The mountains beckon lovers of outdoor activities with irresistible force. And here we are already packing a backpack, taking friends and go hiking. Or hiking? Or to a trekking trip? “What’s the difference? Do not confuse us, it’s the same thing.” – you say. Borrowed words such as hiking, trekking, backpacking are becoming more and more common, and many use them as synonyms for hiking. Yes, the essence is similar, but there are some differences and features between these terms. Here we will talk about them in this article to avoid confusion.
For us, as well as for all CIS countries, more familiar and understandable is the word “hike”, which we call any outing in the countryside, whether it is the simplest 1-2 days, or technically complex expeditions for a month and a half. For Europeans and Americans, where the culture of the mountains has long developed, the concept of hiking is more extended, and depending on the duration, trail conditions, food and accommodation, they distinguish trekking, hiking and backpacking.
A hiking trip. When we hear these words, our imagination draws rocky mountains, winding paths on their slopes, tents in dense forests, an evening by the fire, and tourists with large backpacks. This is partly due to the Soviet past, when hiking was considered the best kind of recreation, resetting and maintaining physical fitness. Hiking was massive and popular. Even those who were born and raised after the collapse of the Soviet Union, heard travel stories from their older friends. A long hike with tents and backpacks is, you could say, our historical and native.
For us backpacking is a hiking trip with a backpack along a certain route in the mountains, with overnight stays in tents and independent cooking with a fire or gas (in the absence of firewood). You can make a camp in any place you like and to be fully (or partly) self-sufficient, when you take all necessary food for the whole trip. Only on some routes it is possible to refill provisions in one of the mountain villages or to make an errand, if the trail is crossed. It is not for nothing that there is a fair saying “the main aim of tourism is to take as much food as possible, take it far away and eat it all there”. But that’s probably the beauty of it.
From western interpretations to our understanding of the trip the most suitable word is “backpacking”, when you take a backpack, put into it the most necessary things for all occasions and go on a trip. It can be a hike on a planned route with a group, or independent travel without a specific plan, such as in the movie “Wild”.
Among the great variety of hiking trips are its main subspecies:
Hiking is a foreign variant of a weekend trip. If our tourists prefer to go in the wilderness, away from people, to have some rest from civilization, in the Western countries 1-2 day hiking tours near populated areas are very popular.
Often hiking involves hiking in the mountains on marked routes, with well-equipped trails, observation sites, hydration points and comfortable overnight stays in cabins or campsites with all the conveniences. The hiking route can be linear, with overnight stays at different points, and with overnight stays at the base with radial exits. This is mainly due to a more respectful attitude to nature, the numerous protected areas, where it is forbidden to make fires, to put tents in the wrong place and even go past the beaten path.
A hiker’s backpack is usually quite light, with no gear, a change of clothes, or food. Only water, a small snack and a windbreaker. In our country as an example of hiking can be a hike through the Borghava quickly and easily, climbing to Hoverla with excursions to Yaremche. Among foreign destinations – hiking in Montenegro.
Trekking is essentially a multi-day hiking. The main difference is that a tourist goes hiking not for 1-2 days, and for several weeks. Trekking also takes place on marked trails, beyond which it is not recommended (for safety reasons, as in Nepal) or prohibited (to preserve the environment, as in Iceland). Overnight stays can be in equipped campsites (a special area where tents are allowed; often there are showers, toilets, electricity), as well as in special houses or tourist shelters. You can take your own tents, but there are routes, where at each camping site you can hire tents to go with a lighter rucksack. Meals can be your own, or you can buy ready-made meals at each campground. Most popular trekking:
There are categories of hiking, which is difficult to be attributed to a particular concept, they are combined, and depending on the region and terrain combine the characteristics of several types of hiking.
For example, trekking in Norway provides overnight stays in tents, own food, full backpacks with all the equipment, but in some places you can camp only at a certain camping area, and in some – at any point you like, most importantly, not on private property.
The situation with trekking in Patagonia is similar – you won’t be allowed into the Torres del Paine National Park without having camping spots booked in advance, but outside the park you can stay anywhere you like.
Hiking in Iceland and the Pyrenees, on the other hand, involves both full backpacking and several days of lightweight radial hikes with a return to the original camp. Such days help you get some rest and also see all the main sights in the area.
It is also worth noting routes that combine not only hikes with or without backpacks, but also transfers between points, which give the opportunity to see the maximum from the region in one trip. This type of hiking can include, for example, traveling across America or Ireland, trekking in Peru and Patagonia.
When signing up for a hike, it is important to choose what suits you best – hiking, trekking, or regular camping.
But in fact, do not bother much with the terminology. Hiking, trekking and hiking – this is an opportunity to see the mountains, to visit their feet, enjoy the incredible scenery, to feel their strength and beauty. Choose the most suitable program, test yourself and get the maximum pleasure and vivid memories!
And remember, Kuluar – your lifechanging mountain experience!