Can You Hike In Trail Running Shoes? (A Must-Have Guide) With Recommended Shoes To Use
Hiking boots are big and heavy, and walking in them could be more fun. I’m sure I’m not the only one who wonders, “Are trail running shoes good for hiking?”
Trail running shoes are more comfortable, after all. They are lighter, but they still protect and keep you stable.
Why not just combine them into one shoe instead of buying two?
Read more: how to clean your hiking shoes.
New To Hiking?
Here are the most important things to think about when choosing between boots and trail runners:
- New to hiking? Learning how to walk straight on trails while carrying a pack takes time. When you walk, the vast, thick soles of hiking boots will give you a stable base.
- What does your trail look like? It would be best to have more sturdy boots to handle wear and tear when walking on rough trails. And their strong soles can take rocks and roots, so your feet don’t have to. But if it’s a beautiful, winding forest trail, you can get by with light, thin shoes. Even a pair of city sneakers will be fine if the course is paved. If you plan to hike in cold, wet weather, you might want a sturdy boot with a waterproof membrane for warmth and protection, but you can also find waterproof trail-running shoes.
- How does your body look, its body type? You probably know already if your body needs more support from your shoes. If it does and you plan to carry a heavy pack, a solid, stable hiking boot may be the best choice. If you’ve never had trouble with the strength and stability of your legs and joints and don’t plan to carry a hefty load, you might be a good candidate for trail running.
- How fast do you plan to go? Is it a steady, slow trip or a fast hike? Having trail runners that are light enough makes it easier to keep up a quick pace. That’s why many thru-hikers wear them since they have to cover many miles every day. On a trail, as long as the AT, they will go through many pairs of trail shoes.
Can you hike with trail running shoes?
The short answer is: Yes. Trail running shoes are great for hiking if you know a few things before you go.
First, look at how trail running shoes differ from hiking shoes.
If you need more information, then read our article: difference between hiking shoes and running shoes
Hiking shoes vs. trail running shoes
What’s the difference between a hiking shoe and a trail running shoe? This is one of the first questions you have.
The question is good.
When deciding between hiking shoes and trail runners, there are a few things to think about:
Can you hike in trail running shoes? You’ll have to decide.
So, let’s look at the differences.
It’s important to be stable. This much is obvious.
When the ground isn’t stable, and things start slipping and sliding, you need something to have your back (er, feet).
In this case, hiking boots are a big help.
Help for the foot and ankle.
A hiking shoe goes higher than your ankle and locks it in place, keeping your lower leg safe. You know your ankles and feet are safe when you wear hiking shoes.
Some hiking shoes, like the Merrell Moab, have a lower profile, but most hiking shoes choose a higher profile to protect more.
Foot and ankle support in trail running shoes vs. hiking shoes
On the other hand, hiking trail runners usually end right around the ankle.
This gives your ankle more freedom to turn, which can be good or bad on hiking trails. You don’t want to roll your ankles on the track, so protecting against that is crucial.
But some people like the freedom trail runners give them to move around, so it’s mostly a matter of taste.
How well the shoe grips the ground is just as important.
Both shoes were made to work on uneven ground that moves as much as my pinky as I write this post.
Hiking shoes have grippier rubber and deeper lugs than a car at the Daytona 500. Unless you’re hiking on a very slippery surface, it’s rare for hiking boots not to have a good grip.
Trail running shoes are similar but less than road running shoes.
Traction on trail running shoes vs. hiking shoes
Trail runners worldwide would love to have hiking shoes’ sure footing. But that has a considerable weight cost (we’ll talk about that later).
So, companies making shoes for trail running had to make them smaller. And smaller lugs were part of that.
The best trail running shoes for hiking have tried to close this gap by using better materials and experimenting with lug size.
There are trail running shoes with deeper lugs that give you a better grip on the ground. This is something to consider, depending on where you’ll be hiking.
When you’re hiking on the trail, one thing is clear. The rest of your plans can be messed up by a superficial injury.
So protection is the most important thing to look for in a shoe to keep your feet safe.
Hiking boots are made to last and to be strong. They are ready to get poked with sticks, scraped by rocks, and covered in mud. They are prepared to take on some tricky terrain.
Our horses are out on the trail.
Because of this, hiking boots are made with a lot of protection. Features like padding, thick leather, rock plates, and more.
Protection Trail running shoes vs. hiking shoes
Trail runners are similar but less than in other places.
They have a lot of protection built in (some shoes even come with rock plates) and will keep your feet safe, but hiking shoes are better.
Like a boxer getting ready for a match, weight has to come off somewhere. One of these areas is protection.
When choosing the best trail runners for hiking, keep this in mind.
You spend a long time on the trails. You get the idea.
That could be a lot of steps, depending on how long you’re out there. And over time, the weight on your feet adds up.
You’re 60% of the way through your hike, and your feet feel like they have weights on them. You want it to be over.
