Hiking Boots vs Shoes for Trail Running: What Should You Choose

Hmm, hiking boots vs. shoes for trail running? Which one should you pick? For the casual observer, the answer seems to be pretty straightforward. Choose hiking boots if you’re going hiking and trail running shoes if you’re going trail running. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. See, both hiking boots and trail running shoes can be used for hiking, and each of them has their own pros and cons when used for the said outdoor activity. If you’re one of those who are torn between hiking boots vs. trail runners, here are some considerations to help you make a more informed purchasing decision.

Purpose

As their name implies, hiking boots vs. shoes for trail running have different purposes, or so it appears. But as mentioned earlier, both hiking boots and trail running shoes can be used for hiking. However, in the recent years more and more outdoorsy people are gravitating towards using low-cut hiking shoes or trail running shoes instead of hiking boots whenever they go for a walk in the outdoors. Different hikers and backpackers have different reasons for making the switch, comfort being one of the main reason for their doing so. This is not to say that hiking boots are not comfortable because they actually are.

In any case, consider what you plan to be using your footwear for before deciding on one. For instance, if you’re planning to hike on rough and rocky terrains, hiking boots will be the better choice. Otherwise, if you plan to hike on flat terrains or forest trails with minimal rocks or similar obstacles, then go for trail running shoes instead.

Support

When it comes to choosing footwear for hiking, a crucial aspect to consider is how much support it provides. In the case of hiking footwear, ankle support is very important, especially when you’re walking on uneven terrains and carrying a heavy backpacking backpack. Without proper and sufficient ankle support, you could end up with a sprained ankle while on the trails.

When it comes to ankle support between hiking boots vs. trail runners, the former has a distinct advantage over the latter. This is because hiking boots generally have a high-cut that reaches up (and sometimes covers) the ankles, whereas trail running shoes generally have a low-cut which doesn’t offer any protection or support for your ankles.

Durability

Hiking footwear are expensive, and sure there are cheaper options available but you should avoid buying them at all costs. For one, they surely won’t last you very long, which means you’ll be spending more in buying new hiking footwear every now and then. Second, cheap hiking footwear won’t be able to provide your feet with the necessary protection considering the low quality materials they are made from and poor construction. In any case, be sure to spend your hard-earned cash on quality hiking footwear if you want to get your money’s worth.

So which one is more durable between hiking boots vs. shoes for trail running? The answer is that both types of hiking footwear are durable, provided they are made by reputable manufacturers. However, more people consider hiking boots to be sturdier since they are made with leather uppers and thick rubber soles. These materials are more durable than the synthetics or mesh fabrics that trail running shoes are generally made of.

Another crucial factor to consider when it comes to durability is the insole. If you go backpacking or hiking for long hours with a heavy load on your back, you’ll want to look for a more robust hiking footwear. Heavy backpacks and your weight combined can take their toll on insoles, flattening them overtime and making them lose their cushion.

Comfort

With regard to comfortability between hiking boots vs. trail runners, which of them is more comfortable will depend on a lot of factors. In essence, trail runners should be more comfortable because they are often made with softer materials and provides more cushion for the feet. They are also made of breathable materials so your feet doesn’t feel too hot while walking. Pair them with moisture-wicking hiking socks and you’ll feel much more comfortable while hiking.

However, there are many hiking boots which are also comfortable to wear. They made be made from tough leather upper and thick soles, but their inner linings are often made from softer materials to enhance comfort. Unfortunately, high-cut leather hiking boots aren’t very breathable, obviously because there aren’t any ventilation for the hot air to escape from.

Weight

Weight

Why should you consider the weight of your hiking footwear? Simply because this will have an effect on your comfort and endurance while hiking. Many long-term hikers know how it feels to walk miles while wearing heavy hiking footwear, especially when carrying heavy loads.

When it comes to the hiking boots vs. shoes for trail running debate, the clear winner in terms of weight would be trail runners. This is because trail runners are generally made from synthetic materials and durable but light rubber soles. Hiking boots on the other hand are made from solid leather and thick heavy-duty rubber soles. So if you’re hiking in flat and smooth terrains while carrying your backpacking tent or other heavy camping gear, go with trail runners because they will allow you to walk further without tiring easily.

Traction

Traction is important for hiking footwear, or for any other kind of boots and shoes for that matter. Traction is the measure of how well the soles of the footwear bite into the soil and keep you from slipping while hiking. And when it comes to traction between hiking boots vs. trail runners, the former generally offers more and better traction than the latter. This is because the treads in the soles of hiking boots are deeper which allows them to dig deeper into the dirt. When hiking in wet and muddy terrains, you’ll want to be wearing hiking boots. Besides, the leather uppers will offer better protection against moisture than the mesh uppers of trail runners.

Stability

Stability is a tricky subject simply because the performance of the shoes will be affected by a variety of factors, including the type of terrain, the weather conditions, and the wearer’s characteristics.

For instance, some people don’t feel comfortable wearing hiking boots, especially leather ones. In fact, they don’t feel comfortable wearing any type of leather shoes. In this case, they may find it difficult to move around while wearing big and heavy leather hiking boots. This in turn will affect their stability, especially when climbing over rocks. For such people, trail runners may offer better stability simply because they are much more comfortable walking around in them. The flexible soles of trail runners will also give their feet more freedom of movement, allowing the wearer to move better which is important when it comes to maintaining their balance.

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So, going back to the question about hiking boots vs. shoes for trail running, which one is the better option between the two? Which of them should you buy? The truth of the matter is that both types of outdoor footwear have their own pros and cons, and are suitable for different terrains and situations. For instance, if you’re hiking in rocky or wet terrains, leather hiking boots are often the better option. On the other hand, if you’re hiking in flat and smooth terrains like paved trails, then you’ll want to go with trail runners because their more comfortable. In any case, always make sure that you consider the different factors mentioned above when choosing between hiking boots vs. trail runners. Remember, outdoor footwear, or any type of footwear for that matter, should be chosen based on the terrain, specific conditions, and the individual needs and preferences of the user.

More Backpacking/Hiking Reviews:

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  1. Hiking Boots vs. Trail Runners: Which to Get? Expert World Travel
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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!