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Are Hiking Boots Necessary? | 10 Main Reasons

Often people wonder if they need to wear hiking boots when on a hike. These usually feel they could probably wear other footwear while hiking, like trail runners or walking shoes, and all would be fine.

Regardless, deciding what to wear hiking depends on different factors and things. If you plan on hiking for the first time and you’re wondering if you should wear hiking boots or not, then you should read this article.

Hiking is different from regular walks, and sometimes, you can’t tell what to expect on a trail. Also, you can’t tell what the weather or hiking terrain has in store for you. Would you rather risk not wearing hiking boots and have a frustrating experience or wear them?

First, you should know that what you wear on a hike matters, including footwear, and you need to decide if hiking boots are necessary. Should you wear hiking boots or not? This article will discuss why hiking boots are necessary for hiking then you can decide if you should wear them.

Let’s get started.

Are Hiking Boots Necessary?

If you’re wearing them for an actual hike, then yes, hiking boots can be necessary depending on certain factors. Many people have been talking about whether you need hiking boots at all or maybe hiking shoes are ‘okay’ enough for hiking.

There’s no dispute as to whether you can’t wear other footwear for hiking, because you can. However, they may not be the best footwear to wear for something risky (somewhat) like hiking.

Manufacturers design hiking boots with hikes in mind so you can have the best hiking experience. So, why are they necessary?

The following reasons are why you should wear hiking boots:

1. Terrain

man wearing coyote hiking boot standing on rocky terrain

One primary reason hiking boots are necessary for hiking is because they are suitable for different terrains. If you’ve never hiked before, you should know that hiking terrains differ from the usual flat surface you’re used to.

They can be more complicated than asphalt, cement, and sand. One day, you could be hiking on rocky terrains, downhill, uphill, ice and snow, or muddy trails.

You shouldn’t wear regular walking shoes or hiking footwear on these terrains if you want the best experience. Moreover, hiking boots have structures that can withstand these hiking trails.

First, hiking boots have tractions due to their grooved rubber outsoles and ensure stability and solid grip on any of these terrains.

The grooves range from tiny, semi-grooved, inclined or deep shapes in an attempt to provide proper friction and traction when contacting different types of ground.

For that reason, you can hike on different trails without bothering about slipping or falling.

Additionally, the high collar construction partially eliminates chances of getting sand, stone, dirt or mud touching your feet.

2. Environment

You could be hiking in a forest with tall trees or wet underbrushes, or a vast landscape, and you would still be able to wear your hiking boots.

You can also wear hiking boots in an extremely cold or hot environment and your feet won’t sweat much due to the heat because they possess breathable lining.

Also, their insulation ensures that your feet stay warm when hiking in a cold environment.

Otherwise, you could wear your hiking boots in a ‘non-hiking environment’ as well, and it’ll still be all good on you.

3. Weather

wearing light colored hiking boots with jeans in snow season

You shouldn’t debate wearing hiking boots if you’re going to hike during winter or the rainy season. Why? Hiking boots ensure to keep warm feet when hiking.

Winter hiking boots have insulation that sends off warmness around your feet. Plus, they often have materials that are breathable enough to allow proper airflow around your feet.

Another thing is that waterproof hiking boots can protect your feet from getting wet with DWR coating or full-grain leather high collar that almost non-trail runners or sneakers often possess.

For instance, if it suddenly starts raining when you’re out. If you can’t do much to protect your body from getting soaked, you can at least protect your feet.

For the sake of you, the DWR works hard to keep you on happy feet till you’re home.

4. Comfort

First, hiking boots’ high cut uppers and soles provide ankle support for your stance due to the padded collar, so your feet and legs don’t twist when you’re hiking on rough terrains.

Also, they protect your ankles from blisters when hiking as well.

Besides, many manufacturers focus on bringing up smart, cushion and supportive insoles/midsoles solutions for the wearers. They are pretty helpful in relieving pains and sores from long day hiking trips.

They are also playing a key role in boosting shock absorption when you either jump from a simple peak or run through rocky hills.

Overall, hiking boots ensure that you’re comfortable irrespective of their construction or hiking trail.

5. Durability

wearing durable hiking boots in forest

Do you need hiking footwear that you can wear for a long period? Then, hiking boots are necessary. Hiking boots are more durable than other hiking footwear.

Generally, hiking boots have structures that make them more durable than other footwear. First, their upper materials are durable; however, this depends on the kind of material.

For example, if your hiking boots’ uppers are leather, then they would be more durable than mesh hiking shoes or trail runners. Then, hiking boots have thick rubber outsoles that can survive between 500 to 1,200 miles.

That is, you get to wear them for a long period before they wear off, and you’d need to change them. Then, you can walk with them on rough or plain terrains, and they would still be good to go.

So, you’re better off with a pair of hiking boots that would last a long time than with two walking shoes that would wear off in no time.

6. Protection

Hiking boots have stiff uppers and rigid soles that protect your ankle from spraining.

Then, the hiking boots’ soles protect your feet from slipping and you from falling on hiking trails, due to their sturdiness and firm grip.

