Can Hiking Shoes Be Used In Gym? A Comprehensive Analysis/ Featured Image

Can Hiking Shoes Be Used In Gym? A Comprehensive Analysis

Key Takeaways

  • Hiking shoes, designed for outdoor use, can be worn for gym workouts under certain conditions due to their excellent grip, superior ankle support, and cushioning.
  • However, hiking shoes are not ideal for all gym activities due to their heavier weight, thicker soles, and reduced breathability. They can hinder certain exercises and potentially damage indoor surfaces.
  • Some gym exercises, such as incline walking, stair climbing, loaded carries, and low-intensity strength training can be effectively performed in hiking shoes.
  • Conversely, avoid workouts like running, plyometrics, agility drills, heavy weightlifting, group fitness classes, and indoor sports when wearing hiking shoes due to their stiffness and inflexibility.
  • Choosing hiking shoes for the gym depends on your workout type. Factors like weight, flexibility, arch support, breathability, and grip are important considerations.
  • Alternatives to hiking shoes include cross-training shoes, running shoes, weightlifting shoes, flat-soled shoes, indoor cycling shoes, and minimalist shoes, depending on the specific gym activities.
  • Hiking shoes’ suitability for gym workouts depends on the exercise type. They offer good support and stability for some activities but may be unsuitable for high-intensity workouts requiring more agility.

Are you tired of switching between your hiking shoes and gym shoes? Do you ever wonder if it’s possible to use your durable, all-terrain hiking footwear for indoor workouts as well?

The good news is that with the right approach, you can certainly wear your hiking shoes to the gym.

In fact, they may even provide some benefits over traditional gym shoes! But before lacing up those boots and hitting your local fitness center, let’s dive into a comprehensive analysis of whether or not hiking shoes can be used in the gym.

Related Post: Why are Running shoes bad for Lifting

What are Hiking Shoes?

Hiking shoes are a type of footwear designed for outdoor activities, such as hiking and trekking.

They offer support, protection, and traction on uneven or rocky terrain. Hiking shoes usually have thick soles made of durable rubber to withstand rough surfaces.

The upper part of the shoe is often made with breathable materials like mesh or synthetic leather that help keep your feet cool and dry during long hikes.

Many hiking shoes also come equipped with waterproof membranes that protect against moisture from rain, snow, or streams.

One key feature of hiking shoes is ankle support; they typically have higher uppers to prevent twisting injuries while maintaining stability on challenging trails.

Additionally, some models include cushioning technologies in the midsole section to reduce impact force when walking downhill.

Hiking shoes provide excellent durability and functionality for outdoor adventures while keeping you comfortable throughout the journey.

But can these attributes translate into benefits when using them at the gym? Let’s find out more!

hiking shoes

What are Gym shoes?

Gym shoes, also known as athletic shoes or sneakers, are designed specifically for indoor exercise activities.

These shoes offer support and comfort during physical training by providing cushioning to absorb shock and prevent injuries.

Gym shoes come in a variety of designs to cater to different types of workouts such as running, weightlifting, and cross-training.

Running shoes have a flexible sole that allows for natural foot movement while lifting shoes have a flat sole with minimal cushioning to provide maximum stability during heavy lifts.

When choosing gym shoes, it’s essential to consider the type of workout you will be doing.

For example, if you’re planning on doing high-intensity interval training (HIIT), then cross-training or running shoes would be suitable since they offer flexibility and support.

Investing in good quality gym shoes is crucial for anyone who takes their fitness seriously.

Proper footwear can help reduce the risk of injury while enhancing your overall performance during workouts.

gym shoes

What Are The Benefits Of Using Hiking Shoes In The Gym?

Hiking shoes are designed to provide comfort and support during long hikes on rough terrain. However, they can also be used in the gym for certain workouts.

In fact, there are several benefits of using hiking shoes in the gym.

Benefits Explanation
Excellent grip and tractionHiking shoes are designed for stability and balance, allowing for better performance in exercises like squats and deadlifts.
Superior ankle supportBenefits of Hiking Shoes
Extra cushioningThis feature reduces the impact shock when landing from jumps or running, preventing injuries and enhancing overall comfort during high-intensity workouts.
Versatility for indoor and outdoor activitiesHigh-quality hiking shoes can be used both in the gym and for outdoor activities such as trail running or rock climbing without requiring separate footwear.
Comfortable and supportive footwear for workoutThe combination of grip, ankle support, and cushioning make hiking shoes a great option for comfortable and supportive footwear during workout routines.

What Are The Disadvantages Of Wearing Hiking Shoes In The Gym?

While there are some benefits of wearing hiking shoes to the gym, there are also some potential drawbacks.

Heavier than traditional gym shoesThe added weight can make exercises like running and jumping more difficult and put unnecessary strain on your joints.
Thicker sole with lots of tractionWhile useful for outdoor hikes, the thick sole can reduce stability during gym exercises like squats or deadlifts by making it harder to maintain proper form.
Lack of breathabilityHiking shoes might not offer enough breathability during gym exercise, potentially causing your feet to become hot, sweaty, and even leading to blisters.
Potential for damage to indoor workout spacesThe rugged and durable nature of hiking shoes, beneficial for trails, may not translate well to indoor spaces where they could damage floors or gym equipment.

