I love a good trail run now and then, but my thin, lightweight running shoes don’t always cut it. Being the money saver I am, I discovered that I could run in my hiking shoes without investing in a pair of trail running shoes. Using hiking shoes for running has its pros and cons, so I’ll walk you through them so you can decide if they’re the right “fit” for you.
So, if you’re wondering, “can you run in hiking shoes” the short answer is yes. The long answer is that hiking shoes are better for rougher terrain and for people who need more foot and ankle support. While running shoes are more suited for competitors or people who run in hot climates.
Running vs Hiking Shoes
When exploring the question, “Can you run in hiking shoes?” the answer is that it depends on the type of running you’ll be doing, the terrain you’ll be traversing, and how far you’ll be going.
Some of the factors that make running and hiking shoes stand apart from each other include:
- Running shoes are lighter
- Hiking shoes have more tread
- Running shoes are more breathable
- Hiking shoes have better support
I’ve run in both running and hiking shoes and can say this from experience: Both shoes have their advantages, depending on the running conditions.
Furthermore, the type of running shoe we’re talking about makes a difference. Road and trail running shoes fall under the “running shoe” category but differ in their offerings.
Advantages of Running in Hiking Shoes
If you run on intense trails with lots of stones, tree roots, and uneven terrain, hiking shoes might be better suited. They can also be an excellent option for people who struggle with ankle or knee problems when using traditional running shoes.
Unlike running shoes, hiking shoes have a stiffer mid-sole. The result is more protection from rocks and other debris on the trail. These shoes also come higher around your foot and ankle than running shoes, offering better support.
Another advantage of using hiking shoes for a run is if you’ll be traveling over more slippery terrain, such as rocks and wet surfaces. Hiking shoes have deeper tread, which studies show have better grip than shoes with shallower tread.
Of course, the type of hiking shoe you purchase will make a difference in the quality of your run. I recommend picking a lightweight shoe with plenty of flex in the forefoot, despite the rock guard that many of them have.
Advantages of Running in Running Shoes
There’s a reason why manufacturers make different shoes for running and hiking—running shoes come with several advantages that are hard to get from hiking shoes.
For starters, they’re more lightweight. If you’re a long-distance runner or sprinter, you likely know the difference that having as little added weight as possible can have on how far and fast you run.
Running shoes are also more breathable than running shoes. That can make a huge difference when you’re running in hot climates. And although running shoes don’t have the waterproof nature of most hiking shoes, they tend to dry fast since they have such lightweight material.
A Special Look at Trail Running Shoes
When exploring the question, “Can you run in hiking shoes?” it’s important to consider that there are many varieties of running shoes.
So, if hiking shoes sound too intense for you and standard road running shoes don’t seem sturdy enough, the solution might be a pair of trail running shoes.
You’ll also benefit from less debris getting into your shoe, as trail running shoes have more durable uppers than road running shoes.
If you think this sounds a good option for you, read our guide on trail running shows.
Can You Run in Hiking Shoes? Items To Consider
Comfort will play a vital role in helping you determine whether you prefer running or hiking shoes for traversing your favorite off-road trails.
So, I encourage you to ask yourself the following questions while analyzing whether hiking or running shoes are a better fit for your runs.
- Are you a casual jogger, or do speed and distance matter?
- Would you rather have a shorter or longer-lasting shoe?
- How much foot and ankle support do you need?
- Will you be running on slippery terrain?
- Do you run primarily in cold weather?
Hiking boots can weigh as much as 3.5 pounds, whereas trail running shoes typically stay within the one to two-pound range. According to a study in 1978, for every extra pound of weight a runner carried, they lost 1.4 seconds per mile.
So, the everyday jogger shouldn’t have to worry about added weight from a trail run, but if you’re training for a race, every pound counts.
In contrast, some people appreciate running in hiking shoes if they live in colder weather and don’t want to purchase a new running shoe every four to six months. Hiking shoes have a longer lifespan than running shoes, so this can save you money over time.
If you want to know more about your running options, read our guide on trail vs pavement running.