Can You Hike in Converse? (How We Do It)

Did your friends ask you to join them on their hike - but you don't have any shoes other than your old Converse? Will it work? That's what we're about to find out!

Technically, yes. You can hike in Converse though they are not the best-suited shoes, especially in late winter conditions or anything more demanding than park paths.

People hike in Walmart running shoes, sandals, and even minimalist toe shoes. As such, you can hike with almost anything, including Converse shoes. However, if support, traction, and foot protection are essential for you, Converse shoes are not the best option.

Converse are not designed for hiking since they have poor ankle support, and when wet, they become very slippery to keep your feet from wandering around within your shoe. In addition, they are not waterproof at all. That may cause you blisters and a less-pleasant hiking experience.

Why are Converse not ideal for hiking?

Hiking in Converse is quite uncomfortable since the shoes contain little to no cushion. Besides, they have a flat and soft base, so you will feel every rock through the bottom when walking on stony trails.

I actually went on a longer walk in the mountains in Greece a few years ago in my Vans. The sole is a lot like the Converse and it was TERRIBLE. My feet was extremely sore afterwards.

The top is a layer of canvas, so the shoe has nearly no structure. That means your ankles and feet have to do all the work to stabilize. The shoe lacks anatomical shape, so it can result in blisters when you walk many miles.

The canvas top is not waterproof, so your feet will get wet when you get to a damp area.

Besides, the shoes tend to take a long time to dry compared to hiking shoes or trail running. Canvas is made of cotton, so the shoes don’t handle water well.

What Converse models are most suitable for hiking?

If, for some reason, you want to use a pair of Converse shoes for your hiking adventures, then consider getting the Chuck Tailor Utility All-Terrain High Top.

They have more thread and structure than the standard Converse. Although not waterproof, the leather top is more water-resistant than the canvas versions. However, they are a bit expensive, which negates why most people look to hike in Converse.

A few tips for hiking in your Converse

If you still want to hike in your Converse, here are a few tips to follow:

  • Try having a moderate walk in Converse beforehand to get a feel of what they can do on a hike
  • Ensure you are comfortable wearing these shoes, and if not, try other shoes you have, such as running sneakers
  • Ensure your shoes are cut in and wear high-quality and comfortable socks
  • Make sure your shoes don’t get wet since they may become slippery
  • To help protect your feet, use a canvas protection spray to extend the Canvas
  • Take some minutes to air out your feet, whether they are wet at the end of the day or a bit wrinkled after all day in your shoes
  • Wear after-market arch supports such as Superfeet to help minimize foot fatigue

Trails to avoid when wearing Converse

Anything beyond a crushed stone path becomes uncomfortable when wearing Converse shoes. You can feel sharp stones and roots through the bottom of the shoes. 

If you are young or nothing bothers you, you may go some levels rougher, but you will still have traction problems when it gets wet. That said, you will be just okay on half-day hikes on super smooth terrains.

What are other brands recommended for hiking?

If you are looking for light and affordable shoes for hiking, here are some trail running shoe brands to look for.

Salomon X Ultra 3

Image credits: Outdoor Guru

The Salomon X Ultra 3 is the top hiking shoe combining a feathery feel with cool on-trail performance. The shoe is competitively light, the tread design provides impressive grip in almost all conditions, and the cushioned interior and stable chassis are excellent for long trail days.

Gore-Tex is waterproof fabric. The shoe fabric only absorbs a small amount of moisture and is relatively adaptable to short walks and longer hikes with a small backpack.

Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator

Image credits: Hike Much

Although these shoes might not be ideal for long-distance or ultra-rugged hiking, Merrell’s flagship Moab 2 has a lot to offer. Merrell has been a popular hiking shoe for years due to its lightweight but planted feel, comfortable fit, and affordable price.

Merrell updated the Moab some years ago, including a more durable top and a stronger cushioning in the footbed heel, but the model greatly remains the same. The moan 2 is the best choice for day hikers sticking to long trails.

On muddy and rocky trails, the traction and stability fall short of a performance shoe which is one of the drawbacks of this brand. And despite a lighter weight, the shoe feels a bit cumbersome and slow compared to some lighter models. However, Moab 2 is a fantastic shoe and is highly recommended for day hikes and lightweight backpacking.

Hoka One One Speedgoat 4

Image credits: Feed The Habit

Although it was originally a brand for marathoners, that has changed dramatically over the last few years, and Hoka One One is now a top pick for hikers. With a lightweight build and dense cushioning, the Hoka Speedgoat 4 is the most comfortable shoe you will ever find. The sole is surprisingly grippy, and the shoe offers an excellent trail performance.

Final thoughts

Generally, hiking in Converse does not seem like the best idea and might be dangerous when the shoes get wet. However, if you already have Converse shoes and wondering whether it is safe to start hiking in them, you may do so provided the hike is not too long or difficult.

However, if your hike would be more than ten miles, you should avoid wearing Converse and instead look for a decent hiking option. Converse does not have the qualities to be an excellent hiking boot, but they are still strong regular sneakers.

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Jakob Staudal

I love to spend time outside and reconnect with nature every now and then and cut-off all the noise from social media and everyday life.