What Workouts To Do When Wearing Hiking Shoes In The Gym?

When wearing hiking shoes in the gym, there are certain workouts that you can perform with ease.

  1. Incline Walking on a Treadmill: If you’re trying to simulate hiking conditions, walking on an incline treadmill can be beneficial. Make sure you walk at a moderate pace and avoid running, as hiking shoes are not designed for high-impact activities like running.
  2. Stair Climbing: Using the stair climber machine can help to simulate uphill hiking and can be effective in breaking in new hiking boots and conditioning your legs for a hike.
  3. Loaded Carries: If you’re training for a hiking trip, practicing carrying a weighted backpack can be beneficial. Wearing hiking shoes while doing loaded carries can provide you with a more realistic sense of what it will be like on the trail.
  4. Low-Intensity Strength Training: Basic weightlifting or using weight machines at a low intensity can be okay if you’re wearing hiking shoes. However, it’s important to avoid exercises that require a large range of motion in the ankle, such as deep squats.
  5. Balance Exercises: Hiking often involves navigating uneven terrain, so practicing balance exercises while wearing hiking shoes can help prepare you for the trails.
  6. Step-Ups and Lunges: These can simulate the motion of climbing uphill and can be done at a moderate pace. However, be cautious as the stiffness of hiking shoes can affect the range of motion in these exercises.

What Workouts Not To Do When Wearing Hiking Shoes In The Gym?

While Hiking shoes can be a great alternative to gym shoes, there are some workouts that you should avoid doing in them.

  1. Running on a Treadmill: Hiking shoes usually have a stiff sole and are not designed for the kind of repetitive, high-impact movement that running entails. This could lead to discomfort and increase the risk of injury.
  2. Plyometric Exercises: Activities like box jumps, burpees, and other plyometric exercises require a lot of agility and a shoe that can absorb impact. Hiking shoes are not flexible or cushioned enough for these high-intensity movements.
  3. Agility Drills: Exercises that require quick lateral movements such as agility ladders, side shuffles, or cone drills are not suitable for hiking shoes due to their lack of flexibility and agility.
  4. Weightlifting: While hiking shoes may provide a stable base, they generally have a raised heel which is not ideal for weightlifting, especially during exercises like squats and deadlifts. Flat-soled shoes or specialized weightlifting shoes are more appropriate.
  5. Group Fitness Classes: Most group fitness classes like Zumba, HIIT, or aerobics involve a lot of jumping, dancing, or quick movements. Hiking shoes are too heavy and inflexible for these kinds of workouts.
  6. Stretching and Yoga: The stiffness of hiking shoes makes them unsuitable for stretching exercises, yoga, or Pilates, where flexibility and the ability to feel the ground are important.
  7. Cycling/Spinning: Cycling or spinning requires a shoe that fits closely with the pedal, and hiking shoes are too bulky and stiff for this kind of exercise. Indoor cycling shoes or athletic shoes with a more fitted sole are better choices.
  8. Rowing: The stiffness and bulkiness of hiking shoes can make it difficult to properly secure your feet in the foot straps of a rowing machine, which can affect your rowing technique.
  9. Basketball or Indoor Sports: Playing basketball or other indoor sports require shoes with good ankle support, flexibility, and grip on the court, which hiking shoes do not provide.
  10. Martial Arts or Boxing: These activities require a range of foot movements, and the rigidity of hiking shoes can hinder your performance and footwork.

How To Choose Hiking Shoes For The Gym

Choosing the right hiking shoes for the gym can be a daunting task. However, with these tips, you’ll find it easier to make an informed decision.

Consider the type of workout you’ll be doing.

For cardio-based exercises such as running on a treadmill or using cardio equipment even though it’s not recommended, if you really need to then go for lightweight and flexible hiking shoes that provide good traction.

Pay attention to your foot arch. If you have high arches or flat feet, select hiking shoes with adequate support for your specific needs.

Ensure proper fit by trying on different sizes and styles of hiking shoes in-store before making a purchase. Make sure there’s enough space between your toes and the end of the shoe while ensuring a snug fit around your heel.

Fourthly, opt for breathable materials like mesh or Gore-Tex to keep your feet cool during intense workouts.

Choose hiking shoes with durable soles that provide excellent grip on various surfaces commonly found in gyms like rubber mats or wooden floors.

Check out this list of hiking shoes for gym and hiking

How To Use Hiking Shoes In The Gym?

Using hiking shoes in the gym can provide a unique workout experience, but there are specific ways to use them effectively. 

First, it’s essential to ensure that your hiking shoes have adequate grip and support for indoor surfaces like mats or weightlifting platforms.

When using hiking shoes for cardio exercises such as running on a treadmill or elliptical, make sure to tie them tightly. 

