet like-minded people, who will hike with you and motivate you to keep on hiking. 
  • Go on an overnight hike. Grab a friend and go on an overnight hike with a tent and a sleeping bag. Test your physical condition by hiking for 5 hours and see if you’re ready to try trekking.
  • Get proper hiking boots. If you feel like longer forms of hiking are for you, get some proper hiking boots, a durable tent and a warm sleeping bag with pad. Your hiking boots should be waterproof with a good sole and ankle support. Properly wear them in before a long-distance hike.

Go on a trek. Once you’ve been on a few overnight hikes and got the necessary hiking gear, go on a multi-day trek. Join one of our awesome hiking tours exploring the Icelandic Highlands.


Hiking equipment list

Good quality hiking and trekking equipment is essential. High-quality equipment will allow you to enjoy your hikes and treks even more and stay safe and warm no matter the weather!

Here’s a list of equipment that is worth the investment:

  • Hiking boots. For short day hikes, comfortable sneakers might do it but for longer overnight hikes good hiking shoes or boots are essential. For trekking, you might want to think about boots with ankle support. Don’t forget to wear in your shoes before you go on a hike. Read more about the best hiking shoes and boots here.
  • A backpack. For day hikes, a light day backpack with a hydration pack is perfect. For longer hikes and treks, where you need to carry your food and tent, a 50-60L backpack should suffice. Make sure it has a waist belt and adjustable back support.
  • A tent. Your accommodation for the duration of your trip should be sturdy. If you intend to hike during warmer seasons, a 3 season tent will do, yet if you plan to hike during winter, make sure your tent has a skirt and can withstand wind, rain, and snow.
  • A sleeping bag. When buying a sleeping bag, adhere to the comfort temperatures provided by the manufacturer. Usually, there are three numbers: comfort, limit, and extreme. Comfort is the temperature at which a female will rest comfortably, limit – a male comfort temperature, extreme – the lowest temperature at which female will be able to sleep for 6 hours without the risk of hypothermia.

Compass, maps, and a GPS device. Before you go on any hiking trip, make sure you have a detailed map of the area. For longer treks, it’s good to have a GPS device or a compass too. Make sure you know how to use them.Hiking Vs Trekking What's The Difference

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