Have you ever asked yourself: are hiking boots good for walking?
While hiking boots are designed for trekking through uneven terrain, can you use them for more relaxed walks or even as casual day-to-day wear?
Generally, hiking boots are made to endure rough ground, offering more support and protection for your feet in these extreme terrains. This means they’re also good for easy walks outdoor or in the city.
The downside is that hiking boots can be quite heavy compared to regular shoes. They’re also prone to wearing out quicker on asphalt.
Due to how hiking boots are designed, whether or not they make for good walking shoes is something each person has to decide for themselves. Besides design, you’ll want to consider everything from cost to comfort and versatility.
When I was about to get my first pair of hiking boots, I didn’t want to crowd my shoe rack with too many different shoes for different purposes.
I also wanted something affordable and comfortable.
Good quality hiking boots can be expensive. So being able to use them outside of hiking would immediately increase their value for the money I paid.
As for comfort, hiking boots are notoriously stiff as they’re made to withstand rough terrain. But would they hurt my feet if I used them for walking?
I’m a fan of multifunctional footwear so I was looking for something that would serve me well on both hikes and walks. Bonus points if I could use it for daily wear too!
That’s why I decided on hiking boots. I have used my hiking boots on hikes, nature walks, city tours, and for running errands at a mall – they are my go-to footwear.
Still, you may be asking: are hiking boots good for walking for me?
To help you answer that question, I’m going to walk you through the differences between hiking boots and hiking shoes, what makes hiking boots good for walking, and factors to consider when choosing a pair of hiking boots.
In this post, we will cover:
- Hiking Boots vs Hiking Shoes: Pros & Cons
- Are Hiking Boots Good For Trail Walking?
- Are Hiking Boots Good for Casual Walking?
- Reasons To Use Hiking Boots For Walking
- Types Of Hiking Boots
- Factors To Consider When Choosing A Hiking Boot
- What To Look For In Hiking Boots?
- How To Pick The Right Size and Fit of Hiking Boots?
- How To Care For Your Hiking Boots
- Alternative Walking Footwear
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Hiking Boots vs Hiking Shoes: Pros & Cons
First things first, what is the difference between hiking boots and hiking shoes?
Hiking shoes are essentially a cross between hiking boots and trail runners – the latter are lightweight footwear designed for running on unpaved trails outdoors.
Made for rough terrain, hiking shoes do offer a good level of protection for your feet with hard soles. This also makes them more durable than a standard sneaker, though not as durable as hiking boots.
The other advantage to hiking shoes is that they are much lighter than hiking boots, making them a less tiring footwear option if you’re not used to heavy shoes.
However, hiking shoes are low-cut.
This means it lacks ankle support and protection, which can leave you at risk for abrasions and scratches, especially if you’re walking through bushy or rocky areas, and uneven side streets.
Hiking boots, on the other hand, provide ample protection and support for your ankles owing to their mid- or high-cut designs.
In hiking boots, you won’t have to think twice about whether your feet will survive a trek because you know they’ll be properly protected from the elements.
Additionally, hiking boots are made of tougher material than hiking shoes, with sturdier soles and waterproofing. This makes them a little heavier, but the trade-off when it comes to overall protection is worth it.
Hiking boots can take a lot of abuse, whether you’re walking through a rocky outcrop, wading through muddy puddles, walking in the rain, or pounding the pavement in your neighborhood.
Compared to hiking shoes, hiking boots offer more protection and support.
Are Hiking Boots Good For Trail Walking?
Knowing all that, it’s no surprise to learn that hiking boots are good for trail walking as well.
Trail walking is like a less intense form of hiking.
It involves outdoor walks on paths, tracks, unpaved lanes, and sometimes paved roads. You’ll encounter uneven ground, grassy hillsides, sandy paths, and rocky streams.
In that environment, a pair of hiking boots would be your best bet.
It provides excellent all-weather protection thanks to its waterproofing.
Are hiking boots good for mud and rain? Yes.
Are hiking boots good for snow? Yes.
They are designed to protect your feet from the elements, after all.
Hiking boots also offer great traction owing to their deeply ridged soles that are designed to be worn on uneven ground.
Are Hiking Boots Good for Casual Walking?
So what about casual walking? Sometimes when you’re done with hiking or trail walking, you may want to run around town to get some errands done since you’re already out.
But do you need to carry a change of footwear with you or can you just walk around in your hiking boots?
The soles of hiking boots which are designed for better grip on the gravelly ground are unnecessary when walking on asphalt pavement or concrete. The hard asphalt ground meeting hard soles can be uncomfortable.
However, that is easily fixed with a comfortable pair of socks.
The only real concern with using hiking boots for walking is that the soles will wear out quicker on pavement or asphalt – but that is true for all shoes, not just hiking boots.