Hiking shoelaces tend to be longer than traditional gym shoes, so tucking them away or tying them securely is crucial to avoid tripping hazards.

For weightlifting exercises such as squats and deadlifts, make sure the sole of your hiking shoe is firm enough to provide stability. 

It’s also essential not to wear high-top hiking boots when lifting weights since they can restrict ankle mobility.

It’s important not to overuse your hiking shoes exclusively at the gym since this can cause wear and tear quicker than outdoor use. 

Alternating between different pairs of footwear can help prolong their lifespan while providing variety in your workouts.

hiking shoes in the gym

Alternatives To Hiking Shoes For The Gym

While hiking shoes can be a great option for the gym, they may not be suitable for everyone. If you’re looking for alternatives to hiking shoes, there are a few options to consider.

  1. Cross-Training Shoes: These are versatile shoes designed for various forms of exercise. They offer a good balance between cushioning, support, and flexibility, making them suitable for weight training, aerobics, or general gym workouts.
  2. Running Shoes: If your gym routine primarily includes running on a treadmill, then running shoes would be ideal. They are designed to be lightweight and provide cushioning to absorb the impact while running.
  3. Weightlifting Shoes: If you are focusing on weightlifting, you may want to consider weightlifting shoes. These shoes typically have a raised heel and provide stability, which can be beneficial for exercises like squats, deadlifts, and other lifts.
  4. Flat-soled Shoes: For lifting weights and stability exercises, some people prefer flat-soled shoes like Converse All-Stars. The flat sole allows for better ground contact and stability during heavy lifts.
  5. Indoor Cycling Shoes: If you’re doing spinning or indoor cycling, you may want to invest in a pair of indoor cycling shoes. They usually have a stiff sole for better power transfer and can be clipped into the pedals.
  6. Barefoot or Minimalist Shoes: These shoes simulate being barefoot and are good for those who prefer a natural foot movement. They are lightweight and have minimal cushioning, making them good for balance and stability exercises.
  7. Basketball Shoes: If your gym routine involves playing basketball or other sports that require quick lateral movements, basketball shoes are a good option. They usually have ankle support and are designed for traction and agility on indoor courts.
  8. Yoga Socks or Dance Shoes: For classes like yoga, Pilates, or dance, specialized socks or shoes with grips on the bottom can be used to prevent slipping.
  9. Boxing Shoes: If you are into boxing or kickboxing workouts, boxing shoes offer a good grip and ankle support which are essential for these types of exercises.
  10. Training Sandals or Slides: If you are using the gym mainly for swimming or showering, training sandals or slides are a great option to protect your feet from the wet floor and possible contaminants.


In conclusion, Can Hiking Shoes Be Used In Gym? Yes, but it depends on the type of workout you plan to do. Hiking shoes offer excellent support and stability for some exercises such as weightlifting and cross-training.

However, they may not be suitable for high-intensity workouts that require a lot of lateral movement or jumping.

It’s important to choose the right pair of hiking shoes with a sturdy sole and good grip if you plan to use them in the gym.

If you’re looking for an alternative to hiking shoes, there are many options available such as running shoes or cross-training sneakers that are specifically designed for gym workouts.

Whether you choose to wear hiking shoes or other types of sports footwear in the gym is up to personal preference and what works best for your individual needs.

Just remember that proper footwear can make all the difference when it comes to achieving your fitness goals safely and efficiently.


Can I use trail shoes for the gym?

Yes, you can use trail shoes in the gym. However, trail shoes are primarily designed for outdoor terrain and may not provide the same level of support and flexibility as dedicated gym shoes, especially for activities like weightlifting or high-intensity workouts.

Can you wear hiking shoes on a treadmill?

Wearing hiking shoes on a treadmill is possible, but not ideal.
Hiking shoes are designed for traction on rugged surfaces and might not offer the cushioning needed for the repetitive motion of running on a treadmill. It’s better to wear running shoes for optimal comfort and performance.

Can hiking shoes be used for jogging?

Hiking shoes can be used for light jogging, especially on trails or uneven surfaces.
However, they are heavier and less flexible compared to running shoes. For regular or long-distance jogging, it’s advisable to use running shoes for better comfort and to avoid injuries.

Is it OK to wear hiking shoes for walking?

Yes, it is OK to wear hiking shoes for walking, especially if you are walking on uneven or rocky terrain.
Hiking shoes provide excellent support and traction. For walking in urban environments or on flat surfaces, though, walking or casual shoes might be more comfortable.

What shoes can I wear on a treadmill?

On a treadmill, it’s best to wear running shoes. Running shoes are designed to provide cushioning, support, and flexibility which are essential for the repetitive motion of running on a treadmill. They help in reducing the impact on joints and assist in maintaining proper form.

Are hiking shoes better than sport shoes?

The choice between hiking shoes and sports shoes depends on the activity. Hiking shoes are better for trekking and walking on rugged terrain due to their support and traction.
Sports shoes are more versatile and are typically lighter and more flexible, making them suitable for a range of athletic activities.

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