Are Hiking Shoes Really Necessary for a Small Day Hike?

Anyone that is looking for a great way to have fun, while getting some exercise in at the same time, should consider taking a hike on a nearby trail. But before doing so, it’s important to ensure you are prepared with the right gear. A big factor to consider is what type of shoe to wear… be it a pair of specialized hiking shoes, or standard athletic shoes. 

Are Hiking Shoes Really Necessary for a Small Day Hike?

Maybe you’re new to hiking… or the occasional hiker. If so, you are likely wondering if hiking shoes are necessary at this juncture, especially for a small day hike. These hikes are typically less than 5 miles in length, with minimal climbing. So for this type of hike, the answer is typically no.  While hiking shoes can offer you great traction and support, as well as moisture wicking, it is not always necessary for shorter hikes. 9 times out of 10, a typical pair of sneakers will be more than enough to meet your needs. 

Even on a short hike, though, it is important that you have proper support. This means choosing a pair of shoes that are comfortable. When you are hiking, you could take a lot of steps on trails that are not completely flat, so wearing a pair of shoes that you have worn before can help prevent blistering.

While normal shoes are typically fine for a small day hike, you should still make sure that they are in decent condition. This includes ensuring that the soles are supportive, there are no holes or bulges and that the laces are in good shape. Bringing an additional set of laces can also help ensure you are ready for the unexpected. 

When You May Want to Consider Hiking Shoes for a Small Day Hike

While most people will not need to wear specialized shoes for a small day hike, there are factors to take into consideration to argue the opposite.  Situations that may warrant hiking shoes on a short hike include:

When Hiking an Advanced or Technical Trail

When you are wondering if hiking shoes are necessary, you should always consider how advanced the trail is. For most people, and in most situations, standard shoes are more than acceptable. However, if you are going hiking on a technical trail, you should consider shoes that are designed for hiking in your targeted environment. A technical trail is typically defined as one that has uneven land, a lot of rocks and may require even more advanced skills utilizing ropes and other technical hiking equipment. 

The Length of the Trail

As you are looking to take a hike, the length of the trail should also be a consideration. If you are going to be hiking for a short period of time, standard gym shoes and sneakers are normally OK. However, if you are going to be on a hike for multiple days, you should consider getting hiking shoes. These tend to have more durable soles and will provide you with more comfort during a much longer hike. 


Another factor to consider when you are trying to decide on your shoes is the weather. When you are hiking in dry weather on smooth terrain, a standard pair of shoes is normally fine. However, when it starts to rain, you should consider hiking shoes. These shoes are not only going to provide you with more traction, but they also can be waterproof and will help to protect your feet. Even if the weather is dry when you are taking your hike, a storm that occurred a couple of days prior could still have an impact on the trail

Final Thoughts on Whether You Need Hiking Shoes

Going for a hike can be a great way to get some exercise and enjoy the outdoors. When you are going to take a hike, choosing the right pair of shoes is important because the downside to not doing so includes setbacks such as blisters and injury… among the most common.  

In most situations, a standard pair of athletic shoes will be more than sufficient. However, there are times in which getting a pair of hiking shoes will be a good idea. There are many to choose from within all price ranges, some every hybrid a sneaker and hiking shoe.  If you are looking to get started with hiking, you should read more about it here. This article can provide you with the tips and guidance you need to prepare for your next adventure! 

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