For those who don’t get outdoors a lot, the terms camping and hiking are often used interchangeably. While they share some of the same gear and both require setting up a camp, they couldn’t be any more different. Camping is the activity of setting up your camp and generally staying at the same campsite throughout your trip, while hiking often features a day away from camp, or in many cases, finding and setting up a new camp every night. Both are great ways to get outdoors and enjoy nature, but if you’re looking for some serious exercise and some peace and quiet, consider taking a hike.
If you’re looking at getting into hiking, it’s important to realize how hiking is similar and different when compared to camping. Camping and hiking share much of the same gear: tents, hammocks, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and many easy cook meals. Camping is most often experienced by driving to a popular campground, putting up a large tent, and hanging out around a campfire. Hiking is certainly similar to camping in this regard, though in most cases, you’ll be walking to your campsite instead of driving. Most days, you’ll spend your time walking on trails, climbing mountains, and crossing streams. Whether you choose to hike back to your campsite each day or simply pack up and find a new one every evening is up to you.
If you decide hiking is for you, it’s important to invest in a high quality backpack. After all, you’re going to have to carry everything you need for your trip on your back, so it’s important to select the perfect backpack for you. Some carry more items at the expense of weighing more. Others feature straps to distribute weight more evenly, giving you a more comfortable hike. It’s important to get fitted and find the perfect backpack for you.
If you’re going to be walking to your campsite, it’s important that you are able to carry everything you’ll need for your trip on your back. Oftentimes, you’ll be walking up and down hills or mountains, so it’s important to cut out as many heavy items as possible. Heavy tents are often traded out in favor of smaller, lightweight tents or hammocks. Inflatable air mattresses and blankets are left at home in favor of inflatable sleeping pads and lightweight sleeping bags.
Food is another concern when switching from car camping to hiking. Many traditional camping foods are heavy and are often left at home. Most skillets, pots, and pans are also usually not taken when backpacking. Instead, hikers often bring specially made lightweight hiking stoves. When you’re hiking, every ounce adds up to weight you must carry in and out, and heavy cooking gear is usually one of the first items to go. Single serve meals, such as rice and instant mashed potatoes, are a hiker’s food staple.
If you have to sacrifice the luxuries of camping, then what is the point of hiking? Why would you want to spend your day hiking, climbing, and wearing yourself out just to set up a less luxurious camp than you could set up at the lake? In short, it’s a great way to get outside, get some exercise, and explore nature. If you find your favorite camping spots becoming crowded and loud, hitting the trail and finding a secluded campsite can be the difference between a relaxing weekend getaway and being stuck at party central.
Next time you’re considering camping, think about hiking to a campsite instead. You’ll get some great exercise, have an adventure, and really have to rely on yourself. It is fun, healthy, and you’ll see sights most of the population never sees.