Are Trail Running Shoes Good for Hiking?

Are Trail Running Shoes Good for Hiking

The quick answer to this question is, yes – you can wear trail running shoes on hikes.

Still, this doesn’t mean that the footwear is the right choice to wear on every trek. In reality, there are various factors that will determine what kind of shoes you should wear on your hike.

The good news is that you can clear up any doubts by reading the tips given below. In this post you can find out:

Let’s go ahead and get started.

Why Are Trail Running Shoes Good For Hiking?

Let’s begin by looking at why trail running footwear can be worn on hikes.

Soles Designed for Grip

Trail running is a form of off-road running. As a result, the soles of the shoes have a better grip. This is due to the lug pattern on the bottom of the footwear.

This pattern has a few different uses. First, if you are walking or running across muddy terrain, the sole digs in. At the same time, when moving over surfaces like rock, the shoes offer friction. In short, it prevents you from slipping and falling when walking across different trails.

As you can imagine, such a sole comes in quite handy when hiking. After all, there is no telling what kind of terrain you will need to scramble over.


There are different types of trail running shoes as well. Some have been designed for minimalistic runners, while others are meant for people who like walking on rough terrain. The footwear designed for uneven and rugged ground have thicker soles. They function to protect your feet from various hazards that are typically found on hiking trails.

Low Weight

Let’s face it, the last thing you want is to have to clomp around in heavy shoes. Such footwear can tire you out and make your trek seem a lot longer. The good news is that most trail running shoes are more lightweight than other trekking options. This makes them easier for you to move around in.


Most trail running designs offer some level of cushioning. This is important for more than just comfort – although it certainly does help. In fact, this type of footwear is much easier to wear, particularly for those who are new to hiking.

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The cushioning also makes trail running shoes safer. It absorbs shock and impact so that your feet aren’t getting a direct hit. In the long run, this can help to prevent injuries, especially if you tend to hike quite a lot.

Weather Resistant Properties

Once again, trail running shoes boast different features from one design to another. What you can expect is some level of weather resistance. Some shoes are also made to be breathable. This prevents your feet from sweating too much. At the same time, such footwear can dry off a lot more quickly too.

There are others that are designed to be worn in rainy conditions. These may have a water repellent exterior or surface that keeps water out. As a result, you can select a trail running shoe that is perfectly suited to the conditions you are trekking in.

Are Trail Running Shoes Right for You?

It is clear that trail running footwear can be used for hiking. Still, this doesn’t mean that it is the right option for you. So, how do you know whether you should opt for trail running shoes or the more traditional hiking boots?

Well, this depends on a few things:

Are You a Beginner Hiker?

If you are new to hiking, stability is key. This is because you are yet to get used to uneven trails. As such, you will struggle to find your footing.

In these circumstances, trail running shoes may not be the best as they have narrower soles. Instead, hiking boots will do the trick. Traditionally, the bottom of the shoes are wider. This creates a more stable base for you with every step.

In case you have been hiking for a while, you will have had plenty of practice walking on different kinds of terrain. Due to this, you shouldn’t have too much trouble with the narrower sole of a trail running design.

How Much Support Do You Need?

Every person has a different body type. This is why you will find that some people have weaker ankles – perhaps you fall into this category. If so, you may find that you tend to twist your ankle when walking. The problem may get much worse when you’re trying to cross uneven ground.

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Here, trail running shoes don’t offer the kind of support you need. This is because they have a low ankle profile. A hiking shoe or boots on the other hand, have higher ankle profiles. As such, they will ensure that there isn’t too much side-to-side movement when you are walking. In this way, the boots can prevent injuries.

Of course, if this isn’t an issue for you, then trail running shoes will be more than enough to get you across most trails.

What Type of Terrain Are You Crossing?

As mentioned, trail running shoes offer a certain level of protection from hazards. At the end of the day, though, they aren’t nearly as thick and tough as hiking boots. Due to this, you should think about the kind of terrain you are trekking through.

If you are only expecting a moderate amount of brush or rock, the trail running designs will hold up well enough. However, if you are going through some heavy-duty foliage or terrain, hiking boots will be better suited to those surfaces.

What Kind of Load Will You Be Carrying?

Last but not least, think about what kind of load you will be carrying on your hike. Are you only equipped with a light backpack or a fanny pack? In this case, trail running shoes will be enough. On the other hand, if you’re carrying a heavier pack, hiking boots may be the answer.

As mentioned, hiking boots offer more stability. This can be particularly useful when you’re trying to balance a larger load. The heavy-duty hiking shoe works well to create a more stable hiking experience for you.

How to Choose Trail Running Shoes for Hiking

Are Trail Running Shoes Good for Hiking

Have you decided whether trail running shoes are for you? If so, you need to know how to choose the right pair. Follow the guidelines below:

Select the Right Sole

You can’t place trail running shoes in a single category. You will often find that brands have designs and types for all kinds of trails. This is why you need to check out the soles before you pick a pair.

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Since you are selecting shoes for hiking, focus on the designs meant for rugged trail or off trail. Rugged trail treads work if your hiking trail is rough but not too tricky. Go all out with the off trail if you are expecting very uneven ground.

Pay Attention to the Level of Cushioning

Trail running shoe can go from having almost no cushioning at all to a maximum amount. When on a hiking trail, the shoes need to absorb shock from hard ground, rock, or roots. Thus, it is a good idea to select at least a moderate or maximum level of cushioning. This will create a more comfortable experience for you.

Look for Moderate to Maximalist Heel-to-Toe Drops

Then, there is the heel-to-toe drop. This refers to how your foot makes contact with the ground when you walk. This is typically determined by the distance from the front of your hiking shoe to the ground. To minimize your risk of injury, select one with a distance of more than 4mm.

This way, the front of your foot hits the ground first. For most people, this is their natural gait and it might be true for you as well. So, getting a shoe that’s in line with this can help to prevent any pulled muscles or other injuries involved with landing on your foot the wrong way.

Double Check the Right Size

It goes without saying, but all the benefits of a trail running shoe will be lost if you don’t have the right shoe size. Due to this, your first order of business is to make sure that you measure your feet properly. Then, check that your preferred design matches these measurements.

Before you head out on the trail, make certain that the shoe has a comfortable fit – go ahead and try them on ahead of time. This way, your hike will go a lot more smoothly.

As you can see, trail running shoes are suitable for hiking under certain circumstances. As long as you choose a pair that is the right size, has proper cushioning, and a good level of support, this type of footwear will do the trick. You can then experience comfort and stability on your next hike.

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