Trail Shoes vs. Hiking Shoes: Which is Right for You?

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Getting outside and exploring the paths less traveled is both adventurous and energizing. Having the right shoes can make your experience great and memorable. Understanding the difference and mapping out your goals will help you decide which type of shoe is best for you.

Physically active people understand the need for the right gear for the right job. Wearing the wrong shoe on a technical trail can cause shin splints, stress fractures, and sore ankles. When you are deciding between a trail running shoe and a hiking shoe, you need to determine how long you plan to be out there, your pace, and activity. If you are simply planning to go on long walks or hikes through the woods, hiking shoes would be best for that. They come up higher on the foot and keep your ankles secure as you walk across terrain that is not always flat. The higher cut shoe also protects your feet from any vines or low branches that you may be trekking over. The bottoms have a lot of rubber for walking through wet surfaces. The shoe overall is heavy when compared to a traditional running shoe. This is natural and okay for hiking shoes, since you will be walking at a casual pace. The hiking shoe generally has a lot of padding to help cushion your steps and provide protection between your feet and the trail. They tend not try quickly when they get wet. Good wool socks are a must for keeping feet dry.

Trail running shoes are much lighter in weight than hiking shoes and are designed for speed on technical terrain. Running speed is very important for trail runners and they need a lighter weight shoe that can perform on technical and uneven terrain. The shoe does not come up as high as hiking shoe to allow full mobility of the ankle as you run across loose rocks and tree roots. Calf muscles are fully engaged as they are pushing off the trail for greater momentum. Many trail running shoes have rock plates on the bottom to help shield your feet from sharp rocks and roots you run across. The more of a minimalist shoe you wear, the less cushioning you will have to protect your foot. Many trail runners will wear thin socks as well to mimic a sock like fitting shoe. They usually have enough mesh material along the sides of the shoes to drain water quickly. They also have lugs on the bottom for greater traction along mud and loose dirt and gravel.

The benefits of wellness can be experienced on a trail in the great outdoors. A personal sport trainer can help you create a training plan for those that are new to trail running and hiking. Lace up and explore a new trail system today!

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