Have you ever wondered whether running shoes are good for hiking? If so, you’re not alone.
There’s a lot of controversy about it and some people say they’re fine while others say they can lead to blisters and injure your foot in the long run.
But is that really true? Let’s take a closer look to find out.
Are Running Shoes Good For Hiking?
Let’s take a moment to discuss why shoes are used for running in the first place and what type of shoe would be best suited for hiking.
While running shoes aren’t designed specifically for hiking, many hikers like to wear them anyway because of their lighter weight and ability to provide cushioning.
However, that’s not the only reason. Many hikers wear running shoes because they want to use a shoe that isn’t meant for hiking because they’re looking for a level of comfort, protection and control.
As you can see, it’s hard to argue that running shoes are good for hiking just based on the fact they were designed specifically for it.
Instead, let’s discuss how athletic shoes can be good or bad depending on the person who wears them and which type of hiking you’re doing.
What Makes A Good Hiking Shoe?
So, if running shoes aren’t designed specifically for hiking, what makes a good hiking shoe?
A good hiking shoe should be durable and give you the right amount of traction no matter what kind of terrain you’re on.
Also, they should have a thick enough sole to offer some protection against rocks and other surfaces but not be so thick that it makes your feet hot and sweaty.
So, in the end, it all comes down to what type of hiking you plan on doing.
If you’re a hiker who enjoys camping and exploring interesting trails on your hikes . . . then a lightweight trail running shoe would be ideal for you.
Those shoes are built to take the beating from rocks and sharp surfaces without sacrificing too much comfort or protection.
However, if you’re a hiker who enjoys more of a stroll in the woods and wants to protect your feet but still be able to enjoy the beauty of nature . . . then a hiking boot is the way to go.
Why Hiking Boots Are Ideal For The Long Hike
If you plan on hitting the trail for an entire afternoon or an entire day, it’s best to have a pair of boots that will protect your feet but also be lightweight so you can enjoy your hike as much as possible.
The same thing goes if you’re going on a long backpacking adventure or are thinking about doing some heavy-duty hiking that involves lots of miles and a lot of elevation gain.
So, the bottom line is this: a pair of lightweight trail running shoes means you’re going to be able to enjoy your hike more than if you were wearing heavy bulky boots.
On the other hand, boots mean you’ll be protected and have better support on your ankles and feet which can come in handy when your hiking plans go long and your body starts to fatigue.
Also, many people like using hiking boots for their waterproof features and ability to keep their feet dry even on rainy days.
What’s Good About Running Shoes?
While hiking boots aren’t ideal for running, they can still be good to have if you plan on taking a stroll through the woods.
The same thing goes for trail runners. While they’re not meant for long hikes and backpacking adventures, they do make a great shoe for walking around in the woods or even when you’re just at home hanging out with your family.
And this is because of what makes a good hiking boot: support and protection.
Now, while you might not want to run with these shoes, they’re still great to have around the house because they’re lightweight and give you good support.
And once again, if the weather starts to turn and you find yourself in a situation that’s a little wet, muddy or snowy . . . nice hiking boots haven’t failed you yet.
What’s Bad About Running Shoes?
Unfortunately, the same thing that makes trail running shoes good for hiking also makes them bad for hiking because they’re not built for it.
Instead, it’s the thickness of the sole and the overall structure of your shoe that make a difference.
So, breaking down what’s bad about running shoes can be broken down into three categories: too thin, too much support and poor quality materials.
Most trail running shoes have a thin sole that’s made for grip and traction but nothing else.
So, when you wear them on an unpredictable surface like uneven rocks and branches, you’re going to start feeling every step you take.
This is especially true if you’re hiking on actual trails that are rocky and uneven.
So, if you plan on wearing trail running shoes for hiking . . . choose ones that have a thicker sole with more support.
Too Much Support
Hiking boots also come with a thick sole, but they’re designed for stability and support.
So, when you wear them on uneven surfaces like rocks and uneven trails, you’re going to feel every step.
For instance, if you’re running on a trail that’s rough and uneven, you’re going to be going slower than you would have if you were wearing a hiking boot.
Also, the lack of support makes it feel like you’ve lost some of your balance which is usually not a good thing when hiking or backpacking.
Poor Quality Materials
Just like any other shoe out there, if running shoes are poorly made they’re going to give you blisters and hurt your feet over time.
This is especially true if you’re stomping on a trail that’s hard, uneven and rocky.
So, put simply, if you want to wear running shoes for hiking . . . make sure they’re made with quality materials.
You might be wondering why people wear running shoes while hiking in the first place and the truth is that it doesn’t really matter if you like them or not.
The fact is you have to pick a shoe that’s right for your needs, not someone else’s.
It’s your feet after all, and you have to be comfortable when you’re miles away from civilization.
So, make sure you pick the right hiking shoes for your next adventure and don’t get caught in a situation where you hurt your feet, ankles or knees.
The best way to avoid that is to prepare yourself with the right hiking shoes before heading out on your hike.
And if you can’t decide which is better . . . use a combination of both.
Some shoes are better for running, others are better for hiking and yet others are meant to be good at both.
As long as you pick the right hiking shoe for your next trek, you’re good to go.