Can You Wear Running Shoes For Hiking? [Personal Experience!]

In this day and age where everyone has a pair of shoes for everything, have you ever wondered if you could wear your running shoes for hiking? 

There are so many different types of footwear these days that it can be overwhelming to find the right pair of shoes to go hiking, especially if you do not have a specific pair catered to the activity in question. 

I’ve discovered it’s crucial to have proper shoes for hiking, mainly because you will need the utmost comfort and safety to avoid getting any injuries on the trail. 

However, maybe you don’t hike a lot, and buying a pair just for hiking doesn’t make any sense. 

Perhaps you’re looking for a multifunctional pair or don’t like hiking shoes. So what are your best options? Is it okay to wear running shoes to go hiking in? 

The short answer to this question based on my personal experience trying both is : YES, you can hike in running shoes. 

I actually climbed up to Everest Base Camp in my trusty Nike runners!

me wondering 'Can You Wear Running Shoes For Hiking?' while climbing up to Everest base camp!
Can you wear running shoes for hiking

The best running shoes to walk in are trail running shoes, and they often come recommended by seasoned hikers. Road running shoes won’t perform as well as trail runners, but they can still work for light hikes. 


  • Difference between hiking shoes and trail running shoes
  • Can you hike in trail running shoes? 
  • Pros and cons of using running shoes for hiking
  • Best running shoes for hiking 


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Differences Between Hiking Shoes And

Trail Running Shoes

Trail Running ShoesHiking Shoes
Not suitable for rough terrainsSuitable for rough terrains
Flexible cushioning Thicker soles and more rigid
Comfortable and lightweightOffers more protection

Shoes come in all kinds of shapes and sizes for various functions, and they can all be very different.

 When it comes to hiking, there are some stark differences in design and construction, and functionality between a pair of casual shoes, hiking shoes, and running shoes – all of which we will explore further as we go. 

First, you should use casual or street-style shoes on flat and even roads or pavement. 

They are not meant to be worn for high-intensity activities but can withstand the occasional pothole, rock, or pebbles on the street. 

They’re generally lightweight, flexible, and comfortable. 

On the other hand, hiking shoes are designed specifically for hiking and have a more supportive construction. 

They are great for uneven terrains and provide excellent support for your foot arches and ankles if you lose your grip or slip on the trails.

They can sometimes be heavier but are still helpful for long and rough hikes. 

Trail running shoes are a different type of hiking shoes altogether.

Trail running shoes are designed to resolve the struggles of trail runners and are built differently from road running shoes. 

These shoes offer deeper lugs and tread patterns that are more aggressive to provide a better grip on the terrains to boost your stability and performance on the trails. Some trail runners end higher on your ankle, protecting you if you land wrong and twist your ankle. 

Can You Wear Trail Running Shoes For Hiking? 

Now that we know the differences between the different types of shoes used for hiking, let’s find out if you can wear a pair of trail running shoes instead of hiking shoes or boots. There are several factors to consider, and they include: 

1. Weight 

Weight is a crucial factor to consider when getting a pair of shoes for hiking because the heavier the shoe is, the more energy is required to lift your foot off the ground. 

This may not seem like a big deal, but stride by stride and over long distances, the extra weight may cause more fatigue as you go. It is essential to pick a pair of shoes to utilize your effort more efficiently and minimize your energy consumption. 

It is a given that hiking shoes will be heavier than running shoes, but that is because the weight comes from the support and durability features mentioned above, which can sometimes be necessary trade-offs. 

On the other hand, trail running shoes are far lighter than hiking shoes and will not cost you any extra effort or energy on the trails. 

2. Durability 

Durability is the key to every high-quality shoe, specifically if it is meant to be used on the trails.

A good-quality pair of hiking shoes are typically designed to take on rough or uneven terrains and usually last for hundreds of hikes before they show signs of wear and tear beyond basic weathering. 

However, trail running shoes for hiking  are designed to be more lightweight, which can sometimes sacrifice a little bit of durability in favor of weight and comfort.

They are not precisely designed for the rough or uneven terrains that hiking shoes are designed for, so they are more likely to show signs of wear and tear much earlier. 

3. Protection

There’s no question that a pair of hiking shoes are more likely to ensure that your feet are adequately protected compared to running shoes.

The soles of hiking shoes are customarily made of thicker materials, making them more rigid and durable, especially when you walk rocks and branches. 

On the other hand, running shoes are lighter in weight, and their soles are much less durable. This results in lesser protection and support for your feet and ankles to ensure that the weight is kept low. 

4. Breaking In 

Hiking shoes are built to be strong and sturdy so breaking them in before using them is important. Failing to do so might result in painful consequences like blisters and a very uncomfortable hike. 

You will probably need days, if not weeks, in advance to break into a pair of hiking shoes.

You can wear them for an hour or two around the house or neighborhood every day until they’ve broken in nicely. 

Trail running shoes are usually not that stiff, which means breaking them in can be much easier. You can even break them in a day or two before your hike – some may not even need breaking in! 

5. Water Resistance 

Being waterproof is another critical feature of hiking shoes. Most hiking shoes, if not all, are made of water-resistant materials and keep water from seeping in.

This also allows the shoes to dry more quickly than the average pair. 

However, trail running shoes may not have similar water-resistant features, but it doesn’t mean they don’t dry as quickly.

Most high-end running shoes have some essential waterproofing qualities, but if they do not, most running shoes dry quickly because they are made from lighter materials. 

