Types of hiking

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There are several hiking types. For every hiker another kind and in general also structured on the difficulty of a hike. Types of hikes are mostly distinguished in length of the adventure. The length of a hike can differ from one day to months in a row. This length makes the hike harder to accomplish and more of an athletic experience.

Day hike

Are you a beginner in hiking? In that case a day hike (or dayhike) is the way to start building up your trail skills. Just being out in nature for one day gives you a sense of the mood and silence of this sport. If it is your first time, pick a well marked, maintained trails within easy commuting distance from home.


It is also highly recommended to be fully aware of what you are about to do. Before you leave you want to check out the terrain to estimate how tough the hike will be in terms of time and effort. Calculate your turn around destination and time point or be aware of the facilities at the finish location in terms of transport. You could also pick a hike that starts and ends on the same location. Keep an eye on the marks along the track. If you don’t see the marks along the trail anymore, maybe you took a wrong turn. You can also use an app to keep track of the trail and your own location. Use for example Komoot to plan and execute the hike.


As the name suggests, you set out for a day of hiking on a trail. Usually you take a backpack, some water, snacks, and first aid supplies with you. Take just enough for one day because nothing more is necessary.

Overnight hike

Why would you turn around on a trail and finish it in one day only? When you can stay overnight in the nature under a thousand stars? When you start hiking one day, spend the night out on the trails that night and return the next day it is called an overnight hike (or in some cases a weekend backpacking trip).

Since you are going to sleep on or along the track it is smart to take a longer time investment in planning. You want to stay safe and comfortable during this trip isn’t it? There will be a couple of things more to think about when planning an overnight hike. Maybe most important is the sleeping location. You can use a facility along the way, like a campsite , a forest house of mountain hut. But when choosing for these options will turn your trip more into a double day hike.

A real overnight hiker will go all the way and camps out in the open. Keep in mind that you need some extra things when organising this. You have to take a bigger backpack with you because you need to take all the necessities for the first day of hiking you and for the next as well. Think about some extra food (for lunch, dinner, and breakfast, plus trail snacks) and extra water (for drinking and cooking) or knowhow about how to gain water in nature. Furthermore you need to make space in your backpack for camping equipment. At least a tent to provide shelter and a sleeping bag to sleep warm and comfy. Depending on your preference you also need a camp kitchen.

Are just getting started with overnight hikes? We recommend to sleep on spots with basic facilities, before going all the way into the wilderness.

Mountain hut

Section hike

On a section hike you hike a part of a long distance trail. Section hikes are a typical hiking type that would be a part of the Appalachian trail. A section hiker will only hike a part of the trail instead of the entire length of the trail all at once. When you walk the entire path you will be named a thru hiker. Depending on the length of the trail a section hike could take a couple of days or a month (or longer). But, it can also be one section for a day only.

Section hiking is the calling for any hiker with a desire to complete a thru-hike, who doesn’t have time and/or resources to do so. It is much like its name implies; it involves chipping away at a trail, piece by piece, in sections. Most of the times it is done with an overnight stay, which means you need take resources with you. The length of a section varies depending on each specific hike and hiker. Some hikers will complete trails easier and cover two sections in one day only. Section hiking is a very broad term, because it encompasses any completion of a trail that did not occur in one singular hike.

In the Netherlands you are able to get involved in a lot of section hikes that are part of long distance hiking paths (LAW). In foreign countries you can even hike parts of even longer paths.

"Section hiking is the calling for any hiker with a desire to complete a thru-hike, who doesn’t have time and/or resources to do so."

Section hike

Long distance hike

Long distance hiking can also be referred to as backpacking. The term covers all hikes that lasts for two or more consecutive nights. You could say that it are multiple overnight hikes in a row. A long distance hike is an undertaking that requires a fairly significant physical, and time commitment. You will be away from home or any other facility for a longer period of time and have to take a lot of provision.

Long distance hikers often find themselves chasing the larger objective of completing a specific trail. A long distance hiker can be a section hiker with a lot of ambition and time. All thru-hikers (as mentioned below) are also long distance hikers, because they need to cover a long distance (and a lot of time) to finish a trail.

Thru hike

A thru hike is when a hiker starts at the beginning of a long distance trail and hikes all the way through non-stop to the end of the trail. Depending on the length of the trail, this could take several weeks to several months. For example, the average thru hiker on the Appalachian trail takes about 5-7 months to complete it. On the other hand a thru hike on the Pieterpad in the Netherlands (495km) only takes about 1-2 weeks.

Who are those hikers that spend months on hiking thousands of kilometers? Only to say they hiked a whole trail from beginning to end? This are thru-hikers, and you’ll find a lot of them on the world known trails. Thru-hikers made the decision to put the “real world” on hold. They just want to become more attached to nature or go trampling through the mountains for the better part of a year. Characteristic of a thru-hike is that it is an attempt to complete a particular trail. Most thru-hikers are either going through a transitional period in their life, or are retired, but you’ll still find plenty of people from all walks of life attempting a thru-hike.

Are you going to make a hike? Look for inspiration on our overview page.

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