Tennis Shoes vs Hiking Shoes for Hiking: 3 Reasons You Should Buy the Right Shoe

We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. Thanks for the support! 👍

The more time I spend outside enjoying the outdoors, the more I have realized how truly important having the right gear can change how much you enjoy doing that activity.

You wouldn’t go fly fishing with an ice fishing pole right? You wouldn’t go overnight backpacking with a canvas tent right? Then why would you go hiking in tennis shoes.

Up until this year, I had been hiking solely with tennis shoes. I then upgraded to real hiking shoes, and found that I enjoyed hiking so much more, and found I could hike longer.

So are is hiking with tennis shoes a good idea? Hiking with tennis shoes just isn’t a great idea, instead you should look at buying a set of hiking boots or shoes. Hiking shoes give you more grip, better comfort, and you use less energy than when you hike with tennis shoes. This makes it just not a great idea to hike with tennis shoes.

1. Traction

Much like everything that is made, tennis shoes are built for a very specific task, Tennis… and they are also great for other things like walking, running, and other flat ground activities. However what they aren’t great for, is gripping dirt, and uphill off the beaten path activities.

On the other hand, hiking shoes are built specifically for this task. You may not want to wear them while doing tasks that tennis shoes are great for, however when it comes to hiking, they are perfect.

They have tons of grip on the bottom of the shoe, that makes it a breeze to be able to gain the traction on uphill climbs that tennis shoes just can’t achieve.

This gives you more confidence in every step you take, and means you slide around less.

2. Support

Another great reason why hiking shoes are so important for hiking is support! Hiking is a very different activity than what tennis shoes are built for.

There is a lot more uphill climbing, walking in dirt, on roots, over rocks and more. Hiking shoes have built in support in all of the needed areas to be able to account for all of those different things that you will be doing.

On the other hand, tennis shoes don’t anticipate these things, which can result in more sliding in your shoe, and more of a possibility of rolling your ankle.

3. Comfort

Finally, comfort is a huge part of why I would prefer dedicated hiking shoes over tennis shoes for hiking.

Because you have the support and traction that hiking shoes have over tennis shoes, they are just so much more comfortable for that activity.

Also, something to keep in mind for comfort… tennis shoes have a tendency to allow dirt and rocks inside of the shoes, while hiking shoes don’t have that issue.

You will find you spend a lot less time thinking about every step you take, and making sure you don’t hurt yourself, and more time enjoying the hike through the forest, mountains, or by the stream.

Most hiking shoes (like mine) are built to be able to be walked in for long periods of time over harsh terrain.

Which hiking shoes do I use?

Now you may be asking! What hiking shoes do I personally use, and what shoes switched me over from wearing tennis shoes hiking?

I stumbled upon these Columbia hiking shoes at a store I dropped by for a really great price. Unfortunately it appears they have since been discontinued, however I’m sure you should be able to find something that will work for you by shopping around here.

Side note: You should also check out my review about the socks you see in the below picture as well.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between trail shoes and hiking shoes?

For the most part, trail shoes and hiking shoes are the identical products! That said, when there is a difference, hiking shoes tend to be the heavier, more sturdy choice. While trail shoes give less support, but are considerably lighter weight than the hiking shoe alternative.

Can I wear trail-running shoes for walking?

Trail-Running shoes make a great all-around shoe and can actually be used for your normal day-to-day walking purposes. These trail running shoes are a subsidiary to hiking shoes.

Is ankle support necessary for hiking?

Ankle support is by no means necessary for hiking, however if you are new to hiking, I would highly recommend it! Rolling your ankle due to inexperience can be a bad deal, especially if you are alone on the trails and need to get back to your vehicle.


Tennis shoes just aren’t meant for hiking, like hiking shoes are. Upgrading to have a dedicated set of shoes for hiking, instead of trying to find a one-shoe-fits-all shoe, will help you enjoy hiking so much more.

Having these dedicated shoes will help you hike faster, with a lot more enjoyment, and you will use considerably less energy than you would by using tennis shoes. Using the right tool for the job makes things better, and this is no different when it comes to hiking!