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Trail Runners Vs Hiking Boots – Bringing Debate To An End

Trail runners are the new sensation among hikers because of their lightweight and subtle nature. That’s why the runners and hikers community is up on the verge and debating over a single thing, “Trail runners Vs Hiking Boots

Both types of shoes are best for different occasions, and there are times when you will need hiking boots instead of trail runners.

That said, a sturdy and stable hiking boot will do the job if you need foot support due to the addition of a heavy backup to your overall weight.

On the other hand, if you’re a thru-hiker and you have to cover a million miles, then Hiking Boots will tire you. Here, you will need a lightweight pair of trail running shoes.

There are other lots of advantages and disadvantages of both types of shoes, which we will cover below.

Also, we will review some best Trail runners and Hiking Boots on the market. So, without further ado, let’s get your feet to sneak into this comparison.

Types of Hiking Footwear

Hiking footwear is divided into 6 healthy types of shoes. Since all of them are used for hiking, some have similar functions and foot support, while the others are opposite, like mountaineering shoes.

So, let’s figure out the different types of hiking footwear in detail.

Trail Runners


Trail runners are similar to running shoes but with more grippy soles and a stable midsole that gives more support.

These shoes are perfect for longer hikes as they will cushion your feet against the multitude of rocks you might be walking on.

Light Hikers

For something sturdier and more durable than a trail runner, which is designed with speed in mind, choose a light hiker.

This hiking shoe style provides excellent traction, a stiff sole, and stability in a lightweight package.

Approach Shoes

Approach shoes are designed specifically for climbing, but you can also use them as all-around footwear.

We especially like these hiking shoes because they deliver traction and support that's perfect for steep or slick trails.

Hiking Boots


Reinforced, flexible Hiking boot shafts are high enough to give your ankles extra support but low enough to let your toes move freely.

They provide you with a rock-solid grip in the water and out of it - on land, there'll be no mud slipping its way inside, thanks to the rubber compound that grips laces and ridges.

Heavy Backpacking Boots

Heavy-duty boots are designed to carry more weight at a time; backpacking boots have soles made of hard leather and have the ankle stability of high boots while they are great tools for tough terrain.

Mountaineering Boots

The North Face these are not. The quintessential mountaineering boot is heavy and very stiff, with an even boot-to-ankle ratio.

This design helps support heavy loads and enables your ankle to go on a glacial travel or ice climbing.

What You Should Know About Trail Runners?

Trail running shoes are a type of shoe that is designed to be used on trails. These are designed to help keep you light and fast while providing a lot of cushioning.

Furthermore, trail running shoes have treads that allow you to grip the ground and traction, which helps you run quickly without slipping or falling.

They also typically have a lower drop than other types of running shoes, making them more comfortable to wear over long distances.

Features Of Trail Runners


Following are some of the prominent features of Trail Runners for hikers.

Lightweight: Trail Runners shoes are lightweight. In fact, they are the lightest running shoes on the market today.

They provide a smooth ride and support your feet as they need to be supported.

Versatile: The best thing about trail runners is their versatility. That said, you can wear them for many types of sports.

All in all, they are great for walking, hiking, and running because they have such a low-profile toe box that it feels like you're wearing sneakers.

Vent perspiration: These shoes are built with a mesh material that allows for breathability, lightweight, and ventilation.

The mesh material also allows for moisture to escape from your feet.

Dry quickly: Some trail running shoes are designed to be waterproof and breathable. It means they can dry out quickly.

Remember, those trail runners are not made with 100% waterproof materials, so you will need to take care of your feet by wearing proper foot protection when it's raining.

Virtually no-break period: The durability and strength of these shoes are unsurpassed.

Their unique design and flexible sole provide maximum comfort and support, even on long runs.

The outsole is made of durable Vibram rubber that provides excellent grip and traction.

Breathable tongue with low profile lacing loops: The shoes' outsole has high traction, making it suitable for running on rough surfaces.

The outsole also has a large toe box, which ensures that your toes are supported when you run.

Compression molded EVA midsole: The compression molded EVA midsole provides superior support and comfort for all-day running.

The midsole is designed to absorb shock, increase your stride and promote a more natural foot strike.

Durable toe cap: Toe caps on Trail Runners are made of durable polyurethane material that protects from sharp objects such as stones and twigs.

It also helps prevent dirt from entering between your toes when running in mud or other soft surfaces.

Trail Runner Advantages


Trail runners provide more agility than hiking boots. They allow you to hike farther with added energy.

More so, they’re lighter and cooler, which can reduce sweating - a common cause of blistering.

Further, trail shoes provide the comfort of a running sneaker without the long break-in period associated with other footwear designed for backpacking.

They are also easier to dry because they typically aren't waterproof, so your feet don't get soaked again as quickly on return trips from water crossings.

Generally speaking, trail runners are suitable for competing on existing trails in non-freezing weather conditions.

But they may not be ideal if you stray away from your track and parameters or test them on uneven surfaces for which they are not designed for.

Trail Runners Disadvantages


Not Enough Protection Against Certain Trail Obstacle: The Trail Runner shoes do not have good traction on hard surfaces like concrete or asphalt, so they will not perform well if you need to run or walk over these kinds of surfaces while wearing them.

