In the last couple of years, a new trend where hikers are replacing their hiking boots with lighter trail running shoes has emerged. The trend has been brought about by the progressive development of trail running shoes, making them not just shoes for racing from the starting to the crossing line, but the new go-to choice for most outdoor pursuits.
At this point, many people, especially new hikers, are left in a dilemma, “Do I follow the current trend of ditching the hiking boots for trail running shoes?” To help you make the right choice, we did this trail running shoes vs hiking shoes to help you understand the differences. We also reviewed the best three shoes in each category to assist you in identifying the ideal one for you.
The Main Differences Between Hiking Boots Vs Trail Runners
The differences between hiking boots and trail running shoes start from their conception. The hiking boots are designed to overcome even the toughest terrain. However, trail running shoes are used to make it easy to run and finish competitions fast. Here are other things that differentiate trail running shoes from hiking boots:
- Hiking boots are designed using thick materials with the sole offering protection to the entire foot, whereas trail runners are cut from lighter materials to avoid placing too heavy a load on the feet.
- Hiking boots are constructed with high collars for additional ankle support, whereas trail running shoes do not have such high support.
- Hiking shoes are designed with tough materials that make them last up to 1000 miles, whereas the trail running shoes can only do 500 miles.
- Most hiking shoes are designed with waterproof material such as leather that makes them great pieces for hiking in cold and wet areas while trail running shoes are good for running on muddy areas, and sections with loose soil.
- Using trail running shoes is more enjoyable. They are cushioned well and movement towards your destination is faster, whereas running with hiking books can be challenging because they have less cushioning and are heavy.
Trail Running Vs Hiking Shoes: Our Reviews
|1. Columbia Newton Ridge Plus Li||Check Current Price|
|2. Hi-Tec Men's Bandera Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot||Check Current Price|
|3. Timberland White Ledge Men’s Waterproof Boot||Check Current Price|
|4. Salomon Men’s Speedcross 4 Trail Running Shoe||Check Current Price|
|5. New Balance Men's 410 V5 Cushioning Trail Running Shoe||Check Current Price|
|6. Adidas Men’s Terrex Tracerocker Trail Running Shoe||Check Current Price|
1. Columbia Newton Ridge Plus Li – Best Overall Hiking Shoe
The Newton Ridge Plus Li hiking boots are our first choice in the hiking shoes category. The shoe is sturdily constructed to help you conquer even the toughest terrain with ease. So, whether you are planning for a hike in the Rocky Mountains or Grand Canyon, no place is too tough for this boot!
The outer part of the shoe is made with full-grain leather that helps to make it strong and waterproof. The leather also helps to keep your legs secure when moving on the trails. They also have seam-sealed construction, meaning that even if you are camping or passing through a wet area, your feet will not get wet.
The shoes look tough from the outside, but it is a different thing when you slip your feet inside. They are designed with a lightweight Techlite (EVA) midsole that is soft and comfortable to wear. The midsole absorbs the impact to make movement through the rough terrain smooth.
The boot’s outsole is created using Columbia’s proprietary Omni-Grip technology to help you move with ease, even in wet areas. They also have multidirectional cogs that offer excellent grip even when running through muddy terrain or areas with loose soil.
- Weight: 452 grams
- Outsole: Rubber
- Shaft measurement: About five-inch from the arch
- Designed to overcome even the toughest terrain
- Good cushioning
- Good for protecting your feet
- Very heavy
It is true that most hiking boots are expensive, but this does not mean that you cannot get a great piece when buying on a budget. The Hi-Tec Bandera Mid Hiking Boots are some of the cheapest options out there. However, the low price is not an indication of quality because the shoe comes with some of the most enviable features.
The boots are designed with suede leather and mesh top, a combination that makes the shoe very strong. While the leather is waterproof, the nylon mesh helps to make the shoe breathable, helping to keep your feet feeling fresh when out hiking in the woods.
The shoe’s outsole is made of thick rubber to help protect you from harmful debris on the trails or camping ground. Furthermore, the outsole features deep lugs that provide awesome traction even when traveling through wet surfaces or through areas with loose soil.
The thick outsole, suede leather, and D-ring lacing system make the boot durable. So, you are sure of enjoying this shoe for many months to come before requiring a replacement.
- Weight: 297.5 grams
- Material: Leather and textile
- Shaft measurement: About 5-inch from the arch
- Strong and durable
- Breathable and meshed upper parts
- Moisture-wicking lining
- Rustproof lacing system
- Rugged rubber outsole for better traction
- The cushioning of the shoe is poor
If you want to go hiking and want to do it in style, one of the best shoes to consider is this White Ledge boot. The shoe is designed to help you feel great when going outdoors without compromising its functionality. So, whether you want to wear boots with a pair of jeans or other clothing, you will look great. We tried it with official pants, and the hiking experience was awesome.
The uppers of the shoe are made using a seam-sealed construction. It also features waterproof leather that helps to prevent moisture from getting to your feet when you are hiking. The leather also makes the boot strong, meaning that you can expect to still have it in great shape many months down the line.
Another thing that makes this boot standout out is cushioning. The boots feature a lovely EVA footbed that makes them very comfortable to wear when going out. The footbed is also perforated to help wick away sweat and keep your feet aerated.
- Weight: 5 Grams
- Shaft measurements: About 4.75-inch from the arch
- Outsole material: Rubber
- Waterproof construction
- Rustproof speed lace hardware
- Awesome cushioning on the footbed
- Thick rubber outsole and lugs to help you move easily in all terrains
- The heavily padded collar might expert pressure to the ankle
- Heavily padded collar no so good for people with ankle problems
4. Salomon Men’s Speedcross 4 Trail Running Shoe – First Choice For Trail Running Shoes
Our top pick in the trail running shoes category is this Speedcross 4 trail running shoe from Salomon. It is a fourth-generation and one of the latest editions in the Speedcross model, which means that it comes with some of the best features.
