Lightweight hiking boots and trail running shoes share many features. Both make use of supportive, lightweight materials and they feature similar low-cut designs. Because of this, many hikers purchase runners to wear on light day hikes, or choose especially light boots for trail running. Both pairings have advantages and drawbacks.
Hiking Versus Running Footwear
Trail running and hiking may follow the same terrain, but they require some specific footwear designs. Hiking is slow and methodical, and sometimes involves carrying a load even on a short day hike. Lightweight hiking boots, though not so bulky as their heavy counterparts, still retain extra material around the ankle, as well as significant cushion and support at the footbed.
Running shoes are made for light and fast travel. They sacrifice support in lieu of featherweight designs and focus more on pronation---extension of the foot---than on cushioning. However, heavier, more supportive running shoes are often used for training, and these versions sometimes appear similar to light hiking boots.
Running Shoes for Hiking
Hikers generally choose running shoes because of weight reduction, which can be significant even on trainers. Many people also find they prefer the added attention to pronation that running shoes offer, as well as their cool and sweat-managing materials. Some running shoes also offer aggressive tread designs which are better suited to slick rock than standard hikers. Running shoes do, however, sacrifice ankle support, making injury more likely, as well as material durability and water-resistance.
Hiking Boots for Running
Competitive running requires ultralight footwear, but training is generally done with heavier, more supportive shoes that protect against injury. Using light hiking boots for running training offers superior ankle support and joint-protection cushion. They also tend to use more durable, weather-resistant materials. The drawbacks, however, lie in their weight, as well as passive tread designs and limited foot mobility. Hiking boots are unusable in a competitive running environment.