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Which Is The Cheaper Outdoor Activity, Cycling or Hiking?

Last Updated on January 22, 2023 by Emmanuel

Cycling and hiking are two popular option that will help you stay in shape or allows you to explore nature at its best, no matter whether you are looking for an activity.

But the initial investment between the two can be significant because cycling requires more equipment than hiking.

So this article will examine the cheaper outdoor activity, cycling or hiking, to help you choose the most suitable one.

Cycling Vs. Hiking

The factors to consider when choosing between cycling and hiking include the following:

The cost of equipment


A good quality bicycle can cost several hundred dollars, while you only need around $200 or less to get a decent pair of hiking boots.

It would help if you had an upfront cost of at least $1,000, but the price can increase depending on the quality of the bike.

If you want a high-quality mountain bike, you will spend consequently because these bikes are more expensive.

In addition, you must consider the budget to maintain your bicycle, but many say $100 or a bit more per year is enough.


Hiking equipment is affordable because you only need a good pair of shoes at around $200.

But you might also need to spend on a quality jacket, especially if you go hiking during the training season.

Also, remember to take water, food, a first kit aid, and other valuable things to experience a good hiking trip.

Other essential hiking gear to bring, depending on your stay duration, are a quality backpack, a tent, and a sleeping bag.

You must also consider the transportation cost to move from home to the hiking site, often in a remote area.

As you can see, the costs of these pieces of stuff can add up and up being high than expected.

Time commitment

Another crucial factor is the time commitment because a two-hour hike can quickly become an all-day affair.

For instance, you can get caught up in the scenery and feel the need to continue exploring.

On the other hand, the cycling time depends on your schedule, and you can do it near your home without going as far as the hiking areas.

Which Is The Cheaper Outdoor Activity, Cycling or Hiking?

Other costs to consider

Unlike the belief that hiking is free, other costs can add up and lead to hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Popular hiking trails typically ask for entrance fees you must plan in addition to the cost of the equipment.

But many find the budget worth it because hiking helps to get out of the ordinary life to admire the scenery and enjoy the sounds of nature.

Hiking is also great for experiencing outdoor exercises while getting the most out of nature’s fresh air and rejuvenation.

If you want to hike near your home, try to find some neighborhoods, and surrounding trails in city parks or state parks.

RELATED: What are the best shoes for Slickrock hiking?

Hiking muscles vs. cycling muscles

Using your different muscles is a must to get the most out of your outdoor activities as a cyclist or a hiker.

The question arises of how to differentiate cycling muscles from hiking muscles, and we take a closer look.

On the one hand, cycling relies more on your smaller leg muscles, such as your shins and calves.

Conversely, hiking works for the large muscle groups in your legs, including the glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps.

Cycling and hiking are excellent cardio workouts and provide your muscles with many other benefits.

The more you hike, the more bone density you can build while strengthening the muscles around your joints.

On the other hand, cycling is an excellent way to improve your endurance and cardiovascular health.

Does biking help with hiking?

Cycling can help hiking in diffrent ways, including:

  • Since cycling works your legs’ muscles, it builds the strength you need for outdoor hiking. 
  • It also builds stamina, resulting in the increased lung capacity you need to walk as far as possible.  
  •  You can use a stationary bicycle to test your lung capacity and simulate your climbing ability.
  •  Cycling also helps your body to build the resistances you need to complete various hikes. 

However, be aware that cycling can only prepare you for the climbs, while hiking involves descending and ascending.

Cycling will also not help to strengthen your knees’ joints to avoid the pain you will likely suffer when hiking.

Does hiking burn more calories than cycling?

Hiking and cycling are excellent exercises for burning calories and improving fitness, but which ones burn more?

For most people, hiking burns more calories than cycling because it is a weight-bearing activity that makes the body work harder.

Hikers must move up a hill while carrying backpacks filled with supplies, resulting in more extra weight and resistance.

Conversely, cycling is a non-weight-bearing exercise that doesn’t require your body to work hard to move you forward.

Riding at high intensity or adding hills to your route is enough to burn many calories.

So, hiking is the better option to burn more calories, but you can also opt for cycling if you want an easier workout.

RELATED: Why does everyone who uses a bicycle wear a helmet?

Under what circumstances is hiking dangerous?

Hiking can be dangerous, especially if you don’t take the correct hiking gear.

It can also be dangerous for those who don’t know the area they are hiking in and what terrain to expect once on the ground.

Always consider the slips and falls, dehydration and heat exhaustion, getting lost, encountering wildlife, and the like.

Another danger is if the weather conditions are not ideal for hiking, such as if it is extremely hot or cold outside.

If you are unaware of these potential dangers and do not take adequate precautions, you could put yourself at hiking risk.

Prepare before heading out on a hike by packing plenty of water and snacks, wearing suitable clothing and footwear, and knowing your route.

It will also help if you go hiking with a partner to help each other in case of trouble and:

  • Assess the situation and stay calm if you find yourself in a challenging case.
  • If you can safely get yourself out of the situation, do so.
  • Otherwise, call for help and stay calm while waiting for help to arrive.

RELATED: The ten best giant mountain bikes for men in the US.

What are the advantages of mountain biking over hiking?

Mountain biking has a few advantages over hiking, especially since it is generally much faster.

A hiker might average 2-3mph on level ground, whereas a mountain biker can easily cruise along at ten mph or more.

It makes mountain biking an excellent option for those who want to get outside and explore nature without spending all day doing it.

Another advantage is you can go mountain biking year-round, even in areas where hiking is dangerous or impractical due to snow and ice.

Mountain bikers also don’t have to worry about getting lost as much as hikers do since they can usually follow well-marked and maintained trails.

The only drawback of mountain biking compared to hiking is it requires a quality MTB, which is typically expensive for many.

Are 3 miles on a stationary bike the same as walking 3 miles?

Many fitness enthusiasts compare both workouts based on the number of calories burned instead of the distance traveled, and it was found that bike riding is similar to walking in the same conditions.

Final thoughts

The perennial question of which is the cheaper outdoor activity between, cycling or hiking has been tested,t and we can conclude the cost-efficient option is cycling.

Cycling outdoor activity requires a more significant upfront investment than hiking but ends by saving money.

Besides, technological advances have made things easier because you can find bicycles designed for all-terrain on any budget.

Hiking requires less costly equipment such as backpacks, tents, etc., but the ongoing fees can add up over time.

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