All Different Types of Hiking Shoes

A complete guide with all the different types of hiking shoes that you can find in the current market. It also includes a detailed explanation of the features of each type.

So, keep reading to learn more on this topic.

Without a doubt, hiking is one of the best experiences in life. It’s also a complete exercise that connects you with nature. Breathing fresh air and feeling the different textures of the ground on your feet compares to nothing. The beautiful landscapes around you also make hiking something magical.

However, to enjoy hiking to the fullest, you also need the appropriate gear. That includes a durable and sturdy pair of shoes. Hiking shoes have some features that you won’t find in any other kind of shoe. They keep your feet protected while you move through abrasive and slippery surfaces.

Hiking shoes are available in different types. Each one more appropriate for certain terrain conditions. In this guide you’ll learn what are the different types of hiking shoes and their features. In this way, you can choose the more perfect ones for your next outdoor adventure.

What are Hiking Shoes?

Hiking shoes are suitable for walking on irregular surfaces. Hiking shoes are suitable for all kinds of outdoor activities, like fishing and hunting. However, they’re not the best shoe for climbing due to the high stiffness of their outsoles.

Usually, hiking shoes have leather uppers to guarantee maximum protection for your feet. Leather is highly resistant to piercing, which is very common when you move through sharp rocks. In addition, they have deep and complex friction patterns that guarantee higher stability on slippery surfaces.

During hiking, your feet are also exposed to moisture. Moving through puddles and rivers could leave your shoes saturated with water. However, the leather uppers of hiking shoes also help keep your feet dry all the time. In addition, the ventilation holes in the leather also help to speed up evaporation.

Different Types of Hiking Shoes

Certainly, you can find a huge variety of different hiking shoes on the current market. Each kind of shoe can guarantee high performance on different terrain types. Below, you’ll find a list with all the different types of hiking shoes and a brief explanation of their features.

Barefoot Hiking Shoes

Barefoot hiking shoes have thin and flexible outsoles to improve mobility and sensitivity. These shoes are like foot gloves, with individual compartments for each toe. The outsoles have no arch support, which makes them suitable for neutral feet. For that reason, they aren’t the best option for people with flat feet.

Minimalist hiking shoes are similar to barefoot shoes. However, in this case, the outsole is slightly thicker to ensure maximum protection. They have a zero drop, which means that the heel and toes are at the same level.

Hiking Sandals

Hiking sandals are perfect for walking in areas exposed to high humidity and intense heat. In this case, the foot in direct contact with external agents, so you have to be careful while you walk. However, they’re very comfortable and guarantee maximum breathability.

You can use them to cross rivers, because they don’t absorb water and they dry very quickly. In addition, they have thick soles to absorb high impact and protect your feet.

Trail Running Shoes

Trail running shoes are lighter than regular hiking shoes. They help you move faster and prevent tired feet when you’re carrying high loads. That’s why they’re perfect for backpacking.

In this case, the upper is made of mesh, which considerably reduces weight and improves breathability. However, this design also makes them prone to tears. So, they have a short service life. Trail shoes also have a complex friction pattern to improve grip on all kinds of surfaces.

Hiking Shoes

Hiking shoes are at the midpoint between trail running shoes and hiking boots. They’re a bit heavier than trail running shoes, due to their thicker outsoles. Their design makes them more resistant to abrasive surfaces.

They also have leather uppers to keep your feet dry and protected from pointy objects.

Hiking Boots

Hiking boots provide additional heel support and have reinforced tips to protect your toes. The midsole is soft for cushioning high impacts and preventing tired feet. In this case, feet are protected from ankle to toes.

Hiking shoes are perfect for walking on rocky terrain. The friction pattern is deep, so the small rocks are retained in the grooves and don’t exert pressure on the sole of the foot.

Backpack Boots

Backpack boots are quite similar to hiking boots, however the ankle collar is higher in this case. They’re more secure, because the leather upper is thicker. However, this also makes them heavier. So, they can leave you with tired feet after long hours of walking. In addition, they may be less breathable than the rest of hiking footwear.


As you can see, there are so many different types of hiking shoes. Some are designed to improve foot sensitivity and others to guarantee maximum protection. Before choosing the best type of shoe for you, also consider the characteristics of the terrain.

Also consider your available budget. Usually, the safest footwear, like backpack boots are also the most expensive. So, you’ll have to invest some serious money on shoes if you’re hiking on abrasive and rocky terrain.

James Smith

James Smith, along with an army of foot soldiers, personally tries and reviews some of the most revered products and brand in almost every imaginable category of footwear.

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