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Are Running Shoes Good for Hiking? – 5 Things to Consider

Wondering if running shoes are appropriate for hiking? Or maybe you don’t do hiking often and looking for multipurpose shoes.

Hiking shoes are heavy and bulky. That’s why most people prefer light trail running shoes that offer stability and protection.

Hiking trail shoes indeed provide more support than running boots. Running trail shoes are a great choice for those who take hiking as a habit. On the other hand, professional hikers should upgrade their footwear from time to time.

In this post, I will explain, “are running shoes acceptable for hiking.” Without taking much time, let’s go!

are running shoes good for hiking

Can You Hike in Running Shoes?

Let me tell you first, there are two types of running shoes. First are trail running boots, and seconds are road running boots. Trail running shoes work great for hiking and can easily move on unpaved areas. They are designed to be stable in rough areas.

On the other hand, road running shoes come with a flat surface and are just suitable for hiking on the street. They are not suitable for terrain or woody places.

So, normal running shoes can cause an accident and severe injury. It is important to buy high-quality hiking running shoes for a safe experience.

Are Running Shoes Good for Hiking?

Keep in mind that not all running shoes are great for hiking. You have to consider the following features before wearing them for hiking:

  • Length of the hike
  • Type of hike
  • weather
  • Water crossings
  • Ruggedness of trail

Length of The Hike

Normal running boots are also acceptable if you have decided to hike for less than one or two hours.

Moreover, if you want to hike for the whole day and more than three or four miles, it is better to go with trail running shoes.

Type of Hike

A rigorous expedition and a stroll are two types of hiking. If you are taking a stroll through the woods, running shoes are adequate.

Besides this, a rugged and rigorous hike demands more physical support and stability because of trekking through trail areas.

Before wearing walking shoes, it is necessary to decide the type of hiking you are going for.

Weather

Another thing you have to consider is the weather. Running shoes lack traction and adequate grip; they can get wet. Check the weather before going hiking.

If there are chances of rain, leave them at home and wear hiking shoes for safety. The reason is that they provide more grip and traction while hiking.

Water Crossings

If you plan to hike where you have to pass through a wet street, then reconsider wearing regular running boots. Your footwear might get wet and take a long time to dry.

Instead, it is better to wear waterproofing trail running shoes to cross any streams. These shoes dry quickly because they are made with waterproof material. Blisters quickly form in waterlogged footwear.

In that case, it is a great idea to go with specially designed Merrell Out shoes for crossing wet places.

Ruggedness of Trail

Even if the hiking distance is short, it is still not a good idea to wear running shoes on the ruggedness of the trail. The lightweight and thin material of these boots are not suitable for traversing over rocky paths.

Furthermore, these shoes can twist your ankle due to the lack of ankle support especially passing over rough trails.

Pros and Cons of Running Shoes for Hiking

It’s time to discuss the pros and cons of good running shoes.

Pros

1. Breathable Material

These shoes are built with breathable and thinner material, and the top layer is constructed with quick-drying synthetic fabric. On the other hand, leather hiking shoes are made with slow-drying material.

Breathable trail runners for hiking are beneficial in keeping your feet dry. It protects your footwear from blisters and keeps you comfortable.

On the other hand, waterproof hiking shoes work ideally in cold weather.

2. Lightweight

Mostly people switch from hiking shoes to trail running boots due to their lightweight. Their weight is approximately 480 grams to 670 grams. While hiking footwear comes in weight from 1 kg to 1.5 kg and is made with thicker and bulky material.

3. Shorter Break-In Period

Running shoes break in a very short period. You can even go hiking even after the first day of buying due to their flexible synthetic material.

Hiking shoes take a long time to break in due to their rigid material.

4. Versatility

You can wear trail runners in almost all kinds of environments because it provides support, breathability, and traction. You can also wear them on sports or casual days. I also use my trail shoes for traveling or going to school or work.

5. Freedom of Movement

The low tops and flexible soles enable the ankles to move freely. So you can take full strides, which will not affect your gait. Not only this, but it also strengthens your muscles and gives you control and stability while hiking.

6. Keep Your Feet Cooler

Trail runners do not trap the heat and allow air to circulate. That’s why sweat also vents away. These shoes work awesomely in hot weather and keep your feet cool. The plus point is that you will not feel a bad odor in your gorgeous footwear.

