What Is Hiking? (How It’s Different From Camping + Benefits)

Camping and hiking are great outdoor activities that help us experience the natural world. They are, however, quite different. If you’re wondering which activity is right for you, you’ve come to the right place.

Camping is an activity that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. It allows you to sleep under the stars, cook dinner on a campfire and learn skills. On the other hand, hiking is a physical activity involving trekking through nature. It can improve your fitness, mental health, and bone density!

Below are 10 reasons to go camping and 10 reasons to go hiking. Keep reading to see how they differ from one another. Although they are different activities, they work extremely well together. This article’s latter part discusses the benefits and limitations of hiking and camping together.

What Makes Camping an Excellent Option?

Camping is an outdoor adventure activity that involves spending the night in a shelter in the wild. There are many variations of camping, from tent camping to RV to pure survivalist mode.

It is an extremely versatile activity that can be enjoyed regardless of your age or fitness capabilities.

Above all, camping allows you to relax with no time limits, compared to hiking, where you actively seek to reach a destination. Here are 10 reasons as to why camping is the right activity for you.

1. Sleeping Under the Stars

Camping gives you a unique outdoor experience, and sleeping under the stars is one of the best.

There are several national parks throughout the US where camping under the stars is best due to limited light pollution. This includes Joshua Tree National Park and East Glacier Park.

You can also check out my guide on camping in national parks to learn about the legalities and rules.

Sleeping Under the Stars

2. Experience Natures Fullest

The early bird gets the worm, and when you are camping, you’ll likely wake early to the sounds of birdsong and wildlife around you.

Unless you plan to hike at daybreak, it could be that you miss the wonderful sounds of nature waking unless you are camping!

3. Cook On a Campfire

Marshmallows on an open campfire are essential for every camping trip. Hiking does not usually include a campfire, as you are continuously walking.

With camping, you can take your time, cozy up in front of the fire or even share stories.

4. You Don’t Have to Walk Far

Unlike hiking, where walking is the focus of the activity, camping allows you to set your own pace. If you plan to access your campsite by road, then it could be that your car is next to your campground.

This is a serious advantage to camping because you can make it as accessible as possible.

5. No Limits on Packing

If you don’t plan to walk far to your campsite, you don’t have to put any limits on packing. You can include the blow-up mattress and memory foam mattress topper.

This all adds to the overall comfort of your experience, allowing you to take as many luxuries as you want.

6. Camping with Amenities

Campsites with extras are a definite plus! These extras could include fire pits to hot showers. With amenities at campsites, you don’t need to pack as much or forfeit all your creature comforts.

Some campsites also have a general convenience or liquor store, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting to pack something.

Camping with Amenities

7. You Have a Variety of Places to Stay

Camping does not necessarily mean staying in a tent. Camping can be enjoyed with a Yurt, in an RV, or a glamping setting. It can even be enjoyed by those who just want to sleep without shelter.

Whatever your preference, there is a form of camping tailored to your needs. You can choose camping that is more primitive or more luxurious.

8. Teaches Important Skills

Camping can inadvertently teach you important survival skills. This can include knot tying, cooking, fire starting, and shelter building! Camping allows you to develop new skills in an exciting, engaging way.

9. Learn About the Natural World

Camping can teach a lot about the natural world that a book can’t encapsulate.

Hearing different birdsong, feeling the textures of different leaves, and smelling the trees around you; camping is a sensory experience unlike any other.

10. Improves Confidence

For some, camping can be a daunting activity. Camping may make you feel vulnerable, with your privacy and security at risk, but it can invoke the opposite.

Camping can help you build confidence and independence in a safe, isolated environment.

What Makes Hiking an Excellent Option?

Hiking differs from camping because it is the recreational activity of walking in nature. It can involve walking long, vigorous trails into the heart of the bush.

There are various difficulties that hiking can demand, with hard trails on uneven ground or steep slopes and easier trails on walking paths. Hiking can demand a level of physical fitness.

If you feel like you want more of a physical challenge, you might be more of a hiker than a camper!

1. Lightweight Backpack

Camping can mean packing a heavy backpack when you consider you’ll need a sleeping bag, shelter, and food. On the other hand, you can pack real light for a hiking trip.

You can check out my article on the best sleeping bags to find the perfect one for your camping needs.

You may only need waterproofs, water, lunch, snacks, and smaller essentials like a Swiss Army knife and first aid kit. This all adds up to a reasonably light backpack.

Lightweight Backpack

2. Get the Exercise

To lead a healthy lifestyle, it’s important to include exercise in our lives. Hiking is a full-body workout! It helps to strengthen muscles, lower blood pressure, and reduce heart disease.

All are helping us to lead a fitter and more healthy life. Hiking is extremely flexible and you can adjust a hike to make it more or less strenuous.

3. Improves Mental Health

Combining exercise and fresh air makes hiking great for your mental health. A recent study by Stanford University found that hiking can reduce depression by calming anxiety and relieving stress.

Hiking also releases endorphins which boost our moods and make us happier.

4. Endurance

Another great advantage of hiking compared to camping is that it improves endurance.

Physical and mental endurance are noticeable after several hikes, and with prolonged participation in hiking, you start to notice the difference.

5. You’ll Sleep in Your Bed

An advantage of hiking is that you know when the hike is over, you can always go back to a comfortable bed, whether that’s in a nearby hotel or your bed at home.

You can feel motivated to complete a hike if you know there’s a good sleep at the end.

