Have you ever been walking in shoes that were too flexible and thought to yourself that your feet needed more support? You’re not alone. Walking shoes are designed to keep your muscles and joints healthy while providing optimum comfort.
Hiking shoes are also made for walking, but they have many key features which help them excel at this task. Hiking shoes are designed for off-trail hiking, but many of them are also made for everyday casual wear.
The best hiking shoes and the best walking shoes combined can greatly improve your overall comfort and performance when you’re out walking or walking around town.
Hiking Shoes vs. Walking Shoes: What’s the Difference?
Walking shoes are generally designed for people who walk on the sidewalk. They are lightweight and flexible, so they can be worn for casual wear. They may also have additional features such as gel inserts or shock absorbency built into the sole in order to maximize comfort and support.
Hiking shoes are made to endure all varieties of terrain, including rocky paths and snowy roads. They’ve got all the features a serious hiker needs. Lets take a closer look at some of them:
Sole Comfort and Traction: Hiking Shoes vs. Walking Shoes
Hiking Shoes are known for having a lightweight and flexible design. They have an extended, flexible midsole which provides traction in soft, muddy terrain and let’s you move around comfortably through rugged terrain with the occasional bust of rocks. Hiking shoes are usually made of rubber with some kinds made of polyurethane or polyester.
Walking Shoes are designed to be more supportive than hiking shoes. They have more rigid soles and can support your arch better while walking, hiking and standing up all day long. Walking shoes are typically made of leather or synthetic materials.
Water Resistance & Breathability: Hiking Shoes vs. Walking Shoes
Water resistance is important for both types of shoes, but especially so for hiking shoes. Hiking in the rain with the wrong kind of hiking shoe can lead to blisters and other problems due to wet feet. Water resistant soles and some additional water proofing keeps your feet dry and comfortable during all kinds of precipitation.
Breathability is also important for all types of shoes, but it’s especially important with hiking shoes. Walking in heavy hiking boots can lead to overheating, while too much breathability can lead to sweating. A good pair of hiking shoes will have vents along the sides and an air duct that lets air circulate while you’re in them. The ventilation will help keep your feet comfortable and dry during all kinds of weather conditions.
Weight: Hiking Shoes vs. Walking Shoes
If you’re going to be regularly walking, hiking or hiking around town, then weight is very important. Hiking shoes are generally lighter than walking shoes because they have a lighter sole and a less rigid upper. Looking for something that’s the best of the best at both? Look for something that’s both lightweight and sturdy and has water resistant soles.
Durability: Hiking Shoes vs. Walking Shoes
Some hiking shoes are more durable than others. While hiking shoes are generally more durable than walking shoes, there are some things to look for while purchasing your next hiking shoe that indicates how long they’ll last. The upper of the shoe should be designed to withstand foot movement in all kinds of terrains and weather conditions. Some additional protective features such as ankle guards can also help extend their durability.
Comfortable: Hiking Shoes vs. Walking Shoes
Comfort is the most important feature of a shoe. It’s the difference between walking or hiking in a pair of shoes that you love and walking or hiking in a pair that you dread. Hiking shoes are specifically designed to handle the rigors of off-trail hiking, but they can also be worn for everyday wear as well. Their flexible soles provide maximum comfort and support, while their lightweight design keeps your feet comfortable no matter how long you’re walking or hiking.
Are Hiking Shoes Good for Walking?
Yes! Hiking shoes are designed to be comfortable while walking. Many hikers find that they prefer wearing their hiking shoes as casual walking shoes. In fact, many serious hikers say that hiking shoes make them feel more comfortable on the trail and in camp than most other hiking boots do.
One of the main reasons for this is that neutral (or near-neutral) hiking shoes are made from lighter materials which are less likely to lead to blistering and hot spots along with being less likely to cause other foot injuries when compared to heavier boots. They also tend to have breathable mesh in the upper, which means that your feet stay cool and dry. So, if you’re looking for something that’s both a good hiking boot and walking shoe, then look for a hiking shoe that has all of the features described above.
Benefits of Hiking Shoes over Other Footwear
Hiking shoes are the preferred footwear for long-distance, off-trail hiking. They are lightweight and have a flexible midsole which provides traction, even in muddy obstacles. Their sole design is comfortable while still offering enough support to keep you going on a long hike.
Hiking shoes can be just as comfortable as your every day casual sneakers, but they have many more benefits than that.
Here are some of what hiking shoes can do for you:
Stay comfortable no matter how long you’re walking: Hiking shoes have a flexible sole that allows them to fit your foot very snug, and this helps keep your feet comfortable. With hiking shoes, you won’t experience hot spots or sore spots so long as you have the right kind of shoe for the terrain.
Stay effective no matter how long you’re walking: Hiking shoes and boots are designed with lightweight materials which make them very efficient and lightweight. They provide the support you need in order to walk for a long period of time, but the upper materials are made of less durable materials. This makes the shoes much lighter and more comfortable when compared to a heavier boot.
Be able to walk up and down watery terrain: Water-resistant soles are key for hiking shoes. They allow your feet to breathe while also providing protection against mud, rocks, and other wet terrain. This keeps your feet comfortable while you’re walking through wet or muddy ground.
Keep your feet healthy: Since many hiking shoes are made with synthetic materials, they don’t collect water or attract as much dirt. This helps keep them clean and ensures that they remain as sanitary as possible throughout your hike. They also tend to be less prone to staining and odors which is a plus!
Have the right kind of traction: Traction is very important for the type of hiking you’re doing. Water-resistant soles, lugged outsoles and rubber heels all give different kinds of traction for a variety of hiking conditions. Are you hiking in snow or mud? Then a shoe with a rubber heel is ideal. For an average hike through dirt, grass and rocks, then something with a lugged outsole will work great.
Be easy to clean: No one wants to get filthy on their hike. Part of the reason that hiking shoes are so comfortable is because they’re very easy to clean. Most hiking shoes are made with synthetic materials, and these can be cleaned with soap and water in a matter of minutes.
Minimize the chance of injury: The flexible sole provides some shock absorption and stability while also helping to keep your ankles from being sprained or broken. The shock absorption helps prevent your foot from becoming fatigued while you’re walking or hiking, which can lead to muscle aches or injuries.
How to Choose Hiking Shoes vs. Walking Shoes
When choosing hiking shoes vs. walking shoes, you’ll want to select a pair that’s made for the activity that you plan on spending most of your time doing. For example, if you’re going hiking, choose a pair with an extended midsole. This means they’ll offer better arch support while walking which will make you feel more comfortable and help prevent foot pain.
If you plan on mostly walking around town, your best bet is to choose a pair that’s made for that purpose. They’ll have a harder sole for better traction and more support for your arches and joints. You’ll also need to consider the tread pattern of the shoes as well. A harder midsole will provide better traction, while a softer sole is more comfortable.
The best hiking shoes combine the best of both worlds. They’ll have the support and protection that you need for all kinds of terrain, but they’ll also have enough of a flexible sole for maximum comfort on those softer sidewalks or over grass.
Final Thoughts on Hiking Shoes
Yes, hiking shoes are completely different than running shoes. But that doesn’t mean they’re not good for walking. In fact, some serious hikers say they prefer them to hiking boots because they’re more comfortable and provide more flexibility. The main things to keep in mind are comfort and traction, which can be provided by different kinds of soles and uppers.
If you’re looking for hiking shoes, then here are some of the top options for you to consider.