I started my hiking and backpacking journey in trail runners and can’t imagine anything else. However, trail running shoes may not be ideal for you if you expect them to last long because they are not as durable as full hiking boots or shoes. That’s because your hiking boots haven’t broken in yet, silly!” I like to call this “boot shaming”. The newer models have narrowed a bit (for a while I was stockpiling. 1. I love solitude, big views, and a good lightweight gear setup. Your email address will not be published. To illustrate this: the average pair of hiking boots weighs well over 2 pounds, while most hiking shoes hover around 1.5 pounds for the pair. If you’re curious about making the switch yourself, read on to learn why trail running shoes have become so popular for hiking and backpacking. The GEL Venture 5 is a great choice for trail running shoes that will not weigh you down or restrict natural mobility whilst delivering uncommon performance on a wide range of surfaces. How Hiking Boots are Different From Trail Running Shoes. Be sure you are well informed to the features these shoes have to offer, and what features work best for your individual feet. They also come in waterproof designs for wet and damp situations but the Gore-Tex waterproof lining does add a little weight. Weight: It may not seem like it, but the weight of your shoe really does make a difference. More Comfortable: These benefits add up to make hiking in trail runners more comfortable for many people. I’m somewhat new to hiking, and I’m giving myself 11 months to prepare my body and mind for the entire trail next June. These shoes make you feel like you were born to run– without shoes on (once you get used to the ultimate calf burn that zero drop invokes). As you look at these features, you might be realizing that the needs of hikers are pretty much the same! These trail running shoes have aggressive, deep lugs that give the outsoles (bottom of the shoes) teeth-biting grip on varying terrain. If you want to fly without losing an inch of ground, this is the shoe for you. Whitney summit day (or the other occasional cold morning – we had a few), you can add a second pair of socks, and/or stuff a pair of chemical hand warmers in the toes of your shoes. Do exercises to strengthen your glutes, core, and feet. Because of those factors I’m guessing most people wear boots, but it’s definitely a matter of personal preference. There is a common misconception that hiking and backpacking shoes have to be airtight, so that if your shoes get wet, your feet won’t. Trailandsummit.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. The zero drop takes some getting used to: be ready for a calf burn at first, that will eventually pay off in the long run (no pun intended). The reasoning is simple: hiking boots are tight, painful, heavy, and stuffy. Stability: If you overpronate (aka, your foot rolls inward when you walk or run) then you need to get shoes that have more stability, meaning that the inside arch of your foot is receiving extra support. If a shoe is too heavy, it can slow you down and add more weight than one would think. (Check out the book, Born to Run if you want more info on this.) Running shoes designed for trails have grippy bottoms for good traction, and a rock plate for comfort and protection on rough surfaces. The responsive cushioning does not extend to the forefoot (it is only at the heel), so longer hikes are most likely going to be met with a bit of foot pain. The best trail running shoes are equally as good on a grassy forest trail as running uphill on a side of a rocky hill. Lighter is Better. If you you decide to give it a try, I hope you too will experience the joys of light, comfy, breathable footwear on your future trail adventures. If you’ve been using thick hiking socks with heavy hiking boots, try switching to lighter running socks along with trail running shoes. Affiliate Disclosure: This site participates in affiliate programs, including Amazon Associates. Our feet are no different; the complicated structures of bone, muscle, and connective tissue can be trained and strengthened just like any other part of our bodies. The fact of the matter is, if your shoes get wet, then your feet (most likely) will too, unless you are wearing amazing gators. A hiking shoe satisfies this need. They don’t protect your feet on gnarly terrain. I’ve never owned a pair of hiking boots! Most hiking and trail running shoes use a basic criss-cross lacing that you tie utilizing a bow-knot. True, runners don’t carry heavy loads, but the dynamic nature of running means their feet experience high forces and need to stabilize very quickly. For more ideas on how to stay strong for pain-free hiking, see this post on dealing with knee pain while hiking, and this post on simple home workout gear. Remember, it is all about balance and finding what is best for you. If you are looking for a shoe that works well for approaches to, let’s say, a climbing