Hiking Boots vs Trail Runners Shoes

Hiking is a vigorous sport that demands dedicated footwear to work better for traction, durability, and comfort. Likewise, trail runner boots are also pretty much similar to hiking boots for durability, comfort, and performance on abrasive grounds.


The main difference between hiking boots and trail runners is the weight and lug thickness. Hiking boots usually have thick lugs to make a good grip on soil and are 40-60% heavier than trail runners due to the thick-outsole, durable material, and plenty of padding inside. Also, the high-cut design and manufacturing design add to the weight of hiking boots. Trail runners are pretty much lightweight.

Both footwear bears some more differences, which I have listed below:

Comparison Between Hiking Boots vs Trail Runners

FeaturesHiking bootsTrail runners
WeightHeavyweight and bulky builtLightweight and minimal built
Breathability/waterproofMedium breathability but best waterproofingExcellent breathability, especially for summers but with less waterproofing
Design/styleSubtle designs and colorsLess durable, and may need to replace more often
Grip and tractionIdeal traction and gripping outsoleLesser traction for climbing and ascending
DurabilityBest durability for all-terrainIt may be stiff and need a break-in
Best forSnowy and watery terrainMultiple abrasive terrains
InteriorWarm interior for snow hikingCooler for summer outdoor hiking
Fitting and interiorTrail runners offer less protection for ankle and impact protectionComfortable out of the box, does not need a break-in
OutsoleThick-set outsoleThinner outsole
Protection and  ankle supportHiking boots offer protected for ankle support and impact protectionTrail runner offer less protection for ankle and impact protection
PriceExpensive (Check Price)Affordable (Check Price)

Hiking Boots Pros and Cons

What I like
  • Warm for snow hiking
  • Durable design and thick outsole
  • Well-padded interior
  • Best waterproofing for keeping feet dry
What I Dislike
  • Can be a little expensive
  • Heavy for all-day-long wearing

Trail Runners Pros and Cons

What I like
  • Affordable
  • More ideal feet functionality
  • Lightweight and minimal design
  • Offers the best breathability
  • Stylish and trendy designs
  • Don’t need a break-in; comfort right out of the box
What I Dislike
  • Not much durable
  • Poor waterproofing

Expert’s Opinion Video on Trail Running Shoes vs Hiking Boots

Details Comparison of Hiking Boot vs Trail Runner

So are you ready to find out the detailed comparison between hiking boots and trail runners?

1. Weight

The weight of a hiking boot is usually more than the weight of a trail runner.

The reason is simple; they have more padding and cushioning.

The tail runner features a minimal design and lightweight materials, whereas the hiking boot offers more weight due to the rugged outsole and thick padding that enhances safety.

For example, this New Balance Women’s 510 V5 Trail Running Shoe weighs only 1.49 Pounds, while this leather Columbia Women’s Newton Ridge Plus Hiking Shoe weighs 2.2 Pounds.

2. Price

The price factor is one of the main things one sees while buying.

Hiking boots are usually available in many price ranges.

You can choose affordable boots and the high-priced best leather hiking boots that are more durable than any other footwear.

But they are expensive and range from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

However, in comparison with trail runners, hiking boots are expensive while trail runners are somewhat less pricey, but you need to replace them more often due to their subpar durability.

For instance, I bought this Merrell Men’s Moab 2 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot for $100. On the other hand, the ASICS Women’s Gel-Venture 8 Running Shoes cost only $59.95, which is a huge reasonable price difference.

3. Breathability and Water Resistance

The breathability of the hiking boot is usually lesser than the trail runners due to the difference in padding and interior warmth.

Hiking boots have more padding and ankle support, making the interior cozy but less breathable and ideal for waterproofing.

On the other hand, tail runners have the best breathability but poor water resistance.

For example, I bought this Timberland Men’s White Ledge Mid Waterproof Ankle Boot that kept my feet dry, but airflow was limited. In contrast, KEEN Women’s Terradora 2 Waterproof Low Height Hiking Shoe offered me the best airflow but mediocre water resistance for watery pathways.

4. The Outsole, Grip, and Traction

For grip and traction, hiking boots are always a significant preference for hiking.

Hiking boots offer utmost traction for wet to smooth terrain, plus the outsole is thick enough to offer you stability. The hiking boots have rugged outsoles that maintain traction.

The gripping outsole works best for snow and rain, especially in winter.

Since hiking boots have thick rubber that well grips and penetrates the ground so they offer better traction.

