Is Hiking a Hobby? 17+ Key Criteria to Consider Hiking as a Passionate Pastime

Many people refer to hiking casually as something they “like to do”, but few would classify it as their main hobby.

Yet for avid hikers like me who hit the trails every weekend and plan vacations around bagging peaks, hiking clearly transcends a mere activity and becomes a central passion.

So what qualifies hiking as a full-fledged hobby rather than just an occasional diversion? Is hiking a hobby?

This in-depth guide will examine how hiking fulfills the main criteria that define a hobby.


Key Traits that Classify Something as a Hobby

For any pursuit to truly be considered a hobby rather than an irregular interest, it generally displays these characteristics:

  • Repeated participation and dedication over an extended time.
  • Obtaining equipment and gaining skills specific to the hobby.
  • Joining clubs or groups of fellow enthusiasts.
  • Making sacrifices to prioritize the hobby.
  • Deriving a sense of identity from the hobby.
  • Spending significant money and other resources to support the hobby.
  • Regularly dedicating time to the hobby.
  • Gaining recognition within the hobby’s community.
  • Participating in events related to the hobby.
  • Continual learning about the hobby’s history and key figures.

Evaluated against these criteria, hiking clearly fits the profile of a full-fledged hobby rather than a passing amusement.


Hiking as a Repeated, Long-Term Pursuit

While many people hike sporadically when the opportunity arises, dedicated hobbyists hike consistently throughout the year, through all seasons. They integrate hiking as a regular weekly or even daily habit.

Rather than completing just popular local trails, hobbyist hikers continually seek out new terrain, peaks, and distances to explore their passion fully.

For the committed, hiking evolves into a lifelong journey as their passion persists year after year. Decades spent walking trails comes to define their lifestyle.


Obtaining Hiking Gear and Skill Sets

Another hallmark of a hobby is acquiring specialized equipment and skills for safe enjoyment and optimal performance.

Hobbyist hikers carefully curate a selection of footwear, clothing, packs, tools, and accessories purpose-designed for comfort and safety in outdoor environments.

Selection factors include weight, durability, and technical enhancements. Considerations like break-in time and intended terrain come into play.

They also hone skills like navigation, fitness conditioning, orienteering, and off-trail travel to pursue ever more ambitious routes.

Taking classes, reading books, watching instructional videos, and gaining mountain experience allows them to level up their expertise.

These gear and skill investments let hobbyists hike farther, longer, and more comfortably, enhancing gratification.

Also Read: What is Unparalleled Hiking? Find Out 5 Amazing Benefits You Can Get


Joining Hiking Organizations

Hobbyists seek out organizations of like-minded enthusiasts for friendship, advice, and collaborative events. Popular groups include:

  • Hiking clubs sponsored by outfitters like REI.
  • Nonprofit conservation groups like Sierra Club with active rosters of hikes.
  • groups formed around hiking.
  • University outdoors clubs.
  • Regional hiking organizations like the Appalachian Mountain Club.
  • Backpacking associations focused on lightweight travel.
  • Trail volunteer groups that maintain local paths.

These organizations provide mentors, route advice, clinics to build skills, and community. Friendships form with those who share the passion. Belonging fosters commitment.


Prioritizing Hiking Above Other Options

For the dedicated hobbyist, hiking becomes a priority integrated into the fabric of life. Family vacations are planned around trekking national parks. Weekends are reserved for hitting the trails.

Rather than watching TV or social media at night, time is spent browsing hiking gear reviews and trip reports. Hiking adventures get scheduled before other potential plans.

Jobs, homes, and relationships might be partly evaluated by proximity to great trails. Major life decisions weigh access to hiking.

This reveals hiking’s importance beyond a casual activity and more as a core interest defining lifestyle.

Also Read: Is Hiking Spiritual? Why it is and 7 Spiritual Benefits of Hiking


Deriving Part of Identity From Hiking

Telltale sign of a hobby – when it becomes entwined with how someone defines themselves.

Hobbyists proudly proclaim they are hikers. Their car sports trail organization stickers. Conversations frequently revert to the latest hike. Hiking perspectives influence opinions and values.

Specialization emerges – thru-hikers, peak-baggers, ultra-lighters. Bonding quickly happens when meeting fellow hikers. Other facets of life revolve around hiking schedule.

Hiking evolves from an activity into an identity and community. Self-image intertwines with the hobby.


Investing Significant Money Into Hiking

Casual day hikers may rely on basics like entry-level boots, an old backpack, and rented tent.

In contrast, hobbyists dedicate larger budgets to carefully curated gear that optimizes enjoyment. Beyond essentials, they splurge on upgrades like:

  • Premium boots and clothing offering durability and technical enhancements.
  • Ultralight tents, packs, and accessories that cut weight.
  • GPS devices and satellite messengers for increased safety and navigation options.
  • Trekking poles to ease joint strain on long distances.
  • Quality cameras and lenses to document epic scenery.
  • Custom insoles, hydration systems, supplements, and other accessories CLAIMING improved performance.
  • Gas, repairs, and gear for rugged trucks and vans tailored for accessing trailheads.

For passionate hikers, expenses to support the hobby generally exceed average recreational spending.

