eNZees Blog

Hiking Boots or Trail Runners?

by Jill Schuman | March 03, 2017 | 0 Comments

Are hiking boots or trail runners better?

This long running debate seems to be an endless source of contention amongst avid hikers, backpackers, and boot/shoe fitters: what’s better, hiking boots or trail runners? We’ve laid out the argument for each and we hope you’ll weigh in with your thoughts on the subject. Which do you prefer?

The Case for Hiking Boots

The benefits of hiking boots vs trail runners

Photo courtesy of Douglas Scortegagna
Hiking boots have been getting a bad rap lately. They’re “heavy,” stiff, and slow to dry. But a good pair of hiking boots offers significantly better ankle and underfoot support and protection than trail runners. With a higher, more supportive ankle and thicker, more aggressive tread, hiking boots are quite burly and typically last for several seasons. As your boot-fitter may have told you, the high ankle itself doesn’t physically prevent rolled ankles, but rather the pressure signals your brain to react to the sudden movement. While trail runners might be best for established trails, hiking boots can provide much needed protection on off-trail routes, difficult terrain, or in unexpected cold snaps.  

The Counter-argument for Trail Runners

Salomon Odyssey Pro thru-hiking shoe

Trail runners have become so popular for hiking, that Salomon has introduced a thru-hiking specific shoe - the Odyssey Pro.

Most thru-hikers and ultralighters swear by trail runners. On long distance hikes every ounce counts and lighter feet means you can cover more mileage with less strain on your legs. The quick-drying meshy fabric most trail runners are comprised of means that you’re shoes will dry quicker overnight ... a big plus if you’ve been crossing multiple streams and rivers! Trail runners are also typically less expensive than hiking boots; however you’re likely to blow through several pairs on a thru-hike.


As we’ve mentioned in several previous blogs, there isn’t one “right” choice. Everyone’s feet are different as are their hiking goals and tastes. The most important thing is to find a pair of boots or shoes that fit your feet best to ensure you don’t develop blisters or other foot problems. You might even find you want to keep a pair of hiking boots AND trail runners in your closet to chose from depending on your next adventure. As always, make sure you carry some eNZees Foot Soother in first aid kit to prevent blisters and hot-spots.


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