Hiking Boots vs. Trail Runners: Which One Should You Pick?

Just like how you decide on what to wear for a particular event, like in basketball where many players dream to wear a pair of Air Jordan; choosing the right footwear for a hike is a personal choice. Although many people would say that shoes A is better than shoes B, there are still considerations before making that final answer if which of the two is perfect and suited for your need.

Here are some things you must know that can help you decide which hiking footwear will work best for you.

resting feet with different types of hiking shoes

There are a few key questions when choosing between hiking boots and a trail running shoes:

  • Are you a first-time hiker?
  • What’s the majority of the terrain on your trail?
  • What’s your body type and weight?
  • How fast will you be going?

Is it your first time in hiking?

It takes a while to master the way of keeping upright on trails. If you are a newbie hiker, you need to secure that you wear the most comfortable shoes to keep away from added troubles from a swollen foot or sole or an injury due to inappropriate and uncomfortable hiking footwear.

Generally, hiking boots like a Merrell Men’s Moab, have thicker soles that provide a stable base for every footfall.

What’s the majority of the terrain on your trail?

Whether it’s a hiking boots, a trail runner, or sports sandals, each shoe type has its advantage and disadvantages. It’s just how you pick the right shoes for the right time and the right place.

For longer and sketchy trails, hiking boots are likely to work best as it is more stable and can last thousands of trail miles and stand up to wear and tear. Concerning durability, hiking boots are undeniably at the top of all other shoes. Its hard rubber underfoot, a sole with a deep tread and an upper made from leather makes it last longer. Their stout soles can give the best protection for your feet against injury and can handle abuse from rocks and roots, so your feet don’t have to.

If you’re hiking through a meandering forest trail or a paved nature trail, tough, light, and lean footwear, just like a Salomon Speedcross trail runners, will work best. However, when hiking under snowy, wet, and cold conditions, sturdy, waterproof boots or trail runners can provide excellent protection to your feet.

What’s the weight on your feet?

The weight on your feet will also determine the energy that you will need while hiking. According to studies, hiking with extra weight on your feet requires significantly more energy than carrying an equal amount of additional weight on your back. As an adage goes, “a pound on your feet is equal to five on your back.” This is one of the main reasons why many hikers switch from boots to trail runners-to save energy expenditure and cover a lot of ground quickly with minimal effort. A 2019 survey among the Appalachian Trail thru-hikers revealed that approximately three-quarters of the hikers used trail runners while less than 10 percent used hiking boots.

Each pair of trail runners mostly weigh about 20 to 25 ounces, substantially lesser than hiking boots, which generally weigh over 50 ounces. This means that you can save about half of the added weight on your feet when using trail runners over hiking boots.

Perhaps, you’re already aware of your body weight and pretty much know whether your body needs more support from the footwear you’ll be wearing for hiking. If it does, and you will be carrying it along with a heavy backpack, a hiking boot is the best choice for you for better stability. However, if you haven’t any issues with your legs’ stability and strength and will just bring a lighter load on your pack, a trail runner can be used.


Hiking boots last longer than trail runners that usually wore out after 500 miles, especially under sketchy and stony trails. Suppose you are wearing extra-durable hiking shoes. In that case, that means you can enjoy extended hiking without worrying much if, along the way, you needed to find replacement footwear that is non-existent in your journey.


Mid-cut waterproof boots are ideal when hiking for extended stretches in below-freezing snowy conditions to keep the feet dry and avoiding the risk of frostbite.

Under constant below freezing hiking environment, the snow has relatively low liquid water content, making “wetting out” longer than hiking under the rain and with mud all day.

In a dry snow hiking environment, the feet are more likely to become wet due to sweat, which will condense inside the boot because the vapor has nowhere to go.

There is no sole answer to which type of hiking shoes suits all scenarios and to all types of hikers. Therefore, these things mentioned above are very important factors that you need to consider before deciding which pair of hiking shoes would be your best buddy for your next hiking adventure.