Are Converse Good for Running or Hiking? An In-Depth Look

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Converse are some of the most popular sneakers on the market. They look great and come in a wide range of colors and designs. If you only wear Converse, you might wonder if you can use them for things like running or hiking.

The short answer is no. While they were initially designed as basketball shoes, they’re not built to handle the wear and tear of the road or trail. We recommend keeping them for style and fashion and not for running.

Let’s take a more in-depth look at these much-loved shoes and why they’re not good for running in. We’ll also cover what you CAN do with Converse, aside from looking good!

The Legacy of Converse Shoes

Converse shoes date back to 1917 when they introduced the Non-Skid All Star, their first basketball shoe. It was later renamed the Chuck Taylor All Stars after pro basketball player Chuck Taylor. Thanks to its style, it stood out and became one of the most popular basketball shoes in the world.

Over time, Converse shoes have become much more than just basketball shoes. Today, they’re a cultural icon and a symbol of style. You won’t find them on basketball courts any more – instead, you’ll see them on the streets, and almost every fashion-conscious youngster has at least one pair in their wardrobe.

Chuck Taylor’s Influence

In 1932, Converse’s popularity skyrocketed when they signed Chuck Taylor as a salesman and spokesperson.

Taylor was a well-known semi-pro basketball player who, based on his own on-court experience, suggested improvements to Converse’s shoe. The company incorporated his design ideas and, to honor the player, re-christened the shoe the Chuck Taylor All Star.

Aside from being a basketball player, Chuck Taylor was also a salesman. Once his basketball career was over, he traveled the country hosting basketball clinics, promoting Converse in shoe stores, and giving talks.

The Rise of Converse All Stars

In the 1950s, Converse shoes became associated with counterculture. Rebels, artists, hippies, and rock ‘n rollers could be seen wearing the shoes, and they gained a new fan base and took off as a cultural phenomenon.

Since then, they’ve continued to be a firm favorite amongst all kinds of people. Their simple, timeless design goes with anything, and there’s no sign of Converse diminishing in popularity!

Can You Run in Converse?

Technically, yes, but you definitely shouldn’t. Not only will the shoes wear out very quickly, but your feet won’t be supported. You’ll be much more prone to injury, aches, and pains and need to replace your Converse much sooner than expected.

Why Converse Aren’t Ideal for Running

Converse were designed for the smooth, even surface of the basketball court. Here’s why you shouldn’t wear them on the road or trail.

Cushioning

Or lack thereof! Converse All Stars have a thin sole and an even thinner insole with no support. There’s no cushioning to absorb shock as you land, so your joints and tissues will take on all that force, making pain and injuries much more likely.

Arch Support

There’s hardly any arch support at all in Converse—in fact, they’re some of the flattest shoes you’ll find. For some, this might not be a problem, but most runners need some kind of support under the arch, even if it’s mild.

It’s also worth noting that Converse are very compact. There’s not a lot of volume inside the shoe, and they also tend to run narrow. It’s not likely you’ll be able to fit a robust insole into the shoes to provide support and cushioning.

Outsole and Traction

The outsole on Converse All Stars is designed to provide traction on a basketball court. It’s flat and smooth, presenting a few problems if you want to use them for running or hiking.

One is that you’ll get very little traction on the road or trail. The absence of lugs means you’ll be unstable on rough terrain like trails, and they can be slippery on dirt, rocks, or mud.

Two, they’re not durable. The road or trail will eat through the rubber underneath the shoe, wearing them out extra fast.

Risk of Injury

The combination of no cushioning, no arch support, and no external support from the upper means your feet won’t be well-protected against the impact of running.

On unforgiving surfaces like the road or sidewalk, you’ll be susceptible to injuries like shin splints, metatarsalgia, and tendonitis as your feet and legs take a high force of impact on every step.

The lack of strong support on the trails means you’ll be more prone to twisting an ankle or slipping on loose ground. Wherever you’re running, Converse aren’t the best to prevent injury.

Converse Shoes in the Great Outdoors

What about wearing your beloved Converse for hiking? They’re comfortable, but can they withstand the great outdoors?

