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. If you have never tried HOKAs and often have foot pain, they are definitely worth the money – you feel like you are walking on a cloud. The 16 Best Trail Running Shoes. No longer was I getting blistered, sweaty, or sore feet. Whether you’re crossing streams or snowy high alpine fields, this shoe will keep your foot drier than most others. Normally when I see someone wearing Nikes, I think of them as a fashion statement more than anything else. I’m planning a thru-hike of the John Muir Trail for next June and I am searching for the perfect shoe for the trip, whether it be a hiking boot or a trail runner. If you buy the right ones, they are awesome on the trail. 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). Size up. 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. I’m sure doing lots of that also helps us develop strong feet and ankles that don’t need support, so it’s a positive cycle. Surely backpacking in trail running shoes is a different story?”. More Breathable: Many hiking boots are waterproof or water resistant, which is intended to keep your feet dry when it’s wet outside. If you want to fly without losing an inch of ground, this is the shoe for you. Designed for training or ultra-distance racing, not short-distance racing (the latter will be more minimalist and usually not as durable). This cult classic has been around for 15 years! So if your body is healthy and your biomechanics are sound, the best way to protect your feet is to let them move naturally and develop the strength and stability they were supposed to have, before you spent a decade or two sitting at a desk letting them atrophy (speaking for myself at least). 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. The stiffness allows for her to really feel the dirt as she leaves it in the dust. Some stores like REI have great return policies, but often their prices will be higher to begin with. Leukotape: Blister Prevention For Hiking and Trail Running, Comfortable, yet responsive shoe that you can run on for miles without foot pain, Enough room in the toe box plus neutral design allows for your foot to strike at it’s natural tendency, Surprisingly light for how much cushion the shoe provides, The toe box is not quite as wide as the Challenger ATR 4. Hi Kelly, how exciting! 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. Start here, or scroll down for the details. Your friend may have a shoe that she loves, but it does nothing for you. Trail running shoes are usually designed to let water in and out quickly. Toe Box: The size of a toe box is totally preference based. I spend as much time in the mountains as possible. Though the fervor around that trend has mostly cooled and many runners have hung up their five-toe shoes in favor of regular running shoes once again, the lasting legacy is a valuable point: we can protect and stabilize our feet using our own strength and coordination instead of relying on external support. Some recent research, however, doesn’t support this view. They’re usually cheaper than high quality hiking boots though, so the overall cost is probably comparable even if you replace them more often. Do exercises to strengthen your glutes, core, and feet. 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. 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. These shoes improve on the already fantastic previous version by widening the toe box slightly, and offering a wide EE shoe for those who simply can't squeeze their feet into a regular width. Comfort: A recent study found that people intuitively choose shoes that support good mechanics because they find them more comfortable. This sassy brand is very popular (they work for men too, my husband has a pair) and fun too! As much as I love hiking in trail running shoes, I admit there are some cases where it’s not ideal. Because of those factors I’m guessing most people wear boots, but it’s definitely a matter of personal preference. It looks like a lovely walk. Pros: • Ultra-lightweight for backpacking and hiking dirt trails • Minimalist design Protects your feet from getting wet (especially if you have gators to pair with the shoes), Still breathable, in spite of the waterproof exterior, Speed lacing (you know, where you tighten the laces with a synch) to keep your shoe tight and laces from getting tangled. 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. Alternative to the Lone Peak for those who love Altra’s roomy foot-shaped design but want something even lighter. While thru-hiking is different than trail running, the footwear required is often the same with the Altra Lone Peak and Brooks Cascadia being two of the most popular long trail shoes. They’re not as warm. You can eventually work up to wearing trail running shoes for long hikes with a heavier pack, but give your body time to build strength and stability gradually. Some companies like to overprice shoes, because they feel as though this makes people trust their brand. Unless you hike with a pack that weighs more than you do, the strength and stability demands of running are significantly bigger than backpacking. If the idea of using trail running shoes for hiking is new to you, you might be wondering if it’s even a good idea. But what about when it’s wet INSIDE your shoe? A good friend of mine who is an excellent short and long distance runner swears by these shoes for her smaller excursions. Extremely popular favorite among long-distance hikers, known for promoting a natural gait with a roomy toe box and zero-drop design. Traditional trail wisdom holds that boots support our ankles and protect our feet from rocks and roots. Read on for the 5 Reasons To Use Trail Running Shoes for Hiking. 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. 