Hiking Shoes – A Comparison Of Different Styles

hiking shoes

What kind of shoes should you wear hiking?

Proper hiking shoes can make the difference between a fun and a miserable hike. Here are my tips on the best shoes to wear hiking in the Rocky Mountains.

I have personally gone hiking with all of these different types of shoes (and also with flip flops once when I had no choice). My comments here are based on my years of personal experience and observations of others.  Remember though, the best shoes for one person may not be the best for someone else. You should read advice, talk to experts, and then try out different shoes until you find what works for you.

hiking shoes

Sneakers or tennis shoes.

Hiking Shoes – Tennis Shoes or Cross Trainer Shoes

 Most people have a pair of tennis shoes or cross trainer shoes around the house already. They are perfect to wear to exercise in, play tennis in, and many other things. You can take them hiking if you have no other choice, but as you can see there are several cons for them.


  • Less expensive than hiking shoes;
  • Comfortable to wear and allow for good movement.


  • Generally not made of durable materials and will wear out fast;
  • Depending on the material may get and stay wet easily;
  • Provide no ankle support.
  • They don’t have a heavy duty sole, which means you will feel every rock you step on.

hiking shoes

Low top hiking shoes.

Hiking Shoes – Low Top Hiking Shoes

Personally, I wear low top hiking shoes most of the time when I go hiking or even backpacking. They are light weight, comfortable to wear, allow for good movement, and you can even run with them on. They are also designed with great souls that are sticky to help when negotiating rocks or logs.

Despite my personal preference for these, they are recommended to be used for day hikes, on well maintained trails, or for backpacking with a light pack.

hiking shoesPros

  • Comfortable and easy to wear for a long time;
  • Easy to walk, run, jump and move in;
  • Offer more support than tennis shoes/trainers.


  • Water, mud, or such can easily get over the top and make your feet and socks wet and uncomfortable;
  • Do not provide much ankle support.
hiking shoes

High top hiking boots.

Hiking Shoes – High Top Boots

I remember wearing some high top hiking boots in college and felt that they were super bulky, and hard to move in. Since that time, the technology has definitely improved and the boots are no longer as bulky.

These high top boots are recommended for hiking on poorly maintained trails where you may encounter lots of rocks, logs, mud, and water. They also are good for backpacking with heavy loads as they provide good ankle support and will make it easier on your feet with heavy loads.


  • Provide great ankle support (important if you are prone to hurt your ankles);
  • Provide great support if you are carrying a heavy load, making it easier to walk;
  • High tops make it hard for water or mud to get inside of your shoe, so your feet will stay dry.


  • Can be heavy/bulky, making it harder to walk, run, or manoeuver with them on;
  • Can slow you down.