Are Tennis Shoes Good for Hiking A simple Comparison - 2023/ Featured Image

Are Tennis Shoes Good for Hiking? A Simple Comparison – 2023

Key Takeaways:

  • Tennis Shoes vs. Hiking Boots: Tennis shoes are suitable for light hikes, but hiking boots offer better support for rough terrains.
  • Distinct Features:
    • Hiking boots provide stability, protection, and durability.
    • Tennis shoes offer comfort and versatility but lack rugged support.
  • Choosing Footwear: Consider terrain type, weather, and fitness level.
  • Hiking Boot Advantages: Superior grip, protection from elements, and reduced fatigue.
  • Top 2023 Hiking Boots: Recommendations include Merrell Moab 2, Columbia Newton Ridge Plus, and Adidas Terrex Swift R2 GTX.

Are you just getting into hiking and not sure what to wear? You may have seen some people wearing tennis shoes for the trails, but is that really a good idea?

When it comes to deciding between tennis shoes or a pair of hiking boots for your next outdoor adventure, there are many factors to consider.

In this blog post on Are Tennis Shoes Good for Hiking, I’ll dive deep into understanding how each type of footwear can impact the experience and safety while on the trail.

I will go over how hiking boots and tennis shoes differ and the pros of cons of wearing tennis shoes when hiking so you can make an informed decision when planning your hikes!

Let’s get started!

Related Post: Are Tennis Shoes Good For Walking?

Can I Wear Tennis Shoes On A Hike?

Wearing pair of tennis shoes can be an option for some hikes, depending on the terrain and difficulty. It is important to assess the path you’ll be taking before deciding to wear tennis shoes instead of hiking boots.

The main difference between tennis shoes and hiking boots is that they provide different levels of ankle support.

While tennis shoes often look like your standard gym shoe, they are not designed for the rugged terrain of a mountain or trail. This can lead to instability, especially on rocky or slippery surfaces that require more traction and support.

Hiking boots typically have a thicker sole which offers more cushion, as well as higher ankle support for rough trails.

Tennis shoes may be suitable for less strenuous hikes on flat terrains, such as a walk in the park or light jogging.

However, if you are planning to go on a more challenging and strenuous hike with steep inclines, rocky pathways, and muddy puddles; then it is advised that you choose the proper hiking boots instead of opting for tennis shoes.

When deciding between tennis shoes and hiking boots, you should consider the trail conditions, weather conditions, your level of physical fitness, and the type of terrain.

Are Tennis Shoes Good for Hiking

Let’s take a closer look at how each type of footwear can make an impact on your outdoor adventure.

What Is The Difference Between Tennis Shoes And Hiking Shoes?

Here are the differences between them:

Hiking Boots

Hiking boots are designed with a thicker sole and more support to provide stability when walking on uneven terrain. They come in low, mid, and high-cut versions which provide foot protection from the elements, such as mud or water.

With extra ankle support, they help reduce the risk of sprains and other injuries that can occur on the trail.

Tennis Shoes

Tennis shoes are designed for comfort and flexibility, but they’re not as durable or supportive as hiking boots.

They typically have a thinner sole with less support than hiking boots, which can make them more uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time. They also don’t offer as much protection from the elements and are more prone to wear and tear.

This makes them less suitable for rocky or uneven trails, since they may not provide enough stability.

Are Tennis Shoes Good for Hiking

Pros & Cons Of Tennis Shoes For Hiking

The pros & cons of using tennis shoes for hiking include:


  • Comfort: Tennis shoes are lightweight and offer more cushioning than other types of outdoor footwear. They also provide a good degree of flexibility, making them a great option for those who don’t want to be weighed down by heavy boots.
  • Cost: Tennis shoes can often be purchased for a fraction of the cost of hiking boots.
  • Versatility: Tennis shoes can be used for a variety of activities, including running and light hiking.


  • Durability: While they may provide initial comfort, they don’t usually hold up as well over time. Tennis shoes are designed to be used on flat, even surfaces, which means they don’t provide the same level of stability and traction that hiking boots do when out on the trail. This lack of durability can lead to a more uncomfortable hike with sore feet and blisters.
  • Protection: Tennis shoes also don’t provide the same level of protection as hiking boots do. They don’t offer the same ankle stability and won’t help protect against rocks, sticks, thorns, and other debris that may be on the trail.

Are Tennis Shoes Good for Hiking

Alternatives To Tennis Shoes for Hiking

Here are some alternatives to tennis shoes for hiking:

Hiking BootsGood for day hikes or lightweight backpacking, lighter than boots, usually less ankle support, and suitable for easier trails.
Hiking ShoesHiking-specific brands are available, breathable, comfortable, less protective, preferred in hot conditions or easy trails.
Trail RunnersLightweight, breathable, preferred by long-distance hikers, excellent tread, not as much ankle support or durability.
Approach ShoesMix between a hiking shoe and rock climbing shoe, great for rocky, rugged terrain, excellent grip.
Mountaineering BootsDesigned for tough terrains and cold conditions, extremely durable, has excellent traction, and can be used with crampons.
Water ShoesDesigned for hikes involving water, dry quickly, good traction on slippery rocks.
SandalsHiking-specific brands are available, breathable, comfortable, less protective, and preferred in hot conditions or easy trails.