Pros And Cons Of Using Running Shoes For Hiking

Now that we know what to look out for when finding the right trail running shoes to wear for hiking, consider some of the pros and cons of using them. 

Pros Of Using Trail Runners For Hiking


Trail runners are usually constructed with thinner and more breathable materials when compared to hiking boots. They also often feature mesh cutouts for added breathability, which is an essential factor to consider as this will keep your feet dry and allow sweat to evaporate and vent out. 

Keeping your feet dry reduces the possibility of developing blisters and discomfort with wet feet in shoes. If they get wet in the rain or during a water crossing, they would be able to dry much faster too. 

Short break-in period

Trail runners are made from flexible, synthetic materials that require little to no breaking in. You could probably buy a pair of trail runners today and go hiking in them without any pain. 

Hiking boots require breaking in because they are rigid. Trail runners are your best option if you need to go on a hiking trip but do not have time to break them in. 


Many hikers have switched to trail runners because of weight – trail runners are much lighter. Generally, trail running shoes weigh around 40% less than hiking boots, and when compared to heavy-duty hiking boots, trail running shoes weigh half as much. There is a significant amount of weight savings here. 

Because they are made from lighter materials, they weigh much less than hiking boots. This makes them easier to pack and travel with, especially if you’re heading for a hiking trip elsewhere. 


Wearing lightweight shoes means you’ll be burning less energy while you’re hiking, which will allow you to hike further without getting tired too fast. With lighter footwear, you’ll be lifting less weight and therefore use lesser effort, so you’ll burn less energy. 

The climbers who hiked up Mt. Everest in 1953 developed a rule of thumb that claims one pound on your feet is equal to 5 pounds on your back.

This means that carrying a weight attached to your feet will require five times more energy than transporting weight in a bag or a backpack. 


Trail running shoes are great if you’re looking for shoes suited for anything and everything. You can wear them pretty much anywhere – desert, forest, mountains, or coast. This is possible because trail runners have excellent support, traction, breathability, and stability. 

They can be worn for pretty much everything as they look just like regular running shoes or tennis shoes except for more aggressive treads on the bottom of the shoes. You can even wear them daily for work or to run errands. 

Cons Of Using Trail Runners For Hiking

Lack Ankle Support 

Most trail running shoes lack ankle support when you hike because they have low tops. On the other hand, hiking boots have high tops to tighten them and stabilize your ankles. You may be injured with your trail runners while hiking or when exploring uneven surfaces, so make sure you’re careful. 

Less Durable 

Trail running shoes usually are made of materials that are less durable than hiking shoes. This is because most manufacturers prioritize lesser weight over durability, which means that the soles are made out of thinner and softer materials, resulting in the tread wearing out faster. 

The uppers are also made of thin materials and tend to tear easily if you catch them on thorns or rub them against rocks when you hike. 

Lack Protection 

Trail runners have lower tops that expose your ankle and offer less protection than the average hiking shoes.

They do not protect against jagged rocks, shrubs, or thorny plants for your ankles or even from a snake or insect bites. 

With trail runners, your sides are less likely to be protected, and the midsoles and outsoles are generally thinner.

This can be an issue if you’re hiking over sharp or rocky surfaces, as you will be able to feel the jagged edges poking through your shoes. 

Best Trail Running Shoes For Hiking 

1. Salomon XA Pro 3D V8 Trail Running Shoes 

What we like about this running shoe for hiking

  • Supportive
  • Good grip 
  • Protective
  • All-weather design
  • Easy lockdown

What we didn’t like: 

  • Lacks protection
  • Expensive

The Salomon XA Pro 3D is one of the best trail running shoes that boasts a range of impressive technologies. The uppers are dependable, and the midsole offers excellent protection and support to the foot. Despite being a little expensive, it is compensated for by its quality, performance, design, and value. 

2. Nike Pegasus Trail 3 Running Trainers 

What we like about this running shoe for hiking

  • Soft, bouncy ride
  • Comfortable
  • True to size
  • Wide loop on heel
  • Built to last
  • Good grip on dry trails

What we didn’t like: 

  • Lacks grip in wet conditions
  • Runs warm

The Pegasus series by Nike is a dream when it comes to plush landings on the trail. It is comfortable, stable, and not dense, so running or hiking in these shoes would feel cloud-like and supportive. They also run wide in sizes, so you have wide feet; this is a win! 

3. Altra Olympus 4.0 

What we like about this running shoe for hiking

  • Superb cushion
  • Durable Vibram sole
  • True to size
  • Wide toe box
  • Built for long runs
  • Excellent traction
  • Very comfortable
  • Breathable

What we didn’t like: 

  • Not very responsive
  • Expensive

If you’re looking for a pair of versatile trail running shoes to wear for hiking, then the Altra Olympus 4.0 is the one for you. This shoe can do with any conditions- from gravel, forest paths, and technical rocky climbs, this shoe can do it all. They are also great for long-distance hikes, as they provide good protection and comfort throughout. 


Trail running shoes are excellent for those looking for a pair of hiking shoes that are comfortable, lightweight, and sturdy without compromising your performance on the trails. 

They are also an excellent option for those looking to travel with their shoes for a hiking excursion out of town as not only are they light, but they are also breathable and easier to pack compared to hiking shoes. 

We hope this article has helped you better understand if running shoes are suitable for hiking, their pros and cons, and what you should look out for when searching for the perfect pair of trail running shoes for your feet. 

Good luck! 

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