Types of Hiking – Different Ways To Get Out In Nature

different types of hiking

There are several different types of hiking, ranging from a walk on the trails in a local park to a multiple-day trek through the mountains. 

What are the different kinds of hiking? 

Hiking is broken down into three major types; Day Hiking, Summit Hiking, and Long Distance Hiking.  All three require different types of hiking gear depending on the trail and terrain.

We are going to break down each type of hiking and the equipment that you will need.  Also, we will take a look into the terrain and specific requirements for each.

Core Hiking Equipment

Every hiker should have the same core equipment for any hike.  The gear model may vary depending on your hike, but the core items are the same.

  • Sturdy Hiking Boots – These are critical for your hike. Find a good comfortable pair that is supportive and sturdy.
  • Comfortable Cloths – The type of clothing you pick is weather-dependent, but you want something breathable, durable, and comfortable.
  • Backpack – The pack’s size will depend on your hike, but you will want something to carry any gear you take with you.
  • Snacks and Water – Your body burns through energy and water fast on a hike, so replenishing these is important.  This may not be critical on a very short hike, but we always recommend it.
  • First Aid Kit – Also not critical on a short hike, but twisting your ankle on a random rock or getting hit with a falling branch will make this become critical very fast.  So adding a small one to your pack is a good idea.  Hopefully, it would help if you never had it.

Day Hiking

Stress Level – Beginner to Moderate

This is the hiking that most people think of when they hit the trail. It’s usually a walk on a local path or a few hour hike to the popular lookout spot with a great view.  

The hike duration is between 30 minutes to a few hours and is a great way to get exercise and some time outdoors.

Day hiking is less stressful than the other hiking types, plus it is less demanding when it comes to the gear you need.

A comfortable pair of hiking boots is the most critical item.  Other items that will come in handy are a light back to carry some water and snacks for those several-hour hikes.  Comfortable hiking clothing is also nice to have and should be weather-appropriate.

types of hiking

Summit Hiking

Stress Level – Moderate to Expert

This type of hiking takes that trip to a scenic view to a whole new level.  The goal of a summit hike is to reach the summit of a mountain.

This can include summits that only require hiking to reach, but others may need climbing or safety gear to reach the summit.

These hikes are still less than a day but can be more strenuous than a simple day hike.  The trails may be steeper and skinnier than a typical hiking trail.  And in some cases, there may be no trail at all.

Summit hiking equipment will vary depending on the requirements of the hike. Still, most will include comfortable hiking shoes, weather-appropriate clothing, small to medium size pack to carry your gear, and some people prefer a hiking stick.

Other items that you may need include climbing/rappelling gear, food and water, a first aid kit, and other navigational gear.  Always take a good look at the path, terrain, and weather before you go so you can plan the correct gear for the hike.


Long-Distance Hiking

Stress Level – Moderate to Expert

A long-distance hike can fall into two categories.  One is a long distance over 6-10 hours, and the other being a several-day hike.

Long Distance

As the name describes, the goal of this hike is the distance—a long-distance.  The military uses this kind of hike for physical training and adapting troops for long distances.  

Groups can also use it to go from one location to a new location miles away.

Usually, the terrain is not steep inclines or sides of mountains, but occasionally you will face this.  A long-distance hike is more about the distance than the view at the end of the hike so that it can be a flatter journey,

Required gear for this is similar to a day hike.  But the goal of these hikes vary. You may need to carry a large pack full of equipment in some situations.  In either case, comfortable hiking boots are essential.

Multi-Day Hikes

This type of hiking can be the most demanding of all since it can combine a long-distance hike combined with a multiple-day summit hike.

You will often hear this type of hike, also called backpacking or trekking.  The trek up to the summit of Mount Everest is an extreme example of this.  Another example could be hiking the Appalachian Trail.

Then it comes to gear. This is 100% dependent on many factors, including weather, terrain, duration, and hike elements.  You will need the core items that I mentioned in a previous section, plus a lot more.

If you are looking to do a multi-day hike, you should consult a guild or talk to an expert that has done that trek before.  They can tell you the specific requirements.

Need Help Preparing for a Hike or Backpacking Trip?

Check out our Hiking Equipment Guide for Beginners.  It’s a complete list of gear that every beginner should have!

Hiking Terrain

The terrain can vary greatly depending on where you hike. For example, you could have to deal with a muddy swamp, rocking mountain, or a dry sandy desert. 

Each terrain has its share of challenges, which is why it’s crucial to do your research before setting off on a hike.

Here is a great video that will help you plan your hike and the terrains you may run into.

Types of Hiking Summary

You may have noticed a common theme with each hiking type…  Comfortable boots will make or break your hike.  I can’t tell you how painful a hike can be in the wrong footwear.  So make sure you have a good set of boots.

Lee G.

I love the outdoors! Everything from hiking, climbing, rappelling, and caving.

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