Keep your feet happy

Getting the perfect footwear for your adventures is very important as it will help you make the most of your adventures. Wearing the wrong footwear will not only make your adventures miserable and uncomfortable but can even be dangerous. However, finding the right footwear is not an easy task with the numerous options available on the market. To help guide you on your decision, Lizaan Snyman will take a closer look at five key differences in characteristics between hiking boots and trail shoes.

In recent years, there has been a growing trend with adventurers replacing their tough walking boots with lighter trail runners. This is due to the continuous development of trail runners, which has transformed from a specialist option to the go-to choice for a wide range of outdoor adventures. However, hiking boots still remain a staple among many adventurers.So, which shoe is the best option? There are various opinions on what footwear works best, so instead of getting into the debate, here are five key differences in characteristics to consider before making the important purchase.


Hiking boots are manufactured from thick material and generally have a tough sole protecting your whole foot. While trail runners are made from much lighter materials and have typically lighter soles, they won’t provide the same level of protection and stand up to the same rigours as hiking boots.

However, the thick soles of hiking boots mean that you are higher from the ground, which may result in you being more likely to lose your footing. Whereas the sole of trail runners is narrower, so you are closer to the ground, decreasing the risk of tripping. However, unlike trail runners, hiking boots feature high ankles that help provide support and prevent you from spraining or rolling your ankles.


Since hiking boots are made with sturdy materials when treated effectively, they should last you for up to 1,000 miles of hiking. While trail runners, due to their lighter weight and design, won’t give you the same amount of wear. This means that you will need to replace your trail runners every 500 miles to prevent excessive wear that could damage your feet.


The thick material of hiking boots doesn’t offer much wiggle room. This tight fit is needed for effective use, and due to the ankle support, you won’t have a wide range of movement. While this helps for protection against the elements, it can also feel restrictive. On the other hand, trail runners are more compact, so they won’t feel as restrictive. The material will also offer much more flexibility, so you will have a better range of movement. However, due to the narrower sole of a trail runner, you will feel the rocks and bumps, which can lead to some pain after a long day of trekking.


Hiking boots are all generally heavier than trail runners. However, hiking boots can also vary in weight depending on the material that is used. For example, leather boots will weigh more than suede or lightweight synthetic materials. Since trail runners were designed for runners who are used to very lightweight running trainers, the greatest benefit is that they weigh less. While this is the perfect fit for many, some people enjoy the feel of a weightier boot underfoot.


Hiking boots are predominantly made with waterproof materials. Some styles are made with mesh patches and other openings which won’t offer the same level of defence. Although these boots are great for trekking in the rain and across the damp ground, they will stay wet for a long time if they are fully submerged and steeped in water.

Trail runners are often made with some form of waterproof material, but they won’t offer the same level of protection, and water will get in far easier. However, trail runners dry out much quicker when soaked, and as a result, many hikers prefer trail runners for long hikes when river crossings are likely.

With these differences in characteristics and style in mind, purchase the footwear that suits your needs so that you can enjoy everything your adventures throws at you.

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