Trekking Shoes vs Sports Shoes -- Which To Choose For Your Trek

Trekking Shoes vs Sports Shoes -- Which To Choose For Your Trek

Category Shoes Trek Gear Review Expert Opinion Gear Related Tips

By Swathi Chatrapathy


Are you wondering if you can make do with your sports shoes for your trek? If so, you have found the right article. Here, we will be comparing trekking shoes with sports shoes. And by the end of the article, you’ll know which shoes you need for your trek. 

I will be looking at the Trek 100 series by Quechua (trekking shoes) and running shoes by Kalenji, both from Decathlon. I’m going to be comparing these two shoes to give you an idea of which shoes are fit for which kind of trek. 

If you take a quick glance at these shoes, you can see that the trekking shoes look a lot sturdier. They look heavier and seem able to protect your feet. They’re more durable too. These running shoes look as if they are specifically meant for running and not for very rough usage. But we’ll get into more details about these shoes to understand them better.  

Here’s a quick gist before we dive deeper –


Click on the image to view the Video

➤ Grip

Trekking Shows – Excellent Grip

When it comes to grip, the Trek 100 series has deep grooves on the outside of the sole. These are meant to give you a good grip on different surfaces. When you’re on a trek, you’re likely to be walking on loose mud, loose soil, boulders and even snow or ice. So that is when the grooves come in handy. There is a lot of detailing on the sole as well. This, too, is specifically meant for that grip you need in rough terrains.

Running Shoes – Flat Soles

On the running shoes, on the other hand, the sole exterior does not have very deep grooves – it’s a lot flatter. These are actually meant for flatter terrain where you’re running on tar roads, cement or maybe mud roads. Rough usage is not their cup of tea. So look at the grip of the shoes before buying them – it is very important for your trek.

➤ Ankle Support

Trekking Shoes – Avoids Ankle Twists in Rough Terrains

Trek 100 shoes have very good ankle support. It covers almost the entire ankle, which restrains the ankle’s movement. It does not allow your ankle to twist, even when you’re ascending or descending on uneven terrain. This is extremely important, because a twisted ankle can put an end to your trek!

Running Shoes – Flexible, No Ankle Support

Running shoes, on the other hand, do not have any ankle support. The top-most part of the shoe ends just below your ankles. This is because these shoes are meant to give you more flexibility while running or walking. With this, you have the free ankle movement needed to perform that action.

However, this means that the running shoes are not going to protect your ankles from twists or sprains. 

➤ Sole – Thickness and Hardness

Trekking Shoes – Thick and Hard Enough

If you look at the Trek 100 shoes, you’ll see that the sole is pretty thick. We require this kind of thickness for a long Himalayan trek as it has padding for insulation.

But, also take into consideration how hard the sole is. For your trek, you don’t want shoes which are so hard that, as a result, they are too rigid to move with your feet. You also don’t want the sole to be so soft that it actually collapses with the body and backpack weight it is carrying everyday. 

To check this, you can just take something like a key, tap the sole and listen for the noise. The sound should not be too shallow. As an estimate, if you tap the sole of football studs, a very shallow sound emerges. That is not what we are looking for in trekking shoes. 

Running Shoes – Flexible and Cushioned 

On the other hand, you’ll see that the sole of the running shoes is not as sturdy or thick. However, it is very flexible and cushioned. 

If you listen to the sound by tapping the running shoe soles, you will see that the sound is a lot more diminished. This is because of the extra cushioning.

Since it’s not that hard, it’s not meant to take your body weight, especially if you’re carrying a backpack among other things, for multiple days in a row. In fact, if you trek with running shoes you’ll find the soles becoming a lot flatter in just a period of  two to three days. 

➤ Water Resistance

Trekking Shoes – Keep Feet Dry

Water resistance is extremely important on a Himalayan trek because you could be trekking in rain, snow or even crossing boulders over streams. These Trek 100 shoes have a water resistant coating on top and a waterproof membrane inside.

These will last you many hours while you’re trekking in snow, or in rain, and won’t let your feet get wet or cold. 

Running Shoes – Zero Water Resistance

The running shoes, on the other hand, do not have water resistant coating or any kind of water resistant membrane at all. So in case you step in a puddle or a pothole, they are going to get wet – and that’s not helpful on a trek.

So look out for these four points. They are very important for your trek, especially a long Himalayan trek. 

However, there are certain issues with the trekking shoes we can’t forget. 

➤ Few Things to Keep in Mind about Trekking Shoes.


The trekking shoes are a lot heavier than the running shoes. A shoe from the Trek 100 series, for example, weighs around 500 grams – and that is just one of the pair. Together, they weigh around 1 kg.. Nonetheless, you get used to them after a couple of days’ usage. This weight is needed on a long Himalayan trek, to carry body weight and the weight of the backpack. 

Longer Break-In Period

Trekking shoes have a longer break-in period. It’s not as easy to just slip them on and use them, like it is for running shoes. You can start using running shoes immediately after their purchase. But it is not possible to do a trek with trekking shoes the same day you buy them. You need at least two weeks to break into these shoes. 

Since trekking shoes are a lot sturdier, they take time to conform to the shape of your feet and their movements. So make sure you buy your trekking shoes at least about 2 week before your trek begins.  

➤ When Are Running Shoes a Good Choice?

Other than the above mentioned points, think about what your trek consists of. Is it a one or two day hike with neatly laid out trails without difficult terrain? In that case, your running shoes are good enough. This is especially true for non-Himalayan treks, such as in the Sahyadris or the Eastern ghats.

However, on a long Himalayan trek, you’re likely to be trekking for six, seven days on different kinds of terrains and in different gradients. There, you definitely need a pair of trekking shoes to take care of your feet.

So, make sure you invest accordingly and make the right decision. 

If you need help with anything, just drop in a comment and we will help you out.

Swathi Chatrapathy

Chief Editor

About the author

Swathi Chatrapathy heads the digital content team at Indiahikes. She is also the face behind India's popular trekking video channel, Trek With Swathi. Unknown to many, Swathi also writes a weekly column at Indiahikes which has more than 100,000 followers.

A TEDx speaker and a frequent guest at other events, Swathi is a much sought after resource for her expertise in digital content.

Before joining Indiahikes, Swathi worked as a reporter and sub-editor at a daily newspaper. She holds a Masters's in Digital Journalism and continues to contribute to publications. Trekking, to her, is a sport that liberates the mind more than anything else. Through trekking, Swathi hopes to bring about a profound impact on a person's mind, body and spirit.

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