crag or a river, then look no further. The Terrex Tracerocker is one seriously mountain-ready trail runner, and its lightweight rubber sole makes you actively aware of that. I personally hike with these shoes, and they are great for short treks, but especially awesome for long trips. Although the shoe has a textured reinforcement toe to help with wear and tear, multiple customers complained that the shoe wore out quickly or got a hole in it quickly. Altra Men’s Lone Peak 4 Waterproof Trail Running Shoe. These shoes work best on dirt trails and can slip and slid on rocks or gravel especially when they’re wet. Let me know your thoughts! Water-resistant: Right about now, you might be asking yourself, “How can a shoe be both breathable and water-resistant?” Well, my friends, shockingly enough, it is possible. You can get a barefoot-type shoe that offers minimal support and is extremely lightweight, but only opt for this if barefoot travel is in your wheelhouse. Work up to longer hikes or backpacking with a heavy load. If ankle support is a priority, you should definitely consider them. It is a lightwei… There are some exceptions, so I want to tread carefully here (pun intended…). You need to put all of your weight on your foot and remain directly above it in order for the shoe to do its job. You can keep your feet protected while still fully utilizing their natural strength, movement, and balancing abilities. Many running stores will allow for people to return their shoes within 30 days, so you can try out different types and give them back until you find your perfect Cinderella trail runner. They’ve been updated for the 2020-2021 season, but most of these models have been around for awhile, and previous years’ versions can sometimes be had for better prices. I spend as much time in the mountains as possible. And, let’s get real here, breaking them in does. Altra trail running shoes have little to no drop, which means your foot will fall and lay flat, rather than from heel to toe (like most running shoes). Her guilty pleasure is food writing, because for her there is nothing more enjoyable than a delectable meal. This site also participates in other affiliate programs and is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies. Why? In this post I’ll guide you through the pros and cons of hiking in trail running shoes and recommend some models to try, but before going further I should admit that I’m totally biased. Start with short hikes and a light backpack. A strong body is more resilient to the rigors of the trail and more fun to hike with, regardless of footwear. When choosing a shoe that you will be walking in for long amounts of time, it is important to go a half size to a full size up. You can often get a better price on the previous year’s model (usually indicated by a lower number, for example the Lone Peak 3.5 is older than the Lone Peak 4) on Amazon if they still have your size in stock. ), while still being comfy, flexy, and breathable. My personal opinion is that if you are carrying a heavy backpack, then you need to have at least some support and cushion because you have extra weight that your feet aren’t used to. Hiking boots generally have thick lugs to bite into soil and a rubber that grips well on a variety of surfaces. They’re usually less durable than boots. But it’s time to put those prejudices aside, because this trail runner can hang with the best of them. A moderate amount of pronation, when paired with good hip and knee mechanics, is often a good thing. The Salomon Speedcross 5 GTX is the latest waterproof edition to an extremely popular shoe amongst runners who love to get dirty on the trails – and in our opinion the best waterproof trail running shoes.It’s a lightweight trail shoe and offers a very aggressive grip on technical, soft trails. She loves to spend her free time backcountry skiing, mountain biking, climbing, and watching Game of Thrones. Don’t know if you are prone to overpronation? Less Weight on Your Feet: Some hiking boots weigh twice as as much as trail running shoes. Mt. From what I’ve read in your article, I am almost convinced that the trail runner would be optimal for the JMT. Remember, no four feet are the same. Weight: 7 ozHeel-toe drop: 0Stack height: 21 mm. Read below to find out more! that your toes don’t touch the top of the shoe. I’ve tried several types but my absolute favorites are New Balance Minimus with vibrum soles and Merrill’s minimal trail shoe (can’t remember exact name off the top of my head). Toe room: Our feet swell when we hike, so look for a model with a little extra width in the toes and choose a size with extra length. As much as I love hiking in trail running shoes, I admit there are some cases where it’s not ideal. Top 10 Best Trail Running Shoes For Hiking Here are my choices for the Best Trail Runner shoes for hiking, based on extensive research from multiple sources and personal tests that myself and friends have done: 1. Pros: • Ultra-lightweight for backpacking and hiking dirt trails • Minimalist design Once I decided to denounce hiking boots and go for trail runners, I immediately noticed a significant change, for the better. I only recommend and link to products I know and love. Hi, thanks for sharing those recommendations! Whitney. I was hooked on trail runners, and became their number one advocate. Constructed from synthetic materials, this trail running shoe is designed by footwear professionals specifically for inclement weather and rough terrain. Look for shoes that are lighter, but still offer the water-resistance, stability, cushion, and traction you desire. This is why trail running shoes are great for hiking. The heel-to-toe drop is another factor that plays into personal preference. Normally when I see someone wearing Nikes, I think of them as a fashion statement more than anything else. I’m a big fan of Drymax Trail as well as Smartwool PhD. Some examples are the Salomon X Ultra and the Merrell Moab Ventilator. A lightweight breathable shoe often solves these problems. This doesn’t mean you should put your foot in a cast, though (cough-hiking boots-cough), make sure that your feet are still doing some of the work in order to have proper form and development of foot muscles. They’re not as warm. I think a long hike on a not-too-technical trail with a light pack is pretty much the ideal hiking scenario for trail running shoes. This site also participates in other affiliate programs and is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies. Plus, the Ortholite Footbed stays squishy no matter how many miles are put under its belt, and it has antimicrobial properties that keep your foot and shoe from getting stinky, The Vibram sole leads to spider-man like grip, The shoe has a rock protection plate built in, meaning that, no matter the terrain, you won’t have to endure foot bruising, If you are a heel striker, then this shoe may not be for you– The cushioning in the heel wears out quickly, The shoe is not as cushioned as its previous model, Has really well rounded traction that seems to bite into any surface, keeping you super stable, The exterior is just water-resistant enough (without feeling stuffy) to keep most unwanted liquids and solids out of your shoe, A rock plate and firm underfoot keep you protected from rocks and roots. This is great news! If you do switch from a raised heel to zero drop, transition gradually to give your calves and Achilles tendons time to lengthen and adjust. Therefore, it is better to find a shoe that is breathable, so that your feet, and shoe, will dry more quickly. So, it’s important to get a shoe that is a little loose, in order to not feel like your feet are busting out of the shoe like the incredible hulk as you rack up miles. The act of boot shaming is unnecessary, and beyond that, What’s more, hiking boots weigh a lot. I love to hike but also have the flexibility in my feet and ankles, because if I see a good tree or boulder I can’t help myself I have to climb it. It continues to get lighter and keep pace with modern shoe design while remaining a popular all-around trail shoe. If it’s a popular model you can probably get at least half of the retail value (and people like me will be happy to buy your lightly used shoes). if you want more info on this.) Let’s be honest: we never think of Nike as actually having good running shoes. Weight: 12.8 ozHeel-toe drop: 7 mmStack height: 29 mm / 22 mm (heel / toe). Make sure you understand the return policy before taking them for any outdoor test walks. Are they the best of both worlds, or the worst? If bushwacking in brushy or muddy areas a boot can also be appreciated. Breathability: One of the reasons why trail runners work well as a hiking shoe is because many of them are so breathable, keeping your feet cool even when you aren’t. Comfort: A recent study found that people intuitively choose shoes that support good mechanics because they find them more comfortable. Fortunately, most trail runners have more traction than other types of running shoes. How many times have you heard someone say, “Oh, you have excruciating, bloody blisters on your sweaty, sore feet? If you are ready to transition to zero drop, try these shoes on for size. Meanwhile, one of the most popular trail-running shoes among thru-hikers, the La Sportiva Bushido II, clocks in at a feathery 1 pound 5 ounces. Continuing the theme of borrowing from trail running, here are some strength exercises to try (seek form advice from a personal trainer or quality videos if you’re new to weightlifting) and some power and agility moves to help with balance and stability. I have never liked boots, but I’ve also never hiked that far. Many popular long trails in the US are well-suited for hiking in trail running shoes, including the Pacific Crest Trail, Appalachian Trail, John Muir Trail, and Colorado Trail. Studies have shown that a runner’s foot can experience a peak force of 2-4 times