Walking Boots vs Walking Shoes: Which To Wear & When - Grisport Blog
If you are unsure which footwear to buy for your outdoor pursuits, we’ve picked out a few key factors you should consider when deciding ‘should I wear walking boots or walking shoes?’
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Walking Boots vs Walking Shoes: Which To Wear & When

Hiking boots

Walking Boots vs Walking Shoes: Which To Wear & When

We always say that choosing the right footwear for your hiking trip is a personal choice. Some people have even been known to bare all and go barefoot in order to get closer to nature. 

Whilst we don’t recommend the no-shoe-style all of the time, there are times when it pays to have walking boots over walking shoes and vice versa. 

If you are a well seasoned hiker or trail walker, it’s likely you’ll be confident in knowing when to choose one over the other. But if you are unsure which footwear to buy for your outdoor pursuits, we’ve picked out a few key factors you should consider when you are deciding ‘should I wear walking boots or walking shoes?’

  1. Terrain
  2. Weather
  3. Protection
  4. Distance
  5. Urgency
  6. Health Conditions

1. Terrain

You wouldn’t wear flip flops on the ski slopes or high heels on the beach, so the importance of terrain when choosing your walking boots or shoes is paramount. 

Walking boots are a good all rounder for the majority of hiking terrains. They work well on uneven surfaces due to their grip, the protection they offer is necessary for rockier terrains, and if you are crossing muddy and boggy marshlands then the deep tread on hiking boots are best suited for these conditions.

Walking shoes on the other hand are lighter and more comfortable to walk for lengthy distances on a flatter and more even ground. Not only that, but they also make light work of bouldering and climbing due to being less restrictive around the ankle than walking boots.

So, if you are going off the beaten track, choose walking boots. If you are sticking to more established pathways and trails, walking shoes would be a better choice.

2. Weather

The weather, while isn’t always guaranteed to stick to the forecast, should be considered when choosing your walking footwear. 

Walking boots are more durable and offer more waterproof protection than walking shoes. You’ll be thankful for the insulation that walking boots offer in the colder months. 

Also, if there has been a recent downpour before your walk, there are high chances that the ground will be muddy and therefore boots will do a better job of preventing any falls in the slippy conditions. This would be the last thing you want on your hiking trip – pun intended! 

Walking shoes, on the other hand, can provide higher levels of comfort in the warmer weather when your feet are likely to get hot when out walking. The lighter shoes will allow your feet to stay cooler as there is less material around your ankle, and therefore allow your feet to breathe. 

Tip: Pack some waterproof gaiters in your backpack for any unexpected wet lands or showers while out in your walking shoes.

 3. Protection

It goes without saying that if you are wearing your hiking boots for the purpose of going on  off-trail adventures, you’ll want your feet to be protected from scratches and bangs from the unavoidable branches and rocks you will encounter. 

Equally, it’s important to give your ankles the support they need when climbing uphill for long periods of time, which is aided by the higher ankle covering of walking boots. 

The thicker ankle covering of walking boots also helps prevent twists or sprains from occurring so boots may be a good option if you have uneven footing on your trail. 

That’s not to say that walking shoes aren’t a good option for protection. Walking shoes can offer great protection if you get a good all rounder such as the Dartmoor Walking Shoe.

4. Distance

Walking boots are great for walking long distances uphill and across uneven terrains, although they are noticeably heavier than walking shoes. If you are walking for long distances and you don’t need the extra support and protection of walking boots, you’ll likely want to choose walking shoes due to them being more lightweight and comfortable over longer distances.

5. Urgency

You’ve agreed to join along to a last minute hike.  Only to realise you don’t have suitable footwear to participate in. Don’t panic, walking shoes could be the answer. 

While you should always try to break in your walking boots or walking shoes before going on any hikes, typically walking shoes take less time to break in. 

If you are wondering ‘can I hike in running shoes or trainers?’, again this is a personal preference. Consider the terrain you will be covering. Trainers offer less protection, and have a shallow tread meaning the grip will not be up to the same level as walking boots or shoes. However, for low intensity trails on well established paths this isn’t too much of an issue.

Whichever option you choose, lace them up tightly. Loose fitting footwear causes blisters, especially if they are not properly broken in. Your shoes should fit snugly and be laced tightly to prevent sliding around in your shoes. 

Tip: wearing thick socks will also help to prevent blisters!

6. Health Conditions

Have you got bad joints in your knees or weak ankles? You might not take these into consideration when choosing your footwear, but it can really make an impact on your body on your hiking trips. 

If you have bad knee joints, the lightweight nature of walking shoes will allow your knees to move more freely without the added weight of boots.

Equally, if you have weak ankles you will have more support from walking boots as they will prevent extra strain on your ankles, especially when climbing or hiking over long periods of time.


What are the best walking boots? 











What are the best walking shoes?









Should I buy walking boots or walking shoes?

Our advice would be to buy both if you are able to. This allows you to have the correct footwear for whatever outdoor walking activities you have planned. You’ll be able to alternate these and therefore making each of them last a longer period of time. Whatever you choose, Grisport will have you covered.

If you require any further information about any of Grisport’s products, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the helpful Grisport team on 01670713344 or by email at cs@grisport.co.uk.


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