What Is the Difference Between Hiking and Walking?

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Girl Hiking

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I have found such joy over many years of walking but these last few years I have appreciated the joy of hiking in the mountains. So I ask myself the question are walking and hiking separate activities?

What’s is difference between hiking and walking? I do believe that the fundamental difference between hiking and walking is where and how it happens.

What Are the Differences Between Hiking and Walking?

The fundamental difference between hiking and walking is where and how it happens.

Walking is casual and typically for leisure, done in urban environments many a time walking with family and friends along via paved trails. It’s an everyday activity that lasts short distances, done daily.

Hiking is a form of a long walk that takes place in nature, often with elevation changes and dynamic terrains. You experience physical exertion over a longer period of time, sometimes over multiple days. More planning is involved and the organization of equipment and snacks.

When and How Does a Walk Become a Hike?

Here’s my immediate answer: When you’re walking past the one-to-two-mile mark, on an elevated and strenuous path. Probably in the mountains or hilly terrain.  Then your walk is now becoming a hike.

What Is the Difference Between Hiking and Walking?
What Is the Difference Between Hiking and Walking?

Hiking vs Walking:  What Are the Differences and Comparing the Benefits

Walking:

  • When walking in your local neighborhood, you do not require special gear. Generally a really good pair of walking shoes and socks and weather permitting coat. Super budget-friendly and a quick and inexpensive way to explore your local surroundings. You can comfortably wear your favorite shorts or leggings.
  • Generally, a daily walk will consist of 30 mins to an hour.  This form of daily exercise will keep you trim and healthy and have a higher life expectancy.
  • When going on your daily walks you generally do not worry about dangerous trails and other outdoor risks, carrying snacks and backpacks, etc.
  • When the weather is too bad for your daily walk, you can always hit your gym on their treadmill or do an indoor walk throughout your local shopping mall.
  • Studies have shown that daily walking reduces the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and higher cholesterol levels.  Mental health issues such as depression and anxiety can be of benefit to your self-esteem when walking.
  • As long as your wear sunscreen protection I do believe a little sun and fresh air is helpful and will boost your immune system.
  • The movement also helps to tone your muscles and strengthen them giving you more endurance and flexibility.

Hiking:

  • Hiking is different every time and every season and will always appeal to your adventurous side.  No hiking trail is ever the same
  • Hiking I have found relieves my stress.  Breathing mountain air and viewing such amazing scenery relieves my stress and hence reduces headaches.
  • Also reduced my anxiety level.  I just love being outdoors processing the beautiful scenery
  • I found hiking improved my cardiovascular and respiratory health, my weight went down, and also my cholesterol levels for moving my body more.
  • As you can read in my Bio I also had significant weight loss when incorporating weekly hiking into my lifestyle. 
  •  hiking exercises, all muscle groups and can burn over 250 calories per hour.
  • Tones your entire body as more muscles are needed for balance doesn’t just target legs.
  • Better health and fitness means increased self-esteem.

Types of Walking

Your walking trail is decided by your purpose for walking. You might form a walking group for companionship or are seeking a light, post-meal activity.

Types of Hiking

Hiking is a lot more dynamic when it comes to range and type. The term ‘hiking’ actually encapsulates different kinds of activities! 

While hiking and camping might not always go hand-in-hand, longer treks may keep you out overnight.

You might even camp for the night. Backpacking is multiple-day hikes that take you through challenging routes, undertaken by more experienced and fit hikers.

While equipment for hiking is noticeably more specialized than for walks, what you bring along will depend on shared factors: seasonality, weather conditions, and duration.

Seasonality – Being outdoors in the winter or summer requires very different sets of equipment. Make sure to layer up with waterproof and cold-appropriate clothing for winter hiking.

Bring extra water supplies and ample sun protection during the summer.

Weather conditions – It goes without saying that raincoats are advised when skies look grey, but winter and sunny weather may also decide how many layers you’re wearing.

I recommend checking the weather forecast before embarking on any type of walking. In many instances, when you hike at a high altitude, you need oxygen. But that’s in the realm of mountaineering. 

Duration – If you’re spending a single day out, you hardly need a change of clothes, a sleeping tent, and a sleeping bag that you often carry attached to your pack.

For those spending multiple days in the wild, however, your hiking backpacks will be loaded with camping gear and extra tools.

Single-day hikes don’t require too much gear but must-haves include:

Phone and ID

A reliable backpack

Water and light snacks

Sunscreen and sunglasses

Map or GPS

Utility knife and small first-aid kit

Raincoat

Hiking shoes or boots appropriate to the level and duration of your hike. A good pair of suitable sandals also work well.  Don’t forget to make sure that your boots are good for snow if you hike in snowy weather.

This is our guide on ensuring that your boots are as comfortable as they can be.

Overnight or intensive treks demand much more preparation. On top of the essentials listed above, plan for protection against the elements!

You’ll also want to pad up the first-aid kit with any personal medications.

More water/water filtration system

Backpacking tent/sleeping pad/sleeping bag

Food supplies

Cooking gear (stove, pots, utensils, etc.)

Firestarter or waterproof matches

Headlamp or flashlight

Extra batteries

Trekking poles with appropriate baskets

Extra clothes and a winter hat if you’re out in winter

Rubber shoes (if you’re going into wet places)

Here are some proven tips on how not to spend a fortune on outdoor gear.

And since a lot of folks are asking “can you hike in sweatpants?”, we’ve written an entire post about it. In brief, avoid sweatpants on long technical hikes, especially in rainy weather. 

Gear Required for Walking

Casual walks in the city hardly require gear, but for safety purposes, we recommend the basics.

  • Phone and ID
  • Some cash (enough for a ride home)
  • Water and light snacks
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses
  • Walking shoes or running shoes

Do check the weather forecast before you leave the house and consider other gear-deciding factors such as when you’re taking a walk. You may also need:

  • Windbreaker/Coat/Gloves (winter)
  • Hat and extra water (summer)
  • Flashlight if you’re out at night
  • Raincoat or umbrella for those rainy days out there
  • Some form of map or GPS (unfamiliar route)
  • Emergency whistle (unfamiliar or uncrowded areas)

The good thing is that when you’re just walking, you don’t need expensive and bulky gear such as a sleeping bag, for instance

Typical Places to Hike & Walk

Hiking takes you outdoors. You’ll be exploring trails that lead through mountains or along the coast.

As we’ve said above, walking can happen anywhere. Typical places include parks, certain areas in the city, on a beach, or simply around your neighborhood.

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed this post.

xo Joanne.

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