What is trekking? And how does it differ from other forms of walking?
It is actually a pretty common question but increasingly there are more and more definitions of branches of what might be simply considered “foot-powered”outdoor pursuits. For example; Walking or Country Walking, Hiking, Hill-walking, Mountain-walking, Trekking, Backpacking, Thru-Hiking...
Below we have put together some very short descriptions of each in an attempt to clarify although of course each one crosses over.
Generally defined as walking on footpaths on generally flat terrain, across countryside that may include built up areas and farmland. This is term is more used in the UK where it is also known as Rambling.
Walking in wild, natural environments on paths or defined trails. These could be day hikes or overnight trips.
Hill-walking (or Mountain-Walking)
Hill walking is generally thought of as walking in the mountains. It might be assumed that it is largely a summer activity given that the terrain covered would see it classified as mountaineering if undertaken in winter.
Trekking (or Backpacking)
Trekking is a longer journey than hiking. Normally this would involve going a greater distance away from built-up areas deeper into wilderness and might include certain aspects of mountaineering, like ascending peaks, crossing uncharted terrain or long-distance trails.
It is kind of synonymous with backpacking however variants of this mean that it is also used for long distance walks in remote mountainous areas where a good deal of the trekker’s equipment may actually be carried by porters or the trek may link up between huts or refuges.
There are many commercial “expeditions” leading treks in such a fashion. Furthermore a number of the easier high altitude mountains of the world are referred to as “trekking peaks” because they do not require specific mountaineering skills in order to ascend. For example, Aconcagua in Argentina and Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, to name but two.
Thru-hiking is a US terminology, which is gaining world wide acceptance as defining walking a long distance trail from end to end. IT refers to a long and difficult journey.
By definition almost each of the above could be involved in mountaineering but it is usually defined as also including other elements of mountain climbing, including snow, glacier travel and rock an dice climbing. Click here for description of what is mountaineering.
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