Trail running shoes are exactly what they sound like: shoes for running on trails. Compared to standard running shoes, these shoes have a better grip for uneven terrain, more protection for your feet from rocks, and comfy material to keep your feet from feeling pain.
But can you use your trail running shoes for hiking? The short answer is yes. However, it depends on the trail and climatic conditions. Trail running shoes are great for hot weather but are not suitable for wet or cold conditions. Trail running shoes are also flexible and break in easily; however, they do not provide much support for your feet or ankles, which may not be great for beginners or people with weak legs or body concerns.
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Benefits of Trail Running Shoes for Hiking
Lightweight, Flexible, and Breathable
Trail running shoes are designed to be lightweight and breathable to keep your feet cool on your run. Having lightweight shoes is excellent for hiking in a hot climate where you need to keep your feet dry and cool.
Since other kinds of hiking shoes are thicker, having a breathable pair of trail running shoes might make you feel much better during and after a warm weather hike.
Trail running shoes are also flexible in the soles of your feet since they need to bend with the shape of your foot as you run. The benefit is that they do not need as much time to break in and conform to your feet as other hiking shoes. You will be able to put them on and begin your hike as soon as you get them.
Efficiently Run, Walk, or Hike
If you want to divide your hike into different parts like running and hiking, having trail running shoes is crucial since you usually do not want to run in hiking boots. Wearing trail running shoes is more versatile since you can start your hike out by running, then switch to a hiking pace later without changing shoes.
Having a versatile pair of shoes will also help keep your backpack light, so you don’t have to pack a second pair of shoes. If you want to learn more, check out our article on what to consider when buying hiking shoes for running.
With trail running shoes, you will also be able to walk easily since the shoes are lightweight. You may have to walk to the trail before you begin your run, which will be easier to do in trail running shoes than other shoes.
If you are eager to get out hiking with your new trail running shoes right away, they should not cause you any pain or discomfort.
Downsides of Trail Running Shoes for Hiking
Not Very Sturdy or Supportive
Trail running shoes are not meant to be super sturdy, so if you spend a lot of time hiking in them, they will wear out quickly. Trail running shoes also do not provide any ankle support, so make sure you do not have any concerns about your body or legs needing extra support. If you are not used to hiking or even walking a lot (especially on uneven terrain), you may want to skip the trail running shoes for a shoe with more sole and ankle support.
If you are doing a lot of hiking but not running, trail running shoes may not be the best shoes for you. Since trail running shoes are so thin and light, they will wear out very quickly.
Not Suitable for Wet Weather or Climates
Since trail running shoes are lightweight and breathable, they are not suitable for hiking in wet areas or weather conditions. If you are hiking in snow or rain, your trail running shoes will quickly get wet.
Your trail shoes will also be bad to wear on wet or muddy trails. If you are hiking the day after it rained, trail running shoes will carry mud easily, making your feet wet and dirty.
In wet, swampy areas, trail running shoes will hold water if they get wet. Your feet may be uncomfortable for the duration of your hike if you get them wet and they may even blister. If the hike you are going on isn’t too steep, consider getting a pair of Doc Martens or Blundstones.
Trail running shoes can be used for hiking and are great for many situations like hot weather hikes and days where you want to hike and run. However, there are downsides like their durability and the lack of ankle support.