Can You Wear Running Shoes For Hiking? Quick Guide

Hiking enthusiasts often find themselves at a crossroads when deciding between trail runners and hiking boots for their outdoor adventures. While hiking boots have their place in a hiker’s toolkit, trail runners offer a compelling alternative that can provide a lightweight and flexible option for most hikes.

Our main question is Can You Wear Running Shoes For Hiking, so don’t be confused. I start discussing from the start about trail runners because trail runners are the best running shoes.

I chose this type of running shoes to discuss because I experienced it, and it’s amazing to use for hiking.

In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of hiking boots and trail runners, along with a helpful buyer’s guide to assist you in making an informed choice.

Salomon Men’s Speedcross 5 Trail Running Shoes

  • Imported
  • Rubber sole
  • Trail Running Shoes: Featuring an aggressive grip, precise foothold, and protection, the Salomon Speedcross 5 is the ideal shoe for runners who want to conquer soft, technical trails

Also Read: How To Stretch Climbing Shoes ? With video

Benefits of Trail Runners for Hiking

Regarding hiking, trail runners offer several advantages that make them a viable option for many hikers. Here are some key benefits:

Lightweight and Flexible

Trail runners weigh significantly less than hiking boots, typically ranging from 10 to 11 ounces compared to the 2 to 3 pounds of hiking boots. This lightweight nature allows for greater agility and maneuverability on rugged terrains.

Additionally, trail runners offer excellent flexibility, enabling hikers to navigate challenging trails easily.

Joomra Women’s Minimalist Trail Running Barefoot Shoes | Wide Toe Box | Zero Drop

  • Rubber sole
  • Rubber outsoles offer the optimal balance of traction and durability, with a responsive feel on unpredictable terrain.circular lug patterns provide grip during movement
  • Removable insoles support the feet’s arches and not cause too much pressure and transfer weight over the ball of the feet.

Minimal Break-in Period

Unlike hiking boots, trail runners usually require little to no break-in period. This means you can hit the trails immediately without worrying about blisters or discomfort.

While it’s true that some hiking boots, such as the Merrell Moab, also offer a quick break-in period, trail runners are generally known for their instant comfort.


Trail runners are also more affordable than hiking boots, making them an attractive option for budget-conscious hikers. With prices ranging from $100 to $120, trail runners provide a cost-effective alternative, whereas hiking boots typically cost around $150 to $200.

Considerations for Hiking with Trail Runners(Can You Wear Running Shoes For Hiking)

Can You Wear Running Shoes For Hiking

Despite their many benefits, trail runners have a few drawbacks that hikers should be aware of, particularly for longer and more demanding hikes. Here are some considerations:


Trail runners, while suitable for most hikes, lack the long-term durability of hiking boots.

The frequent use of trail runners on rugged terrains may result in faster wear and tear, necessitating more frequent replacements.

On the other hand, hiking boots are designed to withstand the rigours of extended hikes and offer greater longevity.


Although trail runners provide excellent grip for running on trails, their grip may not be as effective as hiking boots for challenging terrains.

Hiking boots are specifically engineered with superior traction to provide stability on various surfaces, making them more suitable for slippery or uneven trails.

Cold Weather Insulation

For hikes in colder conditions or early mornings, hiking boots provide better insulation and protection against the elements.

Trail runners are not designed to offer the same level of warmth, so it’s essential to consider the weather conditions and choose accordingly.

adidas Terrex Swift R3 Gore-TEX® Hiking Shoes

  • Made in USA or Imported
  • Rubber sole
  • Continental Rubber outsole
  • GORE-TEX textile upper
  • EVA midsole and moulded heel cup
  • Speed lacing system

Understanding Hiking Boots

To fully comprehend the benefits of trail runners, it’s important to understand what sets hiking boots apart. Here are the key components that make hiking boots unique:

Lugs, Grip, and Meat of the Boot

Hiking boots feature robust lugs and grip patterns on their outsoles, enhancing traction on various surfaces. The meat of the boot refers to its overall construction, which ensures stability and protection for your feet.

Upper, Eyelid, and Midsole

The upper of hiking boots stabilizes the foot and offers ankle support, protecting against twists and sprains. Eyelids further secure the foot and enable a tight fit with the laces.

The midsole provides cushioning and flexibility, allowing for a comfortable hiking experience.

Toe Cap and Wren

The toe cap and welt of hiking boots provide durability and protection for the most vulnerable areas of the boot the toe. These features guard against accidental impacts with rocks, roots, or other hazards, ensuring the safety of your feet.

Importance of Footwear in Hiking

Footwear is crucial in hiking, directly impacting your comfort and safety on the trail. While other hiking gear like pants and shirts can be important in extreme weather conditions, footwear provides vital support and prevents dangerous slips and falls.

Studies have shown that many hiking injuries involve ankle sprains, head injuries, and lower leg problems. Surprisingly, many of these injuries occurred when hikers were not wearing proper hiking boots.

Choosing the Right Trail Runners

Choosing the Right Trail Runners

When selecting trail runners for hiking, there are a few key factors to consider to ensure a comfortable and safe experience. Pay attention to the following aspects:


Comfort is paramount when choosing trail runners. Since hiking can be strenuous, you want shoes that provide cushioning, support, and a good fit for your feet.

It’s essential to try on different pairs and consider various drop variations (the difference in padding from the heel to the toe) to find the most comfortable option for you.


Look for trail runners with a grip pattern that resembles hiking boots. This will ensure better traction on challenging terrains.

Some reputable brands known for producing high-quality hiking boots also manufacture off-trail and rugged trail runners, such as Merrell, Hoka, and Salomon. These brands often offer excellent grip options in their trail runner range.


The drop in trail runners refers to the difference in cushioning between the heel and the toe. Runners typically drop more, while barefoot shoes have a zero drop. Personal preference plays a significant role here, as not everyone finds the same drop comfortable.

Experiment with different drop variations to find the one that feels best for your feet.

Lightweight Models vs Rugged Models

Trail runners come in various models, ranging from lightweight options offered by popular brands like Nike, Adidas, and New Balance to more rugged and off-trail models.

The lightweight models are ideal for runners and casual hikers, while the rugged models are better suited for challenging terrains.

Consider your hiking needs and preferences to choose the appropriate trail runner type.

Transitioning to Hiking Boots

If you are primarily a runner or a casual hiker, trail runners can serve you well. However, investing in reliable hiking boots becomes crucial when you elevate your hiking game and embark on more demanding trails.

Hiking boots provide unparalleled comfort, protection, and durability for extended hikes and adverse conditions.


There is no definitive winner in the debate between trail runners and hiking boots. Each option has its advantages and considerations. Trail runners offer lightweight flexibility and affordability, making them suitable for many hikers.

However, hiking boots provide superior durability, grip, and insulation for longer, more challenging hikes and in cold weather conditions.

Ultimately, your choice should be based on the specific demands of your hiking adventures. Assess the terrain, weather conditions, and duration of your hikes, and carefully consider the pros and cons of trail runners and hiking boots. Remember, footwear can significantly enhance your hiking experience and ensure your trail safety.