Boots with high or low ankle support
I have always wondered if boots with good ankle support could be dangerous as the ankle naturally flexes to help with balance thus helping to prevent falling. Do you like/dislike ankle support?
comes down to personal choice and the terrain you're walking on. on rough terrain, very rocky ground its easier to balance with boots with high ankle support because you're ankles arent flexing as much, takes less effort to balance on a small part of the sole, such as when you only have the edge of the sole in contact with the ground, you have to put less strain in with your ankle to maintain the sole at the right angle to maintain grip on the edge of ground you have contact with, thats the point of climbing boots. especially with stiffer boots. less likely to roll an ankle, also good for people who are prone to rolling ankles, you can still get some flex in the ankle, you can vary the amount of ankle flex you get by varying how tightly you tie off the top of the boot or you tie it off below the top hooks or eyelets leaving it loose at the top for more ankle flex when you may prefer it such as on more even ground.
Well I personally prefer to have a bit of ankle support, and usually wear boots to that effect if I'm planning any significant activity. I think I get a fair amount of support from gaiters, too, even though that's not the main intent of wearing them. Certainly with shoes I tend to find I roll my ankle from time to time. Maybe it's weak or my walking style or the terrain or a combination, but it happens more frequently, regardless, when wearing shoes.
I currently use ankle support. I thought without it, your ankles would strengthen, but mine really didn't. I just roll my ankles extremely easy, one time leading to a very expensive exit. Since then firm ankle support has saved me quite a few times.
i think NZers are more likely to use boots, our tracks are often rougher than overseas tracks overseas trampers seem more likely than NZers to wear shoes because they tend to have smoother tracks, less tree roots mud , rocks and boulders. some of them seem to think boots are totally unecessary regardless of where they go because they havent experienced tracks as rough of some of NZ's tracks
I’ll be somewhat contrarian on this topic. My personal experience with boots is that only very rigid 4 season boots give me any noticeable ankle support, but then your whole foot has a much more limited range of motion. For me, most other boots, particularly the lightweight 3-season boots only give ankle protection from bangs and scrapes, but not any noticeable support from twisting. My personal preference these days are to use trail/fell running shoes (along with reducing packweight) for any trip using tracks, which are primarily in NI bush or ridgelines. I much prefer the lightness, flexibility and nimbleness they give while accepting that they are not as robust (although liquid polyurethane adhesives can work minor miracles). I still use boots when conditions warrant them such as crampons, or off-track steep sidles, or where the feet need protection from rocks. Carbide tips or microspikes add a great deal more grip if required (and not just in snow). About the only thing I miss from not wearing boots is a decent heel block to help brake going downhill. Historically I’ve used Buller boots and also flexible crampon compatible boots. Growing up it was barefeet, jandals or roman sandals, so I guess my feet/ankles are/were reasonably strong from that.
I think understanding what ankle support is and does is important. Even those ankle high tennis shoes do give some ankle support but not as we believe we know it. Obviously tramping boots give more but how much do we need? At one end a 4 season climbing boot has so much support that it resticts ankle movement almost totally. Excellent for getting grip wear only your toe makes contact but tiring on the legs on a long walk especially over hard ground. At the other end the ankle has free movement as far as a limit built into the boot by design which hopefully is less than the straining point of that ankle. Very easy to walk in but forget about hooking a toe into a crevice to shinny up a bank. These are the boots for the Heaphy track or that nice suburbian walking park. In between are almost all the boots we use. You need some flex and that flex means less support. For tramping I like a good 3/4 season boot which is solid enough for crampons but flexible enough for a several km road walk at the end. I do also wear gym shoes on easy tracks and the only issue I have struck is sole grip. I do have strong ankles and spen a lot of time in jandles but did learn the hard way they are not great for descending waterfalls. Ended up throwing the jandles down from half way and doing the rest barefoot.
I like tramping in boots. I have strong ankles, legs like tree trunks. But ankles roll, all the time. Tree trunk legs or not. Tree roots, rocks, etc. I've tripped with boots and without, and I'm glad I had boots on when I did. They just give the ankle that minor support that stops the ankle from rolling. In the bush a rolled ankle is a massive issue. I don't get the boot thing. I have 2kg scarpa boots and they feel better to tramp in than 500g sneakers. But that's just me. For the last two or three years I went light weight. I had lightweight scarpa nang pa la boots at first they were good, but then they started giving me really bad blisters. Recently I pulled the old 2 kg scarpa sl out the closet and man, they are so much better. Support on the trail under load etc. I don't know why I fell for the light weight crap when it came to boots. Scarpa sl are the boot for me.
Started tramping back in 1964, wasn't much choice back then. Boots were considered essential, especially in the Tararuas. Never considered using anything else. Have always worn boots with good ankle support, which has more than proved its worth on many an occasion where ones foot gets trapped between tree roots and rock in river crossings. High sided boots for ankle support have saved me from various amounts of skin being removed when I have been less attentive to the terrain than I should have been. With size 15 feet one doesn't always get a lot of choice, albeit the range has improved over the years.
I don't need ankle support unless I'm mountaineering in plastics and front-pointing with my crampons. Sandals are fine for me most of the time. I rolled my ankle once - about 10 years ago - when I was wearing boots (in the dark, off track) but carried on to the hut and carried on to the next hut the following day. The following day we retraced our steps and raced someone out who'd been unsupportive of my slower pace and reluctance to travel up the gorge instead of the track the day before. I noticed doing the 'child' pose in yoga wasn't comfortable on my ankle but persevered. I couldn't tell you which ankle it was.
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