Hiking and running are two of the best ways to get outdoors and stay fit, all with relatively little equipment.
Compared to many other outdoor sports, you can hike with just a pair of good boots or shoes, and maybe a backpack to store some extra gear.
However, not all hiking boots are made equal, and you will not be able to use your hiking boots for all outdoor activities, including running. You will need to get some special running shoes if you are going to be doing trail running, or just running on the road.
Hiking Boots vs Trail Running Shoes
If you are into hiking, you will need a good pair of hiking boots that will support your feet and ankles.
If you are more into trail running, or even just walking on moderate trails, you should look into a good pair of trail running shoes. These are different than the average running shoe and are generally a bit lighter and less heavy duty than a hiking boot.
What are Hiking Boots Good for?
Hiking boots are generally a heavier boot that provide a good amount of stability for your foot and ankle.
They tend to have a thick sole, so that your feet will not be bothered or impacted by things like rocks or uneven paths.
Hiking boots are a good all-around choice if you plan to do a lot of rugged hikes that may have very uneven terrain. Their thick, wide sole provides a lot of stability which may be especially important to new hikers.
Usually, hiking boots will have thick lugs and a hardy rubber role which allows them to grip soil and a variety of other surfaces really well. You won’t always get this from a trail running shoe.
Hiking boots are often better than trail running shoes if you plan to hike in muddy, wet or cold conditions as they will protect you much better from the elements.
They usually require a break in period, which means they might be uncomfortable before they get better. To break them in, you can wear them around the house or during walks in your neighborhood before you use them on a hike.
In general, hiking boots are a better choice for moderate to difficult hiking trails, or trails that may be slippery or have risky footing.
What are Trail Running Shoes Good for?
Trail running shoes are a good choice for running on any trails that are off road, or just as an alternative to hiking boots on moderate trails.
Some people enjoy running on easy to moderate trails, to change up their runs. Running on trails, or even a packed dirt road would be a good use of trail running shoes.
However, if you aren’t into the heavy feel of hiking boots and you want to use trail running shoes for hiking, you probably can.
Trail running shoes are a lot more flexible than the typical hiking boot, but usually do not provide quite as much stability since they are less rigid and do not cover the ankle, eliminating ankle support.
Hiking boots will keep you warmer in cold weather, but trail running shoes are a great option to keep you cooler in the hot months.
In general, trail running shoes are best for easy to moderate nature trails.
Should I Bring Trail Runners and Boots on a Hiking Vacation?
Deciding which pair of hiking boots or shoes to bring on vacation will all depend on where you are going, and the difficulty of the hikes you plan to complete.
If you are planning to do a few easy hikes on gentle terrain, just throw your trail running shoes into your bag and you will be ready to go!
However, if you are planning to do some seriously tough hikes, bring your tried-and-true hiking boots. Though the trail running shoes would be lighter to pack, you will want a good amount of support for a tough hike.
If you can spare the room in your suitcase, you may even want to bring both pairs. But this is usually not necessary.
When you’re planning your trip, make sure to map out the hikes you plan on doing, and then plan your suitcase from there! If you need tips on planning a great trip, check out our recommendations on how to organize your travel plans!
Can I run in my hiking shoes?
If you have a pair of hiking boots and want to run in them, the answer is definitely not. If you are hiking a trail and decide to jog a bit in your hiking boots, then you won’t have a problem, but hiking boots are in general too heavy and bulky for running.
You run the risk of injuring yourself if you try to run in hiking boots long term.
When it comes to trail running shoes, you can definitely run in them! Many people enjoy running on trails as a way to change up their routine.
Adding a short trail to your run can help to break up the monotony of running on the same roads day in and day out.
Of course, some people like to do their whole run on a trail. Most people will pick easy to moderate trails for their run, mostly to get out in nature and enjoy a change of scenery.
In general, your trail running shoes will be light enough for running, while still providing enough grip on most surfaces.
Related Post: Are Hiking Shoes Good for Concrete?
What if I still don’t know which one is best for me?
If you are still iffy on whether you should buy hiking boots, trail running shoes or maybe even both, it is worth it to do the following:
- Do you prefer difficult hikes or more moderate inclines? – depending on where you usually hike and the degree of difficulty, you can choose between hiking boots or trail runners
- Make a list of hikes you’d like to do – if you know you’d like to start doing more intense hikes, you may need to look into getting hiking boots
- Try out a few pairs – go to a store and try on some trail runners and hiking boots. See how they feel for you! It can be tricky to know what you need without trying anything out. Try different pairs at a store and read reviews online.
Some people may even end up getting a pair of really solid hiking boots for more intense hikes, and lighter, more flexible trail runners for their easier hikes. It all depends on what you are doing, as well as your preferences.
You shouldn’t wear your toughest hiking boots for running since they won’t give you the flexibility that you need and they are too heavy.
Trail running shoes can be great for hiking easy to moderate trails, but if you plan on climbing mountains, you should invest in a good pair of sturdy boots.
Remember to always do what is best for you. It may be a journey to find a perfect pair of shoes or boots that match your hiking style and comfort needs.