The Very Important Differences Between Hiking Boots and Snowshoes

The Very Important Differences Between Hiking Boots and Snowshoes

The Very Important Differences Between Hiking Boots and Snowshoes


With all this talk about snowshoes, you might be wondering “Why on Earth can’t I just wear my hiking boots in the snow?!” After all, many hiking boots are designed for winter terrain anyway. And, they are ultimately more comfortable to walk in compared to snowshoes – just one of the many differences between hiking boots and snowshoes.

Along with that, people already spend a lot of money making sure they have a good pair of hiking boots to take them through the seasons. So, why would a person who is already accustomed to their decent snow boots want to spend a penny more on snowshoes?

Well, we’re glad you asked. Overall, there are very important differences between hiking boots and snowshoes. But, before you throw those hiking boots in the garbage or change your mind about snowshoeing, read on! You just may need them both!

hiking boots and snowshoes

Hiking Boots Have Traction, But Not Much More

Hiking boots are great for, well, hiking. While they do make boots that are seasonal, no matter what, boots are still essentially meant for trail walking. And, even in the winter, these trails are usually paved clear of most heavy snow. Hiking boots are good to keep you balanced on ice or muddy pathways. They help you go from point A to point B in CERTAIN areas. But, that’s about it.

That being said, hiking boots are still very important when it comes to the art of snowshoeing. When you use snowshoes, the only way to really use them to their fullest potential is by accompanying them with a good pair of hiking boots. Otherwise, the snowshoes really won’t do much for you. Of course, hiking boots are also good to have because they give you options. Like, you can use crampons instead of snowshoes in certain conditions.

But, if you ultimately plan on getting snowshoes, the type of hiking boots you have is very important. Plus, most snowshoes and crampons are made to cater to hiking boots. For example, some crampons are made with what’s called a “leaf spring.” This is a metal bar that goes under the middle part of the foot.

hiking boots and snowshoes

Snowshoes Have One Job, and They Do It Well

There are a lot of different types of outdoor gear people can use while on the trail. While some types of gear are really unnecessary, others are really important when it comes to doing a specific task. Snowshoes are an example of this kind of gear. Their one job is to allow you to walk on snow by distributing your weight evenly, so you don’t sink in. That’s something a hiking boot just can’t do.  Of course, with a good pair of snowshoes, you can do A LOT. You’re able to take on all kinds of terrain, as features like heel lifts give you the ability to mountaineer without putting too much strain on your legs.

At The End of the Day, You’ll Need Both!

Hiking boots and snowshoes go hand in hand. When it comes to heavy snow, you can’t use your snowshoes unless you have a decent pair of hiking boots to wear inside them. And, you can’t really take on winter terrain without a pair of snowshoes. It’s better to, therefore, look for hiking boots which are waterproof, stiff (this actually allows for more flexible hiking), warm insulation, and a secure fit. And, similarly, a pair of snowshoes that can accommodate your foot and the type of hiking boots you wear. (You don’t want your heels to keep slipping out of the backs of your shoes while you’re snowshoeing!)

Hiking boots can do a lot, there’s no doubt about that. But, if you really want to take your winter expedition into the snowy backcountry, then you’ll NEED snowshoes, too. Don’t feel bad, though. Your hiking boots, which were probably expensive, will still be very much needed. Especially, if you want to make the most of your snowshoeing experience!

So, next time you go shopping for your winter hiking trek, there’s no harm buying both your hiking boots and snowshoes together!

hanalarock I'm Hana- a freelance travel writer and teacher who currently lives in South Korea. I'm originally from New York, but have spent the last two years traveling and living abroad. My first time hiking in the US was when I traveled around the country as a teenager. Though, my first adult backpacking trip was a year ago, when I hiked from Thailand down to Singapore for a month. I'm looking forward to many more adventures in the future. Visit my site for more information.