Hiking vs Trekking vs Mountaineering: What’s the Difference?

Hiking vs Mountaineering

Hiking, trekking, and mountaineering sound synonymous.

But, they have many differences.

The type of terrain, technical difficulty, and the equipment used in these adventures make them different from each other.

The term ‘hiking’ means long hours of walking on trails. Hiking is quite easy and does not require climbing skills and equipment.

Trekking, simply put, is just like hiking. It generally is of two days or more. So, trekking is usually longer than hiking. Like hiking, trekking does not require technical skills and knowledge.

On the other hand, mountaineering refers to sports of mountain climbing. It requires high technical skills and fitness level.

In this article, we will discuss more on Hiking vs trekking vs Mountaineering.



Hiking comparatively is one of the easiest of adventure pursuits. Anyone can do it regardless of age, sex or fitness level.

Hiking means walking on the trails for long hours. It is walking on some kind of terrains such as hills or deserts.

People usually go hiking on a specified route for half a day or full. There are markings in the hiking routes. So, it is like going from a start point to an end point. You may then return back to your start point.

Hiking can also be of multiple-days. Those multiple-days hike are simply called backpacking. You may have to be more-prepared for multi-day hiking as you will usually have to carry your own food and other essential equipment to spend your time and spend nights in the wilderness.

You also do not need technical knowledge to go on a hike. If you have some general navigation skills and a basic fitness level, you are good to go.

The best thing about hiking is that you do not need a lot of preparation. All you need is a backpack with some food, water, waterproof and windproof jacket for any case of weather change. But, hiking shoes that are light and breathable is a must for a hike.

On a day off, going on long hours of the walk may not sound fun. But, trust me, you will change your mind after you find out the benefits of hiking. Here are a few:

  • Going on regular hikes improves your cardiovascular fitness.
  • On a hike, you can walk as long as you like. Since you walk on a marked trail, you can cover the distance you feel like and come back. So, unlike other adventures, there is no pressure of reaching somewhere on time.
  • If you hike with your family, it also offers an opportunity to bond, help each other out and grow strong as a family.

Hiking, though a great outdoor activity for everyone, it does have its risks. You will be out in the wilderness. So, there are risks of injury.

To avoid any such risks, it is better if you first research about the trail you are going to walk on. You should walk with proper clothing, shoes, and first-aid kits for the prevention of injuries.

Hiking is such an activity that allows you to get the best of wildlife with minimum risks. Not only is hiking good for your physical health but it is also a great way to release stress.



Trekking usually consists of many days and may be physically more demanding as the terrains are usually tougher.

Trekking is usually challenging than the day-hikes. Trekkers usually walk through the well-built infrastructure- well-made wide trails with lodges and snack stops on the way.

While trekking you walk through the varying terrains for many days. You even go higher in the high altitude regions and on the lap of mountains during the trek.

Some of the features of trekking for many days in the wilderness are as follows:

  • As you usually pass through settlements and stay at teahouses/lodges, you will have the chance to make new friends along the way.
  • You can learn about the lifestyle, culture, tradition, and uniqueness of the place by interacting with locals.
  • Since you spend multiple days trekking, it helps in your mental and physical health.

During trekking, you have options to take porters with you and hire a guide. You can hire a porter to carry your belongings, hire a guide to walk with you throughout the trek. They help you while arranging for food, accommodation, safety, and comfort throughout the trek.

Everest Base Camp Trek, Inca Trail, Annapurna Base Camp Trek are some of the popular treks around the world.



As the name says, mountaineering means climbing a mountain to reach its summit. This is for the people who have a soul of an adventurer, high level of confidence, and ability to survive in harsh conditions.

Mountaineering requires rope techniques, use of crampons and ice ax, pinpoint navigations and so on. For the adventure in mountains, you need to have high technical skills and training.

Since mountaineering requires you to walk and climb on ice and rock terrains, survive in snow storms, and more. It is best if you maintain your physical and mental health.

To keep you walking and healthy, you need to consume mountaineering food, pack proper mountaineering gloves, pants, boots, sunglasses, gaiters, and so on.

Mountaineering is tough and it requires a high level of skillsets. If you want to get out of your comfort zone and have enough trekking experience, your next step can be mountaineering. But first, you need to learn to get into mountaineering first.

Here are a few benefits of mountaineering:

  • Mountaineering involves climbing, scrambling, hiking and more. So, it offers a range of activities for you to do.
  • Like hiking, mountaineering also helps in your cardiovascular fitness.
  • It is a great way to build your confidence and team-working skills.

But, you also need to be careful about the risks involved in mountaineering. You need to have a high level of fitness before you start your expedition.

Other than that, it is important that you undergo mountaineering training for some time. You have to also learn how to use the equipment properly and with ease even in difficult conditions.

Since you will mount at high altitudes in mountains the chances of altitude sickness is very frequent. So, you need to walk slowly, spend enough days on acclimatization and maintain hydration.

Thus, mountaineering requires high preparation and effort for its completion. For mountaineering, you need to partake in technical training months before your actual expedition.

This adventurous task is only for the experienced ones who have already involved in peak climbing and challenging treks. So, unlike hiking, mountaineering is for the experienced trekkers.

Which One to Choose?

If you are a novice traveler or hiking enthusiast then hiking is the best option for you. You can begin with a short day-hikes and then gradually go for multi-day hikes once your body becomes accustomed to heights, long distance walks, and the varying landscapes.

While those who frequently go on a short or multi-day hike can opt for trekking in the off-the-beaten-paths if you are looking for extra adventures. It demands your physical stamina but offers the most surreal experiences. Unlike hiking, trekking could be challenging sometimes because of the unexpected weather and altitude variations.

But, for a novice trekker, mountaineering is not a good idea. This adventure demands months-long training sessions and endurance training. You need to be well accustomed to the varying altitude, fluctuating and harsh mountain weather, along with several technical climbs.

For hiking and trekking, you do not have to use climbing gears. Whereas, mountaineering demands the skill on fixing ropes, use of ice ax, crampons, and other gears. So, for the experienced ones, mountaineering can be the best adventure.


If you are seeking for leisurely activity, go for hikes.

If you want to experience the adventures on the remote, country-sides, go for trekking.

If you want to behold the beauty of mountains and stand at its summit, go for mountaineering.

You can do any of these. But, for mountaineering, you need to obtain special training and pre-climbing experiences.

With proper preparation and a fit body, any travel enthusiast can opt for any of these rejoicing activities.