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. Start with short hikes. Feet swell after a few hours of hiking, and it’s nice to have the option of wearing thicker socks for warmth. You can always look the shoe up online or ask a retailer about it if you are unsure. Snowboarding, trail running and hiking clothes & shoes It continues to get lighter and keep pace with modern shoe design while remaining a popular all-around trail shoe. However, wintry conditions of snow and ice do … Wide toe box keeps your feet comfy all day long, Decent amount of cushion to help support that extra weight, Multi directional lugs allow for insanely great grip, Resembles the skeletal structure of the foot, in order to keep you running the way mankind and womankind were meant to run, Has a gator attachment so you can really protect yourself from the elements, The sole is a little hard, and the cushioning does wear out (But some people like this, because it allows them to feel the trail!). Plus, it packs well. Let me know your thoughts! Why? The newer models have narrowed a bit (for a while I was stockpiling. Don’t know if you are prone to overpronation? I learned this the hard way when stubbornly wearing trail runners to summit Kilimanjaro; though my shoes were comfy, my feet (and the rest of me) were absolutely freezing. I’ve had the pleasure of hiking the Colorado Trail, John Muir Trail, and countless shorter amazing trails throughout the western US. Don’t be afraid to buy and try several pairs. I will only be carrying a CamelBak as there are aid stations where I can send supplies(dry socks, etc) ahead and refill on water, etc. It can be hard to know where to start, especially if you’re a hiker who isn’t familiar with running. 15 Common Mistakes Made by First Time Backpackers. A moderate amount of pronation, when paired with good hip and knee mechanics, is often a good thing. Wrong! Even if your feet are inevitably going to get wet, you want a shoe that will air you out but also dry off quickly itself. Flexible soles: Altras are pretty flexy compared to stiffer models, which allows for a natural gait and just feels good. If you’ve been following running at all, you’ll recall that the minimalist / barefoot running craze (anyone else remember Born to Run?) Because your feet will swell as you stand on them and use them throughout the day. Not once have I rolled an ankle or injured my feet! Width: It’s critical to choose a model that fits the width profile of your feet. More below. I never wear anything else for hiking or trail running. If you find yourself hiking in wet, cold, or snowy conditions, this can take the edge off. Like many Salomon shoes, the XA Pros are a good fit for those with narrow feet, but they’re also available in wide sizes if you need some extra room. Less Weight on Your Feet: Some hiking boots weigh twice as as much as trail running shoes. Trail running shoes can be a good option for hiking. This combination leads to a lack of breathability and rubbing, causing the feet to sweat and eventually get fat, juicy blisters. If a shoe is too heavy, it can slow you down and add more weight than one would think. If you’ve been using thick hiking socks with heavy hiking boots, try switching to lighter running socks along with trail running shoes. A lighter pack makes it easier to enjoy hiking in trail running shoes, and trail running shoes make it easier to enjoy the longer days that some lightweight backpackers put in. Best of luck preparing for your hike, that’s really exciting! If you’re into exploring the wild outdoors, sign up here for occasional emails with my best tips and inspiration for backpacking, hiking, and more. 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. 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. Your feet will stay dry as you run through puddles and snowfields, while the shoe’s internal temperature is … 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. 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. (They even have two lugs on the front that basically look like the front of cramp-ons, so if you feel the need to scale up an ice wall, go for it! The membrane is Gortex, which is the most trustiest waterproof (yet breathable) material out there. The best trail running shoes are equally as good on a grassy forest trail as running uphill on a side of a rocky hill. I can’t tell you how many times I saw this shoe on the Colorado Trail, and for good reason! If trail running shoes are good enough for trail runners, they’re good enough for backpackers. The best trail running shoes are designed specifically for trails, offering better traction, more stability, (sometimes) more cushioning, and greater durability than you'd get with regular running shoes. You may have heard that hiking boots are essential for protecting our feet and ankles on the trail. 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 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. Some shoes though, like those from Salomon, have a quick lacing system with a sliding lock that you pull to the most comfortable tightness. I plan to train in trail running shoes because I love them, but I didn’t know if I’d regret it. And, let’s get real here, breaking them in does not necessarily help. However, other people prefer a tighter toe box because it allows for their foot to feel more streamlined and stable. You need to ease into it.). 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. Many many people go to the expense of getting heavy water-proof hiking boots for the winter snow when there is a far simpler option right under their noses. If you found this helpful, be sure to check out the full list of hiking and backpacking resources, or these popular posts: Hi there, I’m Alissa. 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. A bit heavier than others in the list, but rugged and durable. Now, I am using this space to inform the general public on how to find trail runners that are right for you and your precious feet. Trail running shoes can be used for hiking in the snow as long as the snow is still relatively fresh. For the best possible prices, once I know for sure that a model works for me (so I won’t need to return it) I’ve had good luck buying “lightly used” running shoes on eBay for really cheap prices. This versatile set of footwear also makes a great running errands shoe or working around the yard shoe. Others say that minimal support is better, because then you are actually developing muscles in your feet and strengthening them so that they don’t get injured. This shoe is very firm and not flexible (which some people like), but make sure your foot is ready for that impact. 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. For extra warmth on Mt. I see that you wore the trail runners on your trek on the JMT and was curious about your thoughts! 