Also, the hiking boots’ materials protect your feet from harsh weather conditions. Finally, they ensure that your feet aren’t too hot or cold, making you uncomfortable.

Another thing is the stiff upper and waterproof features don’t let moist or solid objects like dirt, stone, or water encounter your feet easily.

Besides, the toe cap protects your toes from high impacts when you hit your feet against sharp, rocky or tough stuff hidden on the go.

The rubber outsoles ensure you have a solid grip on the trail so you don’t slip and fall. Likewise, hiking boots’ upper provide ankle support so you don’t twist your ankles when hiking.

7. Function

women using pink hiking boots climbing on a mountain

Hiking boots are more functional for several hike adventures when compared to other footwear. Their function is in their names, and manufacturers specifically designed them for the activity.

Plus, when it comes to hiking, you need something that would work for days when you hike in the forest, or when you go mountaineering, and more. Unfortunately, you probably won’t be able to do that if your footwear isn’t a hiking boot.

Generally, hiking boots can function perfectly well in any terrain you wear them on. They function well in protecting your feet and making you comfortable.

Second, hiking is an activity that requires support and stability. If you’re going hiking, you want to ensure that your footwear supports your weight and makes you more stable on different terrains.

As earlier stated, hiking boots are sturdy in structure, but they tend to feel stiff.

Besides, they function well no matter the weather. The boots keep your feet warm when you need them to.

8. Convenience

man wearing hiking boots standing on grass

Hiking boots can be convenient to use, depending on how you see them and use them. Of course, when manufacturers make hiking boots, they would have considered it a convenience.

They are easy to use, and they make you feel comfortable when hiking. However, if you want something that won’t stress you much, you may have to consider another footwear for hiking. Why?

First, hiking boots may not be as convenient for you because they take a long while to break in.

You should know that hiking boots are often stiff, somewhat rigid, and inflexible right out of the box. As a result, they could mess with the ease you want to enjoy when hiking.

You may need to wear them for a long period or try some stretching methods for them to break in. However, if you don’t have the patience or strength to do that, you may not necessarily need them.

Another thing is that maintaining them isn’t so easy. You have to use them properly, store them the right way, or you may say goodbye to them in no time.

However, you really don’t need to be told that you need to maintain your wear so they can last long, but hiking boots can be a bit extra.

If you need something that wouldn’t stress you much, you can get an alternative, especially if you don’t plan hiking on tough terrains.

However, it won’t hurt much if you have a pair of hiking boots available in times of cold weather, rainy season, or what you consider rugged terrains.

9. Look

a woman removes hiking boots and breaks on the rock

Hiking boots do have a “nice” look; however, not all of them look attractive. These days, some people wear hiking boots like they would other shoes to school, work, hang out, and more.

However, when some people try to buy hiking boots, the look of some might be a massive turn-off. Regardless, you will have to consider their functions more than the way they look.

10. Versatility

If you want something versatile for everyday use, hiking boots aren’t totally necessary. Although you can wear hiking boots every day for walking, to your workplace, in your home, and most especially for hiking, they’re not suitable for all.

Of course, hiking boots provide ankle support, protect your feet, provide excellent traction, warmth, and more. However, you may not need all those benefits at all times.

For example, you don’t need them if you want to work out. Why? They will make you feel uncomfortable. This is because you need something flatter, less weighty and not as over-supportive for exercises, so you don’t injure yourself while exercising.

You could walk with them around the block or any other day, but you would rather wear other comfortable shoes when they’re available than wear hiking boots. They are not that versatile, and sometimes, they may not be ‘fashionable’ or ‘stylish’ enough for other purposes.

So, if you’re interested in versatility, then hiking boots aren’t necessary. However, you could get them mainly for hikes since your other shoes probably won’t be suitable for hiking.

TerrainYou can wear hiking boots on different terrains, including plain or rough ones.
EnvironmentHiking boots are suitable for most environments.
WeatherHiking boots are more suitable for hot weather and rainy periods than the cold seasons.
ComfortHiking boots are comfortable, but they can also make you feel uncomfortable due to their weight, stiffness, and structure.
DurabilityHiking boots are more durable than other footwear.
ProtectionHiking boots provide the maximum required protection for your feet when on a hike.
FunctionThey are functional for hiking, and they perform well on different terrains.
ConvenienceThey are not so convenient in terms of price, maintenance, and flexibility.
LookThey look okay, and you can wear some for purposes other than hiking.
VersatilityThey are versatile but not in all cases.


man wearing hiking boots standing on a rock

Are hiking boots necessary? Yes, they are necessary in most cases. Plus, most times, it’s better that you wear hiking boots for a hike than other footwear.

Why? Hiking boots are more suitable for various hiking terrain, and if you are a regular hiker, they are totally necessary for you. You would also discover that they are ideal for most weather conditions, plus highly functional, durable, protective, and comfortable.

And basically, these are the essential things you need your hiking boots to do. However, hiking boots are unnecessary if you don’t plan to hike on different terrains during specific weather conditions and need something more convenient.

In the end, it depends on why you need them.

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