It’s so hard to know which footwear to go with. Do you pick up those fancy hiking boots, or do you opt for the more affordable running shoes?
Most importantly, do you even need the hiking boots to go on the trail or are running shoes just as good for hiking?
It is best to go for trail running shoes; they are actually better than hiking boots for a lot of people and have plenty of great advantages such as better arch support and flexibility.
Not to be mistaken for road running shoes that have a few design issues compared to trail running shoes.
If your interest is piqued, I strongly recommend sticking around to check out all of the great benefits you’ll find when picking up a pair of running shoes over your hiking boots.
Benefits Wearing Running Shoes Hiking
Running shoes are my go-to for most of the year when I am on the trail. They are comfortable, offer great protection, and are breathable for those summer hikes. Honestly, they have some fantastic benefits that you are sure to enjoy.
#1 Durability. You probably won’t get the same mileage out of running shoes as you would hiking boots, but you do get better arch support and comfort.
You should replace your running shoes every 500 miles or so to ensure that they aren’t overworn and still working well.
#2 Weight. Running shoes are so much lighter than hiking boots, and your feet will thank you for it.
You’ll tire slower, and having extra weight on your feet is actually equivalent to using up to six times more energy than something being on your back. Think of the saved energy!
If you ditch the boots for a pair of shoes, it’s actually the same as dropping 5kg off your back, and that’s not a made-up fact. It’s TRUE, and we’ve linked the source above.
#3 Breaking-In. This is always so painful, and all hiking boots will make you go through the process.
When you break in a new pair of boots, you end up with sores and blisters all over your feet. Running shoes are way more flexible and move with your foot to prevent this.
You might have to loosen your running shoes up a little to start with, but it’s nothing compared to the pain that comes with hiking boots.
The flexibility also means you have a wider range of movements and can stay in touch with your terrain.
#4 Protection. While hiking boots are made from tougher stuff and offer more protection, the thinner material found in running shoes is actually better if you want to decrease the risk of tripping or rolling on your ankle.
This is because you can feel the terrain under your feet, even those sharp rocks that you would rather not stand on.
It improves the speed at which your brain is sending signals to your feet so that you remain more balanced.
#5 Waterproof Feature. When you get a pair of hiking boots that are waterproof it can be a misleading term.
Some of them are great, all of them need regular maintenance to keep that protection up. But there are other reasons why it’s misleading.
Many boots just aren’t breathable. This means your feet end up drowning in sweat because they cannot breathe and there is no airflow.
Running shoes? Breathable mesh. When it rains, water is still going to slide down your legs and into your boots, that’s just how things work.
Over time, your boots are going to develop tiny holes that let in the rain. It doesn’t matter how high-quality they are, it will happen.
It might take a few years, but it is inevitable. If your feet get wet, those boots are also going to get even heavier. Running shoes? Not a problem there.
Why You Don’t Need Hiking Boots
I’m an avid hiker, and one that needs plenty of arch support, but even I don’t use hiking boots all the time.
I tend to slide the boots on for my winter hikes and use trail running shoes the rest of the year. It works better, and you really feel the seasonal differences.
Footwear is pretty personal. A lot of hikers recommend avoiding Timberlands because they are pretty heavy – they are my favourite boot and I would never go with anything else. But hiking boots aren’t the be-all-and-end-all of the trail.
You don’t need hiking boots because they don’t really offer anything special. The ankle support they claim to provide is only really good if you are already in possession of healthy ankles, and the arch support is limited unless you purposefully seek out a pair that provides it.
Weirdly, running shoes actually decrease your chance of injury while remaining an exceptionally comfortable option for your feet.
Their versatility also makes them useful for a variety of activities – a one shoe fits all scenario.
Read Here: What Boots Do SAS Wear?
Not All Running Shoes are Suitable
This is so important, the only running shoes you can wear hiking are trail running shoes. This is because they have been specially designed to tackle tough terrain and offer better support while you are out in the wilds. Regular running shoes are way too flimsy for this kind of work.
Trail running shoes are often called RUNNERS, and there are a few reasons why they are much better than a pair of road running shoes.
#1 Grip. Road runners have a much smoother sole and offer less traction because they were designed for use on smooth surfaces.
Trail shoes have a deeper tread that provides a stronger grip suited for a whole range of terrain.
#2 Toe Protection. You never know when something might drop on your feet, and trail running shoes offer toe protection in the form of a thick upper that will protect them from falling debris. The road running shoes? No toe guard there.
#3 Breathable Mesh. The shoes designed for running on the road have a much wider mesh that can easily let in fine debris.
Trail runners have been carefully made to avoid this, providing a much narrower mesh that allows for great airflow without the risk of falling debris.
#4 Tops. Some trail runners have high-tops to prevent debris and rocks from getting into them. This can be pretty handy when you are hiking.
Since not all models come with them, you can also buy trail gaiters to go over your low-tops and keep your feet safe.
- Easy to attach to your shoes so that you can get on the trail
- Perfect for all terrains to stop debris sliding in
- Ankle mesh for ventilation to prevent sweating
These trail gaiters have been designed for men and women, making them more versatile and ensuring that they fit a range of trail running shoes.
The elastic in the gaiters also means they can accommodate a range of sizes comfortably with easy velcro fastenings.
They don’t just protect your ankles from debris, but also scrapes and bruises caused by uneven terrain.
The breathable mesh also prevents sweating and rubbing so that you can hike in them all day. They even have reflective details so that you can be seen in poor lighting.
There you have it, running shoes are great for hiking. Well, to be specific, trail running shoes are great for hiking.
You’ve got to make sure you have the right ones if you want good support and adequate protection. As someone who loves hiking boots, running shoes are equally great.
If you found this installation interesting, why not check out the rest of our hiking guides? We answer all of your most pressing questions and bring you top information from experts in the field. Learn about the right footwear, safety, and how to stay hydrated on the trail.
A seasoned camper and hiker, there is nothing he doesn’t know about the Great Outdoors. Hiking alone, with friends, or even little ones, he’s done it all. A trained survivalist, he gives Bear Grylls a run for his money.