This could cause your feet to slip out from under you while you're running or walking, resulting in serious injuries if it repeatedly happens over time.

Can cause blisters and other foot injuries on rocks: While running on hard rocks, the cleats on your shoes dig into the ground.

The harder they dig, the more pressure they apply to your foot. It causes blisters or other injuries while wearing trail runners because of its lightweight and mesh design.

Can cause cuts and abrasions: Some trail running shoes have a hard plastic sole that can cause cuts and abrasions as you walk across rocks or other sharp objects.

These cuts can become infected quickly and require medical attention immediately if they aren't taken care of properly.

Who Are Trail Runners Best For?

Trail runners are perfect for people who love to run on uneven terrains. The reason is that they provide good traction and support to your feet while running. There are two kinds of trail runners: minimal and maximal.

  • Minimalist shoes provide minimal support to your feet and help you get a better feel of the ground while running. These are perfect for long-distance running due to thier lighter weight.
  • Maximum shoes provide maximum support and help you run at a fast pace. They are ideal for short-distance running. Despite the difference in their support, both kinds of shoes are very lightweight and comfortable.

So, if you're looking for a shoe that will last longer and fit well, then look no further than these shoes.

Best Trail Running Shoes – Our Top Picks

We have reviewed some of the best trail sunning shoes running shoes available to save you some time. They will help you run for long hours.

ASICS Men's Gel-Kahana 8 Running Shoe

There are a lot of trail runners out there, to be honest. But the Asics Gel Kahana 8 is definitely one we want to recommend. They ensure quality and reliable comfort when you're out in the great outdoors! Also, people who have been suffering from foot-related conditions such as overpronation can comfortably wear these sneakers because they feature a stable ride that helps people prevent injuries in their feet.


  • Sturdy material and meshy airflow
  • No way in for debris
  • Great impact resistance
  • Efficient stability


  • Fragile Lugs
  • A bit narrow

Salomon Women's Speedcross 4 Trail Running Shoe

If you’re going to take on trails that have rocks and mud, Salomon Women’s Speedcross runners are the best for you.

These best women's trail running shoes will keep you comfortable as you tackle challenging terrain. Another thing, these are designed to be an integral part of your trail running gear collection. Add it to the lineup today!

Down the road, the lugged outsole on these trail shoes makes them quite special as there is an aggressive design, with 6mm thick lugs made of Contragrip rubber, which makes for a sure-footed grip in any rugged terrain, one that will aid you in crossing greater distances when hiking and traveling.


  • Sturdy and grippy sole
  • Adds style to your hike
  • Protective upper
  • Perfect for rugged terrain


  • Some women find it heavy
  • Poor ventilation
  • Not for rocky trails and terrains

New Balance Men's Nitrel V3 Trail Running Shoe

If you love trail running, then the New Balance FuelCore Nitrel v3 Shoes are the ones you need. This hiking shoe has a very responsive cushioning system that provides protection against all sorts of weather for day hikes.

It also features an Abzorb crash pad for delivering security when climbing over uneven terrain that helps upper body. Also, its superbly lightweight construction with heatGear® dual-density compression-molded EVA midsole delivers supreme durability in wet conditions for many hikers.


  • Snug fit
  • Excellent cushioning
  • Sustainable ankle support
  • High top hiking shoes


  • No race-day feel

What You Should Know About Hiking Boots?

Hiking boots are great for keeping your feet nice and warm during the chilly months! They fall under a broad category of footwear that covers your ankles.

Some hiking boots are made with synthetic uppers for a softer feel and insulation for warmth, while others have harder materials like leather on the outside or metal caps to keep them waterproof.

If you're an adventurist, hiking boots may be what you need to survive those wintry months!

Features Of Hiking Boots


Material: Most hiking boots are made of leather or synthetic materials that can be sturdier than regular shoes.

The material is usually waterproof and breathable, so you won't have to worry about getting hot or sweaty while hiking in them.

Waterproof: You will find a waterproof membrane between the upper and sole of the shoe in most Hiking Boots.

It keeps water out but allows air to pass through, so your foot doesn't become too hot while wearing these waterproof boots.

The membrane also helps prevent snow from building up inside your boot.

Ankle Protection: Hiking boots have a high instep, which helps keep your ankle and foot stable.

Most hiking boots also have some ankle protection, such as an overlay that rests on the outer edge of the foot or construction that wraps around the ankle.

Stability and traction: Hiking boots provide stability when walking over uneven terrain and traction when walking through mud or snow, making them ideal for hiking in any season or weather condition.

Cushioning and Support: Hiking boots are designed with comfort in mind. They provide support and stability but don't isolate the wearer from the ground or prevent the user from feeling their surroundings.

The soles of hiking boots are typically made of an insole that is cushioned, padded, and soft.

Lacing System: A lacing system allows you to tighten the fit around the ankle area, making it more stable and creating more comfort over time, as well as helping prevent blisters if worn too loosely throughout the day (which may be why many people wear hiking boots without socks).

Ventilation and Breathability: Hiking boots have vents that are usually located on the top of the boot, or in some cases, on the sides.