The upper part of the shoe is designed using anti-debris textile that helps to filter off materials on your running track from getting to your foot. The top is also water-resistant so that you can run through those wet trails without worrying that your feet will get dirty. The meshed uppers also help to make the shoe light and durable.
As a trail running shoe, Salomon designed it with a rubber outsole and multidirectional lugs that provide a firm grip even when moving through loose soil and muddy areas. However, the shoes are not fully waterproof, and it is important to avoid large water puddles.
Another area where this trail running shoe from Salomon excels is cushioning. The shoes have an EVA midsole that helps to absorb shock when you are running out there. Furthermore, they come with Ortholite insoles that conform to the shape of the foot for additional support.
- Weight: 300 grams
- Drop: 10mm
- Material: Rubber outsole and anti-debris mesh uppers
- Feature deep lugs for a firm grip when running
- Excellent cushioning
- Strong and durable
- Quicklace system
- Not fully waterproof
- Narrow toe box
Well, many trail running shoes can indeed be expensive, but if you are on a budget or want to spend only a small amount, one of the top choices is the 410 V5 from New Balance. Although the shoe has a low price tag, its quality is outstanding.
The upper part of the shoe is constructed using a combination of a breathable and synthetic mesh. The effect is that the shoe allows ample air to pass and cool the feet when running. It also means that you can put on the shoe in summer and enjoy every moment you take in the woods or running trails.
To make the shoe more stable, the outsole is designed with All-Terrain rubber and treads of different shapes. Whether you will be running through wet or rocky surfaces where a firm grip is required, this is one tail running shoe that you can count on fo top performance.
- Weight: 317 grams
- Drop: 6mm
- Material: Rubber
- Meshed top provides superb breathability
- Sold affordably
- Outstanding traction on different terrain
- Large toe box makes it a great piece for people with large feet
- Firmly constructed for better performance and durability
- Available in six colors
The last shoe on our list of the best trail running footwear is this Terrex Tracerocker, a premium model that was designed by Adidas to help you conquer every terrain. From the outsole to insole construction, all the features are designed to make running on the trails easy and fun.
The top part of the shoe is constructed with a synthetic mesh that helps to enhance breathability. Besides, we liked how the top hugs the foot to give it a plush feeling when running outdoors. Further support comes from the EVA midsole that conforms to the shape of the foot. The midsole and outsole absorb the shock when you are running so that you do not suffer from fatigue.
The trail running shoe features deep lugs facing different directions to help shred mud and provide a firm grip no matter the terrain. So, whether the upcoming run takes you through a rocky stretch or the path is full of debris, this shoe will help you to easily achieve your objective.
- Weight: 283.4 grams
- Drop: 8mm
- Outsole: Rubber
- Good breathability and ventilation
- Rugged outsole and treads for a firmer grip
- Designed for trail running
- Heavy cushioning
- Strong and durable
- Not waterproof
Trail Running Shoes Vs Hiking Shoes: How To Determine The Right One To Buy?
Now that we have looked at the main differences between hiking shoes and trail running shoes, and picked the best three options in each category, “How do you select the best option?” Here are some things to consider:
Determine Your Goal
The main determinant of the shoe that you should buy is the goal. For example, if you are looking forward to conquering the trails faster during the next running competition, the best option would be using trail running shoes.
Also, if you only intend to hike and do not want to carry a too heavy weight on your feet, it is better to go for trail running shoes as opposed to hiking boots.
Understand The Activities Of Interest When Going Out
Today, many people go hiking to explore the jungle. So, if you want to get involved in activities such as hunting and fishing that will take you deeper into the jungle, consider going for hiking boots. They help to offer better protection from harmful materials, dangerous creepers, and elements.
The Nature Of The Surface
Before you can decide about the shoe to buy, think about the nature of the surface that you will encounter. Hiking boots are designed with large outsoles and big cogs that make it easy to move even in very wet areas.
If you have issues with your feet, it is always good to buy the shoes that provide good support and cushioning. For example, if you have a problem such as plantar fasciitis, arthritis, or broad feet, going for hiking boots is likely to escalate the problem because they are heavy, the toe box is small, and breathability is poor.
Need For Better Cushioning
Whether you are off for a camping weekend or running on the mountain trails, it is prudent to ensure you pick the shoe that comes with good cushioning and support. A properly cushioned shoe should have a good midsole that conforms to the shape of your feet. Furthermore, the cushioning should extend to all parts of the shoe, from the heel to the toes.
When heading to a hiking ground, you want to have a lot of fun. However, this fun could fail to climax if you get to the hiking point, and you are very tired because of the heavy loads tied to your shoes. This is why it is advisable to consider trail running shoes instead of boots. They might not be as tough as the hiking boots, but you will love their lightweight designs, flexibility, and ability to help you move faster.
As the debate on the trail running shoes vs hiking shoes intensify, we have to accept that each category comes with its own strengths and weaknesses. For example, if you are hiking in a snow-capped mountain, hiking boots will be the best option.
Apart from such extreme scenarios, whether you are running through the mountain in the coming cross-country competitions, or want to enjoy more during a summer hike, trail running shoes are the best.
The shoes have a lightweight construction, outstanding cushioning, and advanced features that help to make running or walking easy and fun. So, if you want to enjoy your moment out there, go for a fitting pair of trail running shoes.
While we stand with the top six hiking and trail running shoes above (they are awesome), the most outstanding of them all is the Salomon Men’s Speedcross 4 Trail Running Shoe. It comes with excellent cushioning and advanced features to make it easy for you to conquer every trail.