FAQ: Hiking Sneakers vs. Hiking Boots
“Hitting the trail” can mean lots of different things—a leisurely walk with the dog, a steep, fast scramble, or backpacking on long treks. One trail shoe usually* does not fit all.
Your ideal go-to hiker comes down to the type of hiking you typically do. Are you an unplug-for-an-hour kind of adventurer or do you spend from sunrise to sunset chasing a peak or overlook? Here is a quick guide to help you choose the right level of “hike” in your next hiking shoes.
Why Choose a Hiking Sneaker?
- Flexible design
- Lighter and faster
- No backpack or light backpack
- Spontaneous hiking
- Other activities, such as biking
- Trail to town versatility
- Urban-based fun
- Family hiking
This is the ultimate crossover. You can lace them up when you leave the house and basically be ready for any adventure that comes your way—on the trail and off. They feel more like sneakers than classic hiking shoes, so they transition to any activity and outfit.
Why Choose a Hiking Boot?
- Sturdy design
- Stability plate for rough terrain
- All-day/multi-day hiking
- Wearing a backpack that weighs 25lbs or more
- More protection from the elements
- Luggy traction
- Hiking 14ers/summits
Think built up, rugged, and durable. These are classics for a reason. They give your feet hardcore protection and support for miles. KEEN fans wear these from rolling foothills to the Sierras to Colorado 14ers.
KEEN Ambassador Nick Greece wears his Targhee boots outside Lake Tahoe. (Also shown: Terradora Mid performance hikers.)
*We said one trail shoe usually does not fit all…but there are a few exceptions. Performance hikers offer the best of both worlds—with a more lightweight, athletic feel plus the stability and support for longer hikes. So you can go fast and far.
With so many hiking footwear styles, it can be hard to know which shoe or boot is the one. If you need help narrowing down your options, chat with a KEEN Expert for personalized recommendations at https://www.keenfootwear.com/contact-us/. We love connecting fans with the right shoes—it’s the highlight of our day.