Saturday, February 24, 2024

Differences Between Hiking Shoes and Running Shoes


Hiking shoes and running shoes are two types of athletic footwear designed for different purposes, each serving specific needs for the activities they are intended for. In this blog, we will explore the key differences between hiking shoes and running shoes.

1. Meaning and Purpose

Hiking shoes are specially designed for hiking activities, tailored to meet the demands of trekking through various terrains and environments. They typically consist of three main components: the upper (shoe upper), insole (inner sole), and outsole (sole). The upper is made of materials like leather, nylon, or a combination of both, while the insole is usually crafted from synthetic materials or soft leather, sometimes with additional cushioning for improved comfort and warmth. A good pair of hiking shoes is usually made from a single piece of leather (excluding the heel and tongue), ensuring better durability and shape retention over time.

On the other hand, running shoes are categorized based on biomechanical requirements into three main types: cushioning, stability, and motion control. Cushioning running shoes have a softer midsole that assists the foot in evenly absorbing impact, providing shock absorption during running. These shoes are typically lightweight but may offer less stability. Stability running shoes have midsole structures that distribute forces more evenly, while motion-control running shoes are firmer to reduce excessive inward foot rolling and prevent ankle injuries. The latter type is usually heavier than other running shoes.

2. Functionality

Hiking shoes are generally low-cut to provide better ankle flexibility. They prioritize breathability and excellent moisture-wicking properties to keep the feet dry and comfortable during long hikes. These features also make hiking shoes suitable for casual urban wear.

Running shoes, on the other hand, are designed to support the foot during repetitive forward motion while providing adequate cushioning and impact absorption. They focus on promoting a smooth gait cycle and may have different features based on the specific type of running shoe (cushioning, stability, or motion control).

3. Appearance

Hiking shoes tend to have a more rugged and outdoorsy appearance, often featuring earthy colors like camouflage green, deep brown, or black. They convey a strong sense of outdoor fashion and functionality. In contrast, running shoes typically follow current fashion trends, offering a wide array of colors and styles that appeal to modern aesthetics. Some retro running shoe models have gained popularity in the fashion industry due to their classic designs and vibrant color combinations.

4. Classification

Running shoes are classified into different categories based on biomechanical features, while hiking shoes are categorized according to environmental requirements. Hiking shoes come with varying functionalities such as slip resistance, insulation, lightweight design, and shock absorption to cater to different outdoor conditions. In general, hiking shoes are heavier than running shoes, making them less suitable for running activities.

5. Fashion Trends

With the rise of sports and fitness fashion, running shoes have become part of the trend, especially with the popularity of retro running shoe models like New Balance’s 574 and 996 series, ASICS, and Adidas Originals’ ZX series. These retro running shoes offer both classic designs and trendy colorways, making them a popular choice for streetwear. However, hiking shoes have remained closely associated with outdoor activities, with fewer style variations and fashion-forward color choices.

6. Technological Features

Hiking shoes and running shoes differ significantly in their internal technologies:

  • Upper: Hiking shoes often feature sturdy materials such as leather or nylon with toe caps for protection. Some hiking shoes incorporate waterproof technologies like Rax’s patented V-TEX to keep feet dry during wet conditions. Running shoes prioritize lightweight materials like mesh or fabric for breathability and comfort, often featuring technologies like Nike’s flywire for a combination of lightweight and durability.
  • Collar: Hiking shoes may have advanced ankle support features like Rax’s patented TPU Sky-Soar Technology, providing 360° protection and enhancing safety during hiking. Running shoes generally offer standard collar designs without additional ankle support features.
  • Insole: Hiking shoes often have well-designed insoles with technologies like Explorer’s T-FOAM, providing better compression resistance and improved breathability compared to traditional EVA insoles.
  • Outsole: The outsole of running shoes varies depending on the type and brand. For example, Nike’s Airmax running shoes feature full-length Cushlon+MaxAir air cushioning for superior shock absorption and durability. In contrast, hiking shoes, such as Rax, use a combination of CMEVA midsole and selected rubber outsole, offering excellent lightweight elasticity, comfort, traction, and wear resistance.


Choosing the right athletic footwear is essential to ensure optimal performance and safety during various activities. Understanding the differences between hiking shoes and running shoes based on their features will help you make an informed decision and protect your feet accordingly. So, the next time you plan for a hiking adventure or a running session, make sure to select the appropriate shoes that best suit your activity. Happy trails and runs!

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