Can you hike in trail running shoes

Trail running shoes are more comfortable and lighter than hiking boots. I’m sure I’m not the only one wondering,“can you hike in trail running shoes?”.

In the end, trail running shoes offer more comfort, are lighter, and still offer adequate stability and protection.

Rather than having two pairs of shoes, why not combine them into one?

But, Is it possible to hike in trail running shoes?

You can use trail running shoes for hiking if you know a few things beforehand.

The first thing we need to know is how trail running shoes differ from hiking shoes

running shoes

Can you hike in running shoes?

No hiking in normal running shoes isn’t recommended. At least, it’s not recommended to hike in running shoes. 

Unlike running shoes, hiking and trail running shoes have specific features that make them better suited for trails and hiking.

The most significant problem is that you do not have the protection you need for your feet. Therefore, you have a high risk of injuring yourself.

Is it okay to wear running shoes when hiking?

I’m sure you can answer it easily. No.

Are hiking boots necessary?

The ultimate question is, “Why do I need hiking boots?” After considering everything, this leads us to the final question.

You don’t. That’s the simple answer.

The combination of support, stability, protection, and weight makes trail running shoes the best choice when hiking.

Hiking shoes are my only choice for trail running.

However, you should keep in mind what you will use your shoe for:

  • Is it a day hike or a thru-hike for you?
  • What is the ideal heel-to-toe drop for you?
  • Do you need a lot of support and comfort?

You should consider these questions and answers when choosing shoes.

To help you decide between trail runners and boots, here are a few key questions:

  1. New to hiking? While wearing a pack, keeping yourself upright takes some practice. Hiking boots provide a stable base for every step you make.
  2. How does your trail look like? 

A sketchy trail requires boots that are both stable and durable. They have stout soles that can withstand rocks and roots, so your feet don’t have to. If it’s a beautiful, meandering forest trail, however, light, lean footwear will work just fine. On paved nature trails, even city sneakers can handle it. A sturdy boot with a waterproof membrane might provide warmth and protection when hiking in cold, wet conditions, but waterproof trail-running shoes are also available.

  1. Which body type do you have?

When you plan to add a heavy pack to your overall weight, a solid, stable hiking boot may be the best choice if your body requires more support from your footwear. If you don’t have any previous issues with the strength and stability of your legs and joints, and you’re not planning to carry a significant load, you might be a good trail-runner candidate.

  1. What will be your speed? 

There are two types of hikes: a slow and steady hike and a speed hike. Lightweight trail runners allow you to keep up a brisk pace, which is why many thru-hikers use them, since they need to walk huge chunks of miles every day. It will be necessary to wear a lot of trail runners on the AT as long as it is.

Comparing Traction

Trail runners offer minimal grip, but rugged and off-trail styles provide similar traction to hiking shoes, largely because of their thick rubber lugs that bite into the soil.

 In addition, some trail runners are equipped with sticky rubber compounds to enhance their grip on wet rocks and logs.

There is a difference in traction between trail runners designed to grip on the fly and those designed to grip on a slower hike pace, says Henkes.

The Hiking Boot vs. Trail Runner Decision Matrix

Having trouble choosing between hiking boots and trail runners? Here’s a quick and dirty comparison: 

Hiking Boots – Key BenefitsTrail Runners – Key Benefits
StabilityDry feet thanks to breathability
DurabilityThere is little or no break-in period
Protecting your feet and anklesFor long miles at a fast pace, lightweight
Water, mud, and snow should be brushed offMultipurpose and versatile
Suitable for hikes in cold weatherHiking cooler for hot weather
Good all-around tractionA range of traction options
Hiking Boots – Key DownsidesTrail Runners – Key Downsides
Bulkier and heavierLess supportive
A break-in period is requiredIt will need to be replaced more frequently

When should trail runners wear boots?

When hiking for extended stretches in below-freezing snowy conditions, keeping my feet dry is crucial due to the risk of frostbite, so I generally wear mid-cut waterproof boots. To prevent snow from getting into my boots, I wear full-length eVent gaiters and layer my socks (e.g. a thin merino liner under a medium-weight wool blend). 

“Wait a minute, don’t waterproof membranes like Gore-Tex “wet out” after prolonged exposure?”

Although snow has relatively low liquid water content when temperatures consistently drop below freezing, “wetting out” takes longer than hiking in the rain and mud all day. When your feet are in dry snow, perspiration condenses inside the boot because there is nowhere else for the vapor to go, so they are more likely to become wet. Combined with the saturated surface material of the upper, Gore-tex liners are not breathable.

How should Trail Running Shoes be worn in winter and/or late shoulder season conditions?

I have previously used merino wool socks, Gore-Tex over socks, trail running shoes without waterproof membranes, and full-length eVent gaiters in sub-freezing, snowy environments. Gore-Tex socks will keep your feet dry and warm, rather than your footwear, according to the theory behind this system. When using this technique, it is imperative that you place your wet shoes in a plastic bag or stuff sack before going to sleep at night. Your shoes will not be frozen solid by morning if you do this.


This is what you need to know, Can you hike in trail running shoes? In this article, we have explained the difference between hiking and trail running shoes in detail, so now you know that trail running shoes are suitable for hiking in some conditions, but not in all.

Frequently asked questions

Is it OK to wear running shoes for hiking?

Do running shoes work for hiking? The short answer is yes. I totally agree, but you might want to keep a few things in mind. Regardless of what shoe keeps your feet happy and gets you out on the trail, it’s the right shoe for you!

Can you use trail running shoes for walking?

The answer is yes. And it’s pretty good for you. If you’re walking on sidewalks or smooth surfaces, you should wear road shoes, but if you’re walking off-road or on the muddy ground, you should switch to trail shoes. Walking/hiking shoes would provide better support and protection than running trail shoes because of their stiffness.

Are trail running and hiking shoes the same?

The hiking shoe will hold up far better under heavy loads and can handle rugged, abrasive terrain more efficiently. However, the lightweight fabric that makes trail runners so nimble sacrifices durability, resulting in a significant reduction in lifespan.

Can hiking and trekking shoes be used for running?

Can I run in hiking boots? Yes, you can run in hiking boots over short distances, but they are not recommended for regular running. If you must run in your boots, make sure they fit well and are flexible. Look for trail running shoes that are made with high-quality materials for running on difficult terrain for extended periods of time.

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