If you are going to be spending time in the great outdoors, you must have the correct footwear. Not doing this is likely to cause you pain and make hiking far less of an enjoyable activity than it is. 

In the main, there are two types of hiking footwear; hiking boots or shoes. While many beginners may fall into the trap of thinking that a regular pair of running shoes or other comfortable footwear will be enough, this is not true, and it won’t be long before they are searching for a hiking boot or shoe. 

In this article, we will compare the two and discover what would work best for you.

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Why Do I Need A Hiking Boot Or Shoe?

If you are new to hiking, you may be questioning why you cannot wear your regular footwear. We assure you that if you try this, you will soon understand why but to save you the pain, let us explain.

Hiking involves walking over uneven ground, and your everyday footwear is not designed for this. In contrast, a pair of hiking shoes or boots are designed to support the ankle and the foot in a way that other shoes cannot. This is important when putting the feet under the strain of ground that is anything but flat. 

They are also excellent for greater friction; it is likely that when hiking, the ground may be slippery and wearing these types of shoes can prevent any accidents. 

You will also notice that your hiking boots and shoes are lined with padded material that gives you a much more comfortable hiking experience. 

With all of that in mind, let’s take a look at which option is better.

Hiking Shoes

If you aren’t going to be going on long hikes or will be taking it easy on the less rugged ground, then a pair of hiking shoes (amazon link) could be a good option. Unlike hiking boots which must be broken in, hiking shoes are designed to be used right from the off and are a more convenient accessory for hobby hikers. 

That being said, there are many hiking shoes that have a much more robust design and can be used for more serious hiking adventures. However, you should keep in mind that you will not be getting the ankle support that you would get with a hiking boot which can be a deal-breaker for many people. 

There is some suggestion that hiking shoes are healthier for your feet. The simple reason for this is that they are much more breathable and allow for adequate airflow around the feet. What’s more, they are ideal if you are going travelling to hike as they do not take up as much room.

Hiking Boots

A sturdy pair of hiking boots (Amazon Link) has a lot to offer and are what many people first think of when talking about hiking footwear. One of the main advantages of the hiking boot is that they are excellent for wet weather and will protect the feet from the elements; after all, if you have planned a day out hiking, this doesn’t mean that the rain will hold off for you. 

Not only are these often waterproof and extremely warm, but they also offer a good level of support for your ankle. This is particularly important if you have weak ankles. 

Hiking boots are also beneficial for walking on very rugged terrain as they offer an incredible amount of protection and are durable so you won’t be replacing them every few months. 

Aside from this, modern hiking boots are not nearly as cumbersome and bulky as their older counterparts. This is an image that a lot of newbie hikers have, and it can be off-putting. However, there are some wonderful light hiking boots that are fully padded and supportive but won’t weigh you down.

That being said, it is true that if you want an exceptionally durable pair of boots designed for hardcore hikers, then you must expect to have something a little heavier and more robust. 

Ultimately, you will want to think about the type of hiking that you do as well as the terrain you will be walking on, and of course, the climate. 

Let’s assume that you are going to be doing some steep mountain trekking with a good chance of snow or ice. In this case, you would need to opt for an extremely sturdy boot with a stiff sole that offered more excellent protection. 

Conversely, if you are doing a few rounds of your local woodland, you might be able to get away with something a little lighter and softer. 

Whichever type of hiking boot you go for, it is crucial to keep in mind that you must break the boots in to prevent blisters which could be disastrous out on the trail.

Hiking Boots Or Shoes?

When deciding on whether you should buy a hiking boot or shoe, it is essential to consider several things. 

If you are a serious hiker that likes to tackle extreme trails, then a hiking shoe might not be durable enough for your needs and a boot would undoubtedly be better. In contrast, if you like to take a casual hike on a Sunday afternoon, you would likely find that a shoe would work well. 

You must also consider the weather; hiking shoes are excellent for walking in the summer as they are breathable, and this can prevent foot conditions and a build-up of sweat. But if you will be hiking in colder climates, especially where there is rain or snow, a hiking boot will be far more comfortable and protective.

However, potentially the most crucial consideration is to make sure that the boot or shoe fits correctly. The boot or shoe must fit snuggle onto the foot for the best support, but you should have some wiggle room for the toes. Some people suggest purchasing hiking boots or shoes that are a size too big to make room for swelling, but it is important to make sure that they aren’t too big and will rub. 

If you choose a shoe, you will find it is easier to get a good fit but always be sure to try them before heading out for a hike.


When it comes to choosing between a hiking boot or shoe, there is no right or wrong. The important thing is that you think about how and where you will use the footwear.

Once you have considered the pros and cons of each type of footwear, you must be sure to find the correct fit to avoid discomfort and get the most out of your new kicks.

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