Can You Run in Hiking Shoes? Insights and Recommendations

Have you ever looked at your hiking shoes and wondered, ‘Could these take me beyond the mountain trails, perhaps even to the running track?’ The idea might seem peculiar, but it’s a question many outdoor enthusiasts grapple with. 

This article will explore the debate: Running in hiking shoes – a match made in heaven or a recipe for disaster? 

Strap on your boots (or should we say running shoes?), and let’s journey through the pros, cons, and everything in between to uncover the truth!

Can You Run In Hiking Shoes?

Yes, you can run in hiking shoes; however, it is not recommended for regular training and should only be done occasionally.

When To Choose Hiking Shoes For Running

In specific situations, opting for hiking shoes while running can be advantageous. For instance, if you’re traversing rough or rocky terrain with lots of loose debris and obstacles, the added protection and support from a sturdy pair of hiking shoes can prevent injuries such as twisted ankles or bruised soles.

Another reason one might consider wearing hiking shoes for running is when encountering wet, muddy, or slippery conditions on the trails. In these cases, the extra traction provided by hiking shoe outsoles ensures better grip and stability compared to lightweight trail runners.

Advantages Of Running In Hiking Shoes

Running in hiking shoes can offer several benefits to individuals who prefer a more rugged and durable option for their off-road adventures. Some of the advantages include:

  1. Enhanced protection: Hiking shoes are designed to provide additional foot and ankle support, aiding runners navigating rocky or uneven terrain.
  2. Superior traction: The more aggressive outsole of hiking shoes offers better grip on various surfaces, making it easier to maintain stability on slippery or loose trails.
  3. Durability: Hiking shoes are built to withstand the wear and tear of rugged outdoor activities, increasing their longevity compared to traditional running shoes.
  4. Weather-appropriate features: Many hiking shoes come equipped with weather-resistant materials like Gore-Tex, ensuring your feet stay dry in wet conditions.
  5. Toe cap protection: The reinforced toe caps in hiking shoes help protect your toes from rocks and other trail hazards that could cause injury during a run.
  6. Versatility: For those who enjoy both running and hiking, owning a pair of hiking shoes could save money and space by serving as suitable footwear for both activities.
  7. Suitable for heavier runners: Due to their increased support and protection compared to trail runners, hiking shoes may be a more appropriate choice for heavier individuals engaging in off-road running sessions.

Disadvantages Of Running In Hiking Shoes

Running in hiking shoes may not be ideal for many reasons, as they are specifically designed for hiking and not running. Some disadvantages of opting to run in hiking shoes include:

  1. Heavier weight: Hiking shoes are generally heavier than trail running shoes, making them less agile and potentially increasing energy consumption during a run.
  2. Lack of flexibility: The stiffer soles and construction of hiking shoes can negatively impact a runner’s natural stride and gait, leading to discomfort or pain.
  3. Insufficient support and cushioning: Hiking shoes may not provide the support or cushioning needed for running activities, increasing the risk of injury.
  4. Reduced shock absorption: Running in hiking shoes could put extra strain on ankles and knees due to their limited shock absorption capabilities.
  5. Poor breathability: Hiking shoes typically do not offer the same level of air circulation as trail running shoes, which could result in sweaty and uncomfortable feet during runs.
  6. Less traction and grip: The outsoles of hiking shoes might not perform as well on wet or slippery surfaces as on trail running shoes specifically designed for such conditions.
  7. Inappropriate for long distances or high-intensity activities: Participating in demanding activities while wearing hiking shoes is not recommended, as they were primarily designed for the more leisurely walking activity.

Differences Between Hiking And Running Shoes


Protection is an essential factor when choosing between hiking and running shoes. Hiking shoes typically offer more protection against sharp rocks, roots, and other obstacles on the trail due to their thicker soles and reinforced upper materials like ripstop or leather.

Trail running shoes, however, tend to have less protection since they are designed for a faster pace on smoother terrain.

This can concern longer-distance hikers who need extra foot support and protection over extended periods.


One of the most significant advantages of hiking shoes over running shoes is their durability. Hiking shoes are built to withstand rugged terrain and frequent use, making them ideal for backpackers, thru-hikers, and ultralight enthusiasts.

Trail runners may not be as durable as hiking shoes since they are constructed with lighter materials like synthetic mesh uppers that can wear out more quickly. However, many trail runners have reinforced mesh zones or ripstop material to increase durability and protect against abrasions from rocks or other obstacles on technical terrain.


Hiking shoes tend to have a stiffer sole and thicker padding in the midsole for extra protection against rocky or uneven terrain. This added protection may come at the cost of breathability, making your feet feel hot and sweaty on warmer days.

