Backpackers travel for distance rather than for the purpose of summiting mountains, though both backpacking and peak-bagging might be done on the same trip. This type of travel allows you to access remote areas on your own power. Trips may range from a couple of days to months depending on your objective. Seasoned backpackers recommend carrying no more than 1/3 of your body weight.
Duration & Elevation: 2 days – multi-week trips over varying terrain.
Technical: No technical climbing involved.
Pack: Carrying complete shelter, kitchen, layers, water, and fuel.
Pack weight ranges between 16 and 25 kg.
Fitness Attributes: Strong legs / “mountain chassis”, endurance.
Example Trip: The Overland Track, Tasmania.
Peak baggers are in it for the summit. Peak bagging is done with a light pack and minimal supplies. Generally, these trips don’t involve any technical climbing gear like ropes and harnesses. Typically, they are single days or overnight trips. Backpackers might add on a peak bagging day to their trip, in which case they will establish a camp and leave non-essential equipment behind while they climb a nearby mountain.
Duration & Elevation: Long, hard pushes over 1 to 2 days.
Technical: Grade 3-4 scrambling possible.
Pack: Carrying light packs with layers, first aid, water, and fuel.
Pack weight range between 9 and 15 kg.
Fitness Attributes: Strong “mountain chassis”, stamina and strength.
Example Trip: Mount Kosciuszko, Mount Townsend, Rams Head.
Alpine Climbing is done at high elevations in the “high alpine” and climbers will expect to travel over rock, ice, or snow. In contrast to hiking, climbing by definition means that your arms come above your head to help pull your body up an ascent. These ascents are “fast and light” and typically involve the use of technical gear such as helmets, ropes, and harnesses. Because of the need for technical equipment, these trips require a specific skill set and/or a guide.
Duration & Elevation: 1 long intense day, or as part of a multi-day expedition.
Technical: Grade 5+ climbing.
Pack: Carrying layers, climbing gear, ropes, water, and fuel.
Pack weight range 15-25 kg
Fitness Attributes: Strong “mountain chassis” for approach, grip and upper body strength for the climb.
Example Trip: Cathedral Range State Park, Balls Pyramid, Mount Coolum.
Reference: Mountain Athletics