This is why a shoe’s weight is such an important thing to think about.
The shoes for hiking are heavy. You can’t get around it. Materials and safety features add up, which means they cost more.
Weight of trail running shoes vs. weight of hiking shoes
On the other hand, trail running shoes are light.
Between 6.5 and 13 ounces is how much the average trail running shoe weighs.
Most hiking shoes weigh between 2 and 3 pounds.
That’s a big difference in weight and can make or break your hike. So think about this when picking out shoes for hiking or trail running.
You’re looking for something that will last. Going to the shoe store a lot is challenging for everyone (except the shoe store owner).
So, it’s essential to have shoes that last and are well-made.
Hiking shoes are, of course, rugged machines that eat up trails like they were nothing. That’s all they do, and they’re pretty good at it.
For the average hiker, hiking boots last about one to two hiking seasons, or a few years, depending on how often you hike.
How long trail running shoes and hiking shoes last
Different trail running shoes vary in how long they last. Like the Queen of England, some shoes do well and stay strong as they age.
Others break down more quickly than Bitcoin.
If you only use your trail runners for hiking, they will last about as long as hiking shoes if you don’t use them for anything else.
But if you use them more, like for long runs, they’ll wear out much faster. Some trail shoes work well on the trail and the road, but others must.
It all depends on how long you want your trail runners to last.
Despite what most people think, nature isn’t just trees, rocks, and beautiful butterflies flying around.
It’s hard. It is rough. It’s wet.
You’ll have to deal with moisture, whether it comes from the outside or from inside your shoe. And you want a quick way to deal with it.
Blisters are a nightmare on the trail, so avoiding getting them is essential.
So, letting air flow through your shoes helps them dry out and keeps you from getting blisters (yay!
Hiking shoes have more of a top to them. The same thing that keeps your foot in place and traps it also keeps moisture inside, which lets it build up.
It can be a big problem if you don’t often stop to let your feet breathe.
The breathability of trail running shoes vs. hiking shoes
Trail running shoes, on the other hand, let more air in.
The shoes let air in and out quickly, so your feet don’t sweat and get wet. How to avoid getting blisters.
Also, if you get them wet, they dry quickly. You can’t just sit and wait for your shoes and feet to dry. You can keep walking, and they will dry on their own.
One of the most important things is to avoid blisters, so keep that in mind when choosing shoes. Keep in mind that these are for trail running shoes. Let’s talk quickly about running shoes for the road.
A pair of trail running shoes will likely feel better than a pair of walking shoes or boots. But is that because you run more and your running shoes seem more comfortable?
Many comfortable styles of walking shoes and boots are on the market today. There are many options; some hiking boots and shoes look like running shoes.
Again, it depends on where and how long you plan to hike. A lightweight hiking boot or shoe that looks like an improved running shoe will be great for some lower-level trails and hills in the summer but probably not for hiking or walking in the mountains in the winter.
Can running shoes be used for hiking?
No. You can’t hike in shoes made for running. At the very least, you shouldn’t walk in running shoes.
Some things about hiking and trail running shoes make them better for those activities. These things aren’t found in running shoes.
Most importantly, your feet don’t have the protection they need. That means you could hurt yourself.
Can running shoes be used for hiking? No, is the simple answer.
When someone asks, “Can I go hiking in running shoes?”
Your response should be easy.
Do you need hiking boots?
So, now that we’ve thought about everything, the most crucial question is, “Why do I need hiking boots?”
The simple answer is that you don’t.
Hiking is a great way to use trail running shoes. They are the best choice for hiking because they provide support, stability, and protection and are light.
I only wear trail running shoes when I go hiking.
But think about what you’ll be doing with your shoe:
- Are you taking day hikes or hiking the whole trail?
- Do you need a shoe with a higher heel-to-toe drop or a lower one?
- How much help and ease do you want?
Choose your shoes based on the answers to these questions.
Good shoes for running on trails and going on hikes
Hiking shoes from Salomon, Topo Athletic, La Sportiva, Merrell, and many other brands are great.
So it’s hard to pick just one.
How long you want to hike is another factor.
So, this section is split into two parts:
Hiking shoes for trail running
Backpacking trail-running shoes
Hiking shoes for a course running
Here are some of the best hiking shoes for trail running. These shoes can be used for both short hikes and long runs.
Brooks Cascadia 16
Saucony Peregrine 12
Salomon Sense Ride 4
Nike Pegasus Trail 3
Trail running shoes for backpacking
If you’re going further, consider a different comfort level and set of features.
Here are some of the best backpacking trail running shoes.
Altra Lone Peak 5
Hoka Speedgoat 5
Salomon Speedcross 5
So that’s it. When someone asks, “Do trail running shoes work well for hiking?” You can show them this blog post.
If you want to learn more about trail shoes, look at the best trail running shoes for hiking on Safari Nomad, or read my guide to the best trail running shoes.
Here is everything you need to know about shoes.