Can You Hike In Running Shoes? Yes?

If you’re still learning and getting into hiking, chances are you don’t have everything you need. So, if you have sneakers, can you hike while wearing them and still be comfortable?

If you have trail running shoes, the answer is a resounding yes. This type of shoe is ideal and highly recommended for both novice and experienced hikers. However, if you have a pair of road running shoes, I’m afraid they won’t work as well, but they will still be useful during the hike.

Can You Hike In Running Shoes?

This was the question that I asked myself quite a bit when I was first starting out. During that time, I was still unsure of what I was doing and lacked the necessary hiking gear. However, as I gain experience, I realize that standard running shoes will not provide the necessary trail protection. It is still possible to hike in running shoes, but it is best if the trail is shorter and less difficult. With time and practice, you may be able to upgrade your standard running shoes to trail running shoes or hiking boots. These two types of shoes are more suited for hiking.

Boots, trail runners, and street-style shoes all have distinct characteristics. At first glance, there are some important distinctions in design and construction between hiking shoes and running shoes, and the distinction between the two becomes much clearer once you sit down and try them on. To begin with, your hiking shoes will be significantly more durable than any sneakers you’ve ever had. A trail running shoe is designed to withstand trail hazards such as branches, stones, roots, water, and anything else you could encounter. 

On flat, even surfaces, street shoes should be used. Even if you step on a rock or pebble, or walk through a pothole, your street shoes will be able to handle it. They’re light, comfy, and versatile. A hiking shoe, on the other hand, is built with extra support. They can withstand rough terrain when trail running and provide additional support for your foot arches if you lose your grip. Hiking shoes also terminate higher on your ankle to protect you if you fall incorrectly and twist it. Hiking trail runners, on the other hand, frequently come to a halt directly around the ankle. This gives your ankle more mobility to rotate, which can be both beneficial and detrimental on hiking terrain. You want to avoid rolling your ankles on the route, therefore padding is essential. However, other people enjoy the freedom of mobility that trail runners provide, so it’s primarily a matter of personal preference. Boots, in contrast, are a completely distinct beast. While you could run in a well-worn pair of boots, you probably don’t want to! Boots are hefty and supportive, and they are designed for strolling rather than running.

Can You Hike In Running Shoes

If you insist on wearing running shoes while hiking, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure your safety on the route.

Type Of Hike

Hiking is a broad term. When I say hiking, I mean I’m going to be trudging into the woods. I’ll be following a route at times, but not always. I would never venture far into the woods hiking with a running shoe; instead, I would go for a durable boot with additional protection and support. However, this is not the case for everyone. If I were going trail jogging, though, I would wear trail runners. I’m ok running on a well-established, open trail with roots, rocks, or puddles. I can run the trail as long as it isn’t overgrown with weeds or choked with trees. It depends on how fast I intend to go as well as the trail I’m on. Just as I would dislike running along trails in my heavy boots, I would feel nearly naked going through wooded, deep paths in trail running shoes.

The level of protection and assistance, in my opinion, makes all the difference. While trail running shoes make it simpler to run on uneven or rocky terrain, they do not provide the same level of support as boots. Having said that, they can absolutely be utilized for hiking. In fact, trail running shoes are nearly always a better option for hiking than regular street shoes.

Distance of Hike

How long will your hike last? How far is your trail? Running shoes should be enough if you plan to hike for one to two hours. If you are planning a longer hike, I recommend that you wear hiking boots or trail running shoes instead of running shoes.

Elevation and Ruggedness of the Trail

Let’s face it: running shoes don’t have much traction on the ground, making them tough to use on steep climbs and elevation changes. So, make sure to check the elevation variations on your journey and determine whether running can help. Running shoes should suffice if the trail consists mostly of flat terrain with few elevation changes. You should also consider the terrain’s roughness. Hiking shoes have larger lugs and sticky rubber that grips quite well. Unless you’re on shaky terrain, it’s unusual for a hiking boot to lack traction. Trail running shoes are similar to hiking shoes in this aspect, albeit to a lesser extent. Running shoes can still be used on the path if there are no or few elevation changes, although this is dependent on the hardness of the terrain. Remember that running shoes are designed for running, so walking or navigating rocky paths may be challenging.

Water Crossings

If your hiking trail includes crossing bodies of water, wearing running shoes can be difficult. This type of shoe does not have waterproofing capabilities which usually allows the shoes to dry quickly. Hiking in wet shoes increases your chances of developing blisters, which is not a pleasant sensation. 


The weather during the trek might also make or break your decision to wear running shoes while hiking. If it rains during your hike, the trail may get muddy and nasty. Running shoes might be risky because they do not provide much traction and hold on the ground. Thus, using hiking boots or a trail running shoe during bad weather conditions is far preferable to using normal running shoes. 

Can You Hike In Running Shoes

Why is Running Shoes Less Preferable to Hiking Shoes?

I’ve always said that a running shoe can be worn throughout the hike, but only under certain circumstances. But what is the cause of this? First, running shoes are designed for running rather than hiking, which means that some sections of the shoe are not designed to withstand the demands of hiking.

The quality of the grip is the most visible constraint of a running shoe. Roadrunner shoes have less traction and provide less grip. Because of these characteristics, they can be slippery in wet locations, especially when it rains. Furthermore, running shoes do not protect your toes as well as hiking boots or trail running shoes. This is why, if you’re planning a long hike, I always advise against wearing running shoes. Because your feet will be constantly dragging, banging, and stubbing, you’ll need all the protection you can get with your toes.

Regular running shoes do not have a distinct mesh pattern or high tops. Running shoes have a wide mesh construction that does not provide additional foot protection. Some trail running shoes have high tops to keep tiny rocks from kicking into your shoes while also providing rain protection. Regular running shoes, however, do not give this level of protection. 

Depending on how long your hike is, the weight you carry on your feet accumulates over time. You’re 60% of the way through your hike and you’re ready for it to be over. This is why weight is such an important consideration when purchasing a shoe. Hiking boots are bulky. There is no way around it. The materials and security features pile up, and this comes at a cost. Trail running shoes, on the other hand, are light. A typical trail running shoe weighs between 6.5 and 13 ounces. The average hiking shoe weighs about 2-3 pounds. That is a significant weight differential that can make or break your trekking experience. Consider this when selecting hiking or trail running shoes.

However, no one would necessarily prohibit you from wearing regular street shoes when hiking or trail jogging. It wouldn’t necessarily be any more perilous just as long as you didn’t tackle a track beyond your abilities. I wouldn’t completely recommend it, however, if you don’t have the budget to buy separate trail and street runners, you can use street shoes for both. 

Others’ mental processes when selecting a pair of shoes may differ. Both trail sneakers and running shoes can be fantastic selections if you consider accident-proneness, comfort, and how shoe choice may affect the trek itself before making your decision! We hoped this article helped you come to a conclusion. 


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