Despite our ever-accelerating society where there are no rest days, some physical activities like hiking and backpacking can help with the rush. They are an affordable and fun way to get closer to loved ones while exploring nature without worrying about the next deadline or traffic jam. These two activities are usually placed in the same category, but they are as different from each other as apples are from oranges. Though there are many similarities, we will focus on the dissimilarities in this piece.
What is Hiking?
Hiking activity is basically walking around in nature, either on a pre-defined trail or along an unknown path. Hiking just requires that you go at an average walking pace to counteract your weight, to get some fresh air and for solitude, for the sake of those other people in your day-to-day life. Sometimes people use hiking for exercise, to commune with nature, or for military training. It's a form of outdoor leisure that may involve mountain trails, woodlands, or any scenic terrain.
What is Backpacking?
As with hiking, backpacking involves walking on nature paths, just like hiking. Nevertheless, backpacking should be viewed as a hiking excursion that lasts for several days, and backpackers typically carry a travel pack that includes tents and camping supplies. Camping in natural environments, such as forests and mountains, for days on end, is what backpacking is.
A hiker wanders, hiking miles in search of suitable locations to set up a tent for the night. It's a riskier and more adventurous activity because hikers experience the beauty of the wilderness and can distance themselves from daily things like cell phone and city pollution. Some nature parks even provide more advanced living arrangements such as modest rooms and cottages for people who don't want to be sleeping rough in rudimentary tents.
Hiking is usually measured in terms of the time it takes or the distance you cover; most commonly, hiking may last anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Depending on the duration of your hike, you may have to bring several things including water, food, sunscreen, insect repellent, etc.
With backpacking, you're never only out for a day or two. It is travel combined with hiking. In order for backpackers to prepare, they will need camping equipment such as a sleeping bag, clothes, tent, first-aid kits, jackets, and tools to deal with the possible scenarios.
Hiking boots can range from lightweight varieties to heavy-duty mountain boots, depending on their purpose. Lightweight boots, lightweight shoes, and heavier boots are options for hikers depending on the intended activity. The only difference is that backpacking boots are heavier and sturdier. They are entirely made of leather and thus provide more support when you're bearing heavy loads for week-long trips.
A sock liner is another important thing to mention about hiking and backpacking gear. The general consensus is that one should use sock liners for any backpacking excursions. A liner sock is typically the first layer you wear on your foot. It protects your feet before the hike even starts, followed by a backpacking sock (depending on the length of your hike), and then a pair of boots. A sock liner lessens the friction against the skin, preventing blistering.
There's a difference between backpackers and hikers. Backpackers simply just keep walking for miles without a purpose and then walk back to the starting point, while hikers simply keep walking for long times without any purpose. The result is sore feet and muscle aches. The advantage of backpacking, however, is the possibility of seeing different places at low costs and without compromising on modern comfort.
On the other hand, a backpacking trip is more of a life adventure, rather than a day's excursion. Backpacking can be a great activity for those with plenty of free time and some extra money. When backpacking, luxury and adventure blend somewhat, but when hiking, they remain distinct.
Both backpacking and hiking are outdoor activities, so you might think that choosing a place for either would be the same. But that's not the case. While choosing a hike, you should consider difficulty level, rating, elevation, and the path should be safe for solo travel and well-established for tourism.
A day hike typically involves an outdoors walk during the day, just a short trip. It's appropriate for beginners who don't have a lot of equipment. It is also suitable for those who are pressed for time and still wish to have some vacation time away from their busy lives in the city.
The trail may be tricky for first-time hikers, so they establish a temporary campsite where they stay for up to 10 days at a time. They believe this practice will be the next step after day hiking. This activity is apt for people who want to take more time to spend in outdoors. Once you set up basecamp, you travel for day hikes and return to the site for the night. One advantage to base camping is that you only need to pack in enough supplies to last you a day or two at a time, and it is better suited to people who want to camp in the wilderness than to those who would go to a campground.
Ultra Light BackPacking
Simply put, ultralight backpacking is about spending as little money as possible while hiking and maximizing comfort by utilizing the lightweight gear. Ultralight backpacks are surprisingly light and sleeping bags fold up extremely well. Lightweight backpackers pay very close attention to the weight of what they carry and, for instance, sometimes cut their toothbrushes in half to keep their backs from hurting after more than 6 months on the road. They carry only what is necessary, such as packing lightweight clothes and quick-drying travel towels.
Flashpacking is a more high-end form of backpacking. A flashpacker is someone used to a more luxurious way of living and thus chooses to travel more expensively. Some people travel with all kinds of technology, such as laptops, iPods, and mp3 players. They generally explore a city or town, follow what they are told to do, and don't usually go to unknown places. Some people only see backpacking as an outdoor party and do not appreciate it as a rigorous form of adventuring.
Backpacking or Hiking: Verdict?
In the end, it's about doing something unique and getting out in nature; backpacking and hiking give us those rewards. And don't forget the added benefits - being out and about helps keep us fit and refreshed, and nature always makes for a good time.