6 Different Types of Backpacking (A Beginner’s Guide)

Backpacking is an increasingly popular outdoor activity these days.

It is all about exploring rugged mountains, harsh terrain, and other remote areas with everything you need for survival on your back.

The adventures encountered in different types of backpacking can create long-lasting and cherished memories.

Backpacking choices may vary based on your needs and preferences. Some come with intense exercises and dangerous encounters in the wilderness.

Others, however, are a bit friendlier, making it possible for newbies to try them out.

Backpackers can choose different trails and climates to explore; from easy-to-reach locations and even dry deserts or humid rainforests.

Each has its own unique set of challenges and rewards, and it’s up to the individual to decide which type best suits their abilities and interests.

Types of Backpacking: 6 Most Popular

Types of Backpacking

With so many hiking options available, it’s important to choose a category that suits your experience level.

Some offer a harsh and challenging experience that may be difficult for beginners or those who have never hiked before.

On the other hand, there are also backpacking choices that are more suitable for those who are new to the activity or prefer a more leisurely pace.

Regardless of the type of backpacking you choose, the ultimate goal is to disconnect from the busy city life and immerse yourself in nature.

1. Long-distance hiking

As the name suggests, hiking long distances involves taking long trails that pass through the remotest of areas.

These routes can be as long as 50 km in length and require backpackers to be resilient and patient.

Those considering long-distance hiking must be prepared to cope with harsh weather conditions and rugged terrain.

Expect to get hot, tired, and dirty along the way. These challenges, however, will be rewarded with the best views, breathtaking sunsets, and a sense of accomplishment.

Anyone planning for this kind of hike needs the willingness to push themselves to the limit.

2. Section hiking

Section hiking involves hiking long trails in sections, rather than all at once. The backpacker takes multiple trips, covering a longer trail each time.

This can be particularly beneficial in longer trials that take months to cover, as not everyone has the ability to take an extended period of time away from their daily responsibilities.

Section hiking allows the backpacker to break up the trail into more manageable sections.

You can even do more time researching the uncovered sections of the trail in order to know what to expect on the next hike.

Section hiking can be a good option if you are not able to commit to the demanding schedule and physical demands of completing a trail in one day.

While you will still get tired from the hiking experience, the level of exhaustion will likely be less intense than that of long-distance backpacking.

3. Overnight hiking

Overnight hiking is about hiking through the wilderness during the night.

It is a unique and memorable experience, as the sights and sounds of the wilderness are different at night.

Hiking at night is a convenient choice for nature lovers who are just starting their backpacking adventure.

Since you will be hiking overnight, backpackers do not require as much gear as they would for a multi-day hike.

4. Ultra-light backpacking

The main aim of ultra-backpacking is to reduce the base weight of a backpacker’s gear to more manageable luggage.

‘Base weight’ refers to the weight of the backpack and its contents, excluding items such as water, food, and fuel.

Your clothing and footwear are also excluded from the calculation. The weight may vary, but often, light backpackers limit it to 6.8kg or less.

This allows them to hike long trails with greater ease and comfort, as they are not weighed down by heavy gear.

Ultralight backpacking is worth a try for any backpacker who wants to explore nature without the discomfort of carrying a heavy load.

Since weight isn’t a concern here, backpackers move more freely and easily on the trail, focusing on the beauty and wonder of what nature has to offer.

5. Fastpacking

As someone who enjoys hiking, doing the same thing, again and again, can be boring. This is where fastpacking comes in.

Fastpacking is a combination of hiking, packing, and running. It’s a popular backpacking category that emphasizes speed, light packing, and intense physical activity.

Fastpacking is typically done during the day and is considered a more intense type of hiking, both mentally and physically.

Fastpacking may be a great option for experienced backpackers who are looking for a new challenge and want to push their limits.

6. Mountaineering

Mountaineering is an intense and challenging form of backpacking that requires skills and experience.

It is not just about focusing on long trails, but also includes activities such as skiing, climbing, and more.

This is a type of adventure that only backpackers with skills and expertise can succeed in.

As a result, mountaineering is not recommended for beginners as its exhausting and of course, dangerous.

Whether it’s ascending a mountain peak or navigating through treacherous terrain, mountaineers must have the experience to navigate the challenges it presents.

If your aim is to seek a truly exhilarating and rewarding experience, mountaineering offers the ultimate test of both mental and physical fortitude.


As you can see, backpacking is not limited to moving across rugged trails.

All these types of backpacking come with unique experiences, some of which you only see in thriller movies.

From the serene beauty of overnight hiking to the intense adrenaline rush of fastpacking, there is always something for everyone.

If you’re new to backpacking, options like ultra-light packing or overnight hiking are a great place to start.

And for the hardcore adventurer, mountaineering is sure to push you to your limits.

No matter the option you choose, it’s always important to plan ahead and bring the necessary gear to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

The last thing you would want is to remember those essentials you left at home while you are already on the top of the mountain.

Chloe Jeffreys


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