Rucking vs Hiking: What Is The Difference?


Rucking vs Hiking: People hiking in the forest
Photo Credit: Loren Kerns

The goal of rucking is to carry your backpack as a form of resistance for your workout. Whereas hiking is focused on carrying a backpack with the goal of spending time outdoors and to reach a naturally beautiful destination.

Why Do People Ruck and Not Hike?

It’s easy to confuse both rucking and hiking and use them interchangeably, but the differences are rather vast. Rucking is a sport that involves walking with a weighted backpack with the sole objective of completing a specific distance or time. People ruck for the following reasons:

Reasons to RuckReasons to Ruck Explained
1.General FitnessRucking has tons of health benefits as it is a LISS (Low Intensity Steady State Workout). Learn more about the benefits of rucking.
2.In Honour of Memorable EventsPeople ruck in groups or events during patriotic events and holidays such as Memorial day as a means of respect (source)
3.To be SociableThere are numerous rucking clubs across the country where people ruck in groups. Its a great way to meet people in your local community.
4.MilitaryRucking is a pillar exercise in the military. Many people start rucking as a way to prepare for themselves for the army. Learn more about the army’s ruck march standards.

Rucking is More Accessible

Other than the above mentioned reasons to ruck, people choose torucking over hiking because not everyone has immediate access to mountainous areas and forests in their backyards. Many of us live in cities and are unable to easily access naturally aesthetic landscapes. When you go on a hike, most people go as a daily trip or weekend trip which is not sustainable if you’re looking to actively workout to lose weight or practice to join the military.

Why do People Hike and Not Ruck?

Hiker by the water fall
Photo Credit: Ranch Seeker

Hiking also involves carrying a backpack for an extended period of time but its typically done in trails and beautiful natural areas. The goal with hiking is to reach a destination or walk in a naturally beautiful place. We definitely understand why people do it.

After all, dont you find yourself feeling better after walking in nature and being surronded by trees? That makes sense since we need it to stay sane! The term “biophilia hypothesis,” suggests that we love nature because we evolved in it. (source).

So why do people choose to hike? Well, other than hiking being fun and adventourous, here are some reasons as to why people hike:

  1. It’s also a LISS form workout, meaning that is has tons of health benefits
  2. Being in touch with nature
  3. Explore new areas and to embark on new adventures
  4. Its a non-competitive activity
  5. A cheap way to explore a city

Rucking & Hiking May Require Some Different Gear

There are certainly some rucking gear that can be used for rucking that is useful for hikers and vice versa. For example, Rucking boots, socks, and rucksacks can be used interchangeably between both activities.

If you’re hiking for less than a day, then you’re typically not packing much weight in your rucksack which then may require similar gear to rucking. But when hiking for more than a day, thats when you’re require vastly different gear.

Unless you’re rucking for the military, people usually ruck for a few hours so ruckers basically pack their backpacks for the sakes of adding resistance to their workout. That’s definitely not the case for hiking.

If you’re a regular hiker, there are some equipment that will be of no use for ruckers. Here are a few that we can think of:

  • Trekking Poles
  • Tents (For more than one day hikes)
  • Cooking equipment (For more than one day hikes)
  • Backpacking stove & Fuel (For more than one day hikes)

Ruckers Ruck More Often than Hikers Hike

While it can be argued that since rucking and hiking require almost the same gear, can be done for the same time duration, and both actives may require you holding the same weight that its

The motive behind rucking is primarily to workout and be active on a regular basis for the majority of ruckers (the enjoyment of the sport and social element is a close second though). However the same can’t be said about hiking. As previously mentioned, most people dont have immediate access to hike-worth locations, whereas anyone can pack a rucksack with weight and walk outside in the city for hours.

Final Thoughts

Rucking and hiking are generally similar in that they require very similar gear, and the motion of the entire activity is pretty much the same. The true difference comes in when asking why people engage in one activity over the other.

We love rucking given its accessibility and great social component. While we do enjoy going out on a hike, its simply not sustainable to stick to given that we need to go on a road trip to hike.

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