If you are new to hiking then you are probably wondering whether you should get yourself a pair of hiking boots or hiking shoes. First, you need to understand the difference between the two and which are better suited to the typical hike that you take. That being said there is nothing stopping you from getting both, that way you are prepared for any terrain. Here is a visual look at the difference between the two.
Hiking shoes are lighter than hiking boots while still keeping good support for your foot and ankle. If you typically go hiking on a well groomed trail then these will work just fine, you don’t even have to spend much time breaking them in. Hiking shoes are more flexible and give you a better range of motion.
Hiking shoes today are made up of lightweight materials but you should check with the manufacturer to determine if they are waterproof or not. Because they are used interchangeably with everyday walking shoes try and find a pair that is actually made for hiking rather than a fashion piece. Your best bet is to start looking for hiking shoes at a sporting goods store, the staff can help you find the right pair.
Hiking boots are heavier, more durable and they are generally water resistance. They give you more support for your ankle on rough trails. You will have two styles of boots to choose from the mid weight or the heavy both will work on groomed trails or off-trail treks. Hiking boots will go up above your ankle giving you much better support when you are on rough surfaces.
They won’t give you as much range of motion as a shoe and you’re going to have to break them in, beware of blisters. The heavier boots are ideal for rough trails, they absorb shock better. Again you are going to have to break these boots in and be prepared for a blister or two. When you buy new boots and take them on your first hike always bring extra socks and Band-Aids just in case of blisters.
These are the basic difference between the two types of hiking footwear, which you choose will depend on what you need and where you plan to hike. If you are just hitting local trails you can probably get away with shoes. However if you want to on long hikes in the wilderness crossing a variety of terrain then you may be better off with a pair of good boots.