6 Types of Hiking that You Should Know About

6 Types of Hiking that You Should Know AboutPin

Hiking isn’t for everyone, however, it seems that more and more people are trying it than ever before. This is a great form of exercise and allows people to get out and move.

These days, when lives are busy and stress is on the rise, what better way to alleviate tension and relax your mind than by spending time in the great outdoors on a backcountry trail.

It doesn’t matter if you are a newbie or a hiking pro, there is a hiking trip that is perfect for you.


1. Day Hiking

woman hiking in naturePin

Day hiking is a great way for new hikers or nature enthusiasts to get out into the wilderness and enjoy the scenery without having to worry about making camp or night-time safety.

Day hiking is fun and can be a great way to spend quality time with family and friends and allow yourself some downtime in a healthy way. Many people like to explore all of their shorter local trails or even find a fun, moderate hike that only takes a few hours to complete while they are on vacation.

Read also: 8 Types of Hiking Trails that You Should Know

What to Expect

Day hiking isn’t something that requires tons of pre-planning, mapping, and packing. There are tons of trails that have markers to help guide you through the terrain, keeping you on course.

No matter how simple the trail may be, make sure to do your research on the area ahead of time in order to know what type of trail it is, what types of plants you should steer clear of, and what animals may be lurking.

What to Bring

Whether you plan on being gone for an hour or the entire day, plan on bringing plenty of water and a snack or two. Hydration is key to keeping your muscles moving for a long expedition, especially in the heat.

Depending on the location, you may also want to consider grabbing sunblock and bug spray as well.

Read also: Osprey vs CamelBak Hydration Bladder: Which is Better?

2. Weekend Hiking

man and woman camping wearing down jacketsPin

If you found that you truly enjoyed the experience of your day hike and are interested in trying to make it through the night, there are many trails for that as well. Most people who enjoy spending a few nights outdoors normally do this when planning a camping trip.

You can quickly set up camp and then spend your days exploring trails and your nights cozied up by a fire roasting marshmallows.

You might also like: 11 Best Camping Tent Brands: These Are Our Favorites

What to Expect

When camping out for the weekend, you should expect animal activity and bugs. It is very important you keep your food contained so as to not attract any unwanted furry guests. For most, hiking in the dark can be dangerous, so be prepared with plenty of lighting or keep your expeditions during daylight.

What to Bring

When planning a weekend hike, you should plan for your two-day stay with as little as possible. This includes a tent, sleeping bag, food and water, a flashlight, and a change of clothes.

You should also bring along a backpack with room for water bottles and snacks as well as sunblock and bug spray.

Find your backpack here: 11 Best Hiking Backpack Brands: Our Top Picks

3. Mountain Hiking

people hiking on a mountain trailPin

Mountain hiking is an amazing experience and gives you opportunities to take on different environments than other types of hiking. This is a great form of exercise and can help motivate many people to get out and see the world.

Learn more: Hiking vs Mountaineering: What’s the Difference?

What to Expect

Mounting hiking is a lot different than trekking flat trails. This all-terrain type of hiking will require you to climb, jump, and shuffle along with different types of surfaces and obstacles and can be a little difficult to navigate at first.

Be prepared for your journey by researching the location you plan on hiking and knowing what types of natural barriers and animals you may encounter so you will be ready for anything.

Depending on the location you plan on visiting, mountain hiking (especially in ice and snow) can be dangerous and requires skill.

What to Bring

Like always, make sure you pack enough water for the extent of the hike then time it by two. You never want to run out of hydration. Bring a walking stick, bug spray, sunblock, and some snacks to keep you energized.

You will also want to have a good pair of hiking boots with great traction and waterproof to keep your feet comfortable and safe.

Learn more:
The 5 Types of Hiking Boots that You Should Know
What to Look For in Hiking Boots? 6 Important Things

4. Backpacking

woman with osprey backpack hiking in the mountainsPin

Backpacking is for those who love an adventure. This is a long excursion out into the natural world when you have nothing but the items you can stick into one bag.