Youll Sleep in Your Bed

6. You Do Not Have To Be Social

Camping at a campsite can be like sharing a space at a hostel. You have to acknowledge and be considerate of your neighbors. This is not the case with hiking.

When hiking you can be as anti-social or isolated as you want to be.

7. Protects Bone Density

Hiking is a weight-based exercise whereby your body and bones work hard against gravity. This helps to protect bone density, which helps us considerably as we age and our bone density reduces.

Help fight brittle bones by getting out for a hike!

8. Improves Sleep

As you can imagine, a nice long hike can help you rest easier at night. By releasing adrenaline, hiking allows our bodies to relax afterward.

You can sleep more easily after improving your mental health and vitamin D.

9. Travel to Places Untouched by Roads

Another great benefit of hiking is that it allows you to travel to untouched places. You can follow a set trail, or you can make your own.

Hiking in locations where there are no vehicles also means the air is likely to be much clearer.

10. Wild Animals

One of the greatest reasons to hike is because of all the wildlife you get to experience. When camping, it could be that local wildlife steers clear of your campsite due to the noise.

Yet, hiking can take you to distinctive locations to view animals in their natural habitats.

Wild Animals

Why Go Hiking and Camping?

To experience the entirety of nature, it’s wonderful to combine camping and hiking.

If you are backcountry camping, you’ll most likely have to hike to your camping location, giving you plenty of time to experience the wonders of nature in a peaceful, uncrowded way.

You can also choose campsites connected to hiking trails, making hiking accessible for those who want to hike too!

1. Advantages

Below are five benefits of combining hiking and camping! You can get off grid, improve your survivalist skills, and feel a new sense of independence.

a. Experience the Great Outdoors

One commonality between camping and hiking is how you can experience the outdoors. When combining the two, you can be sure to experience the outdoors to its fullest!

You can venture across untouched lands to lay your head where no one has made camp before.

b. Backcountry Camping

You’ll likely have to hike to your camping destination to backcountry camp. This is an even better way to immerse yourself in nature.

Backcountry camping can be done in the snow, through mountains, over rolling hills, or near glistening lakes. It’s the ultimate getaway, where you make your own rules and adventure on your own terms.

c. Great for the Survivalist

Hiking and camping is a good way to improve your survivalist skills. These skills can include water sourcing, where you’ll need to find and purify water.

It can also involve shelter building, fire starting, first aid, and map reading. Survivalist skills can help you stay in the wilderness safely while teaching you to adapt to nature.

d. Get Off Grid

It’s nice to escape our world of technology every once in a while, and hiking and camping allow you to really get off the grid.

With no distractions and perhaps no phone service, you can take a meditative breath and concentrate on only your surroundings. This can be extremely therapeutic and beneficial for your mental health.

e. Independence

Hiking to your campground means leaving the crowded road-accessed campsites behind and choosing exactly where you want to be.

This awards a camper with a sense of independence and wonder as your options on camping locations are now widened with your hiking expertise.

2. Disadvantages

We’ve named several limitations of camping and hiking. This includes the lack of medical services, dangerous wildlife you may encounter, and the need to prepare more before you set out.

a. Limits on Packing

Limiting how much you can pack on a camping and hiking trip can be challenging for some. You need to realize that you probably won’t be able to carry all your favorite luxuries.

Whatever you decide to take, remember you’ll be hiking with it! It’s also important to consider that you may have to carry all the rubbish you create during your trip. So pack in reusable containers!

b. Requires More Preparation

Camping and hiking require more thorough preparation. You need to decide exactly how far you’ll hike and where you’ll camp. You’ll need to factor in delays or changes in weather also.

If a snowstorm starts, you will need a plan B if you cannot walk or find a trail. Understand the terrain you’ll be walking and where it can be dangerous.

It’s also good practice to know where the nearest road is, in case of emergencies.

c. Lack of Medical Services

We mentioned first aid above, and this is crucial to a combined hiking and camping trip. Without any first aid knowledge, you could be risking your life and those who have to help you.

This adventure may take you far from any hospital or doctor. So you’ll need to rely on your survivalist skills.

d. Finding Fresh Water

Sourcing fresh water is another essential skill for camping and hiking.

Unless you plan to carry all the water you’ll need for your trip on your back (which is pretty unlikely), then you need to be sure you are close to, or can find, a water source.

Dehydration can cause fatigue and headaches, which are as dangerous in the sun as they are in the snow. Make sure you pack a water filter or water purifying tablets.

Finding Fresh Water

e. Dangerous Wildlife

One of the best things about camping and hiking is all the wildlife you can expect to see. Just be aware that not all wildlife is friendly.

Bears, coyotes, and snakes are dangerous wildlife that you need to be aware of, especially when camping in the outback.

Before your trip, ensure you know what wildlife to expect and how to avoid unfortunate encounters. A good tip: pack your food in air-tight containers.

Combine Hiking and Camping for an Ultimate Outdoor Adventure…

We hope this article has helped you identify the differences between hiking and camping. Both are rewarding outdoor activities that allow you to experience the wonderful world of nature.

They are also great activities to combine, with hiking allowing you to camp in wilder places! Always be aware of the risks of hiking and camping, whether you’re doing the activities together or separately.

Shailen Vandeyar

A proud Indian origin Kiwi who loves to plant trees and play with his pet bunny when not out in the woods, exploring the infinite beauty of mother nature.

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