Also Read: Is Hiking Walking? Check Out the Peculiar Differences Between Walking and Hiking


Devoting Time to Hiking

Another obvious indicator – when substantial free time becomes dedicated to hiking.

Hobbyists prioritize getting out on trails multiple days per week. Vacation days are hoarded for thru-hikes and bucket list expeditions.

Evenings after work involve poring over topo maps planning routes or organizing gear. Weekends focus on hitting new trails vs. other options.

Books related to hiking take prime position on the nightstand. Hangouts with friends happen on the trail. Hiking grows into the go-to activity for free time rather than an afterthought.

Also Read: Is Hiking a Skill? Develop These Top 13+ Skills Through Hiking


Gaining Recognition Within the Hiking Community

Dedicated hobbyists earn reputations for their achievements on long trails, completion of challenge routes, peak totals, or advocacy. Their names become associated with the sport.

They might be featured in articles profiling their long thru-hikes or speed records. Brands seek them out for sponsorship and demonstrations. Park staff and fellow hikers recognize them.

Their advice and trip reports are valued for inspiring and informing others. They embody their hobby in the public eye.


Participating in Hiking Events

Mark of a true hobbyist – prioritizing events on the calendar related to hiking. For example:

  • Organized group hikes to raise funds for trails.
  • Rallies for public lands protection.
  • Annual gatherings like the Hike the Hill lobby event in DC.
  • Races that combine trail running with hiking.
  • Stewardship events like trail work days.
  • Mountain culture festivals that celebrate hiking through music, food, and speakers.
  • Slideshow screenings and lectures by noted hikers.

Attending such happenings demonstrates commitment beyond simply hitting the trail alone.


Learning About Hiking History and Culture

Casual enthusiasts rely solely on firsthand experiences in nature. But hobbyists seek to enrich their relationship by learning context. Ways include:

  • Visiting sites marking historic events related to hiking, like the Appalachian Trail’s first section.
  • Reading biographies of pioneering conservationists involved in protecting trails.
  • Tracking advancements in hiking technology and techniques over past decades.
  • Taking classes in wilderness ethics and Leave No Trace principles.
  • Gaining familiarity with indigenous history of areas hiked.
  • Viewing documentaries about noted hikers or trails.
  • Following debates around hiking trails in the news.

This “textbook” knowledge complements miles logged on the ground.

Also Read: Why is it Called Hiking? Find Out The Origin, Evolution and Meaning of Hiking


Additional Signs of a Hiking Hobbyist

So, is hiking a hobby? We’ve talked about this in this article as beyond the major criteria, you may be a hobbyist hiker if:

  • You own multiple copies of your favorite hiking book just to lend and gift.
  • Your pantry overflows with different hiking nutrition options.
  • You correct friends’ use of hiking vernacular like saying “switchback” versus “turn”.
  • You craft special pre-hike playlists to set the mood.
  • You have distinct, carefully curated hiking outfits based on season and terrain.
  • You get restless when forced to skip more than a few days on the trails.
  • You have memorized the records and firsts related to iconic thru-hikes.
  • Conversations about budgets or savings goals include hiking expenses.
  • You browse hiking gear websites just for fun to learn about innovations.
  • Co-workers know not to expect replies to emails on Monday mornings after big weekend hikes.

In short, you know hiking is your passion rather than just a casual activity! The dedication speaks for itself.


FAQs on Is Hiking a Hobby


How much does hiking cost as a hobby?

The cost of hiking varies widely based on the gear chosen and how often you participate. With minimal equipment, day hiking can be very affordable. But extensive gear collections and frequent travel to trails can mean thousands invested annually.

Is hiking a good hobby for someone on a tight budget?

Absolutely! Day hikes close to home require little cost once you have some basic gear. Many parks offer free access. Joining clubs provides low-cost group trips and borrowed gear options. There are lots of budgets ways to fuel hiking passions.

What makes hiking unique compared to other outdoor hobbies?

Hiking’s minimal gear needed, accessibility to most people, and the self-propelled aspect exploring nature on foot set it apart from pastimes like kayaking or rock climbing that require more specialized training and equipment. The metaphors of the trail also give hiking special meaning.

Can hiking become an obsessive hobby?

It’s possible to take any hobby too far at the expense of work, relationships, or responsibilities. But hiking lends itself well to balance since trips require planning and moderation. Hiking with groups also models healthy enjoyment.

Why do some hikers seek to accumulate record distances or peak totals?

Setting measurable goals like completing a list of 4,000-foot peaks provides a sense of purpose. Achieving objectives demonstrates progression of skills and mastery. For some the competition and recognition drives them.

What injuries are most common for hobbyist hikers?

Overuse injuries like knee pain, plantar fasciitis, shin splints, and tendonitis can arise from the repetitive motion and mileage. Sprains and rolled ankles are other common mishaps. Proper preparation, pacing, and footwear can help reduce risk.

What benefits does hiking provide as a lifelong hobby?

As a low-impact aerobic activity, hiking over decades promotes cardiovascular health, muscle tone, joint flexibility, and balance. Moving meditation in nature reduces stress hormones. Goal-setting and problem-solving on the trail build cognitive resilience. The reflection time fosters spiritual growth. Hiking fuels lasting holistic wellness.

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