Last Updated: February 5th, 2021
There are so many options for running shoes. Some runners claim that running shoes like Salomon Speedcross 4 are great for hiking. However, others are of the exact opposite view. So, which one is it? Are running shoes good for hiking? Let’s find out…
Are running shoes good for hiking?
Yes, running shoes are good for hiking if they are made for trails. In other words, trail running shoes are good for hiking and are recommended by experienced hikers. However, road running shoes may not work as they will not provide you with the required grip on those uneven terrains. Trail running shoes, on the other hand, are heavier and have stiffer and thicker outsoles for protection against those sharp pointy objects on the trails.
Now that we know what kind of running shoes are good for hiking, read on to find out what are the differences between the two and what makes running shoes good for hiking.
What is the difference between running and hiking shoes?
The purpose of running and hiking shoes are different and each of them is designed for that particular use.
They are different from sole to the upper and the amount of traction that they provide.
Here are the differences between a running shoe and a hiking shoe (boot):
Shoes are expensive. Sure, you can get some which are very cheap.
However, they generally fall apart very easily.
This makes you purchase them again, effectively making this whole deal way more expensive for you.
So, I generally suggest going for a shoe which will last longer.
And for that matter hiking boots are supposed to last way longer than running shoes.
Since they are made with materials to put up with those rough terrains, hiking shoes like Salomon Quest 4d 3 are meant to last you for more than 1000 miles of the hike.
If you pick up any running shoe it will last you only up to 500 miles. Also, if you are using road running shoes for hiking, they will wear out faster as the materials are softer.
Trail running shoes will be better in this aspect as they have tougher out-soles with aggressive lugs.
In general hiking boots are heavier than running shoes.
This is due to the added durability.
Also, running shoes are made for performance. With every extra ounce of weight, the runner’s performance will be impacted.
So, the weight of the running shoe is crucial.
Whereas a little bit of extra weight for the hiking boots is not a problem if it increases its durability.
But if you prefer a lighter boot then leather boots are the ones you should go for as they are lighter than the suede version.
However, you will have to put in a bit of extra effort to maintain them.
Since hiking boots and shoes are meant for these rough and uncertain environments, they will provide you with better protection.
They have thicker materials and sharp objects cannot penetrate them easily.
So overall, your feet stay protected, and don’t suffer cuts and pricks from those sharp objects.
However, for running shoes, this is not the case.
They are in general have thinner materials that are not as good at protecting you from all those sharp surfaces.
Surely, trail running shoes are better at this, but if the hike is too technical, then it’s better to go with your hiking boots on.
Hiking boots provide better traction on a hike.
They have aggressive lugs on the soles which will keep you steady and will provide you with proper grip from all directions.
However, for running shoes, the traction is way less than boots.
This is more true if you are using road running shoes.
Their soles are smoother and this makes them slippery on the hikes as they cannot hold onto the soft and rocky grounds.
Most of the running shoes you get these days don’t need breaking in.
For those required, after one or two uses it is fully broken in.
However, if you don’t break in your new hiking boots before your upcoming hike, you will have to deal with very painful blisters.
So, once you purchase your boots, you should wear them inside the house and roam around your neighborhood wearing them.
Failing to do that, will make your feet extremely unhappy throughout the hike.
As was mentioned earlier, hiking boots are great at protecting your feet.
They are also great at injury prevention.
For example, the ankle area of hiking boots extends to the legs.
This makes them exceptionally good at ankle support and prevents injuries like ankle twisting.
Also, they are very good at shock absorption and prevent problems like shin splints.
For running shoes, this is not the case.
They have a low cut which makes your ankles to twist easily.
The outsole of boots is great on the wet surface.
You will rarely lose your grip and slip.
For shoes, this is not the case and more so if it is a road running shoe.
Your chances of slipping and falling are way more in a running shoe than in a hiking boot.
The assumption is, on a hike, you may have to deal with rain, water, or poodles.
So, the hiking boots are better at dealing with water.
Also, there are various ways to waterproof your hiking boots like spraying them with waterproofing agents.
However, normal running shoes are not that great at handling water.
Also, the waterproofing, though works but is not very great.
However, the advantage of running shoes are, they will dry much faster as they are lighter and have thinner materials.
As was mentioned earlier, a decent boot will cost you more than a pair of running shoes.
A good running shoe will cost you around $70-$80. If you are looking for a premium running shoe, then also it will cost you around $150.
However, if you go for a decent pair of hiking shoes or boots it may cost you about $250 which is a lot more than running shoes.
What are the best running shoes for hiking?
When you are looking for a running shoe to go on a hike, you will have to find something that actually fits you.
This is your primary requirement.
Although I’ve explained how to select the perfect running shoe, here I’ll give you a more tailored recap of what you should look into:
Outsole – Since you will be going on a hike, it is better to stick to a trail running shoe.
A road running shoe is very flat for those uneven terrains and this may cause you to slip and fall.
On the other hand, trail running shoes have more aggressive lugs and they will penetrate the softer grounds better.
This will keep you firm on those uneven terrains and chances of accidents are less.
Lug Size – Well this is very important.
A lug size of 6 mm is perfect for any kind of hike.
These kinds of lugs will keep you stable on muddy surfaces and will provide you with added cushioning on the rocks.
However, most of the trail running shoes come with a lug length of 4-5 mm.
This is sufficient for most of the hikes and trail running.
However, if you can get that 6 mm lugs, then these are the most perfect running shoes for hiking.
I know of only one running shoe that has this kind of lugs Altra King MT 2.
However, they are newly launched and are expensive. If you want, a better deal with this kind of lug, you should go for Altra King MT 1.5.
When I last checked, it was around 30% cheaper than the latest version.
Thickness – Well, this is more to do with midsole and outsole thickness combined.
In boots, the sole unit is very thick and acts as a protective cushioning.
However, in trail running shoes, this thickness is way less.
If you can get a running shoe that has a thicker sole, then it is perfect.
The above Altra has that. However, in this matter, Salomon shoes are also very good.
One more thing with the thickness of these trail running shoes.
Many users prefer a minimalist shoe. If you prefer that, then you may as well go for something like Merrell Trail Glove.
Upper – When you run, your feet generate a lot of heat. To dissipate it, running shoes are made airy.
However, on a hike, it may be inconvenient as you may have to deal with water extensively.
So, if you wear a shoe with GTX then it will be better.
Also, the water drainage system of these shoes must be good.
Otherwise, you will have to live with a wet shoe for a longer period of time.
Ankle Support – Boots are more favored in a hike due to the additional support that it provides.
They have higher ankles and don’t let your ankles twist.
This makes it way easier for you to have a stable hike.
So, when picking a trail running shoe, check if it has an ample amount of padding at the collar and the tongue.
Blogger and a fitness enthusiast. She loves running and Yoga and everything in between. She started running to manage her weight and to eat to her heart’s content. A true foodie at heart she shares whatever knowledge she has gained throughout the years about weight management and fitness.
Faulhaber, Martin, et al. “Characteristics of victims of fall-related accidents during mountain hiking.” International journal of environmental research and public health 17.3 (2020): 1115.
Anderson Jr, L. Stewart, Casey M. Rebholz, Laura F. White, Patricia Mitchell, Edward P. Curcio III, James A. Feldman, and Joseph H. Kahn. “The impact of footwear and packweight on injury and illness among long-distance hikers.” Wilderness & environmental medicine 20, no. 3 (2009): 250-256.