So you’ll want to keep that in mind when deciding on how often you’ll use your hiking boots for casual walking.
Given all the positive features of hiking boots and the added benefit of looking stylish, you’ll only need one pair that serves you both in the wilderness and the concrete jungle.
Reasons To Use Hiking Boots For Walking
To recap, are hiking boots good for walking on trails and around town? Yes! Here’s why.
- Provide the best ankle protection in all terrains, shielding you from rocks, thorns, and sharp objects.
- Provide better stability with its mid-to high-cut design, which is especially useful for people with flat feet and weak ankles.
- Are waterproof, so you don’t have to worry about your feet getting wet if you’re caught in the rain or step into a puddle or stream. The waterproofing also keeps you dry from mud and snow.
- Are designed with deeply ridged soles that provide excellent all-around traction on all surfaces from rocky ground, muddy paths, and even asphalt.
- Are made of sturdier, waterproof material which keeps your feet nice and warm in cold weather.
- Have durable, hard soles which prevent you from feeling the ground beneath your feet, making for comfortable wear over long periods.
Types Of Hiking Boots
The question of what are the best boots for hiking is quite personal and entirely dependent on your preferences and needs. The same goes for the question of what are the best walking boots.
Generally, hiking boots come in three categories.
Day Hiking Boots – Lightweight
Typically, a lightweight hiking boot is great for a standard hike where you’re just heading out for the day. They provide good ankle support and limit ankle rolls while you’re hiking or walking.
Day hiking boots are also fully waterproof and generally have great traction thanks to their solid but lightweight soles.
They are also the lightest among all three categories of hiking boots. Something like the Columbia Women’s Newton Ridge Plus Waterproof Amped Hiking Boot weighs only 1.06 pounds.
Backpacking Boots – Midweight
Midweight hiking boots are called backpacking boots. These are designed to provide totally solid ankle support even when you’re carrying around a heavy backpack, thanks to their higher cut.
Made out of sturdier material, backpacking boots have slightly thicker soles which provide good traction. It is also more insulated, proving to be better cold-weather footwear.
Because of the support they provide and the function they are meant to serve, backpacking boots tend to be heavier than lightweight boots. However, they are also made to withstand more roughhousing, making them a lot more durable overall.
You can rest assured that backpacking boots like the Salewa Women’s Mountain Trainer Mid GTX Alpine Trekking Boot will not let you down on a multi-day trek or walk.
Mountaineering Boots – Heavyweight
These are the bad boys of hiking boots – they are the sturdiest of the three categories as they are designed to hold up against the roughest terrain and weather you can think of.
From rocky paths to snowy inclines and glacial trails, a pair of mountaineering boots such as the SCARPA Grand Dru GTX Waterproof Gore-Tex Hiking Boots are made to provide the utmost stability, warmth, and protection.
Unfortunately, they may not be the best option for walking as they are extremely heavy and stiff, which will tire you out quickly.
Other Hiking Boots
Here, we should also talk about different brands and makes of boots and whether they work well for hikes and walks.
Are Columbia Hiking Boots Good?
When it comes to brands of hiking boots, Columbia is among the most popular. They are lightweight, versatile, durable, and quite stylish. They also come in a range of lightweight to heavyweight models – so there’s something for just about every preference.
In fact, you’re wondering what are the best hiking boots for women, Columbia’s Newton Ridge Plus Boots are among the most highly rated.
Are Blundstones Good For Hiking?
The answer is yes, but only for short warm-weather hikes because they lack ankle support and durability in rough terrain. They’re not made for long hikes. The Blundstone Dress Series Chelsea Boot is great for a night around town, though.
Are Duck Boots Good For Hiking?
While they are waterproof, which is great for snow and mud, duck boots lack enough stability and traction for hiking or long-distance walks. Keep them for casual wear, like the Skechers Duck Boot with a waterproof outsole.
Are Snow Boots Good For Hiking?
Technically, yes. Snow boots are perfect for long winter hikes. The Columbia Ice Maiden II Snow Boots will keep your feet toasty and well protected from the harsh snowy elements.
However, they can be quite bulky and heavy. So they won’t do well on short, warm-weather hikes.
Are Sorel Boots Good For Hiking?
Sorel boots are a brand of winter boots. So similarly, most Sorel boots aren’t good for warm-weather walking or hiking. Although, Sorel does carry a lightweight mountaineering boot that can be used as an all-around hiking boot. Check out the Sorel Lennox Laceup Hikers.
Are Work Boots Good For Hiking?
In a pinch, they’ll work. But if you want to hike regularly, even twice a year, you’re better off with hiking boots that offer better traction, support, flexibility, and comfort on uneven ground.
On the flipside, hiking boots are good for work.