The vents are designed to allow air to flow through the shoe as you walk or run. 

This helps keep your feet cool during hot weather, but it also provides extra ventilation when it gets cold outside.

Advantages of Hiking Boots


In most cases, people choose hiking boots over trail running shoes because they provide more protection and safety when walking long distances.

It’s because of that added padding that covers the top of your feet, ankle, and calf regions while using this type of footwear.

Furthermore, their uppers cover your upper foot and ankle area to provide more moisture protection during periods when it's cold outside.

Moreover, hiking boots typically last longer than trail runners; therefore, it’s a lot easier to have them resoled if the treads wear out.

Plus, hiking boots are designed to hold up through more strenuous activities than the average trail runner might be.

Disadvantages of Hiking Boots


They Can Be Heavy: Hiking boots can be heavy, especially if they have all-terrain treads or waterproofing.

They can make long hikes more challenging and painful on your feet, especially if you’re not used to wearing them.

They Can Be Expensive: Hiking boots usually aren’t cheap, so you must choose ones that fit well and feel comfortable when you walk in them.

Not Perfect For Flat Surfaces: Hiking boots are not designed for walking on flat surfaces. If you want to walk on rocks or gravel surfaces, it will not work out well for you!

You will slide around in these types of terrain and could easily injure yourself if you're not careful enough.

Who Are Hiking Boots Best For?

Hiking boots are ideal for those who want to explore new trails or walk for hours. They have features that make your feet more comfortable and keep them warm.

Hiking boots are specifically for people who want to start hiking but are afraid of untrained ankles on the fuzzy mountains.

Conveniently, they are built with support and defense in mind. For those who like to do a bit of everything in one day, hiking boots are perfect as they can take on the trails and climb up a mountain.

If you are going to be traveling by foot, hiking boots are indispensable.

Best Hiking Boots – Our Top Picks

For your extreme convenience, we have reviewed the three best-hiking boots below. They have extreme durability and have all the features shown above.

Salomon X Ultra 3 Wide Mid GTX Men's Hiking Boots

This shoe is Salomon's go-to shoe for all things active. Whether you're looking to take a walk, jog, or even run across difficult terrain, this shoe is more than capable of getting the job done right.

Surprisingly, we were shocked and impressed at just how much it could handle! There are a ton of neat little details that help the shoe excel to such a high level, yet none of them is overdone in any sense making for a very comfortable experience overall!


  • Stability
  • Protects ankle
  • Provides Traction
  • Sturdy


  • Too much ground feel
  • A bit warm because of added padding

Merrell Women's Siren Hex Q2 E-mesh Hiking Boot

Siren Hex Q2 E-Mesh is furnished with a cushioned heel that improves shock absorption, support for the foot's arches, and stability. Working with it is a removable insole contoured especially to support the foot's natural arch.

Built for women, the Merrell Siren Hex Q2 E-Mesh is equipped with 3.5mm lugs, so you can get traction when walking on wet and dry surfaces and varying terrains such as sand or light gravel. It extends to the front tips, providing a toe bumper. Altogether, these features bring about unparalleled comfort!


  • Comfortable
  • It offers decent ankle support
  • Lightweight among all the hiking boots
  • Secure fit


  • Not ample padded

Danner Men's Mountain 600 4.5" Hiking Boot

The Danner Mountain 600 is a great boot for active people and casual wear. These boots are comfortable and light! It looks that good, too! If you plan on wearing these in the wind, rain, or snow, ensure you protect them thoroughly.

When you’re hiking in the poorly maintained trails, you might end up dealing with mud and snow at elevation. With boulders on some of the trails, it can be not easy to keep your footing, but the rubber soles on these Danner Mountain 600 boots will perform well. 


  • Supportive
  • Very comfortable and versatile footwear
  • Outstanding grip
  • Durable


  • Debris gets into the boot
  • Just for light trekking and hiking

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Can I wear trail-running shoes for hiking?

Trail-running shoes are built for speed and protection, not for extra bump ankle support that you will need on a steep hike.

Since your trail-running shoes are neither designed for support nor for hiking, we do not recommend them for hiking.

Instead, you should use hiking boots for hiking. Aside from this, you can wear them on a stroll to your local mountain.

Can I use hiking boots for running?

Yes, you can. Hiking boots are made of thick, durable materials that will take a pounding well.

Plus, they typically have a stiffer sole than running shoes, meaning they'll be better at helping your foot absorb the impact when you're running down hills.

However, due to their unresponsive nature and heavy weight, they are not recommended for regular running.

A Bottom Line

So, after going through an in-depth article about Trail Runners vs. Hiking Boots, you may encounter that both shoes are made for entirely different purposes.

I know they share some similarities, but eventually, their build quality and serving purpose are different.

That said, most Hiking shoes are used for steep and sturdy terrains, while Trail Runners are for general trekking and trail running.

They are lightweight and can support you for hours of running or walking. In contrast, Hiking boots are heavy, making you tired on long hikes.

All in all, now we hand over the final decision to you. Whether you go with trail runners or Hiking boots, just check out your requirements and make a decision. Happy and Healthy Running!

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