Hiking vs. Climbing: What Are the Differences?

Many people use “hiking” and “climbing” interchangeably. However, you should be aware of significant differences between hiking vs. climbing. Keep reading to see more!

Hiking vs. Climbing: Comparison Table

Before going any deeper, let’s check this detailed comparison table. It will give you an overview of how Hiking vs. Climbing differ.



  • Mountains, deserts, beaches, forests, countryside
  • Tall mountains.
Activities involved
  • Walking and occasional scrambling.
  • Hiking, skiing, and climbing
Gear required
  • Proper footwear such as hiking boots.
  • Require technical gear:  crampons, ropes,  ice axes, skiing equipment, camping equipment, and more.
  • Maybe no set goal or destination beyond the hike itself.
  • Reach the summit.

Hiking vs. Climbing: What Are the Differences?

Many people use the words climbing and hiking interchangeably as if they are all the same thing. While they are similar, there are important distinctions as well.

Knowing the difference between the two will allow you to pick the proper outdoor activity suitable for your skill level and physical abilities.


Hiking is the most effortless adventure pursuit as anyone can do it regardless of sex, fitness, or age. This activity refers to walking on the trails for hours and involves walking on some terrains such as deserts or hills.

People often go hiking on a particular route for a trip that lasts from half a day to the whole. After finishing the trip, you can return to the starting point.

You can do hiking both solo or in groups. It will be the best experience you can have in your life.


It is one of the most Adventurous activities. You will need to know a lot more skills and techniques to be able to participate. It refers to reaching the highest point of the mountains to create a sense of enjoyment.

Climbing includes ice climbing, rock climbing, skiing, and anything else to reach the summit. By nature, this activity involves some risk and requires technical expertise.

1. Equipment


You can start with just a proper pair of boots and a backpack containing some water and food. But more technical hikes may require more equipment.


On the other hand, preparing gear for climbing will be more complicated as there is a long list of items needed for your trip. Here are a few of them:

  1. Boots
  2. Rope
  3. Harness
  4. Emergency supplies
  5. Proper clothing
  6. Protection
  7. Helmet
  8. Crampons
  9. Ice Axe

2. Goal


Hiking is a very comfortable and non-risky outdoor activity. People make a hiking trip for fun and to enjoy great outdoor experiences without always having an end goal in mind.


For climbing, you usually have to set a specific goal before starting. Then you will have to put yourself in risky situations to achieve that goal.

3. Technical Requirements


One of the best things about hiking is that it does not require a lot of technique. Anyone can participate regardless of gender, level, age, fitness, or experience. However, you won’t be able to do any hiking without training.


For climbing, you must master many skills before you are ready to go on an expedition without a guide.

4. Danger


It is one moderately risky activity. You only need to worry about twisted ankles, natural hazards, exposure to the elements, and fall danger.


It is one of the most dangerous outdoor activities. Proof that about 25% of people who summit the mountain died.

Pros And Cons

1. Hiking


  • Accessibility: Anyone can participate in hiking, regardless of gender, experience, fitness level, and age.
  • Geography ease: Hiking can take place almost anywhere in the world, while you can only go climbing in places with mountains.
  • Low Cost: You can expect to gain all the quality hiking gear for under $500 (even free of charge). Meanwhile, climbing will cost you several thousand dollars to join.
  • High Safety: Not everyone wants to entertain themselves by risking their lives. Hiking is a great way to enjoy the outdoors while not being adventurous.


  • Do not achieve as expected: Honestly, hiking has almost no downsides. But because it is so safe, it will not bring the exciting danger and challenge many people want.

2. Climbing


  • Remoteness: There is something special and interesting about escaping the busy streets and going where few people can go.
  • Challenge: Some people prefer pushing themselves, and climbing provides an endless playground for them to test their skills.
  • Excitement: Thanks to the danger and various skills you need, climbing may be more variable and exciting than hiking (which can get monotonous sometimes)


  • Cost: You may have to spend a lot of money on equipment needed for climbing.
  • Danger: Climbing is one of the most adventurous activities, requiring you to have good physical strength and specific skills and techniques.
  • Time: It will take a considerable amount of time to become a good climber, and it’s not for everyone.

Hiking vs. Climbing: Which One Is for You?

If you’re already skilled at climbing and highly confident and adventurous in challenging mountainous terrain and weather, climbing may be your best bet.

We recommend starting out in a group of more experienced mountaineers and a guide and taking the time to get used to higher elevations.

On the other hand, if you aren’t skilled and experienced in climbing and just seeking outdoor adventure, it is wise to stick to hiking.


Below here is common questions and answers related to Hiking vs. Climbing.

What Is Mountain Hiking Called?

It’s called mountaineering or mountain climbing. It is the sport of attempting or attaining to reach points in regions, mainly for the pleasure of the climb.

Does Rock Climbing Help With Hiking?

The short answer is Yes. Climbing will help you significantly increase your fitness, allowing you to participate in hiking more effectively.

Is Mountain Climbing Called Hiking?

Mountain Climbing is a sport or hobby in which a person hikes or climbs a mountain. But mountain climbing is not hiking. Most hiking trips are measured in round-trip hours that aren’t done in climbing.

Another clear differentiation is the amount of gear required for a hiking trip, and a mountaineering adventure since a hiking tour requires very little equipment compared to a mountaineering trip.

How to Minimize Muscle Fatigue While Hiking?

Muscle fatigue is one of the leading causes of cutting a hiking trip short. So it is important to treat your muscles before, during, and after your hiking trip.

Here are some tips that will allow you to minimize muscle fatigue while hiking:

  • Proper Nutrition
  • Stretching
  • Shorten Your Stride
  • Drink Water
  • Practice Your Form
  • Wear the Right Gear
  • Rest

Does Hiking Build Muscle?

Hiking will build muscle as it refers to walking but on challenging terrain. Targeted muscle groups are glutes and legs mainly.

How does Climbing start?

You will need to start by acquiring essential gear, including an ice ax, mountaineering boots, a harness, crampons, and much more.

You can buy or rent some of these items, but if you go with a guide service, they may offer essential items to you.

Why Do My Legs Shake After Hiking?

When you’re hiking downhill, every time your foot lands, the quadriceps muscles do something known as an eccentric muscle contraction. That means it contracts while it’s lengthening.

What Makes a Good Hiker?

Here are seven features of a good hiker:

  • Tough mentally
  • Learn from mistakes
  • Well-prepared physically
  • Respect nature; weather
  • Applied knowledge and desire to learn
  • Resourcefulness, good decision-making, logical thinking
  • Motivation

Can You Get Big Legs From Hiking?

Biking does not build big, bulky muscles, but it does build some muscle.

Why Should You Not Wear Cotton While Hiking?

Cotton outfits are especially problematic during hiking in cold conditions (or when you hit a windy peak) since it is often soaked with sweat, leading to rapid body heat loss. In severe cases, it may lead to hypothermia.

What Is the Main Purpose of Climbing?

The critical purpose of climbing is to stand on a mountain’s peak. It is a risky activity but gives you a refreshing and wonderful experience.

What Are the Examples of Climbing Activities?

The different kinds of climbing activities include rock climbing and ice climbing.

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