They’re more comfortable and offer plenty of protection. Though the lack of a steel-toe in hiking boots may be a concern if you’re working in places where that sort of protection is essential.
Are Timberland Boots Good For Hiking?
Unfortunately, the Timberland Classic Boot generally lacks the support or traction of a standard hiking boot which leaves you at risk of getting hurt. The classic Timberlands are good for walking, though, at least on a casual basis in the city.
If you do want a pair of Timberlands for hiking, they do have a few hiking boots you can choose from such as the Chocorua Trail Boot. Though not the best hiking boots available, they perform well enough for casual hikers.
Are Danner Boots Good For Walking?
Yes, especially the lightweight models. Danner boots are a mainstay in hiking boots discourse, and for good reason. They’re designed for comfort and support and are fully waterproof. The Mountain 600 city-to-mountain hiking boot is especially beloved.
Are Combat Boots Good For Hiking?
If you’re referring specifically to military boots, then yes. Military boots are designed for extreme use and conditions and come with extra support. This makes them ideal for hiking and walking. A good bet is the Danner USMC RAT Boot.
It’s good to also remember that combat-style fashion boots are best kept for casual jaunts around town.
Factors To Consider When Choosing A Hiking Boot
Knowing the type of boot you want to go for is great. But before you commit to a pair, you should also ask yourself what are good hiking boots? What factors should you consider when picking out a pair?
1. Material and Breathability
Hiking boots come in a variety of materials that affect breathability. Full-grain and nubuck (which is a buffed full-grain) leather boots are highly durable, water-resistant, and abrasion-resistant. That also means it’s not as breathable as nylon or split-grain leather hiking boots.
There are also synthetic leather boots made out of polyester or nylon which tend to be lighter, dry faster, and are easier to break in than leather boots.
However, they may wear out quicker than real leather.
Some hiking boots may also be marketed as having a waterproof membrane such as Gore-Tex® or eVent® which functions to keep your feet dry in wet conditions. However, this significantly decreases breathability which can be an issue in hotter climates.
When choosing a pair of hiking boots, you should take into account the weight that you’re comfortable with. Heavyweight hiking boots may offer better overall protection and durability but can tire you out over long distances.
However, it is easy enough to get used to heavier shoes after a few wears. So you may opt for a pair of hiking boots that are heavier than you’re used to if it ticks other boxes as well. You just have to give yourself some time to get used to the weight.
A stiffer boot generally offers better protection though it can be uncomfortable. Stiffness here applies to both the soles and the upper section. A stiff sole offers good traction while a stiff upper can be great for ankle support and shield you from unwanted abrasions in rocky or thorny areas.
However, this comes down to personal preference and what you’re used to. Do keep in mind that hiking boots require breaking in, so they will get more comfortable the longer you wear them.
Boots that are too loose or tight will make them unwearable so look for something that fits your foot length, width, and arch length for maximum comfort. More on this in the next section!
The midsole section of a hiking boot is where most of your cushioning come from. It’s your shock absorbers. Though a stiff boot may sound undesirable, it offers better protection for your feet, especially on uneven terrain.
You’ll want to look for midsoles made with either ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) or polyurethane. EVA is the lighter and less expensive option that is also cushier. Polyurethane tends to be stiffer and more durable and is often found in backpacking and mountaineering boots.
Check to make sure that the boots you’re looking at come with shanks and plates – both of which offer much-needed internal support that is quintessential to hiking boots.
Shanks are think inserts between the outsoles and midsoles of a pair of boots. They either cover the entire length of the midsole or just half, offering extra cushioning to the midsoles. It’s also what determines the flexibility of a pair of boots.
Plates, on the other hand, are inserts that go below the shank, if any. These are thin and semi-flexible. Plates are what offer added protection from uneven rocks and roots.
Check out the soles of the boot for the lug pattern. Soles are often made of rubber with protruding bumps (lugs) which provide traction. Deep ridges that are widely and randomly spaced offer better grip, especially in muddy areas. You’ll also want to look for a clearly define heel section because this provides extra traction during declines.
You’ll also want to pay close attention to how the hiking boots are constructed. Are the soles stitched on or glued? If it is glued on, are there gaps or excess glue bits? If it is stitched, how far apart are the stitches?
This will give you some idea of the quality of the boots. Soles that are glued on are less durable while soles that are stitched on offer you the option of replacing them when they wear out.
How To Pick The Right Size and Fit of Hiking Boots?
Finding the perfect fit in a pair of hiking boots is crucial to overall comfort and satisfaction. Three important measurements you should have with you when going shopping for hiking boots are the length, width, and arch length of your foot.
Shoe sizing isn’t standard across brands, so having your measurements in centimeters or inches will come in handy.
