Rucking vs. Hiking: Main Similarities and Differences

Rucking vs. Hiking: What are the similarities and differences? Let’s compare these two outdoor activity options to understand the difference between them.

Rucking vs. Hiking: Comparison Table

Rucking Hiking
Goal Considered physical activity with the primary purpose of fitness. Considered recreational activity, mainly to explore and admire the beautiful scenery.
Physical and Mental Aspects. Great for physical. Good for mental.
Essential Equipment and Gear. Anything that can increase your weight. Food, drink, a first aid kit, a tent, etc.
Destination And Location You can ruck anywhere, even the neighborhood around your house. Places with beautiful scenery, usually national parks, state parks, or beautiful mountains.

Rucking vs. Hiking: Head-To-Head Comparison


  • Similar Locations

Most hikers favor a trail or naturally beautiful area, such as a national or state park, for hiking and exploring. Rucking can also take place in similar locations.

  • Boots Used Can Be the Same

As their name suggests, hiking boots are ideal for hiking in rugged terrain.

They keep your feet dry, warm, and free from blisters. Rucking and hiking can be similar in locations, meaning you can use hiking boots for rucking in similar terrains.

  • Burn Calories

The goal differs between running and hiking, but they both allow you to burn significant calories. In most cases, you will burn more calories with rucking.

  • Use a Backpack

Whether running or hiking, a backpack will still be a must-have for you. However, the gear you keep in it may vary significantly.


  • Goal

Both hiking and rucking refer to walking for a specific time or distance. However, the purpose is significantly different between the two.

Rucking targets the health aspect and is considered exercise. With a weighted backpack, a person rucking will walk a specific distance or time regardless of the terrain. So rucking can be considered a combination of strength training and cardio workout.

On the other hand, hiking is often considered a recreational activity. It allows you to explore and admire beautiful areas and places in nature that you are far from seeing in urban areas.

While you will probably still carry a heavy backpack while hiking, which will burn you a lot of calories, exercise is not the main goal of this form.

  • Leisure or Sporting Activity

One of the ways that rucking and hiking go their separate ways is how people perceive each activity.

Hiking is most often considered a leisure time activity, meaning hiking will be saved for vacations and weekends when specific areas can be visited.

On the flip side, rucking is more of a sporting activity, so anyone is willing to walk out with their backpack and begin a ruck.

The location does not matter, as rucking is done for sport instead of for leisure.

Physical and Mental Aspects

There is no significant difference in this category. Still, rucking and hiking will trigger different areas of your brain and body differently.

You can go hiking outdoors to clear your mind and escape the rigors and pressures of daily life. It is also a great thing for your mind.

When it comes to rucking, the biggest goal is to increase fitness. Increasing fitness and strength, in general, is considered a measure of a rucking session.

Essential Equipment and Gear

One of the different aspects between running and hiking is equipment and gear.

Regarding hiking, you need to prepare food, water, a first aid kit, and a few other essential items. The longer your hiking trip, the more items you need to carry. You’ll need to bring a tent, additional clothing, and cooking utensils.

For rucking, you can stuff anything with weight into your backpack. The primary purpose is to make your bag heavier, giving you a great workout.

Destination And Location 

Hiking is a pre-planned activity that allows you to choose a beautiful place to explore. Favorite places for many hikers are national parks, state parks, or beautiful mountains like the mountains of Colorado. Exploring these places with your feet will be an exhilarating experience.

On the flip side, rucking is not so focused on where it will take place, as its purpose is not to admire and explore the beautiful scenery. The main goal of rucking is to give you excellent fitness sessions. You can ruck anywhere, even within your city.


Ruck packs are typically different from normal backpacks. These packs are more heavy-duty and strong packs, allowing them to hold larger amounts of weight.

However, if you don’t have a special pack, you can use any backpack for rucking, provided they allow you to add weight.



  • Enhance sleep.
  • Boost bone density.
  • Good form of cardio.
  • Boost mood and reduce stress.
  • Increased relaxation from the outdoors.


  • Improved posture.
  • Good for heart health.
  • Burn calories.
  • Weight and Cardio and training with less stress on your body

Rucking vs. Hiking: Final Verdict

Rucking and hiking are similar in that they are both walking for a certain distance or time. However, the main purpose of rucking is physical training, while hiking is considered a recreational activity with the main purpose of discovering and admiring the beautiful scenery.



Does Rucking Help Hiking?

Yes, rucking helps you to increase your fitness. As a result, you can go further during your hiking trips.

Will Rucking Build Muscle?

Yes. Rucking is a form of exercise that helps you lose weight, build muscle, and tone your body.

It can help you build strength in the biggest muscle groups in your body, including your legs and back, especially your hamstrings and glutes. While regular hiking and walking can also build strength, the extra weight in rucking will be many times more effective.

Can You Ruck With a Hiking Backpack?

There are rucksacks designed specifically for rucking. However, if you don’t want to invest in such a backpack, you can use your hiking backpack. Even any backpack available around you will also work.

Why Do Many People Ruck Instead of Hike?

The difference between rucking and hiking is huge and not interchangeable. There are a lot of people who prefer rucking instead of hiking. Here are a few common reasons for that

Reasons to Ruck Explained
 Military Rucking is considered a pillar exercise in the military. That’s why many start rucking to prepare themselves for the army.
To be Sociable There are various rucking clubs where people ruck in groups. It is a great way to meet new people in your local community.
To honor memorable events People can ruck in groups during holidays and patriotic events, such as Memorial day as a means of respect.
General Fitness Rucking has many health benefits since it is a Low-Intensity Steady State Workout (or LISS).

How Many Days a Week Should You Ruck?

Depending on the program you’re training for, your rucks should be limited to two or three per week, similar to heavy-lifting leg days.

How Much Weight Should You Ruck?

You should start with a weight that is about 10% of your total body weight. So if you weigh 200 pounds, it is best to start with 20 pounds. Each week, add five pounds until you get up to about 35 to 50 pounds.

What Happens if You Ruck Every day?

Rucking every day for long distances may lead to OTS (Overtraining Syndrome). So we don’t advise rucking every day. Instead, give your body time to recover after rucking.

Will Rucking Make My Legs Bigger?

Regularly rucking will help your calves to become bigger, stronger, and leaner.

What Is Considered a Heavy Ruck?

More than 10% of your body weight added to your backpack is considered a heavy ruck.

Does Rucking Burn Fat?

Yes. Rucking is active resistance training or a mix of strength and cardio training, perfect for burning fat.

Is Rucking Safe for Your Back?

If you have improper form, rucking will be bad for your back. But if you have proper posture and carry an appropriate weight load, rucking isn’t bad for your back.

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