On the contrary, trail runner shoes are less sticky towards all-terrain or while you climb or ascend.

For example, with its rubber outsole, this KEEN Men’s Targhee 2 Mid Height Waterproof Hiking Boot provides ideal traction on rocks and rocky surfaces. In contrast, the La Sportiva Men’s Bushido II Trail Running Shoe has a lightweight outsole that features rubber but is not as good as hiking boots for gripping.

hiking boot lugs
Hiking Boot Lugs
trail runner lugs
Trail Runner Lugs

5. Fitting and Interior

The fitting of hiking boots is usually a matter of concern.

No matter if you choose the precise size of the hiking boot, you often need to break into them to reduce the stiffness of the interior.

On the flip side, the trail runner won’t demand the break-in. They are comfortable out-of-the-box, and the interior is much plush and softer than a hiking boot

Hiking boots are primarily good for wearing in snow and winter weather due to the thick outsole and bulky padding, whereas trail runners are best for summer wearing due to their exposed build that keeps feet breathable and light.

I didn’t need to break in this Saucony Men’s Peregrine 11 Trail Running Shoe. It was comfortable right out of the box. However, Merrell Men’s Moab 2 Vent Mid Hiking Boot is pure leather footwear and it did require a proper break-in for my feet shape snug fitting.

6. Durability and Quality

Hiking boots are durable. The reason is their professional design, best protection, and quality for hiking.

On The flip side, trail runners are best for running on abrasive ground. They are less durable, and you may need to replace them more often than the hiking boot.

If you buy from a well-known brand, footwear (hiking boots and trail runners) offers you the best quality.

However, hiking boots more dedicated to the abrasive ground have better strain and withstand the performance.

For durability, this KEEN Women’s Voyageur Mid Height Breathable Hiking Boots, Brindle/Custard, 8.5 Medium US has great duality with a 95% PFC-free build that tells its quality.  Conversely, this Skechers Men’s Gorun Altitude – Trail Running Walking Hiking Shoe With Air Cooled Foam boot has less durability, and its upper mesh may wear out quicker.

7. Protection and Ankle Support

Hiking boots offer you more protection against impact, chafing, injury, and more.

Whereas trail runner boots have a minimal design that does not offer you the best feet protection.

However, due to the heavy weight of the hiking boots, they don’t offer swift feet functionality, and for that matter, trail runners are best for keeping natural feet functionality around.

Regarding protection, hiking boots always offer the best ankle support for dangerous cliff hiking. In contrast, trail runners do not offer reliable ankle support due to their compact design.

Such as this Timberland Men’s Chocorua Trail Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot has supreme ankle support and a protected interior against wear and tear. On the flip side, the Under Armour Women’s Charged Assert 9 Running Shoe has less protection and ankle stability for feet.

8. Comfort

The comfort factor of hiking boots and trail runners is more or less similar. So it’s hard to compare this factor of both of the footwear.

However, if you talk about a keen approach, trail runners are lower to the ground due to their lightweight, animal design and bright feet functionality. But you cannot lean on them for hiking.

On the other hand, hiking boots feature a solid toe box and a softer and roomy interior, but they won’t be the best choice for running miles and miles.

So you can say trail runners are comfortable with swift feet functionality.

I purchased this Ariat Terrain Waterproof Hiking Boot – Men’s Leather Waterproof Outdoor Hiking Boots, and it was durable but needed time to take after feet shape. However, this Under Armour Men’s Charged Assert 9 Running Shoe was pretty reasonable for comfort, and I felt more like gliding due to the softness under my feet.

9. Style and Design

Stylish footwear adds to the appearance. Leather hiking boots are stylish, but in comparison with trail runners, they feel subtle or dull.

So trail runner boots offer more style, energetic appearance, and color ranges that go well for outdoor aggressive sports such as running. 

For instance, this ASICS Women’s Torrance Trail Running Shoes has a decent purple and black color comb which looks unique and more appealing than this KEEN Men’s Targhee 2 Low Height Waterproof Hiking Shoe, which looks bulky and camouflaged.

Check Other Relevant Comparisons


Tim Campbell

I am Tim. Getting the inherited hobby from my father when I was a child to the fully grown individual I always loved boots. I live in hilly areas and love to explore the world at heights. That's where my profound hobby of boots collection comes in. I have tried a lot of boots and now helping my community to do better when having fun in different conditions like hilly areas, work, or farming. In this very blog, I have covered some awesome reviews and information that you may get hard otherwise. All of my self-experience and expert advice I have incorporated in this blog.

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