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A step up in foot protection from sandals are running, cross training, or hiking shoes. For years this type of shoe were generally deemed unsuitable for all but the mildest of day hikes. Recently, however, more hikers and even backpackers have found them to perfectly adequate especially when carrying light loads.
Many running or cross-training shoes have large sections of mesh. While this helps keeps feet cooler as well as being lighter it doesn't do much to help keep feet dry. While they will dry out faster than boots they will also get wetter faster when walking through vegetation moist from dew or rain.
Shoes will protect your feet from being bruised by rocks or sticks along the trail better than sandals, but not as well as boots.
In areas with highly abrasive trail surfaces such as volcanic rock hiking shoes may not last long - the many rows of stitching making them more vulnerable. So the tradeoff is less weight and hence less effort, but requiring more care and attention being paid to where you place your feet.
Because their construction is lighter shoes will not last as long as boots. On a long distance hike this factor might require some advanced planning to replace them along the way.
As with sandals you want to select multi-sport or hiking shoes that provide adequate arch support. Also try to select a tread that will provide good grip on unpaved trail surfaces.
There are some hiking shoes that are built more like boots - that is built with more support, with heavier tread and with all leather uppers. Lowa Tempest Lo is one such shoe to consider (available through Online Shoes and other gear outlets).
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