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Hiking shoes vs. trail runners

I'm having a hard time deciding on what kind of shoe I want to bring.  I'm going on a NP tour next month - we're going to Zion, Death Valley, Great Basin, Grand Canyon, and then flying to Washington and going to Olympic and Mount Rainier.  I'm already bringing a pair of boots (Merrell Moab 2 Mid WP) but I'm not sure if I bring hiking shoes or trail runners.  I'm tossed between the Oboz Sawtooth II WP and the Altra Lone Peak 5's.  What would be more suitable or comfortable during these hikes?  I should mention that we're day hiking only.

15 Replies

Neither would let you down. I've hiked in both and liked both. My present favorite is the Lone Peak, however. My feet have gotten accustomed to the roomier toe-box and don't want to go back.

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I have the Lone Peaks and for me, they required no break in time. I opted for no water proof because when they inevitably get wet, I feel like the water proofing takes longer to dry out once wet. I have done some running in them, and it’s been fine. I’ve also done some day hiking in them and I’m not sure I’d pack more than 40-50# in them. They start getting squishy and loose. Those are my thoughts. I hope you all are well. 


It really depends on what you are used to hiking in now.  Ideally whatever that is, is what you should bring since debuting new shoes on the trail generally doesn't go well. 

That said, for the mild to hot conditions in Utah and Arizona, trail runners would almost certainly be my first choice.  However the distinction between trail runners and hiking shoes is beginning to blur these days.  If you like a stiffer sole then hiking shoes will be better but they may be a bit more tiring as a result.   On your particular choices if you are new to Altra Lone Peaks,  the zero drop can take some getting used to for some.  I put a pair of Keen K-10 utility inserts in my 4.0s to give them a bit more internal shape.  I find them a bit squishy

For Olympic and Mount Rainier the Merrell Moab 2 Mid WP will probably be good for day hikes there...again assuming you are used to hiking in them.

My experience is trail runners are more comfortable at first but wear down faster. Hiking Shoes work great once they are worn in. Based on you only having one month before this trip I would go with the trail runners because you have less risk of blisters. Personally I use boots because I like the ankle support. 

Either way I bring this tape along and put it anywhere on my feet where a blister begins to form.


I own both the Altra Lone Peak 5’s and the Lone Peak Hiker’s and love them both. If I were to pick one of the 2 it would be the Lone Peak Hiker’s, the best way to describe them is hiking slippers that have good grip as well. They are also lightweight and very breathable and of course super comfy and supportive. I know that the Lone Peak 5’s are very popular, but I was amazed at how well the Hiker’s felt. Same exact shoe but with more ankle support (mid cut). I also have flat feet that are fairly wide so they might not be the right shoe for everyone. But they are for me. Hope this helps, and happy shoe hunting!

I personally have never worn hiking shoes, but I swear by trail runners. I’m currently on a hiking trip in Colorado and wearing Merrill Trail Glove 5s; my feet have been comfortable every day even with the extra heat. 


I purchased Lone Peaks while in Moab this year and wore them to about 8 National Parks during the rest of the trip.  Loved them!  My feet never got sore even though my legs did  🙂  The wider toe box was great.


I'm a big fan of the Brooks Cascadia as my day hiking shoe. Long time, top rated trail runner works great on rugged trails. I've worn the Cascadia on and off for years, in state and national parks, from version 5 and still have a pair of 13's the PCT model.  REI has the 15's now. Have fun!


If you know you will be in my rugged and rocky areas, maybe hiking shoes. But if it not, trail running shoes are fine, and much lighter. I have the lone peak 5 as trail runners, but never leisurely hike in them, I am sure they're fine for that.