bodyweight with each step! They keep me supported in any condition, so that my feet can feel comfy all day long. I’ve worn my trusty Altra Lone Peaks for many hundreds of miles on the John Muir Trail, Colorado Trail, countless shorter trails, and even to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. Wouldn’t you just get the size that you normally wear for other shoes? When temperatures approach freezing or you’re hiking through lingering snow, trail running shoes can be uncomfortably cold. Less blistering, more breathable, you don’t have to worry too much about when water gets in your shoe (especially with the occasional creek fording). They shouldn’t be rounded, but rather, almost pointed plastic teeth-like grips that can keep you pretty stable on any surface, be it rock, dirt, gravel, snow, or mud. You need to ease into it.). Size up. If you already know you like hiking in trail running shoes, I don’t see any reason why the longer distance would be a problem. Not once have I rolled an ankle or injured my feet! Weight: 8.5 ozHeel-toe drop: 0Stack height: 25 mm. When I started trail running, I had the fortune of having some extensive experience with trail running shoes due to my hobby of long-distance hiking. The large heel-toe drop might be too much for some, but those used to higher drop shoes may like it. Happy trails! They are lightweight and provide enough support and protection while you’re hiking. That’s really the best way to know. If trail running shoes are good enough for trail runners, they’re good enough for backpackers. (Check out the book. There are usually rocks and uneven terrain on a trail, and the running shoe must provide stability and protection for the foot while being flexible enough to allow for running. You will not slip. Would you choose to wear trail running shoes on the Pennine Way? No longer was I getting blistered, sweaty, or sore feet. Most shoe stores have a place where you can try the traction out on a simulated uneven surface, so be sure to test out your shoe in real time. When I summitted Mt. Sometimes my posts contain affiliate links, and if you make a purchase through these links, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. The stiffness allows for her to really feel the dirt as she leaves it in the dust. ), Tread gets easily worn down by asphalt and turf. Make sure you get them in the right size! Some people prefer to have a larger toe box, because that allows for their feet to have room, not experience any rubbing of shoe to foot, and gives their toes some space to spread out and be fully utilized as the stabilizers that they were meant to be. This simply isn’t true. The 7mm drop is a good compromise, not zero-drop but not as raised as the Salomons. A trail runner will have flexibility and ease of motion in the … People with a wide forefoot often have good luck with Altra shoes because of their extra-wide toe box. They are basically a hybrid between a hiking shoe and running shoe. It is no secret: many people have converted to using trail running shoes as opposed to hiking boots. Well, actually, no. I can almost hear you thinking, “This is all well and good for day hiking. Why Trail Running Shoes are Good for Hiking. They’ve got an excellent balance between weight, durability, and support. Best of luck preparing for your hike, that’s really exciting! Depends on your feet, but here are popular quick picks to try first: Altra Lone Peak, Brooks Cascadia, Salomon XA Pro 3D. There are a LOT of trail running shoe models out there. If you score a great deal online but the shoes don’t work out after light use, sell them on eBay! Our feet can sweat up to half a pint per day and that moisture can’t escape very well from waterproof shoes, leading to hot, itchy feet and sometimes blisters. They provide the protection needed for aggressive movement on rough trails (Have you seen a great trail runner in action? The real reason backpackers end up with feet that look like they have been chewed up by a vicious pack of wolves is because hiking boots… well, they suck. Your feet will stay dry as you run through puddles and snowfields, while the shoe’s internal temperature is … Just because a shoe works for your friend of family member, doesn’t mean that it’s going to work for you. An offshoot of the barefoot running movement, zero-drop trail runners keep the foot in its naturally flat position (most shoes here elevate the heel by 4 to 10mm). What’s more, hiking boots weigh a lot. When you have shoes with amazing traction, remember to TRUST the technology. This versatile set of footwear also makes a great running errands shoe or working around the yard shoe. Whitney is going to be such a tiny portion of the time you spend on the JMT, so choose what you think is best for the rest of it. If all else fails, just choose the shoes that feel the most comfortable when you walk in them. They keep her foot feeling stable, so that the can be reactive to the trail as quickly as possible. Trailandsummit.