Difference Between Hiking and Mountaineering
By Rebecca Rodriguez - October 10, 2022

The foundation of both hiking and mountaineering are quite similar. As a result, there is a lot of overlap, and both terms are sometimes used interchangeably to describe mountain climbing. However, these outdoor activities require distinct skills, equipment, and initiative.

Table Summary

It does not require gears or equipmentRequires multiple gears and equipment
It can be done on almost any kind of terrainOnly done on mountains
Requires no formal training or fitness levelRequires formal training and relatively higher fitness level
There is no set goalThe goal is usually to reach a mountain summit


Mountaineering, also known as alpinism, is a sport that involves ascending the highest peak of mountains for pleasure. Mountaineering includes skills like rock climbing, ice climbing, skiing, or whatever else the terrain requires to reach the summit.

Hiking is simply walking in nature for enjoyment. It is a natural exercise that enhances physical health, is cheap and easy to do, and does not require additional equipment. There is no physical strain for hikers because they can walk as long as they desire unless they decide on rough terrains like hills or mountains. Although arbitrary, a half-day hike is about 7 to 12 miles (11 to 19 km), and a full-day hike should be 12 to 20 miles (19 to 32 km).

Hiking VS Mountaineering

Hiking, as a general rule, does not require any expert or technical equipment, although a type of hiking known as scrambling might require ropes. Mountaineering, however, will necessitate technical equipment such as rope, a harness, crampons, skiing equipment, and ice axes.
Hiking is a low-key and undemanding pastime. There isn’t always an end objective; anyone can pick it up as a hobby or exercise. Meanwhile, mountaineering has a specific goal in mind, which is usually a mountain’s summit. As a result, even basic mountaineers are trained in several survival skills and individual activities like skiing and bouldering.