Trail Running vs Hiking

Trail Running vs. Hiking

Estimated read time: 5 minutes.

When it comes to spending time in nature, there are endless possibilities for activities. For many people, hiking and trail running are two of the most popular options. Both activities have their unique benefits and drawbacks. So, which one is right for you? Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of each activity to help you decide. 

The Pros

  • Trail running is a great workout because it is high-intensity interval training. This means that you alternate between periods of intense effort and active recovery. This type of workout is very effective for improving your overall fitness level. 
  • Hiking is a great way to relax and de-stress. Unlike running, hiking is a low-impact activity that does not put a lot of stress on your joints and muscles. This makes it a great option for people who are looking for a relaxing activity to do outdoors. 
  • Both trail running and hiking can be done solo or with a group. If you enjoy being around other people, there are many opportunities to join group hikes or runs. However, if you prefer to spend time by yourself, both activities can also be done alone.

The Cons

  • Trail running can be dangerous if you are not careful. Because you are moving quickly, it is easy to trip and fall. This can lead to serious injuries, especially if you are running in an area with cliffs or other hazards. 
  • Hiking can be slow and tedious if you are not used to it. If you are looking for a workout, hiking may not be the best option because it can take several hours to complete even a short hike. 
  • Both activities require some level of preparation before you head out. For example, you need to make sure that you have the proper clothing and footwear for the conditions. You also need to ensure that you have enough food and water, so you do not get dehydrated or hungry while out on the trail.

Can You Use The Same Gear For Trail Running And Hiking? 

Hiking and trail running both require various sorts of equipment.

Shoes

Trail running shoes are designed to provide good traction and support on uneven terrain. They also tend to be lighter than hiking shoes, which is important since runners typically cover more ground than hikers. While hiking in trail running shoes is possible, they may not provide enough support or traction on tough terrain. 

Hiking shoes are designed to provide good support and traction on all types of terrain, including rocky and muddy trails. They are also typically more durable than trail running shoes since they need to withstand more wear and tear.

Clothes

When it comes down to it, most athletic clothing is fairly interchangeable. That means that the shorts, shirts, and socks that you wear for running can also be worn for hiking (and vice versa). However, there are a few things to keep in mind when choosing what to wear. 

First, consider the climate that you’ll be hiking in. If it’s going to be hot out, you’ll want clothes that will wick away sweat and help keep you cool. If it’s going to be cold out, you’ll want clothes that will insulate and protect you from the elements. 

Second, consider the terrain that you’ll be hiking on. If you’re going to be doing a lot of scrambling over rocks or brush, you might want to consider long pants or leggings instead of shorts to avoid getting scraped up. 

And last but not least, think about how much gear you’ll need to carry with you. If you’re planning on bringing along a lot of water and snacks (which we highly recommend), you might consider wearing a backpack or carrying a water bottle belt instead of trying to stuff everything into your pockets. 

Accessories   

Finally, let’s talk about accessories. Things like hats, sunglasses, sunscreen, and insect repellent are always important when spending time outdoors—regardless of whether you’re running or hiking. In addition, a few items might be more specific to either activity. 

For example, if you’re planning on doing any serious trail running, you might want to invest in a GPS watch so that you can track your distance and pace; alternatively, if you’re planning on doing any backpacking or trekking (trekking usually last longer than hiking. Usually for at least two days), you might want to invest in some trekking poles for extra support on long hikes with lots of uphill sections.

These poles help take some of the strain off your legs by evenly distributing your weight. They also provide additional stability on rocky or slippery terrain. While some runners use hiking poles, they are generally unnecessary unless you’re running on particularly tough terrain. 

No matter which activity you choose, ensure that you are properly prepared before heading out. This includes dressing for the weather, bringing enough food and water, and knowing your limits. 

Conclusion

So, what’s the verdict? Is trail running better than hiking, or vice versa? Ultimately, the answer comes down to personal preference. Some people prefer the faster pace and shorter duration of a trail run, while others prefer the slower pace and longer duration of a hike. 

Both activities have their own pros and cons, so it’s really up to you to decide which is right for you. Whichever activity you choose, make sure that you are properly prepared before heading out. This includes dressing for the weather, bringing enough food and water, and knowing your limits. 

FAQ

Can I hike in trail running shoes?

Yes, you can hike in trail running shoes, but they might not provide enough support or traction on tough terrain. Hiking shoes are designed to provide good support and traction on all types of terrain, including rocky and muddy trails. 

Can I run in hiking shoes?

Yes, you can run in hiking shoes, but it’s not recommended. They might be heavier and slower than trail running shoes.

What are the differences between trekking poles and hiking poles?

Trekking poles are usually longer and have more features than hiking poles. They also typically cost more. Hiking poles are shorter and simpler, making them a good choice for casual hikers or those on a budget. 

Do I need trekking poles if I’m just going for a day hike?

No, you don’t need trekking poles for a day hike, but they can help take some of the strain off of your legs on long hikes with lots of uphill sections.

What’s the best way to avoid getting lost when hiking or trail running?

The best way to avoid getting lost is to tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be back. It’s also a good idea to bring a GPS, map, and compass. Finally, ensure you have a charged cellphone with you in an emergency.