Why Are Hiking Boots Heavier Than Sneakers and Running Shoes?

Most people wear hiking boots for casual wear. Some people wear their sneakers or running shoes for a hike. The difference is subtle to notice. But there are good reasons behind heavy hiking footwear.

Hiking boots are heavier because they are designed to protect you from uneven terrain and to last longer. You may not find ankle support or toe protection in your regular sneakers or running shoes. And hiking shoes also have room for the toe to wiggle.

What you experience in an expedition to a mountain or a forest differs from what you usually encounter on a walking pavement or a running track. You’d find rocks, roots, mud, slippery rock moss, thorns, and many more hazards. Besides, medical assistance may not be readily available if you’re injured on a hike.

You must avoid injuries at all costs during a hike. And hikers choose to sacrifice a bit of weight to get more protection.

Which part of the design makes a hiking boot heavier?

Firstly the upper of your hiking boot. If your hiking boot is made of full-grain leather, it’s often heavier. Though hefty, many hikers prefer them for good reasons. You may need them for extended trips because they are durable. You may also favor full-grain leather for its weather resistance and protection from abrasion.

Check out the Vasque Men’s St. Elias Fg GTX on Amazon. It’s a full-grain leather outer hiking boot. Its excellent waterproof and durability have attracted great satisfaction among hikers.

But a better option is split-grain leather. Split-grain leathers have a nylon mesh to allow breathability and reduce weight. Also, little less expensive than full-grain leather.

Hiking boots made of synthetic materials are usually lightweight. Yet, they aren’t durable or weather resistant. Though they are cheaper, you might want to change them frequently.

The other significantly heavy part is the midsole. Midsoles of hiking boots are usually stiffer than typical sneakers and running shoes. They are made to provide better ground control, ankle support, and shock absorption.

Midsoles made of EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) are lightweight but less expensive and more compressible than Polyurethane. But Polyurethane boots are firmer and more durable.

Our most beloved hiking shoes in Amazon all have an EVA foam midsole. Checkout

Besides the midsole and upper, a hiking boot differs drastically from running shoes and sneakers. Each element adds some weight to the boot. But the added weight protects you and helps you have a safe and comfortable hike.

For instance, choosing a wide-toe box hiking boot has more room in the toe area. This allows your toes to move freely and prevent twisted toes and nails. The extra space also provides for swelling if your feet become wet and cold.

You may also choose hiking shoes a size bigger to adjust for natural foot swelling during extended hikes.

What are the impacts of hiking with a heavier boot?

It’s not surprising to say that you must reduce weight in every possible way. The idea of a heavier boot may seem counterintuitive.

The heavier and stiffer hiking boot may cause inconvenience during a walk. They are usually not suitable for an extended hike out of the box. The break-in time for heavier leather shoes is significantly longer than for lightweight synthetic ones.

You may get little blisters or bruises when you wear a pair of heavy walking shoes for extended hikes. Thus before going on an extended hike, you must wear your hiking boots for a day or two to break them in.

How to break in a hiking boot?

It isn’t hard to break in the leather of a new hiking boot before a long trip. Wear them and have a casual walk to the town. And then you may want to take them on a few short hikes.

Hiking boots expert Dave Page suggests once you notice the outers of a boot turned smoother, you may use a leather conditioner. Leather conditioners don’t just break in new leather but soften it. If your old leather boots are starting to look dried out and cracked, good conditioning can help restore it.

You can also find conditioners to restore waterproofing. Most conditioners will darken the color of your leather hiking boots, so don’t put a lot on them if you want to maintain the original color.


Overall, heavier hiking boots may be a bit cumbersome to wear at first. But they are designed to provide excellent protection and comfort to keep you safe and comfortable on your hike. By taking the time to break them in before your trip, you can enjoy the added benefits of a hiking boot without the added weight.

Thanks for reading, friend. Let me know your thoughts in the comments section.

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