I have seen plenty of people over the years hiking in crocs and while I am not the biggest fan of the idea, there are times when wearing them for such an occasion is good, but there are also numerous cases when it’s bad.
Overall, there’s a lot of benefits to wearing to crocs (outside of hiking) including their comfort, durability, longevity and pricing, but do these same benefits transfer over when hiking is part of that? Here’s my opinion on that:
Using crocs for hiking can be a good idea when that hike is very short, easy and even involves water like near a beach, but anything beyond that meaning long hikes with scrambles or even moving quickly through a trail, I would strongly recommend getting decent hiking or trail running shoes.
Though I’ll get into the specifics of these situations in a moment, that above sentence can be considered the whole bottom line of this post for your reference and based on other multiple sources I’ve researched that also cover the topic of hiking in crocs, overall it’s pretty much the same opinion across the board.
When hiking in crocs is a good idea (2 cases):
1) Again the hike has to be short and simple:
I’m talking under 1/2 mile and the “trail” if there is any is extremely simple to walk on, there is hardly any elevation gain such and overall there’s little risk of slipping, there’s no scrambling involved. Basically as long as the hike isn’t moderate or difficult, it’s fine to wear them for this occasion.
So for example, if I were driving and saw a nice overlook off the road and it involved a flat walk to reach (grass or dirt is fine), then it would be OK to hike in crocs in this case. Let me give specifics:
- Grass walks.
- Gravel walks.
All of these are fine (as long as they are short) for crocs.
2) There is a water hike involved (and it’s short):
This is honestly where I’ve seen most people hike in crocs. Because you are planning on getting in the water (or at least with your feet), and crocs are simple and comfortable to wear, it makes sense to use them for this.
In short, it’s also a simple hike or walk to the water and there’s no real preparation needed for it. In these cases, it makes sense to wear them too.
When hiking in crocs is a bad idea in my opinion (5 cases):
1) If you’re going on an actual hike:
An actual hike meaning there is a decent elevation gain, it’s several miles long, there’s scrambling involved and overall the level of the hike is moderate or above.
In short, if the trail you’re on is anything but a flat area that’s easy to walk on, I’d recommend you wear hiking or trail running shoes instead of crocs.
2) You trying to avoid bug bites:
While you can certainly hike in crocs with socks on to prevent that, most people (that I’ve seen) do it barefoot and when you are in the hiking world, there’s lots of bugs to worry about on trails. I live in the northeast and one of the biggest worries I have is getting bites from ticks. I usually wear pants, socks and protective hiking shoes when I go out into these areas to help avoid that problem.
Because crocs have holes and your foot is basically exposed in many areas, it makes it easier for bug bites to happen. Obviously there’s also the rest of your body where that can happen, but the feet is where a lot of the bug bites can happen (not to mention snakes).
3) You need more mobility and speed when hiking:
I just find it difficult to imagine that you can trail run or even more very quickly for long distances in crocs. They are comfortable for walks yes, but runs in the mountains? I doubt that would be comfortable. I have read in sources like this that people do wear crocs for hiking serious trails too, but I would say that is an exception and it’s really based on how comfortable you can be while hiking and wearing crocs.
I love to have mobility and freedom when I hike and run in the mountains which is why I personally prefer trail running shoes like the Salomon Speedcross 5 or similar brands.
4) Even for water hikes, I’d prefer other options:
For short, easy to reach areas on hikes where you’re planning to swim, sure you can wear crocs, but even in those situations (or beyond), I’d wear either water shoes like the Zhuanglin water shoes or still put on some trail running or hiking shoes and wear waterproof socks if I’m not planning on getting wet.
5) You’re planning to hike when it’s cold:
Crocs are awesome to wear for warm/hot weather but when you mix in hiking, let alone hiking in the cold then it’s probably not going to be a comfortable experience. When I hike in the cold, I always wear very protective socks to insulate my feet and protective hiking shoes on top of that for comfort.
More questions about hiking in crocs:
Are crocs good for hiking?
Overall I would say that crocs are not ideal for hiking, unless that hike is simple and short.
Is it bad to walk long distances in crocs?
It’s probably better to wear better footwear for long walks but if you can walk in crocs for long distances without getting tired or feeling pain, then it’s fine.
Is it possible to actually find good crocs for hiking?
There are many different types of crocs out there, from cheap ones for a few dollars to even higher end ones, including “all terrain” crocs you can use that have decent traction for hiking. Overall the pricing for these is $5-$50+.
One in particular is the Crocs Classic Clogs which has the highest ratings on Amazon that I have seen, although these are based on overall reviews which also include people that use it for hikes.
My thoughts on using crocs for hikes (not a fan):
At the end of the day, in my opinion if you’re going to do anything above easy level hiking, you’re way better off wearing more traditional type of shoes for that. There are decent and even great quality hiking and trail running shoes out there that are even cheaper than good crocs, but because they are actually made for hiking, you will get way more benefits out of using them. In short:
In my opinion, there’s many good reasons to wear crocs, but hiking is just not one of them and I also have the same position for other traditional wear like hiking in jeans which I would not recommend in most situations.