Hiking Shoes vs. Hiking Boots – Which one is the best?


Hiking Shoes vs. Hiking Boots

Hiking is a favourite pass time and sport for so many people. To get out in nature and enjoy the woods, trails, scenery, mountains, wherever it is you love to hike. One of the best ways to enjoy your hike is to keep your feet comfortable so that you can enjoy your time in nature longer, and safer. Along with the many different types of hiking adventures, there are also many different types of footwear for hiking. So how do you choose? Are hiking boots, or are best hiking shoes better for your feet when hiking? We’ll look at some of the differences to help you decide.

Hiking shoes:

Hiking shoes are cut like a regular sneaker and wear sneaker. They come to the ankle and cover your feet completely, unlike the hiking sandal. The hiking shoe gives you a combination of comfort and functionality and many brands of shoes make hiking shoes now, as opposed to years ago, when there were a limited number of brands that designed shoes for this great outdoor sport. Although hiking shoes are cut similar to the typical sneaker, they have added features. Hiking shoes offer thicker soles and arch support; they are water proof and durable stitching. They may be heavier than a typical sneaker but not as heavy as a hiking boot.

Hiking boots:

Hiking boots typically come in two versions-Mid-weight hiking boot and a heavy weight hiking boot. Although similar, there are some differences, so before ou run out and buy one or the other, it’s good to know what makes them different so you can choose the right ones for your type of hiking. Here are some of the differences between the two:

Mid-weight boot-When most people envision a hiking boot, the mid-weight hiking boot. It is designed to come up above the ankle for added protection on the shin. Mid-weight boots are made of waterproof, sturdy material-the outer boot is typically covered with more, thicker leather in combination with breathable mesh. The soles are thick and well-stitched for added durability as well as there is often a Gore Tex lining inside for comfort and to keep your feet dry.

Hiking Shoes vs. Hiking Boots

Heavy boot-Heavy weight hiking boots are different in that they are heavier in weight and are typically very stiff in their construction for added support around the ankle, not only to ultimately support it from twists and turns on very unsteady terrain, but from thick underbrush ad briers when in thick wooded areas. They too, are waterproof, offer metal in the toes for better protection, and the soles of heavy hiking boots are typically more knobby to give you better grip on rocks or in slippery mud, or any other situation that is cause for the best traction.

When do you need to wear the different types of hiking shoes or boots?

There are different types of hiking: Trail hiking, mountain and terrain hiking, and rough, extreme, bush-type hiking or in extreme weather condition. The different types of hiking shoes serve a purpose for what you plan to use them for and in order to keep your feet comfortable and safe; it’s always a good idea to wear the proper shoes for the situation.

For even and well-maintained trails, day hikes, and for camping or even trail running, camping shoes are the hiking footwear of choice. Hiking shoes are very popular due to the fact that so many people do this type of hiking or walking compared to the more aggressive or extreme hiking where boots are a better choice.

If you plan to hike on rugged, uneven trails or rocky areas with roots, and thick brush that make it easy to turn an ankle, you will want a hiking boot. If trails or terrain is steep, snowy or wet, you will get better traction in a boot than a hiking shoe, If you plan to be working or walking through heavy brush where your feet or shins could be injured by thistles and brush or other objects, boots give your legs better protection at shin-level.

Bottom line:

The bottom line is that both the hiking boot and the hiking shoe are good to for hiking above a regular sneaker, and each have their benefits for the type of hiking adventure you’ll be embarking on. You definitely do not want to overload your feet with the added weight of a boot, whether mid-weight or heavy weight, if you plan to just walk the trails or plan to spend an entire day of casual hiking. The added weight will wear you down, as well as it can strain your arches and leg muscles to cause foot and leg pain.


If you do decide to purchase either mid-weight or heavy-weight you will want to give yourself time to get used to the boot prior to actually wearing them on your hiking trip. Plan for 3-4 days of adjusting to the feel and the weight of a hiking boot before you go. This is especially true for the heavy boot.