Low-cut day hiking shoes take the flexible soles of trail runners and beef them up for the rigors of the trail. They give you more stability than trail runners and also protect your feet a bit more too.
Day hiking shoes are best for: Hiking on groomed trails, hikers with day packs, and hikers who don’t need ankle support or lots of stability.
- Lightweight and flexible with no break-in time needed (especially compared to hiking and backpacking boots)
- Come in many different fabric types for more breathability or waterproofness
- More durable than trail running shoes
- Not much ankle support
- Less durable and less stable than hiking and backpacking boots
Boots for day hiking come in mid- and high-cut styles that offer more ankle support for rugged trails or carrying heavy loads.
Day hiking boots are best for: Technical trails, long-distance hiking, hikers carrying heavy day packs, and hikers who need more ankle support and stability.
- Lots of ankle support thanks to mid- or high-cut cuffs
- Increased stability (and lack of flex)
- Durable soles and uppers
- Most day hiking boots are quite water resistant
- Heavier than hiking or trail running shoes
- Much less flexible than hiking shoes so you may need a break-in period
- Most day hiking boots aren’t very breathable