Check out These 9 Top Climbing Shoes For Wide Feet In 2023

Watch the video below for a comparison between trail runners and hiking boots

Why Are Hiking Boots Better Than Tennis Shoes?

I have explained the features of both shoes, their differences, pros & cons, and alternatives to using tennis shoes for hiking.

You must be thinking by now that why exactly are hiking boots better than tennis shoes or athletic/sports shoes?

Well, the answer is simple! Hiking boots are specifically designed for hiking activities and provide much better performance than tennis shoes or athletic/sports shoes on various trails and terrains.

Hiking boots have support and cushioning that help to reduce fatigue, which makes your hike more enjoyable. They also provide added ankle stability and help prevent rolled ankles, which is especially important if you are hiking over uneven or rocky terrain.

The soles of hiking boots also have a greater grip and traction than those of tennis shoes or athletic/sports shoes. This makes them ideal for slippery surfaces, like wet leaves and rocks.

Hiking boots also provide more protection from the elements, like water and dirt. They are made with waterproof material so your feet will not get wet even when walking in puddles or shallow streams.

Are Tennis Shoes Good for Hiking

Factors To Consider When Looking For The Best Hiking Boots

Now that you know all the detailed comparisons between both pairs of shoes/boots. So now you are deciding to buy hiking in the future or you are just curious about what to look for in the boots whenever you decide to purchase.

Here are a few factors to consider when looking for the best hiking boots:

  1. Comfort: It’s important that the boot fits your foot properly and is comfortable to wear. A tight fit can cause blisters and hot spots, while a too-loose fit may not provide enough support for your feet.
  2. Durability: You don’t want to be replacing your hiking boots every few months, so make sure you buy something that is well-made and built to last. Look for quality materials, like leather or synthetic uppers, and double or triple stitching in the soles.
  3. Weight: The lighter the boot the less energy you use when walking or hiking. This can help you save energy and make your outdoor adventure more enjoyable.
  4. Waterproofing: If you’re going to be walking through wet terrain, waterproofing is key. Look for boots with Gore-Tex liners which provide excellent waterproof protection while still allowing breathability to keep your feet dry and comfortable.

Convert your Shoe Size to US, UK, and EURO using this handy free tool

Best Models Of Affordable Hiking Boots In 2023

For your first purchase how about you look for budget hiking boots so you can test the waters on how they perform?

Here are some of the best models you can buy in 2023:

  1. Merrell Moab 2 Waterproof Hiking Boot – This boot is designed for comfort and protection on light hikes. It has a waterproof membrane to keep your feet dry, an EVA foam midsole for cushioning, and a Vibram TC5+ rubber outsole for traction.
  2. Columbia Newton Ridge Plus Waterproof Hiking Boot – This waterproof boot is designed for longer, more rugged hikes. It features a Techlite midsole for cushioning and support, an Omni-Grip rubber outsole for grip, and a waterproof membrane to keep your feet dry in wet weather conditions.
  3. Adidas Terrex Swift R2 GTX Hiking Shoe – This lightweight shoe is designed for fast hikes and adventure runs. It has a breathable GORE-TEX upper to keep your feet dry, an EVA midsole for cushioning, and a Traxion rubber outsole for traction on slippery surfaces.

Are Tennis Shoes Good for Hiking


To sum up, Are tennis shoes good for hiking? Yes, they can be.

It depends on the type of hike you’re taking, the terrain and conditions you’ll face, and your personal preference in terms of comfort and performance.

If you’re planning a short day hike on easy terrain with minimal strain then tennis shoes may be suitable footwear.

For more technical hikes or multi-day treks, we recommend wearing a pair of sturdy hiking boots.

They provide more support and protection for your feet, so you can tackle the trails with confidence.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which type of footwear is right for your next outdoor adventure!


Should I Wear Hiking Boots or Tennis Shoes?

It mostly depends on the trail’s complexity. Hiking boots are often recommended for rough and rugged trails, whereas tennis shoes can suffice for smoother, well-maintained paths.

What Kind of Shoes Should You Wear for Hiking?

For hiking, it’s advisable to wear shoes specifically designed for the activity.
Hiking shoes are generally durable, provide good support, have excellent traction, and are often water-resistant.

What Should You Not Wear During a Hike?

Avoid wearing cotton clothing as it retains moisture, which could make you feel colder.
Also, it’s not advisable to wear new hiking boots without breaking them first, to prevent blisters.

Is It Necessary to Wear Hiking Shoes?

While not always necessary, wearing hiking shoes can enhance comfort and safety during hikes.
They offer better traction, and ankle support, and are designed to withstand varying weather and terrain conditions.

What Is the Difference Between Hiking and Sports Shoes?

Hiking shoes are specifically designed for outdoor terrains, with stronger soles and better ankle support.
On the other hand, sports shoes are designed for comfort and performance in specific sports activities, which may not be suitable for hiking.

Should Hiking Shoes Be Light or Heavy?

The weight of hiking shoes depends on your preference and hiking conditions.
Light pair of hiking shoes offer more comfort and are ideal for day hikes. Heavier boots provide more support and durability, suitable for longer, more challenging hikes.

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