Difference between Hiking and Walking

Are you confused when people count walking as exercise? You did it half an hour ago, and you do not feel like you deserve an extra piece of chocolate for it. What about hiking? That sounds a bit more demanding, right? If you still have problems understanding the difference between the two, keep reading. Find out what the difference between hiking and walking is.


Walking vs Hiking
Two women walking for exercise

Walking is the normal gait of locomotion an animal is capable of. It is slower than running and implies a normal pace. A human’s body vaults over the stiff limb while moving the other one in the direction it wants to go. People walk around everywhere. This is the main option when the distance allows it.

Walking is also healthy and a good way to exercise without putting in too much effort. There are some calories burnt, especially in the case of the fitness stride. Just like all other types of exercise, it must be done right, with the proper equipment and after having warmed up a bit first. The muscles need to be relaxed, the head must not be turned down and the elbows can help you get a bit of momentum and keep the pace constant. Power walking is faster and is somewhere between walking and jogging.

A picture of a hiker

Hiking implies walking on an outdoor nature trail, be it in the countryside or in the mountains. The difficulty of the hike is given by the difficulty of the chosen trail. Usually, the hike ends where the trail ends. Special equipment must be worn, in accordance to the place and climate of the area you are hiking. The hiker must also have some sort of physical condition to allow them to keep up the pace and make it to the end of the trail in due time. Not making good time on a trail can sometimes be dangerous, especially if night is coming and there is still a long way to go. Hiking can be done on easy yet long trails or short yet more difficult ones.

Although the effort made is not usually great and fatigue can be more of an issue, the isolation and the location can be variables to be taken into consideration. An accident on a less frequented trail and hiking alone can be a bad combination.

Walking vs Hiking

So what is the difference between walking and hiking?

Walking has a more urban connotation and it involves moving forward on a hard surface such as asphalt, gravel or concrete. Hiking is done in nature on uneven and bumpy ground. It is normally done in the countryside, on hills, in the mountains or in natural parks.

There is no incline when walking and the exercise is constant from beginning to end. Hiking means adapting your stride to different types of terrain and keeping the movement constant.

Also, people who walk usually choose an area near their home or work place, so they can return whenever they need to. A trail starts from point A and ends at point B. A hiker can turn back at any point if it makes sense to do so. However, the location implies completing the trail, as only at the end of it there is a place to rest and eat.

Walking equipment can also be jogging equipment, with shoes that cushion the foot in its forward movement. Hiking equipment is similar to mountain climbing equipment and includes boots with soles that do not allow slippage and that keep the foot warm and dry.

Comparison Chart

Walking Hiking
Is more of an urban sport Is done on nature paths, outdoors
Is done on leveled, hard surfaces without an incline Is done on bumpy roads with various types of incline
Walkers can use their jogging equipment Special equipment is needed for hiking
Walking is less challenging, yet it is still a way to burn calories Hiking is more demanding as you have to keep your pace and rhythm regardless of how the trail changes