Backpacking is a great way to get away from it all, spend quiet time without smart devices, computers, and daily chores. It allows you to see how capable of a person you are without all of the technology we utilize every day.

What to Expect

When backpacking, always expect the unexpected. You are going to be walking for many hours non-stop in a place that is home to tons of wild creatures, plants, and insects. Make sure you know which plants are dangerous, what types of bugs to prepare for, and how to defend yourself from animals.

You will also need to know how to set up a one-man tent and build small fires to keep you warm and safe on your journey.

What to Bring

To successfully backpack through nature you will want to purchase a durable, quality backpack. These are specifically designed to comfortably carry all of your gear so you can be hands-free for your journey. It will hold your food, water, clothes, a small tent, fire starter, etc.

Read also: 6 Types of Hiking Backpacks that You Should Know

5. Long-Distance Hiking

two women hiking in winter with backpacksPin

Long-distance hiking is defined differently depending on who you ask. However, a good rule of thumb is a hike that takes 2-3 weeks or more and requires you to travel 150-300 miles. These are long strenuous hikes and not meant for those just starting out.

These types of hikes will require re-supplying stops along the way and are usually more fun when completed in groups or even with a guide.

What to Expect

Long-distance hikers have to be in good physical condition and great health. It is also very important to study the terrain and trails to make sure you do not get lost or off a path. Many people have become lost in these locations and have been injured.

It is also extremely important to pack as lightly as possible and only bring the items you absolutely need. As previously stated, you will be required to make stops along the way to restock on items like food and water, so planning those stops accordingly before you leave is crucial.

What to Bring

To keep your load as small as possible it is important to bring water, food sources, bug spray, sunblock, a map, a compass, fire starter, and sleeping bag.

You might also like: 15 Best Hiking Trails in Norway: Our Top Picks

6. Off-Trail Hiking

couple hiking wearing rain jacketsPin

Hiking off-trail should be done by an experienced hiker and someone who knows the area well. The appeal of hiking off-trail is discovering areas that are otherwise unknown or untouched. Following the beaten path, keeps humans and nature completely separated and the movement monotonous, but walking off-trail is exciting.

What to Expect

When off-trail hiking, expect to come across dangerous animals, wild plants, and unforgiving weather. Try to keep an eye on the forecast for the time you plan on being out in nature and hike in a safe place where it is permitted to do so.

What to Bring

Depending on the length of time you plan on hiking, you should bring the food and water needed to keep you fueled as well as bug spray, sunscreen, and a great pair of hiking boots.

You might also like: 12 Best Hiking Trails in Italy: Our Favorites

What do Hiking Trail Colors Mean?

While you are out on a trail you may come across trees marked with spray paint or small signs with a single solid color. These are known as paint blazes and the color simply represents an individual trail and lets hikers know they are still on the correct path.

How to read Paint Blazes?

The paint color indicates you are going the right way, however, the shape or number of blazes give you other information. The shapes below and the number of blazes are used in the USA and Canada. (source)

  • A straight rectangle indicates you are on the correct path and you should keep moving forwards.
  • Two rectangles forming a right diagonal line indicate a right turn.
  • Two rectangles forming a left diagonal line indicate a left turn.
  • Three rectangles forming a triangle with the point up indicates the beginning of the trail.
  • Three rectangles forming a triangle with the point down indicates the end of the trail.
  • Three rectangles forming a triangle with the point facing the right means intersecting trails.

hiking trail signs paint blazes usa canada illustrationPin

Central Europe, Eastern Europe, and parts of Latin America (Brazil) use the Czech Hiking Markers System.


There are many different ways to enjoy a hike, whether it be overnight or over a month. This activity is utilized by millions of people in order to get into nature and away from stress.

It is important to note, that anyone considering hiking in any way, should always let someone know where they will be and how long they will be gone. This will be useful if you were to ever get injured or lost.

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