Backpacking and hiking are two activities that share a lot of similarities and are often used interchangeably. However, there are some important distinctions between the two activities that should be noted, especially for those looking to get into either one. Both activities typically involve walking in nature, but the main difference between backpacking and hiking lies in the amount of time spent on each activity as well as the type of gear involved.
Hiking is generally a much shorter activity than backpacking. It typically involves a day or two of walking on trails or paths with minimal gear.
Hikers may bring some snacks, water, and a first aid kit with them, but usually nothing more than that. Hiking is usually done for exercise or to explore nature and its beauty.
Backpacking is a much more intense experience than hiking. It typically involves at least several days of camping in the wilderness with all necessary supplies and equipment packed on your back.
Backpackers will often be carrying tents, sleeping bags, stoves, food supplies, water filters, and other items necessary for survival in the outdoors. Backpacking is usually done for extended periods of time in order to explore remote areas or challenge oneself physically.
The key difference between backpacking and hiking is the amount of time spent doing each activity as well as the type of gear involved. Hiking tends to be shorter in duration while backpackers prepare for multi-day trips in remote areas with all necessary supplies and equipment packed on their backs. Whether you choose to backpack or hike depends on your goals for the outing and how prepared you are for an extended period of time outdoors.