Trail runners are designed with lightweight materials that prioritize breathability over added cushioning.

The level of comfort you require will depend on your preferences and needs while on the trail. For example, if you plan to hike long distances or carry heavy backpacks, hiking shoes may be more comfortable due to their supportive construction.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a shoe that feels light as air on technical terrain or during short runs, trail runners might be more up your alley because they tend to weigh less than hiking boots.


The type of traction needed for trail running and hiking differs. Hiking shoes have thicker soles with deeper lugs, providing rugged traction on varied terrain.

Trail runners, on the other hand, have specialized tread patterns and lighter soles that offer grip while allowing more flexibility for a comfortable run.


Trail runners tend to be more flexible than hiking shoes, allowing for greater mobility on technical terrain.

However, some hiking shoe models are designed with flexibility in mind, incorporating features like reinforced mesh zones and ripstop material to improve the range of motion.

Can You Hike In Running Shoes?

Running shoes can be used for hiking but may not provide the support and protection needed for long hikes with technical terrain.

When To Choose Running Shoes For Hiking

can you run in hiking shoes
Can You Run in Hiking Shoes? Insights and Recommendations 3

Choosing running shoes for hiking depends on the type of terrain, weather conditions, and personal comfort and support needs. Running shoes are often lighter than hiking shoes and provide less ankle support but more flexibility.

They work well for easy trails or short hikes with minimal gear, especially in warm weather.

However, hiking shoes may be a better choice if you’re planning a longer trek that involves rough terrain or variable weather conditions. Hiking shoes provide extra protection from rocks and roots along the trail and offer better traction on slippery surfaces such as wet rock or mud.

Factors To Consider When Choosing Running Footwear

Terrain And Distance

When choosing the appropriate running footwear, it’s crucial to consider the type of terrain you’ll be running on and the distance you’ll cover. Trail runners are ideal for technical terrains with obstacles such as rocks or loose gravel, thanks to their grippy soles with lugs that provide traction and stability.

On the other hand, hiking shoes often have rugged outsoles made of non-slip rubber designed for more challenging terrains like mountains or rocky trails. The distance covered is also crucial; longer distances require improved cushioning and support in your shoes to prevent fatigue and potential foot injuries.

Weather Conditions

When choosing the proper footwear for trail running and hiking, you should consider weather conditions. If you’re expecting wet or cold weather, opt for waterproof or water-resistant shoes that can keep your feet dry and warm.

Personal Comfort And Support Needs

People have different preferences regarding the amount of cushioning, arch support, and toe box width. For example, those with high arches may want to consider shoes with more cushioning to absorb shock while running.

On the other hand, some runners prefer a wider toe box to allow their toes more room to splay out naturally, while others may prefer a snugger fit.

Weight And Breathability

Lightweight shoes will help prevent fatigue on long hikes, while breathable materials will allow your feet to stay cool and dry in hot weather conditions.

On the other hand, if you plan on tackling technical terrain or backpacking over multiple days, durability may be a higher priority than weight or breathability. 

Ultimately, the decision between hiking shoes or trail runners comes down to personal preference based on your goals and the type of terrain you plan on tackling.

Wrapping Up

So, can you run in hiking shoes? The answer is yes – but with a few cautions. Hiking shoes are not designed for regular running training but can be used occasionally for short runs or hikes.

Trail runners, on the other hand, are specifically made for trail running and are lightweight and breathable. When choosing between the two types of footwear, consider factors like terrain and distance, weather conditions, personal comfort and support needs, weight and breathability.

It all comes down to your own preference and habits when it comes to running on trails or hiking in technical terrain.

FAQs on Running in Hiking Shoes

What are the differences between hiking and running shoes?

Running shoes are generally lighter and more flexible than hiking shoes, with extra cushioning in the heel and forefoot areas to absorb shock from impact when jogging on hard surfaces. Hiking shoes have a sturdier construction with thicker soles, providing better traction on rocky or uneven terrain.

Is it dangerous to run in hiking shoes?

No inherent danger is associated with using hiking shoes for running; however, doing so may increase your risk of developing blisters or other foot injuries due to lack of proper support or fit. It is important to choose footwear that suits your intended activity.

How can I prevent injury if I must run in my hiking shoes?

To minimize the risk of injury while wearing hiking shoes during a run, ensure they fit well and provide adequate arch support and cushioning around pressure points such as the toe box area and heels. Stretch before starting any physical activity; gradually increase intensity levels over time rather than suddenly sprinting impulsively on an inclined trail without warning!