Are Converse Shoes Suitable for Hiking?

Although hiking isn’t as high-impact as trail running, Converse still aren’t designed to be taken offroad. The hiking trail can damage your shoes and hurt your feet and legs, so we recommend choosing a proper pair of hiking shoes or opting for trail running shoes.

Drawbacks of Converse on the Trail

While you may be tempted to wear your Converse on a hike, here’s why you should leave them at home instead.

Traction

While you’re not likely to be going fast when hiking, Converse shoes don’t have grippy lugs underneath. Even when walking slowly, this lack of traction can wreak havoc on loose ground, slippery rocks, or mud.

You’ll be at a disadvantage because you won’t have stability on the hiking trail, and you also won’t have a strong enough grip to push off powerfully.

Ankle Support

Buy any pair of hiking shoes and you’ll notice that they have robust support around the ankle that makes it almost impossible to twist your ankle.

While All Stars are high-top in design, they don’t provide strong ankle support. The uneven ground of hiking trails makes it easier to turn an ankle if you take a wrong step, so Converse aren’t as supportive as hiking shoes should be.

Protection

Hiking shoes often have tough overlays, a toe bumper, a rock plate, and thicker-than-usual mesh on the upper to protect against things like thorns, branches, and sharp rocks.

Converse lack these protective elements. The upper and sole are thin, so if you step onto or kick something sharp, you risk damaging your shoe and feet.

Materials of the Upper – Waterproofing

Hiking shoes are often made to be water-resistant or waterproof, so you can go anywhere with confidence! Converse, though, are a lot less resistant to the elements.

The canvas material that All Stars’ uppers are made from soaks up water, so if you step into a puddle or get rained on, your shoes will get heavy and uncomfortable.

They’ll also keep your feet wet for the rest of your hike, making you more likely to develop blisters due to chafing or a bacterial or fungal infection. Plus, it takes ages to dry, so even if your feet come out unscathed, your Converse may never be the same again.

Growing Popularity of Converse in Weightlifting

Although they’re not great for running or hiking, Converse shoes are a popular option for weightlifting. If you want to get more out of your All Stars, you may be able to use them in the gym.

Are Converse Good for Lifting?

Converse shoes can be a good option for those new to weightlifting. If you’re aiming to lift competitively or train professionally, then you’ll eventually need to upgrade to a pair of dedicated lifting shoes.

It’s also important to note that every weightlifter is different! For some, Converse may be their favorite type of shoe to lift in, but for others, they might find that Converse are uncomfortable or too flimsy.

If you want to try them out, then go for it! Just lift carefully and wait a few weeks before you decide if they’re a good weightlifting option for you.

Why Converse Is Popular With Weightlifters

You may see CrossFit athletes wearing Converse, and the world squat record was also set in a pair of Converse! Here’s why they’re loved amongst weightlifters.

Flat Sole

Most weightlifting shoes have flat soles, which provide a stable base for heavy lifting. You won’t find knobbly lugs on the sole—just a smooth, non-slip rubber perfect for helping you plant yourself firmly on the ground and staying there during heavy lifts.

Stability

Converse are zero-drop shoes, so your heel and forefoot are at the same height off the ground, providing excellent lift stability. The lack of uneven cushioning in Converse shoes adds stability to your lifts as there’s nowhere for your foot to move.

Comfort

Converse shoes are lightweight, comfortable, and flexible. You can move with ease and not be restricted, which can be a plus for some lifters, especially on movements that involve a lot of ankle movements like squats and deadlifts.

Durability

Converse are durable if they’re not out on the road or trail! You can expect them to last on a gym floor, making them a decent choice for gym shoes. Stylish and long-lasting!

Affordability

Converse shoes aren’t at the bottom of the range price-wise, but they’re affordable. Compared to some shoes designed specifically for weightlifting, they’re a good option for lifters on a budget.

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AUTHOR

Ben is an avid road and trail runner, and has completed multiple marathons and ultras. A former running store owner, he now shares his knowledge and experience writing these articles.