7. Take Less Space

If you are going on vacation, you might need to pack your boots in a bag or suitcase. The good thing about them is that they do not take up much space so you can add more clothes to your bag pack.

8. Comfy

Trail shoes are light and not clunky like hiking boots. Some people prefer only stability, but the comfort of shoes is also an important factor for hiking.

Cons

1. Lack of Ankle Support

Low tops of trail runners do not offer support to ankles. Hiking shoes stabilize your ankles and avoid sprain injuries.

2. Less Durable

Trail running shoes are built with less lasting material because shoemakers prefer lightweight instead of durability. Soft soles and thin materials can easily tear down through rocks or rough trains.

3. Less Protection

Ankles are a little exposed while wearing low-top runners and easily form bruises or cut on ankles. If you accidentally step on sharp rocks, you will feel it due to the thin midsoles and outsoles of boots.

4. Less Foot Support

Hiking regularly on shoes that are not supportive results in stress fractures, plantar fasciitis, and shin splints. Some boots lack shock absorption, which causes pain.

5. Not Good in Winter Weather

The running trail shoes don’t trap heat and keep your feet cold. Sometimes snow melts, and water seeps into the shoes and damages them.

Which Shoes Are Better for Hiking?

Four kinds of shoes are better for hiking. Let’s discuss them one by one:

  • Hiking shoes
  • Hiking water shoes
  • Trail running shoes
  • Hiking boots

1. Hiking Shoes

Hiking shoes provide durability and comfort while passing over rough trains. The thick sole of these shoes is made of rubber, and the upper is built with mesh and suede materials.

Pros

  • Versatile and long-lasting design
  • Offers excellent cushioning
  • The rugged design is beneficial for hiking through woods

Cons

  • Made with heavy material
  • Not fully waterproof

2. Hiking Water Shoes

Hiking water shoes are not waterproof, but the materials used in them are good at withstanding wet environments. The good thing about them is that they also dry faster after getting wet.

These shoes have mesh uppers and aggressive tread patterns. Waterproof leather is also included in their construction for durability.

Pros

  • Ideal for water crossings and cold climate
  • Dry quickly

Cons

  • Offer less comfort

3. Trail Running Shoes

Trail runners are suitable for those hikers who are concerned about speed. Furthermore, these shoes are made with mesh, canvas, or leather uppers.

The interesting thing about them is that they are less bulky than hiking shoes and have aggressive tread patterns.

Pros

  • The lightweight feature reduces tiredness
  • Rugged design
  • Durable and good for speed

Cons

  • Not completely waterproof

4. Hiking Boots

Hiking boots were the first specially designed shoes for hiking. They are made with leather upper and aggressive rubber patterns.

It is perfect for those hikers that are concerned about comfort and durability.

Pros

  • Provides comfort
  • Completely waterproof
  • Offers support and protection to ankles

Cons

  • Bulky design

FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

Are Sneakers Ok for Hiking?

Sneakers are OK for hiking on the paved road, but they are not the right option for hiking in winter. It is better to choose trail running shoes for this purpose.

What Kind of Shoes Are Good for Hiking?

Hoka Speedgoat 5, Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX, La Sportiva TX4, Merrell Moab 3, and La Sportiva Spire GTX are good shoes for hiking.

What Shoes Not to Wear While Hiking?

White shoes, slippery-sole shoes, Nike sneakers, and converse shoes are not good for hiking. So, avoid wearing these boots.

Do You Need Hiking Shoes?

Hiking shoes are not required on smooth trails. It is fine to wear sneakers for it. These shoes are only necessary on rough and rocky trails.

Can You Use Normal Running Shoes on Trails?

There is no need to wear hiking shoes on paved trails if you already have pair of normal running shoes.

Final Thoughts

That’s all!

Running shoes work awesome for a short hike in the woods. It is good to invest in specially designed hiking shoes for longer and tougher trails.

If you feel comfortable in trail runners, there is nothing wrong with wearing them for hiking. Remember to consider the above factors before wearing running boots.

Thank you for hanging on with me!

Daniel Robert is a shoe lover who enjoys writing about all kinds of footwear, including sneakers, Crocs, Vans, and more. He shares his vast knowledge on Shoesra.com, a website dedicated to helping people find the perfect pair of shoes. With years of experience and a passion for all things shoe-related, Daniel's easy-to-understand advice has helped countless people make confident and stylish choices.

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