Given the immense diversity of British Columbia’s natural landscape, it’s not surprising that we’re often asked about what equipment people will need for setting out on an adventure. Whether you’re running trails, climbing cliff faces, snowshoeing, or taking a leisurely stroll in the woods, it’s important to be carrying the right kit to ensure that you’re comfortable, and more importantly, safe. However, new hiking gear can be costly, so it’s important to do your research to ensure that what you buy is a good match for how you intend to explore nature.
Join us as we look at whether running shoes are suitable for hiking in British Columbia, and offer further tips on having the right apparel that will help you get the most from our wild, magical province.
While you’re here, why not explore our range of expertly guided hikes, our All About the Waterfalls tour takes in some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the region and is suitable for hikers of all levels.
Quick Tips for Knowing if Running Shoes Are Okay for Hiking
To not waste your time, here are our quick tips to determine if running shoes can be used for hiking on your upcoming adventure. Consider these and then grab the right footwear for your hike!
- The soles of running shoes are not as robust as those on hiking boots. If the terrain you’ll be hiking is rocky or more arduous, grab the boots not the shoes.
- Ankle and knee support is vital for more challenging hikes. If the trail is uneven or steep, take the boots to support your joints more.
- How wet is the trail? Will you be crossing creeks or traipsing through muddy, wet ground after it rained? If so, boots offer better waterproofing, which will protect your feet from blisters.
- Is your hiking trail mostly flat and highly accessible? If the trail is an easy one, then go ahead and wear the running shoes for convenience and comfort.
- Are you brand new to hiking? Are you unsure if you’ll do lots of treks? There’s no need to invest in expensive hiking boots if you actually don’t plan to do much hiking. For those new to outdoor adventures, stick to easier, busier trails in your running shoes at first. Once you decide you’re ready for more, invest in good boots.
If you’re still looking for more insights into choosing running shoes for hiking, read on!
First, Know the Terrain
The first and most important piece of advice we give when asked about suitable hiking shoes is, know your terrain! British Columbia possesses trail routes suitable for those wishing to improve their fitness with a moderate walk outdoors.
BC is also home to landscapes that cannot be explored safely without adequate training and knowledge. Weather conditions can vary dramatically from BC’s western coastal regions to its more mountainous zones as you head inland.
When planning your hike, source as much information as you can on the routes you’ll be following, paying closest attention to local government advice, or that offered through official park communications.
There are certainly many areas within the province where hikers will likely find that running shoes are not adequate to keep their feet dry and comfortable, and dedicated hiking boots will be an absolute must. However, if you are visiting an area popular with runners, where good pathways are maintained, a pair of high-quality running shoes may be sufficient.
If you own running shoes designed mostly for road running, limit your hiking options to moderate, high-traffic routes. You’ll find countless options of this type across British Columbia, each offering incredible scenery.
Some of our favourites for your consideration include:
- Deer Lake Trail near Burnaby
- Wild Pacific Trail’s lighthouse walk, near Ucluelet
- Stoney Hill Trail Loop in Stoney Hill Regional Park
- Cheakamus Guided Lake Hike
Your Choice of Shoes is Important
Long gone are the days in which your local sports store would stock a couple of basic pairs of running shoes from big-name brands. The technology and research that goes into the running shoe of the 21st century mean that the shoes you select are of ever-greater importance, and each year more exciting manufacturers are bringing their passion and expertise to the market.
From marathon runners to competitive trail runners, people understand that the shoes they select are going to have a significant impact on their comfort, their ability to complete the challenge before them, and even their long-term health.
Picking a shoe built for the kind of hiking you’re doing adds immeasurably to your overall enjoyment. We suggest exploring trail running shoes with the staff at your nearest running store. Buying a pair of shoes designed primarily for road running would restrict your hiking options, limiting you almost exclusively to pathed routes.
With trail running shoes, you get a hybrid combining the hardiness and grip associated with traditional hiking boots, and the lightness and comfort of a running shoe.
With the recent growth of ultra and trail running as sports, you’ll find an extensive range of trail running shoes available. The staff at your nearest running store will be able to suggest a shoe appropriate for your specific needs, so we do suggest taking the time to pay them a visit.
Some of our favourite brands worth considering include:
- Saucony: a reliable option with years of experience in the field, their latest trail shoes will be sure to offer both grip, comfort, and lightness
- Hoka One One: among the leading lights of the trail running world and are an excellent choice for those who want maximum cushioning underfoot
- La Sportiva: in recent years, they’ve released a series of shoes versatile enough to be tested across a variety of terrains—a fine pick for those exploring diverse landscapes.
Remember Your Journey is Unique
British Columbia is home to a varied landscape. It’s a wild place filled with wonders and its territories change significantly with the switching of the seasons. Many adventurous spirits spend their lives exploring the riches that British Columbia has to offer and it is worth remembering that no two individuals will experience the land in the same way.
When buying equipment for walks, runs, and hikes, be sure to look for items suitable for your needs, specifically. Whether it’s running shoes or a waterproof jacket, seek information and advice that relates to the kind of hiking routes that inspire you.
At what point in the year will you have the most time for hiking? Which areas of British Columbia are you likely to explore most? Do you prefer green spaces near urban centres, or do you crave the wilderness?
Of particular importance is the weather you’re likely to experience when out on your hikes. If you’re discovering the parks around Vancouver during the summer months, a pair of running shoes and a minimum of essential items will be all that’s needed to set out and delight in your surroundings.
If you’re embarking on a hike in a national park during the autumn or winter, then specialist boots and clothing will certainly be needed. This brings us to our last point.
Don’t Forget the Essentials
Picking the right footwear for your journey into nature is important, but it’s one part of a wider story. No matter how versatile your boots may be, you can still run into trouble while hiking if you haven’t packed your essential kit.
Ensure you are dressing in suitable attire. Remember that weather conditions can change suddenly, especially with changes in elevation and time of day. Dress for comfort when embarking on your journey, but be sure to have clothes packed for extra warmth; or, if out in the height of summer, leave space in your backpack for shedding layers should the heat become stifling.
Always select a backpack that has ample space and offers pockets, so you know where your essentials are and have them to hand. Even a seemingly moderate hike can involve expending a great deal of energy, so be sure to have a good supply of water and energy-dense foods (protein-rich bars and sugary gels can offer a lot of energy without taking up space).
Along similar lines, you will want to have on you at all times a basic first aid kit and navigation tools. You are unlikely to require such items, but you don’t want to be left without them in the case of an emergency.
With a little pre-planning and a bag packed with your essentials, you will have peace of mind, allowing you to stay focused on enjoying the majestic beauty of British Columbia’s natural environments.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our feature on the use of running shoes in British Columbia. Before you go, take a look at our range of Summer Hiking Days Trips or check out our BC Winter Snowshoe Hikes instead. We offer tours that cater to adventurers at all levels! Should you have any questions for us, please do not hesitate to get in touch.