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Hiking vs. Biking | Which Is Better?

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Hiking and biking are intense activities that can help you achieve your fitness goals. While both outdoor activities are excellent ways to exercise outdoors, you might be wondering which is better than the other. 

Hiking versus biking—which is better?

While this might seem like an unfair comparison, the choice of whether to hike or cycle depends on your goals. Hiking and biking have advantages and disadvantages, and you need to weigh them before determining the best option. 

Our detailed guide explores the pros and cons of each activity and what research says about both activities.

Backpacker in a hike in the summer m


Hiking is one outdoor activity with a steady pace that allows you to reel in nature and enjoy your surroundings.

People of all fitness levels and ages can enjoy hiking.

But who benefits from hiking?

Hiking is beneficial if you have back pain and bone density problems like osteoporosis and don’t have a budget to invest in an adventure bike and bike gear. 

Advantages of Hiking

Here are some of the benefits of hiking.

It’s Affordable

Hikers trekking in a forest together

One benefit of hiking is that it’s easy and accessible to everyone who is fit and healthy. 

Although hiking requires a quality pair of hiking boots that can handle different trails over an extended period, it’s easy to find some solid boots that are durable for daily use. 

Fewer Risks

When hiking, you’re less likely to get injured or experience a fall or crash. You can choose to go hiking with friends or family, eliminating some of the risks you may experience when hiking solo.

Excellent Cardio Activity

Hikers on Sunset Peak trail

Hiking allows you to climb hills or traverse different trails, which increases your heart rate. That makes it an excellent form of cardio for anyone looking to burn calories on a simple activity. 

Discover Nature and Enjoy the Surroundings

Hiking gives you time to explore nature, trees, rock formations, waterfalls, wildlife, and more. You can stop and immerse yourself in nature.

Additionally, you can go hiking on any trail you prefer.

Girl Hiking on top of a Mountain Peak

Disadvantages of Hiking

Some of the downsides to hiking include the following:

Takes Time to Cover Ground

Hiking takes time, and you’ll have to walk a long while to cover a particular area. Additionally, you may have to work harder to hit a specific number of miles, which would be easier when cycling. 

Might Get Lost

couple hikers with map got lost in woods

It’s easier to get lost when hiking. You might find it challenging to move through the surroundings, even with access to a GPS connection or map. 

Mountain biker riding dirt trail


Biking is a fast-paced, outdoor activity that allows individuals to exercise and bond outdoors.

Riding a bike on off-road terrain or a trail requires strength, skill, and endurance. It also requires you to have experience navigating different types of terrain.

If you’re looking to enjoy a fast pace and have less time to go hiking a trail, go biking! 

Advantages of Biking

Some of the benefits of biking include the following:

Works As a Mode of Transportation

bearded businessman posing outdoor riding bike

One benefit of biking is that it also doubles up as a transportation method apart from being an outdoor activity.

You get to work out as you commute, which makes things easier. Furthermore, you travel longer distances than someone who’s just hiking. 

Easy to Include in Your Exercise Routine

There are different ways to add biking to your exercise routine. You can choose to use a stationary bike in your home or go mountain biking outdoors, depending on your preferences. 

Easy on Your Joints

Happy couple riding bicycle down forest road

Biking is an excellent activity for people with joint issues as it’s less stressful than hiking. You’re less likely to experience sore feet or ankle and knee pain.

Uses Less Energy

Biking allows you to cycle slowly on a flat surface, making it a less strenuous activity. That can’t be said for hiking, as it involves using different parts of your body to move.

Greater Flexibility

Cyclists Cycling In Forest

Biking is a flexible activity compared to hiking. You can choose to bike at 10 mph or slow down to 5 mph when tired.

With hiking, you have two options—stand still or hike. There’s no flexibility or control on how fast or slow you can hike. 

Disadvantages of Biking

Some of the drawbacks of biking include the following:

Requires a Bike

woman with phone and bicycle in the workshop at home

Unlike hiking, which doesn’t require any special equipment, biking requires a mountain bike or a stationary bike you can set up at home. That comes at a cost.

Some people may not have money to invest in a bike, but they can get durable shoes to go hiking.

Furthermore, you’ll need to account for biking lights, helmets, knee pads, and other necessary gear to go biking. 

Greater Risk

You’re more likely to crash into something when biking than hiking, especially if you’re cycling at high speed.

With hiking, you are more alert to your surroundings and understand some of the dangers. 

Not Suitable for People With Joint Problems

Active senior man in sportswear suffering from pain in his back after cycling,

Individuals suffering from joint issues like chronic pain, arthritis, or other problems that involve the back or knees may find biking difficult. Biking can worsen common problems when done incorrectly. 

Between Hiking and Biking, Which One is Better?

If you’re torn between hiking and biking, you might be wondering which one is better for you in terms of weight loss, burning more calories, or expenses.

Here’s a breakdown of each of these categories.

Weight Loss

sport woman riding bicycle in the public park.

Weight loss encompasses many aspects like your eating habits, sleep schedule, exercises you perform, and your entire lifestyle. 

Although biking is likely to burn more calories at maximum intensity compared to hiking, there’s no clear comparison on which activity leads to more weight loss.

Burning Calories

The calories you burn depend on your body weight, terrain, fitness levels, and intensity.

In the case of hiking, you’ll need to hike on a steep hill for 60 minutes to burn 750 kilocalories (kcal).

Additionally, vigorous, intense cycling for 50 minutes burns about 800 kcal.

So intense cycling can burn more calories than hiking on a steep hill. Cycling is a high-intensity exercise that utilizes upper and lower muscles compared to hiking. 

Nonetheless, it’s essential to note that hiking downhill can be intense compared to cycling downhill. That shows that both activities are likely to burn calories, and there’s no clear winner. 

Hiker woman with a backpack walking down on the rocky terrain


While both biking and hiking require equipment, biking will need extra items.

For example, with hiking, you’ll just need hiking boots and gear.

However, biking requires a bike, which also requires specialized handlebars, frames, and seat bags. A touring or endurance bike is more expensive than a regular mountain bike.

Furthermore, you have to account for a helmet, knee and elbow pads, and other biking gear, which all add up. 

That makes biking more expensive compared to hiking. 


two seniors on hiking stick and a woman with her bicycle

Although biking and hiking are moderate impact activities and can be good for you if you have minor injuries, a certain intensity may prevent you from biking or cycling. 

The type of activity you choose also depends on your injuries. 

For example, biking may worsen low back pain as it involves being in a specific posture for an extended period. However, hiking on a moderate incline has been shown to reduce chronic low back pain. 

You may find that hiking is more comfortable than biking if you have other causes of joint pain and vice versa. It all depends on the type of injuries and other health conditions you may have.

You need to choose an activity that works for the kind of injury. 

Final Thoughts

Hiking and biking are fun outdoor activities that help you stay fit and healthy. The benefits of hiking and biking depend on factors like diet, intensity, training volume, regularity, and more. 

Which one is better than the other will depend on individual preferences.

By learning the benefits and drawbacks of both activities, you can better decide whether you’re trying to burn more calories, lose weight, or simply enjoy the thrill and fun. 


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