People frequently mix these activities, yet they are actually distinct from one another. Of course, there are also some similarities, but in this context, we’ll concentrate on the distinctions between the two terms, backpacking and hiking

While the main difference between hiking and backpacking is that hiking is done on trails for a single day, backpacking is done in the great outdoors. It involves carrying your own camping equipment over a number of days.

It can be very harmful to engage either of these too rapidly. On the other hand, ignoring both means passing up some of life’s most pleasurable moments. Therefore, you must read the following to understand the distinction between backpacking and hiking and learn how to begin with the suitable one for you.

Difference Between hiking & backpacking

Walking is done on relatively flat, unobstructed surfaces that are hard and level. Hiking is done on rugged mountain trails, uphill and downhill terrain, and hard surfaced areas. Here’s a basic description of the differences between hiking and backpacking.


Walking through nature on a well-maintained track or an uncharted path is the essence of hiking. In order to lose weight, enjoy some fresh air, and experience isolation in a setting away from the rush of daily life, hiking requires you to walk at an average speed. Walking in the outdoors is a leisurely activity that frequently takes place in mountains, forests, or other attractive terrains.


Backpacking is essentially an extended form of hiking. As a result, hikers carry a travel bag that includes tents and other camping essentials. In other terms, backpacking is the practice of setting up camp while hiking for several days at a time in a naturalistic way, like a forest or rocky mountains.

Therefore, a backpacker hikes great distances while searching for ideal locations to erect tents for the night. As it enables people to experience nature at its fullest without being distracted by ordinary things like smartphones, traffic horns, and city pollutants, it is undoubtedly a riskier and more adventurous pastime. 


Hiking: A hike may last from an hour to many days, depending on the hiker’s fitness level and the terrain’s difficulty. Hikers need to bring supplies, including food, water, a map, a compass, sunscreen, bug repellent, and other items depending on how long the trek will last.

Backpacking: Contrarily, backpacking never lasts for a day or two. In short, it integrates travel with hiking. Therefore, backpackers need gear that includes camping necessities like sleeping bags, clothes, tents, first-aid kits, blankets, and survival tools, in addition to hikers’ usual supplies.

Physical challenge

In contrast to other types of hiking, backpacking requires more time spent on your feet, so you’ll need to be in decent physical health before you begin. All sorts of hiking may be excellent exercise. It will also be harder on your legs and require more balance to carry a hefty backpack, which adds to the difficulty. While a tough, steep trek can provide fantastic exercise, a day of hiking will leave you feeling more exhausted.


Hiking: The equipment you’ll need for a hike varies on the weather and terrain, but hiking necessities include gear like hiking boots and a small backpack to hold your water bottle, extra clothing, and a map. 

Backpacking: Simply put, compared to hiking, backpacking requires far more equipment. A tent, a camp stove, your finest sleeping bag, and a sleeping mat are all necessary for backpacking in addition to everything you would need for hiking. Obviously, renting equipment is less expensive than buying it, and while you’ll undoubtedly be carrying extra weight, there are methods to reduce it with our ultralight camping advice.


While there isn’t a specific distance needed for hiking or backpacking, you can probably go farther if you’re backpacking. 

Hiking: Even though you may be able to log several miles in a day when hiking on an out-and-back path, you must constantly remember that no matter how far you go out, you must hike the same amount back and ideally get back to the trailhead before dusk.

Backpacking: You may be able to go twice as far in a day while backpacking because you’re sleeping outside, and you can hike even further the next day. As a result, you’ll have a higher chance of finding those incredible off-the-beaten-path locations, like undiscovered hot springs and hidden waterfalls. There are no distance constraints as long as you have the time and the necessary equipment. Although both involve adventure, we’ll venture to argue that backpacking is more daring.


The categories for hiking and backpacking have been established over time by passionate hikers and nature lovers.

Types of Hiking

  1. Day Hiking: For a day, hikers take a pleasant stroll outside.

  2. Base Camping: Hikers set up a tent to stay up to 10 days at once.

  3. Section Hiking: Through-hikers want to finish an entire trail in a year.

Types of Backpacking

  1. Ultralight backpacking: Backpacking emphasizes carrying the lightest and the least amount of gear possible. 

  2. Flashpacking: Someone used to superior living conditions willing to spend money to travel.

Charges & Permits

Hiking: Most hiking is absolutely free, except for the expense of equipment, and doesn’t require permission, so you can be spontaneous and hike on a budget. However, some hiking routes, like Angel Landing, and National Parks, require permits and fees for entrance. 

Backpacking: When backpacking, you’ll frequently need permits, which are typically expensive and require a little more planning to reserve campsites because you’ll be camping. Camping on BLM land in the US or the wild in the UK will always let you dodge charges and permits.

Wrapping Up

Choosing between these two activities is less important than deciding where you want to travel. You’ll need to backpack if you can’t make it there in a single day, which requires more supplies, more time, better physical fitness, potential permits, and a healthy spirit of adventure. However, if you don’t want to buy or carry a lot of gear or are pressed for time, consider going on a day walk instead. 


Hiking and backpacking both meet the goals of doing something unusual and spending time in nature, which is ultimately what matters. They are simple, entertaining hobbies that keep you in shape and reward you with wonderful memories and images that remind you of a world that is much more peaceful and joyous than the daily affairs of this world.