Hiking Shoes vs. Boots: The Never-Ending Debate

Whether you are a professional hiker or not, your choice of footwear will have an impact on your hiking experience. That's why the tension while choosing between hiking shoes and hiking boots is real.

Why Should You Go for Hiking Shoes?

But why hiking  shoes or hiking boots? Why not my sneakers? Well, sneakers might be comfortable for jogging, but they are not a great option when hiking and trekking. Since you need to walk for a long time on a bumpy, rocky, slippery road, you need something more than just sneakers.

The main purpose of your hiking footwear is to give you comfort and go through any sort of weather condition and last long. Besides, they should provide you with ankle protection, traction, stability, and protection from debris and insects. In this article, we will be taking you through every sphere of hiking shoes and hiking boots so that you can choose your hiking footwear at ease!

What are the benefits you should be getting from your hiking footwear?

You can never skip on some factors while considering your hiking footwear. These factors are really crucial to make your hiking or trekking journey comfortable and splendid. 

Weight

According to researchers, extra weight on your feet adds energy requirement than holding the same amount of weight on your back. Besides, the more weight you have on your feet means the more energy you need while hiking.

No matter how calming and wonderful the experience of hiking is, it is physically tiring. Hence, any hiker would like to give minimum effort while covering the ground.

Therefore, extra weight on your feet is undoubtedly a burden that would block the roads of hiking.

Hiking boots are heavy on your feet. Instead, hiking shoes are light and comfortable footwear. Besides, the breathability in hiking shoes is better than hiking boots. 

Durability

Whether hiking or trekking, you have to walk a long path on the footwear you choose to wear. It will not be a great experience if the footwear you use begins to collapse or fray in the middle of your hiking.

Besides, it would be troublesome if it starts losing its bounce in the middle of your hiking. Hence it is important to do some research about durability before buying any hiking footwear. 

Usually, hiking boots have better longevity than hiking shoes. There are a lot of stories available of hiking shoes collapsing in the middle of hiking. 

Ankle support and Water-resistance

Supporting your ankles is the key difference between hiking boots and hiking shoes. Stiff and soft-soled uppers can be found on hiking boots. Instead, the low ankle support of hiking shoes can cause repetitive strain injury in hikers.

Trail runners and hiking shoes do not work as a covering shield for your ankles. On the other hand, hiking boots have a stiff sole. As a consequence, they provide your ankle with enough support and stability.

Nevertheless, a study shows that extra weight on your feet increases the risk of rolling your ankles which might be dangerous while hiking on bumpy, rocky roads. 

Although most brands claim that their hiking boots are water-resistant, the truth is the term water-resistance is misleading itself. Irrespective of what kind of footwear you are wearing, your feet will ultimately get wet with sweat. Besides, if it rains, water will evidently go to your boots by running down your legs. 

Nevertheless, hiking boots protect your feet from getting wet during a stream crossing. On the other hand, hiking shoes do not have this ability.

Price

The cost consideration will depend on how much you can hike on your hiking footwear rather than how much you have spent buying them. If your footwear can walk with you mile after miles but is relatively costly, they are definitely worth the effort. Within $100 to $150, you can get a decent pair of hiking shoes or trail runners. But hiking boots may cost you more than that. 

Hiking Boots


Hiking Shoes vs. Boots

Many brands have innovated lightweight hiking boots. Due to advances in design and materials, they have become more user-friendly in the intervening years.

Furthermore, if you want to do only short day hikes, use flexible, well-ventilated boots. Walking up and down mountains with uneven terrain causes your feet to rock and wear out the sides of your boots, and for that reason, they should be worn heavier and have more strongly padded.

The bulkier, sturdier footwear is recommended for extended and sustained hikes, especially when you're hauling an extra-heavy load. The sturdier your boots are, the more minor damage they will sustain from pummeling on the trail.

Pros:

  • Several boots offer ankle support, as well as additional heels, support; with extended longevity (depending upon the brand of the boot) 
  • Ideal for almost all surfaces along with all-weather condition
  • Midsole cushioning; Good amount of traction- thanks to the deeper lugs
  • Has the ability to protect your legs from getting wet in stream crossings.

Cons:

  • Suffocating for legs
  • Compared to trail running shoes and hiking shoes, hiking boots are heavier and bulkier.
  • Tighter than hiking shoes provide little flexibility.
  • Costlier than other hiking footwear available
  • Needs a break-in period before hiking. Otherwise, the user might suffer from a blister.

Hiking Shoes


Hiking Shoes vs. Boots

Hiking shoes are more flexible and offer more comfort than boots, don't need to be broken in, and are not as challenging to get into. However, some hikers argue that they are an excellent choice for drier and milder weather than hiking boots.

According to them, hiking shoes dry out faster because they are made of a breathable material rather than leather upper. This serves to keep your feet in better shape; thus, they enable you to better foot on any terrain.

While they may not be as long-lasting as hiking boots, hiking shoes are perfect for travellers because they are more lightweight and packed into smaller luggage.

Pros:

  • Hiking shoes are lighter than hiking boots. As a result, they reduce the burden on your feet while you are on a long hike
  • They offer more flexibility and are less rigid
  • Preferred by most professional hiker because they are comfortable for long hiking distance
  • They can be used off the trail 
  • Cheaper than most hiking boots
  • Great breathability 
  • Most of them usually do not require a break-in period
  • Usually, they are a great combination between hiking boots and trail runners; a good choice for fresh or amateur hikers.

Cons:

  • Cannot withstand stream crossing; your feet will most likely get wet.
  • A small amount of ankles support
  • Do not offer great longevity
  • Do not protect from trail debris

Things you should consider while choosing your hiking footwear:

The trail of hiking

If you are walking in a local country park or in an even path, you do not need to stiff your legs with heavyweight hiking boots.

But if you are hiking in a challenging weather condition, snowy path, or climbing a mountain, we recommend you to definitely opt for your hiking boots. Their additional features can provide the support you need during these conditions.

The Amount of Weight you are carrying

Every ounce of weight is essential while you are hiking. The less weight you are carrying means, the more energy you are saving. While carrying a heavy backpack, you can opt for lightweight hiking shoes instead of hiking boots.

The weather condition of the trail you will be following

When you are hiking in hot and dry weather conditions, you would like something that could offer your legs' breathability. On the other hand, while hiking in cold or wet weather conditions, hiking boots are preferred by most professional hikers. 

However, the rule is reasonably generic. If your ankles require support in dry weather, we do not recommend you to opt for hiking shoes. Instead, we would suggest you choose a lightweight hiking boot.

On the contrary, if you prefer something light while hiking, even hiking shoes will be great with a good pair of socks in frigid regions.

Required Stability of your Ankles

Someone new to hiking or who has an injury should never go with hiking shoes. It is true that hiking shoes are comfortable and give maximum support, but if your ankle requires support, you should definitely choose hiking boots. 

Besides, if the trail you will be following needs extra stability, then hiking boots are the best option.

Nevertheless, if you are an experienced hiker and want to cover miles in a short time, opt for hiking shoes instead of bulky hiking boots. On multi-day tasks, comfort is very much required. Hence, hiking shoes are the best option.

Our Verdict

As you can see from the discussion above, hiking shoes and hiking boots have different things to offer you. 

Before choosing your hiking footwear, ask yourself some questions, do some research on the weather, the trail you will be following for hiking and choose your footwear according to it. 

The decision depends upon the weather's state, your ankle's condition, and the time period of your hiking. Hop on to whatever suits your needs best, and start hiking!

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