While some people like quick runs, others love long walks. The market accepts this feeling of wholesome indulgence and is quite ready with different sets of accessories to support this pursuit. One such accessory that you can’t miss is your shoes.
Unfortunately, many people use their regular shoes for different purposes as they don’t know that different shoes are designed for different purposes. So, if you’re planning to use your running shoes for hiking or trail running, then you need to think about it again. There are separate shoes designed for running and hiking. You cannot just intermix them both as the results will hurt you.
Some people who are in denial will wonder about the authenticity of the fact. So, here we are going to discuss the major differences between running shoes and hiking shoes. We will study some of the characteristics of both shoes to help you choose the right option. We sincerely hope that you buy the shoes that feel right and do right – let’s start by asking some questions.
What are Running Shoes?
Almost everyone has a pair of regular running shoes, as a quick jog on the pavement is common. Running shoes are designed to accelerate your speed into the closely packed surfaces that have a lesser number of pits and disturbances. The manufacturer takes care that the shoes are extremely light in weight and improve your flexibility to enhance your flow.
The shoes are modeled in such a way that they have a stabilizing behaviour and provide a pleasant wearing experience due to soft cushioning. When you constantly hit a stride on hard and even surfaces, the shoes must assist and protect you. On average, running shoes will help you cover distances between 400 to 500 miles with five-six months of continuous usage. However, the shoe’s shelf life depends on the outsole and midsole, which can be worn out after substantial use.
What are hiking shoes?
In order to understand these more deeply, it is necessary that we first have our facts checked. Hiking typically means walking long distances & adding some specially designed footwear for hiking will help you in a comfortable journey. When you step out in the market, you will find hiking shoes and hiking boots. Many people consider both of them are same, but it is not true. So, before we go ahead – let’s understand the difference between the two.
Hiking boots are large and rigid in their appearance. The outsole is generally sturdy and stable & the boots adorn an ankle collar. The boots are specially designed to be used in places where the climate is daunting & the road is full of some elevations and steep designs. These shoes can benefit your feet during hikes that involve a long distance. They provide a helping hand in your ride, especially if you are carrying some heavy stuff.
On the other hand, hiking shoes have a small structure as compared to hiking boots. Their weight tends to be on the light side & shoes encompass a mid-cut angle with an outsole that works to facilitate flexibility. Not everyone needs wide and bulky hiking boots. Some casual hikers prefer short term hiking activities. Shoes like this will greatly benefit as they have a fresh appeal in their touch and provide room for ventilation to fight back perspiration.
What are the Differences between Running Shoes and Hiking shoes?
So, now we have a brief idea about the basic character of both running and hiking shoes. Here are going to dive deep into the details to differentiate between both types of shoes so that you can know which shoes to choose based on your immediate surroundings and even preferences.
Surprisingly several factors contribute to the uniqueness of both. Let’s study the aspects one by one and how it causes a difference between running and hiking shoes.
Who doesn’t want a durable product, especially when durability is all that matters in a shoe? It is a one-time investment that helps you to protect your feet. Generally, good quality hiking shoes are carefully modeled in such a manner that it enables you to walk on uneven and friction-filled surfaces with ease.
If you purchase a high-end hiking shoe, you can easily enjoy innumerable days of hiking as the rigid material hardly shows the sign of damage, except the basic wear and tear, which is inevitable. It is fascinating to know that hiking shoes can perform well up to a thousand miles.
However, if we talk about running shoes, their limit extends about 5500 miles at a single stretch. Running shoes are designed to help you with your speed, but they won’t help you balance yourself in extreme territories, like hiking shoes. As a result, the shoe will show all signs of wear and tear by load and might even cause injury.
2. Weight balance
It is another significant aspect of any shoe; since the heavy shoe requires more energy on lifting. During running, constant foot strides even out the load equivalently to minimize the pressure. When you are covering some good long distances, the added weight can be tiring and even gruesome. It is advisable to use running shoes during activities that require you the hold of an adrenaline rush. Running shoes are thin and light because they do not want you to carry any extra weight during your running activities.
On the other hand, hiking shoes are heavier than running shoes, as they carry some extra weight, which is a result of a solid build and additional features that are employed to enhance the function. Runners can’t have an outstanding running performance in hiking shoes as it cannot make you flex as it is supposed to be.
3. The Breaking Factor
The manufacturer always takes care that the hiking shoes have a strong demeanour to deal with some painful blisters, which make your hiking experiences bad and even unbearable. Also, you must ensure the shoes offer you a great fit before you start your hiking practice.
You can use the hiking shoes in your daily routine to get hold of them. Just invest one or two hours daily while you complete your daily chores. In some days, you will be successful in nicely breaking in into your comforting footwear. When the shoe evenly gets contoured by your feet, you will feel the difference of a good grip.
Running shoes are designed to eliminate the feelings of stiffness. Hence, it is relatively easier to fit into them. Incorporating them into use does not involve a practice period; you can take them out anytime & they are good to go. You should also know that good quality running shoes, which are on the high-end price list, don’t need breaking in at all.
