Outdoors,  Guides & Hacks

The Difference Between Walking And Hiking

If, like me, you’ve ever questioned the difference between walking and hiking, here’s a few common definitions.

walk·ing | [wawk] 

d1: To travel on foot at a moderate pace; by advancing the feet alternately.

d2: Go on foot for recreation and exercise.

d3: Travel over (a route or area) on foot.

hike·ing | [hahyk]

d1: To walk or march a great distance, especially through rural areas, for pleasure, exercise.

d2: A long walk or distance walking tour.

d3: A long walk in the countryside

Now this confused the beans out of me! I see walking defined generally, as the act of walking. I see hiking defined generally, as the act of walking. So is the primary difference, distance? Well no, there’s actually a little more to it.


This actually covers the widest range of human bipedal activities and two legged pursuits.

Walking includes such things as delivering the little one’s to school, perhaps delivering yourself to work, fetching or carrying groceries, maybe venturing outdoors at the weekend for a fun trek through the local woods etc.

What defines walking is that it’s, well, walking!

It seems confusion enters, when we start to think of walking in terms of health, fitness, endurance or adventure.

It’s when walking moves away from practical and heads towards the waterproof wardrobe & fluffy sock draw.

So it’s true, walking is walking, period! When then, does walking become hiking? Is that the better question?

When does walking become hiking? – Spike

This has a somewhat narrower definition. Is it still walking? Yes! So, what is hiking, that walking isn’t?

OK so let’s strip the bark off…

Does anyone hike the kids to school? Do you hike to work? Perhaps hiking out for the grocery is something we’d like to do, put practically? Then there’s a weekend hike for fun, through local woods… well, that one, possibly!

Here’s the first primary difference. Hiking is not about practical, it’s walking-with-purpose beyond the practical.

The second fundamental difference is that because hiking is walking with walking-purpose, it generally covers greater distances and crosses far more challenging and potentially dangerous terrain.

Thirdly, hiking requires careful planning, appropriate equipment and preparation that walking generally doesn’t.

So that’s the difference in my nutshell. Hikers wear fluffy socks with purpose, walkers not so much 😉


Jest aside, any bipedal walking activity can be considered walking (that includes hiking).

The difference between walking and hiking is subjective, so personally I think of it best by asking “When does walking become hiking?“. That’s when the practical answers fall into place for me.

Hiking is walking with walking-purpose. Your about to undertake a physically demanding, potentially dangerous activity that requires careful planning and detailed preparation to ensure your safety, comfort and enjoyment.

I hope this helps clarify the difference between walking and hiking. Up above I’ve added a short collection of my most valued reading & hiking items, all are from Amazon and can be scrolled left and right.

I’ll be posting various walking and hiking related reviews, routes and posts, so please feel free to sign-up for the Newsletter to stay informed.

Enjoy your adventures! Please stay safe and before heading out always share your plans with a friend.


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