So I decided to just go hiking in sneakers, and I’m certainly not the only one—most of the people I pass on the trail also wear sneakers. And for an intermittent hiker, that’s perfectly fine, says board-certified podiatrist Mark Mendeszoon, DPM, a hiker and spokesperson for the According to the American Podiatric Medical Association. “In the long run, sneakers are not really recommended for serious hikers,” he said. But for occasional outings, you can pass, especially if your sneakers have some key features that all good hiking boots have.
5 features to note when climbing with sneakers
1. Find larger lugs
“Most hiking boots will have significant grip in the outsole to adapt to different surfaces, while providing stability and traction,” says Dr. Mendeszoon. So if you’re choosing sneakers, go with the pair with the largest lugs (the tooth-like protrusion at the bottom of the sole). If the sole is completely smooth, it won’t give you much support for gripping the different surfaces you’ll be walking on.
2. Foam is your friend
When hiking in sneakers, Dr. Mendeszoon doesn’t recommend lace up a minimalist shoe. You want some extra padding under your feet to make stepping on rock surfaces less painful. “In general, foot pads should have enough room and good insulation for cushioning, comfort and support,” he says. If you don’t already have a pair that fits this bill, Dr. Mendeszoon says an insole that will add a bit of softness to the soles of your feet is another option.
3. Choose a breathable upper
Mendeszoon, a traditional hiking boot usually has a breathable upper for ventilation. You can mimic this by opting for a sneaker with a mesh or knit upper instead of the leather or synthetics you’ll typically find on lifestyle sneakers.
4. Consider a cross trainer
Mendeszoon says that what distinguishes hiking shoes from regular walking or running shoes is their excellent lateral support and stability, both on the sides and back of the shoe as a single set. count heels for sure. Since walking and running shoes are made for forward movement, not side to side, you’re better off wearing a pair of sneakers you’ll wear for a HIIT workout—as long as soles aren’t too slippery—because they’re definitely designed to move in multiple planes of motion: forward/backward, side-to-side, and rotated.
5. Skip the shorter lanyard
“Most trail or hiking boots will have enough laces length so they can be properly laced and even double knotted to protect feet and ankles on long hikes, especially when people start walking on uneven surfaces or start walking down,” says Dr. Mendeszoon. Consider threading a longer pair of laces if the laces that came with your sneakers are too short.
Check out the terrain
The terrain plays an important role in deciding what will be the best shoes for walking on the trails. “Walking on trails and flat surfaces is often easier and less stressful,” says Dr. Mendeszoon. In that case, you can wear shoes that aren’t specifically designed for hiking.
“But when people start climbing higher hills, or if they start hiking in the mountains, hiking boots are generally more durable, a bit heavier, insulated,” he said. more and more secure when it fits around your feet and ankles. “Most of the hiking injuries I come across as a foot and ankle specialist and podiatrist are when people are walking down a hill or peak—they can loss of balance and loss of grip on the ground, causing falls.”
Are trail running shoes a good alternative to hiking shoes?
Mendeszoon says it’s time to invest in shoes specifically designed for the activity. But if the extra mass and weight of hiking boots is like a hindrance, trail running shoes may be the best choice for you as they are designed with all the features that you need. Dr. Mendeszoon presented above.
This can also be a particularly good choice depending on your foot type, because Dr Mendeszoon says hiking shoes are not made for flat feet or high arches, so you may Customize a bit more by following the runner trail.
Best practices for buying hiking shoes
Although we live in the age of online shopping, once you’ve become a regular on the trails to stop wearing sneakers, Dr. Mendeszoon says your first stop should be a store that specializes in hiking for a suitable pair of shoes. Knowing what to look for in a pair of hiking shoes is not a substitute for getting expert help buying a pair. “Once people get on with trail shoes, they usually don’t go back to sneakers,” says Dr. Mendeszoon.