We can’t ignore the protection value of hiking shoes. So, do not forget to ensure the safety of your feet.
Hiking shoes are constructed from some thick materials to expand the plethora of durability and toughness, especially when you walk on rocks aura between the forests. Hiking shoes are known to support one’s ankles that in turn simplify the possibilities of ankle sprains. Sharp surfaces of the rocks can also lead to cuts and marks, making your hiking experience painful. Hiking shoes are made from robust materials that provide a protective shield to your feet’ surface.
Running shoes are made of light materials. So, they cannot withstand the pressures faced by hiking shoes, but they can offer good support and protection on all the cardio days. They might not be the best option on the terrain. People who regularly exercise and are serious about their workout will enjoy the benefits of running shoes. On the other hand, hiking enthusiasts need a shoe structure that supports their feet and ankles.
5. Waterproof feature
Hiking Shoes must always be waterproof to provide a shield during hiking in favourable weather or surroundings. Fortunately, all hiking shoes available in the market are carefully designed with such a material that prevents water from entering inside. The material is quite absorbent and helps to maintain a dry surface inside.
However, the waterproof ability of the running shoes varies because the factor solely depends upon the manufacturer. Traditionally, some high-quality running shoes are equipped with waterproofing features and the material that tends to dry out quickly.
6. Heel height
Running shoes have a bounced-up design to maintain balance and equilibrium. It’s highly subjective to the various parts of the foot that will strike the floor, such as the heel, midfoot, and the ball of the foot. Running shoes need a little distance in height between the heel and the toe. The makers maintain this heel drop in their shoes & you can find the measurements in the box.
On the other hand, hiking shoes do not require heels. Instead, stable dimensions and a height that is much closer to the ground will help you to maintain your focus and sanity.
7. Heel Flare
If you carefully examine running shoes, you will find that the design gives the heel a flared appearance to contribute to stability when the runner strikes the anterior portion of their feet onto the ground.
Hiking shoes, on the other hand, have a focus on the undercut heel style. A flared heel is not provided to prevent forward-leaning, which can hinder the balance.
Running shoes have a lot of cushioning in their heel because they strike onto the ground with a lot of loads (three times the runner’s body weight, to be precise). These days air cushioning systems are being employed to achieve the same. Some manufacturers also use a sole made up of foam and materials that have good resilience.
Hiking shoes contain less cushioning because cushioning causes heaviness, which is frustrating during long hikes. Hiking shoes need a strong grip. The upper parts of the shoes are made of leather and nylon, while the heels and soles are made up of rubber to prevent foot injuries.
Running shoes have a build that tends to flex at the mid surface & sometimes on the front side. Both the areas welcome flexibility based on a runner’s needs who stride accordingly.
Hiking shoes have a bend at their forefoot, which helps the hiker to improve the natural function of the foot while walking on rough terrains. If the shoe flexes at the arch, it won’t be able to provide the required platform. However, both shoes need to have some degree of flexibility as too much motion control can be too controlling.
There are various running shoe models like the toe-striders, heel strikers, and midfoot strikers. Running shoes are also specialized based on their stability elements. The classification is done to boost up the speed.
Hiking shoes are categorized based on improving pace and providing comfort. They are designed into the degrees by which they can slow down one’s foot motion and guard each step.
Things you must keep in mind while making your purchase:
- While selecting any shoes, you must focus on the material and fit and not on the brand. You must also realize that different brands have their sizes. So you should select a shoe that evenly fits your feet size. However, sometimes even though the shoes are from a good brand, not all shoes are created equally and ideal for all purposes. So, choose a shoe that is designed, especially for hiking and running.
- Look for a shoe based on the level of protection you seek. If you need a shoe for a walk on the pavement, running shoes will not be so bittersweet. But if you’re planning to walk on a track filled with irregularities and disturbances, go for hiking shoes. You can opt for hiking shoes for long-distance walks on plain surfaces. The choice depends upon your personal preference.
- If your routine involves walks on rough terrain, it is wise to invest in a pair of hiking shoes as you are greatly prone to injuries. In case you are going for a casual hike, you can make your own choice.
The bottom line
I hope that this article has helped you understand the difference between hiking shoes and running shoes. However, remember each shoe is unique and its purpose. So, before you buy a pair of shoes, make sure you know for what purpose you want to invest in a particle pair of shoes.
Luckily, there is a countless number of shoes that can cater to your needs. However, make sure you do proper research and go through the reviews to find the right shoes.
All the Best!
Brandon R. Katz is a registered professional nurse who has been instrumental in providing us with an informed opinion on the medical aspects of footwear. He graduated from NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and currently provides his services at a non-federal long-term care hospital in Brooklyn, NY.
Brandon proves to be the champion in the group of expert writers with his in-depth knowledge in foot health, how to take care of it adequately, and what shoes, socks, or insoles will be supreme for you. He has previously worked with hospitals where he has foreseen both inpatient and outpatient departments and has been a practicing nurse since 2009.
Brandon hails from Jersey City, NY, and has a loving family of four with a small popper called Rozo. His decision to become a nurse arises from the desire to be in the position of helping and rehabilitating people.