What’s the Difference between Hiking and Walking

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Walking and hiking have many benefits for your body. A regular walk and an occasional hike are great ways to improve body fitness, boost blood circulation, and even improve your mood.

Many people are familiar with the concept of walking while hiking is more popular among fitness enthusiasts who love the outdoors. But at what point does walking change to become hiking?


How walking differs from hiking

The main difference between hiking and walking is the amount of effort used. In hiking, the tough and uneven terrain requires you to expend more energy. Walking is more of a casual activity that requires less energy and can be done as you continue with your daily activities.

Walking differs from hiking in several ways. Much of the difference stems from the terrain used, time spent, distance covered, and the effort required.

Walking happens on urban roads, concrete paths, walkways, roads, or any flat surface. Hiking, on the other hand, happens on uneven paths in forests, hills, or parks.

Photo by AC Almelor on Unsplash

Walking can be done without any special clothing or gear. Note, however, that people who take walks as a fitness exercise wear sporting clothes that are comfortable and breathable.

Hiking, on the other hand, necessitates that you have special gear to help you tackle the challenging outdoor terrain. Specialized hiking boots, pants, directional equipment, and water for hydration are all necessary when you are going out for a hike.

A walk does not require prior planning. In fact, you can just take a walk spontaneously to clear your mind or enjoy the outdoor environment after a long day.

Hiking requires proper planning so that you know what kind of equipment you require to carry along, the type of terrain you will be using, and establish if you will need to pay any fees if you plan to hike in a reserved area.

Moreover, you have to weigh the possibilities of meeting wild animals if your hike takes you to the woods.


At what point does a walk become a hike?

A walk involves short distances over a designated walking area, such as a flat path, walkway, road, or sidewalk. You can also take a walk to go to work, the store, or visit a friend.

When the walk takes a long time with no breaks and covers a terrain different from what you would find outside your house or the local area, that tends to be more of a hike than a walk.

Hiking often takes you from the typical neighborhood environment, where there are many people and traffic, to the outdoors where trees cover most of the environment, have fewer people, and no traffic.

A pre-planned walking activity where you plan to wake for more than four hours can also be termed a hike. In general, if you need to carry extra equipment and water to hydrate while on a walk, then you are no longer walking but hiking.

Photo by Arek Adeoye on Unsplash

You will also know that you have stopped walking and started hiking when you realize that the effort needed to perform the walk shifts from a minimal effort to motion resulting in you being out of breath.

A walk is just an everyday activity mostly done leisurely and does not require you to use too much effort.


Is hiking or walking better for weight loss?

Both waking and hiking are great fitness activities that you can perform without a trainer or the need to go to the gym.

If you want to shed off some weight, a regular walk could help you burn calories. However, because hiking requires more effort and takes longer hours, you will burn more calories while hiking than you would by walking. According to the chatelaine fitness website, hiking burns almost twice the number of calories as walking.

Hiking also comes with some perks that you cannot find in walking. For instance, you can push your body to higher limits than when walking. Because walking is usually done just within your home’s locality, you tend to stop when you get tired.

The occasional vehicle along the path you are walking might also tempt you to abandon the exercise and join the friend or family member who spots you taking a walk in his or her car.

Hiking is done with plans made prior to beginning the hike. You set targets about where you want to hike, and you will be more inclined to push your body until you hit the target instead of stopping when you get tired.

When hiking in the woods or hills, you have no option of stopping once you reach the target destination. After all, you have to go back home, which calls for more hiking.

Hiking is also done in the company of friends who motivate you to see the hike through to the end.

The hiking terrain also helps you perform a full-body workout instead of a casual walk where only the part below the waist gets most of the action. The steep slopes and uneven roads on hills may force you to use poles on both hands to support yourself. By doing this, you also exercise the upper torso and arms.

The uneven terrain when hiking also forces you to use varied walking sequences that sometimes involve running. This happens mostly on the return trip after hiking up a steep hill.

The different walking styles strain different muscles on your legs, thus providing a better exercising experience as compared to walking where you only walk in one sequence.


What is another word for hiking?

Hiking might assume other identities depending on which environment you hike on. Trekking, for instance, is another name for hiking that involves more of exploring new environments.

Trekking is used when the walking expedition happens on flat grounds through the woods or fields as opposed to hilly areas. Hiking in hills or mountains can also be called climbing.


What clothes and gear I need for hiking vs. walking

Walking and hiking are outdoor activities that involve medium to the rigorous effort. Bringing the right clothes and gear for a walk or hike helps you increase the number of hours you could be involved in the activity in addition to enhancing safety.


Walking clothing and gear

Short walks around the block can be done when wearing loose pants and a pair of comfortable shoes. Ensure that you wear a comfortable pair of socks with your shoes.

Choose socks made with high-tech fibers that stay in place on the feet and allow sweat to flow out. Please stay away from cotton socks because they hold moisture and cause blisters on your feet.

If you plan to walk for hours, consider additional accessories like sunglasses, a cap, and sunscreen to protect your skin from getting sunburns. Shorts are also a good idea for a casual walk. They should be breathable and lose fitting to prevent your body from excessive sweating.

If you are walking in cold weather, remember to wear clothing that covers your arms’ full length. You could wear short-sleeved t-shirts and sleeveless vests when walking on sunny days.

Layering clothes when walking in the morning or evening is a good idea. You can shed off some of the clothes as you warm up or when the atmosphere changes as time goes by. You can always put on the extra pieces of clothing when you begin to feel cold.

If you walk on a path with many vehicles, consider wearing bright-colored clothing to boost your visibility. You can also wear reflective clothes on top if you are walking on poorly lit roads.

Moreover, remember to carry along a small water bottle to keep your body hydrated during the walk. A small fanny pack or strap on the bag will also help you store your phone or iPod safely when walking.


Hiking clothing and gear

An essential part of hiking is planning so that you know what kind of terrain you will be dealing with and the kind of weather you expect. Hiking on tall mountains with snowy peaks requires you to have the climbing gear and warm clothes.

Hiking on smaller hills during sunny days, on the other hand, requires you to have loose fitting clothing to allow your body to cool off.

It is advisable to prepare for heavy rains by wearing waterproof pants when hiking. You don’t want to be caught in the open roads on a hill with pants that seep water and take too long to dry.

Hiking boots that can withstand brutal terrain and are long enough to cover your entire foot will also enable you to enjoy the hike.

They also guarantee safety by protecting your foot when you accidentally step on a thorny bush or stones. The boots should be worn together with thick woolen socks that provide a protective layer for your foot.

Hiking mostly takes you to unfamiliar grounds. As a result, carrying navigation equipment, such as a map and a compass, helps you get a sense of direction. You can download the maps on your phone before embarking on the hike to allow you to figure out directions even when you are in an area without network coverage.

Hilly and uneven terrain also requires that you carry along hiking poles for support. The hiking poles will also help you avoid slipping and falling off a narrow path.

Don’t forget to carry along plenty of water to hydrate. You can also bring along sunscreen to protect your skin from the scorching sun rays.

Carrying all the things you need for a hike needs a spacious backpack. Since all the gear is not used simultaneously, the backpack helps you store items that you are not using securely. Moreover, you can retrieve anything you need from the backpack easily.

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