All outdoor lovers want to make an escape from everyday life into the wilderness once in a while. It’s a recharge for the soul to be in the fresh air surrounded by forest and mountains and most of us want to tackle a journey like this on foot, much like the pioneer explorers once did.
Naturally each person’s fitness level and capabilities limit them to certain types of activities, but fortunately there is a place for everyone to go, from a short relaxed hike all the way to hard-core mountaineering. So what’s the difference between hiking, trekking and mountaineering? What is the real divergence in their meaning?
What is hiking?
The real definition of Hiking generally constitutes a walk on a well-defined trail through a natural area. Most hikes are only one day long at the most and therefore equipment is usually limited to a daypack with your food, water and a waterproof windbreaker in case of a weather change.
Shoes for hiking need to be light and sturdy and should be breathable and keep your feet free from moisture. Hiking is a great way for the whole family, young and old to be together in the outdoors.
Two great day hikes are the 3,5 miles Tall Trees Trail in Redwood National Park and the 5 mile Paradise Falls Trail in Wildwood Park, both in CA.
What is trekking?
Trekking is similar to hiking except that it is extended over a number of days and usually covers a much longer distance, often not on a well-marked trail. Trekking involves carrying more equipment like a multiday pack, rations of food and water for the time spent away, cooking utensils and adequate clothing for varying weather conditions.
Trekking through the wilderness can be tough at times, meaning that you have to have an adequate level of fitness and a good sense of bearing and navigation. A good sturdy pair of trekking boots is vital for an enjoyable trekking experience, because the last thing you want is blistered feet on the first day.
The Appalachian Trail in the North East of the United States is a perfect example of a trekking trail. It extends over 2000 miles and can be entered and exited at various destinations along the route, making it a trekking experience where you can customise your own itinerary and distance.
What is mountaineering?
The true definition of mountaineering would be someone who tackles steep mountainsides and slopes with the tenacity of a mountain goat. This pastime is definitely for the outdoorsman with a high level of fitness, no fear of heights and a conquering spirit.
Mountaineering often involves advanced skills like rope work, ice-climbing and pinpoint navigation; and most trips are attempted in groups as opposed to going solo for safety reasons. Some expeditions require the assistance of porters to carry equipment and supplies, a good example would be a summit expedition to Mt. Everest.
Footwear for mountaineering is exceptionally important and boots need to be tough and provide the correct ankle support and grip for slippery and uneven surfaces.
Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is a classic example of a mountaineer’s dream.
Main Differences in the Types of Gear Used
Choosing the right footwear for a hike, trek or mountaineering expedition is really important. There is no point in wearing cumbersome mountaineering boots for a day hike and likewise, wearing a light hiking shoe will only lead you into trouble on a steep mountain slope. So here are three really great choices of footwear that will stand you in good stead for your next hiking, trekking or mountaineering trip.
Trail Running is a relatively new addition to the list. Also check out the Best Trail Runners for Hiking review.
Here are the Best Choices of Outdoor Footwear
Lightweight Hiking Shoe – Merrell Men’s Moab Ventilator
It is made with water-resistant leather and a durable mesh upper which has been strategically constructed to offer ventilation and support to your feet. The Vibram sole which is made of a special rubber compound, gives great stability and grip off the beaten track.
You may find that on slippery or algae covered surfaces that the soles might not grip, but for the greatest part most day hikes are on well-maintained trails and not over free terrain, so shouldn’t pose a problem for you.
If you are looking for comfort and durability for your hiking experience, then the Merrell Moab Ventilator is a super choice.
Best Trekking Boots – Timberland Men’s Chocorua Trail
If you want a real tough, value for money trekking boot, then the Timberland Chocorua is the winner.
This rugged boot is made with full grain waterproof leather and tough Gore-tex material. The inner of the boot is also made with Gore-tex which is a breathable material, so it keeps your feet dry and ventilated on a trek. Great ankle support in this design is crucial for trekking trips because you may cover uneven ground during a trek, with the possibility of a twisted ankle being likely; and can be avoided by wearing a boot like the Timberland.
Although the actual boot is waterproof, water can still get in above the top. This is easy to avoid by wearing a waterproof gator that covers the lower leg, it would be a great investment for trekking trips anyway and are usually quite cheap.
All in all an excellent boot for any trekking or multi-day excursion into the wilderness, you won’t be sorry getting a pair of Timberland Chocorua Trail Hiking Boots.
Top Rated Mountaineering Boots – Scarpa Men’s Mont Blanc
The Scarpa Mont Blanc is an excellent boot choice for your next mountaineering expedition.
Scarpa went out of their way to bring a boot like this to you; it covers all bases for a great mountain boot. The boot is made with waterproof Gore-Tex material that is coupled with Vibram soles and a design that offers excellent ankle support.
It is also the lightest mountaineering boot in its class, which is a bonus for comfort on a steep mountain slope.
Sizing a mountain boot can be tricky, so it is best to consider that you would be wearing thick mountaineering socks and it’s advisable to take a half to full size bigger.
Brilliant reviews across the board make your decision real easy, the Scarpa Mont Blanc will only prove itself as one of the best.
We hope this article has been clear in it’s disambiguation. If you have anything to add, we’d love if you commented below.