The length of your feet will be your first guide when choosing a general size. What you’re looking for is just about a thumb’s width of space between your longest toes and the front end of the insoles.
The arch length is critical for comfort.
Make sure to check that the arch of the hiking boots’ insoles matches up with the natural arch of your foot. You’ll want your feet to rest properly inside the shoe, with the curves in the right places.
If you plan on using orthopedic inserts, make sure to take them with you because they will affect the fit.
Finally, consider the width of your feet. The widest part is around the ball of your feet. Hiking boots of women tend to be narrower – because women’s feet are typically narrower than men’s – however, you may have wider feet and require a wider fit.
Don’t be afraid to try on some men’s hiking boots as well, you may be surprised at how well they fit.
How To Care For Your Hiking Boots
The best way to ensure that your hiking boots serve you well for a long time is to care for them properly.
The most important thing is to keep them clean and dry.
Both leather and synthetic boots will need to be hosed down if muddy.
A good tip is also to gently remove any stubborn dirt and dust with a soft-bristled brush and specialized boot cleaners. A mild solution of dish soap and water works great as well.
This Gear Aid boot care kit is a good starter pack that comes with a boot cleaner, a conditioner for water resistance, and a brush.
After cleaning, you’ll want to immediately dry your boots in a warm room or with a fan.
Avoid placing them next to a heater or radiator. Too much heat can cause the leather to crack and soles to melt.
You should also remove the insoles after use and dry them separately.
They tend to hold moisture and if not dried out properly, they can get soft and hold plenty of bacteria. Air-drying them outside of the shoes overnight should be enough.
If you’re caring for leather boots, you’ll have to reapply durable water-resistance treatment every once in a while. A thin layer should suffice. This is useful for hiking boots made of synthetic materials as well. Water can damage your boots, so make sure to keep an eye out on whether the outer material is taking on water or not.
Alternative Walking Footwear
If boots are simply not your thing, don’t worry. There are several alternatives you can consider that work well for walking – both trail and casual.
Trail runners are made for use on uneven terrain, meaning they are made to have durable yet flexible soles. As they’re made for running, trail runners are also significantly lighter than any hiking shoe or boot.
Though trail runners are rarely waterproof and have less support, they’ll do just fine for long walks outdoors in warm weather with a relatively light pack.
The Joomra Minimalist Trail Running Shoes even come with removable insoles that provide arch support – which is critical when going on long walks.
Sneakers are another great option for walking, both outdoors and in cities. These days you can find sneakers that are a hybrid of traditional sneakers and hiking shoes like Merrell’s Bravada.
They look like a standard sneaker but come with a waterproof membrane and soles with deeper ridges for more traction.
If you’d rather have your toes out on a walk, and many people do, you may prefer a pair of hiking sandals. They are incredibly lightweight, less likely to cause blisters, extremely breathable, and allow for quick drying if you encounter puddles or streams.
Make sure to get sandals designed for hiking and trail walking such as Teva’s Tirra Sandals or KEEN’s Whisper Sport Sandals.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Hiking Boots Good For Everyday Walking?
If you’ve wondered are hiking boots good for everyday walking, the answer is yes. Hiking boots can be worn for everyday use as they offer solid ankle support, grip, and breathability among many other useful features which make walking on any surface you encounter throughout your day – carpet, asphalt, tile, and concrete – incredibly easy.
Are Hiking Shoes Okay For Walking?
You may be curious whether hiking shoes are okay for walking. Fortunately, these are a good option for paths in urban parks or greenbelts and surfaces like cobblestone streets and gravel paths. They make excellent footwear for hiking as well as walking, offering more durability and stability than standard sneakers.
Are Hiking Shoes Good for Long Distance Walking?
For hikers and backpackers, hiking shoes are good for long distance walking. They need to have extra support and cushioning to support walking over rough terrain for numerous miles, which is why hiking shoes and boots are the better options compared to walking shoes. The extra support and cushioning will be useful over long distances.
Can You Wear Hiking Shoes On Pavement?
On the question of can you wear hiking shoes on pavement, the answer is that there is no harm in wearing them on asphalt or blacktop. You won’t need the extra cushioning, protection, or traction that hiking shoes provide, but they work just as well on pavements if you like the style.
Key Takeaway On Hiking Boots For Walking
So are hiking boots good for walking? Yes!
Though designed for a singular purpose, hiking boots are quite a versatile footwear for both the wilderness and the concrete jungle. Once you’ve considered your needs and the different qualities of hiking boots, you can find a pair that serves you equally well on all terrains.
One last piece of advice: do not underestimate the value of a pair of comfortable boot socks.
Hiking boots tend to be made of a stiffer material and are less cushioned than sneakers, for example. So getting yourself some thick, comfortable socks to use with your hiking boots can make all the difference when you’re out for a walk.