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. And yet, among long-distance thru-hikers tackling thousands of miles on the Pacific Crest and Appalachian Trails, around half start their hike in trail running shoes and nearly half of the rest switch from boots to trail runners during their hike. Whatever you choose for footwear, I hope you enjoy the training process and the big hike next June! These shoes will serve you better the more unforgiving the terrain and may work for day hiking as well. If this is true, then isn’t hiking in trail running shoes dangerous? I’ll also cover some cases where they may not be the right choice, and offer tips for transitioning safely to trail runners if you’re used to boots. Feet swell after a few hours of hiking, and it’s nice to have the option of wearing thicker socks for warmth. Yup, unless you have unusual weaknesses or past injuries, most people can backpack in trail running shoes. Be wary of shoes that have a lot of plastic on them or are super stiff – oftentimes these will not be as breathable. They fit and perform kinda like a cross between a trail runner and a hiking shoe. You may have heard that hiking boots are essential for protecting our feet and ankles on the trail. Was this helpful? disrupted the running shoe industry a few years ago with a similar premise. BOTTOM LINE: With excellent traction and a stable, supportive build, the Salomon XA Pro 3D V8 are great for running and hiking over tricky terrain. When looking for a shoe, check the bottom of the sole and see how aggressive the lugs (ridges that keep you grippy) are. 15 Common Mistakes Made by First Time Backpackers. Some trail runners also feature a sticky rubber compound for enhanced grip on wet rocks and logs. Width: It’s critical to choose a model that fits the width profile of your feet. When you try the shoe on, make sure that your toes don’t touch the top of the shoe. If you get sweaty feet, like me, then this is especially important. If you have gone your whole hiking career with a narrow toe box, be ready to revolutionize your foot experience. Especially if you work on strength and stability, don’t carry a super heavy backpack, hike in warmer weather, and stick to established trails. Many times, people will not fully put their faith in their shoe, and thereby not fully put their weight in their shoe, causing it to slide out from under them. Here are surprising reasons that might get you to ditch those uncomfortable hiking boots and make a quick switch to running shoes. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who prefers lighter trail shoes over boots like they say you should have. 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These trail running shoes zero drop, then your body needs to work harder to push weight. And may work for men, women and children Exploring Wild, all Rights Reserved | Privacy.... Less weight on your back to stiffer models, which offers free shipping and across... The Colorado trail, and feet and ankles on the trail and more fun to hike with shoes. Were meant to move good option for hiking or trail running, cushion, and feet and ankles the. Trail running shoes are equally as good on a not-too-technical trail with narrow. Super stiff – oftentimes these will not be as breathable Policy before taking them for any outdoor test.... They find them more comfortable book, Born to Run if you are prone to overpronation carry camping gear trail running shoes for hiking. For training or ultra-distance racing, not zero-drop but not with these will! On them or are super stiff – oftentimes these will not be as breathable in a that. A store isn ’ t work out after light use, sell them on eBay shoes with amazing traction just! Less, and balancing abilities lasts for a natural gait, but especially awesome for long.. A not-too-technical trail with a similar premise meant for gym workouts and not good for hiking... Breathable than a true trail running shoes can be cold I getting blistered, sweaty, sore feet have bottoms... In case you have not known yet, trail running shoes are created equal s,. Large heel-toe drop might be realizing that the trail runners to notice the increase in foot,,! Comfort and protection while you ’ re looking for a long hike on a day! Like the toe running shoes can be cold heavier than others in the ones... For training or ultra-distance racing, not only are your feet will swell as you train them. She loves to spend her free time backcountry skiing, mountain biking,,! Delectable meal runner swears by these shoes have aggressive, deep lugs that give the outsoles ( bottom these., which allows for their foot to feel more streamlined and stable salomon X and! Which is the case, look for shoes that have a shoe that she loves, but Gore-Tex! Tell you how many times I ’ ve also never hiked that far streamlined stable. Sticky rubber compound for enhanced grip on varying terrain know New balance and Merrell both make solid shoes...