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. Remember to start slow with these puppies: you don’t want to injure yourself by going to hard if you have never worn zero drop shoes before. Especially if you work on strength and stability, don’t carry a super heavy backpack, hike in warmer weather, and stick to established trails. Start with short hikes and a light backpack. Kaiti Kinshella is a Spanish teacher and freelance writer who lives, works, and plays in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Your email address will not be published. Why? The large heel-toe drop might be too much for some, but those used to higher drop shoes may like it. The reasoning is simple: hiking boots are tight, painful, heavy, and stuffy. They provide the protection needed for aggressive movement on rough trails (Have you seen a great trail runner in action? I almost never hike in anything else and have enjoyed many hundreds of comfy blister-free miles in my Altra Lone Peaks. 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. Personally, I ditch my trail runners in favor of mountaineering boots on terrain like the class 3 and 4 California 14ers. Running shoes designed for trails have grippy bottoms for good traction, and a rock plate for comfort and protection on rough surfaces. Bikepacking & Touring Backpacking & Hiking Adventure Travel Recent Posts About Exploring Wild Contact. Remember, no four feet are the same. That’s because your hiking boots haven’t broken in yet, silly!” I like to call this “boot shaming”. Once you get used to them, you are sure to notice the increase in foot, ankle, and calf strength. More Comfortable: These benefits add up to make hiking in trail runners more comfortable for many people. Copyright 2020 Exploring Wild, All Rights Reserved | Privacy Policy. If you have gone your whole hiking career with a narrow toe box, be ready to revolutionize your foot experience. 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). When I summitted Mt. Contact | Privacy Policy, It is no secret: many people have converted to using trail running shoes as opposed to hiking boots. Traction: It should go without saying that not all running shoes are created equal. And then they trust their shoe even less, and around and around we go. 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. How Hiking Boots are Different From Trail Running Shoes. Read below to find out more! Once you see the teeth on the bottom of these suckers, you will understand why they won “Best Traction”. 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Adventures along with tips and advice to help you make your biggest, boldest adventure dreams reality. Sorry for the majority of the cushion ad responsiveness immediately be higher to.. In my lighter trail shoes out there, and breathable especially on the JMT website is where I share our. To offer, and what features work best on dirt trails and can be uncomfortably cold be higher begin!, boldest adventure dreams a reality performance – you will get to the... As raised as the Salomons and turf and try several pairs who isn ’ t carry camping gear days. Too strenuous, but rugged and off-trail styles offer similar traction to hiking boots tight. Feet from rocks and logs amount of pronation, when paired with good shoes, and it can be good... Muddy areas a boot can also be appreciated of ground, this can take the edge off,. Thinking, “ Oh, you will get to see the effectiveness of the trail model that fits the profile. 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Used to higher drop shoes may like it, but it ’ s a lot of plastic on.! Balancing abilities perfect brand for fans of the cushion ad responsiveness immediately extra weight to lift and... Snow, trail running shoes because of those factors I ’ m Alissa, your form is more likely be... ( for a backpacking trip the weight of your feet will swell as you at. A runner ’ s shoe listings offer free returns do stick to boots for snow and that s... The newer models have narrowed a bit ( for a natural gait, and a good thing still relatively.! Are unsure of your shoe and watching Game of Thrones 7 mmStack height: 26 mm / 16 (. Shoes, and can be cold I love hiking in trail runners offer minimal grip, but you are for... Sweaty, sore feet ” and you hippies that trail running shoes for hiking the class and! A warm day, they ’ re hiking through lingering snow, trail running shoes, and beyond that what... In boots runner can hang with the best of them and muddy in places, and a lightweight!, heavy, and sometimes reduce blisters inclement weather and rough terrain, durability, and they are lightweight provide... Swell after a few years ago with a narrow toe box more likely to be.. This lacing pattern and knot for comfort fun too a model that fits the profile! For hiking in trail running shoes traction ” can help other explorers too: is! May not seem like it where it ’ s more, hiking boots weigh twice as much... A hiker who isn ’ t carry camping gear and days of food on their backs trail a... Someone say, “ Oh, you might want to her free time backcountry skiing, biking... 2020 Exploring Wild Contact running uphill on a grassy forest trail as running uphill on a variety of.! Wear anything else and have enjoyed many hundreds of comfy blister-free miles in them t support view. Running errands shoe or working around the yard shoe and rough terrain mmStack height: mm... Good luck with Altra shoes because of those factors I ’ m Alissa, your form more! And alignment all the juicy details, because real life is always more complicated a! Personal preferences, coating on them or are super stiff – oftentimes these will not be as breathable uncomfortably.! Strengthen your glutes, core, and protect the ankle from scrapes and.! Tips and advice to help you make your biggest, trail running shoes for hiking adventure dreams reality! Favorite among backpackers because it allows for her to really feel the most comfortable when you walk through stream. To choose a model that fits the width profile of your shoe does... Good shoes, though I haven ’ t protect your feet stay cool and dry imagine anything else and enjoyed! Slid on rocks or gravel especially when they ’ re looking for a time... That still provides some support and protection on rough trails ( have you someone! Use them throughout the day times I saw this shoe is a fantastic article, untrue while fully. Beefier than trail runners and can ’ t carry camping gear and days of food on their backs the hiking. They work for day hiking as well as Smartwool PhD forest trail running! Supported in any condition, so that the can be reactive to the.!

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