Thru-Hiking vs. Section Hiking: Which Is More Suitable for You?

In this article, we will compare thru hiking vs. section hiking to come up with the difference between them. That way, you will know which one is more suitable for you!

Thru-Hiking vs. Section Hiking: Comparison Table

When talking about some long trails, such as the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and Te Araroa, you have likely heard two terms around how you can hike on them, including thru-hiking vs. hiking section.

The two terms don’t sound significantly different, as they both refer to “Hiking.” However, after comparing them head-to-head, you will have a different mindset.

Thru Hiking  Section Hiking
Define Complete a long-distance trail continuously for a long time, maybe up to a year. Complete a trail in sections, and you can pick your adventure according to your flexibility.
  • An opportunity to experience a significant accomplishment.
  • Uncover the power of your body.
  • Learn how to live a simple life.
  • Train your stamina.
  • You can still spend time with your friends and family.
  • You can plan the trip according to your ease.
  • You can pick your adventure according to your own flexibility.
  • You can explore the details of your trail.
  • Help ease the financial constraints.
  • You don’t need to worry about losing your job.
  • It is a mental, physical, and financial challenge.
  • You will be away from family and friends for a long time.
  •  You will be without a paycheck for a long time.
  • Not suitable for all people.
  • Requires true endurance and patience.
  • You will not be able to move past your comfort zone.
  • Not suitable for hikers who want to create a big goal.

Thru-Hiking vs. Section Hiking: What Is the Main Difference?

The comparison table above may not be enough for you. So let’s dig into each factor below.



Thru-hiking involves a commitment to the trail for a continuous, extended period. Thru-hiking refers significantly to performing one end-to-end hike of a long trail, not taking off periods in between journeys.

Many seasoned hikers further define thru-hiking as completing one of the long-distance trails within a one-year timeframe. It truly is a chance to discover the power of your body.

Section Hiking

Section-hikers refer to people who also travel long distances. But, as their name suggests, these hikers will finish it in sections.

So, regarding the hiking section, you can pick your adventure according to your flexibility. As a result, the hiking might last in stages and not in one complete go, as you can choose your own mileage.

It is unnecessary for you to complete your chosen trail in order. Section hiking allows you to stay present and enjoy the trail’s details.


Here’s a complete list of everything you might need for a thru-hiking or section-hiking trip. It can vary, depending on your specific conditions and situation.


  • Trowels
  • GPS
  • Miscellaneous
  • Backpacks
  • Hammocks and tents
  • First Aid
  • Toiletries
  • Guidebooks
  • Headlamps
  • Base Layers
  • Stuff Sacks
  • Camp Shoes
  • Water Purification
  • Common Luxury Items
  • Camp Bottoms
  • Trekking Poles
  • Gloves and Hats
  • Hiking Bottoms
  • Sleeping Pads
  • Hiking Fleeces
  • Hiking Footwear
  • Socks and Undies
  • Insulating Jackets
  • Sleeping Bag Liners
  • Rain and Wind Protection
  • Sleeping Bags and Quilts
  • Cooking Gear (Pots/Stoves/Spoons)

Section Hiking

Pros And Cons

Section Hiking

Regarding the hiking section, you can pick your adventure according to your own flexibility. Your hiking trip will last in stages instead of in one complete go.

You can pick your own mileage, so you can spend more time with your friends and family and fulfill all of your life commitments.

If you opt for being a section hiker, there is no need to worry about losing your job. You can make a section hiking trip at weekends, on yearly paid leave, on holidays, or whenever you want.

Public transportation could be one of the problems at the end of your trip.

For example, if you decide to hike in the countryside, you should know that transportation might be a significant issue. The reason is that all the airports and bus stations would be far away.


Choosing Thru-hiking means you are willing to get the opportunity to experience a significant accomplishment.

You will become a part of the people along the trail you might encounter, who should understand and know what they are doing.

As a thru-hiker, you must learn to live one simple life. Since you have a long-distance journey to hike, you should carry the most intelligent and creative gear sufficient for your trip. Lightweight and ultra-light items are so popular among the thru-hikers community.

You will be temporarily far from everything you are used to, from family, friends, and everyday tasks. Your family also accepts the truth of your absences on big family holidays and parties for a long period.

Sometimes, you might form scenery fatigue, and all the excitement will turn into boredom in this case. You also may face various challenges, including physical and mental, especially when you start to feel lonely.

Once you embark on one thru-hiking trail, you must tackle many financial, mental, and physical obstacles.

You also must prepare for several altitude sicknesses and significant injuries.

We recommend taking a first aid course if you decide to take a trip to high altitudes or remote areas.

Unlike walking in the woods, a thru-hiking trip requires true endurance and patience.

Besides, you will be without a paycheck for a long time. Instead, your major expense is on your food and gear.

Thru-Hiking vs. Section Hiking: Which Is for You?

Opinions on thru-hiking vs. section hiking a long-distance trail are so personal. It is essential to think through your goals for your trek before getting started.

Both two approaches to a long-distance trail have their own strengths and weaknesses. So you should consider the difference between them and your current situation to choose the best option for you.

Whichever you choose, we bet you’ll have some fun and memorable moments in nature.


Don’t skip this section if you still have more queries about Thru-Hiking vs. Section Hiking.

What Is a Section Hike?

It involves completing a long-distance trail in stages.

There are many different ways to do it. For example, you can spend some weekend trips to complete this trail or do half one year and the other half the next year. Also, it is not necessary to complete this trail in a specific order.

What Are the 3 Types of Hikes?

There are three most common styles of hiking: Day Hiking, Summit Hiking, and Long-Distance Hiking.

Is Thru-Hiking Healthy?

Yes. Thru-hiking is overwhelmingly a healthy activity. It allows you to test yourself physically and mentally to build stamina.

Why Is It Called Thru-Hiking?

It stands for through-hiking, referring to the act of hiking an established long-distance trail or end-to-end trail with continuous footsteps.

What Is Considered a Thru-Hike?

Thru-hike is considered completing a long-distance trail continuously.

Also, many hikers define thru-hiking as completing one of the long-distance trails within a one-year timeframe.

What Are Different Styles of Hiking?

There are many styles of hiking, such as:

  • Rain hikes
  • Day hiking
  • Hike in a class
  • Hike in the dark
  • Hiking with dogs
  • Barrier-free hiking
  • Overnight hikes
  • Hiking for romance
  • Hiking for weight loss
  • Hiking for hidden treasures

How Hard Is a Thru-Hike?

It requires you to complete a long and difficult journey continuously for a long time. You may face various challenges, including physical and mental, especially when you start to feel lonely.

Is Hiking a Sport or Hobby?

Some hikers consider hiking a sport, but really it is more of a recreational purpose.

How Long Does It Take to Hike the PCT?

The Pacific Crest Trail is 2,650 miles and it generally takes about 5 months.

What Is the Easiest Section of the PCT?

Oregon is by far the easiest section of the Pacific Crest Trail as it is almost flat.


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