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Walking Shoes Vs Hiking Boots: Which One Do You Need?

Updated: Aug 28, 2022

It can often be daunting to find decent footwear for hiking; even more so when there is lots of misinformation out there. We will break down everything you need to know about Hiking Boots and Walking Shoes.

What exactly are Walking Shoes?

Walking Shoes are generally light, durable, and comfy shoes that you can wear on your more casual hikes or long walks on concrete or grassland. Walking Shoes are more akin to running trainers or trail runners; they have soft and cushioning materials to support your feet. Most Walking Shoes have a very thin layer of waterproof material to allow water resistance in the rain or small splashes. It's not uncommon for Walking Shoes to also have a strong rugged heel and a protective lining for your toes.

Below are some examples of Walking Shoes:

What exactly are Hiking Boots?

Hiking Boots are a tougher, hardier, and heavier type of footwear. Hiking boots can be worn on hikes wear there is rocky or uneven terrain, muddy surfaces, and routes where the elevation can change. Most Hiking boots are mid-rise meaning they offer superb ankle support for serious hikers. Hiking Boots predominantly have double or triple layers of water-resistant membrane layers; this means they can be worn when trekking through wet and windy locales. Despite having durable heavy-duty soles which offer great protection Hiking Boots will often fatigue hikers over longer hikes due to their heft weight.

Below are some examples of Hiking Boots:

What's the Difference between Hiking boots and Walking Shoes?

When it comes to offering protection against the elements and the occasional rogue rock, Hiking Boots come out on top. Hiking Boots have a number of technologies that offer better protection than Walking Shoes. These include GORE-TEX Membranes, Vibram soles, and protective Toe Caps to name a few. Walking Shoes still offer a decent level of protection but won't stop you from rolling your ankle or an unfortunate accident.

Walking shoes have a much nicer feel to them, often with comfortable foam, arch support, and ortholite insoles that mold to the shape of your feet. This can be ideal for casual hikers or when you start adventuring on warmer days. If you want footwear that can be worn in wet or trickier terrain then Hiking Boots that offer a tight lace-up enclosure and solid grips are exactly what you need.

As previously mentioned, Hiking Boots can be deceivingly heavy, especially when compared to softer, lightweight shoes. If you are going for a hike where you don't need extra luggage or heavy backpacks then you should opt for a pair of Walking Shoes. However, if you are going for a full day or even multiple-day long hikes with lots of extra equipment you should choose a solid pair of Hiking boots to keep you on track.

Walking Shoes will suffer quicker from bumps, knocks, and scratches over time meaning they may not last as long as a pair of Hiking Boots in the same conditions; ultimately meaning you will need to buy more pairs. Walking Shoes will however often feel comfier than the traditional pair of Hiking boots given they are made from materials designed for warmer climates.

Which pair is right for you?

Fortunately, there isn't a right or wrong answer to this question. whichever decision you make, the pair you choose will be suitable for the majority of Hikers. Now that may sound like a cop-out but hear us out! Most Walking Shoes and Hiking Boots are extremely well made today and share a lot of common features, such as multi-traction control grip, water-resistant materials, and comfortable inner linings. The only major considerations you will have to make are:

  • How often do you walk/hike?

  • How long do you spend on your hikes?

  • What kind of terrain do you tackle?

If you go on Hikes or walk multiple times a week; 4 or more days a month then opt for a pair of Hiking Boots. If you only get out for an adventure once or twice a month then choose a pair of Walking Shoes.

If your walks are usually longer than 4 hours then you may want to choose a pair of reliable Hiking Boots. If you prefer quicker and shorter walks up to 3 hours then you will benefit from a pair of Walking Shoes that you can lace up quickly.

If your usual hikes are on flatter surfaces, like grass, gravel, or less muddy trails then a pair of Walking Shoes will be perfect for your needs. On the other hand (or foot) if you tend to choose more aggressive walks with elevation changes, unpredictable terrain such as rocks or rivers, and extra muddy trails then Hiking Boots are the right choice for you!

The Rule of Cool

Now if you managed to answer the above questions but chose Hiking boots for some and Walking Shoes for others then there's one rule you should consider above all else:

"Nothing beats the rule of cool".

All this rule means is that if you have found a pair of Hiking Boots or Walking Shoes that you think look cool and tick your main boxes then that's the pair you buy; no matter what other people tell you! (Even us)

Check out some of our reviews to find the perfect pair for you!


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