Hiking Boots vs Running Shoes
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When researching what the best footwear for tramping is, regular running shoes with good traction kept coming up, the main reasons are that they're breathable, dry fast, comfortable, and light, while hiking boots can be too heavy, dry slow and, aren't as breathable. I was planning on buying hiking boots and taking both but my pack is getting heavy and would prefer to only have one pair on me. Surely the boot that's specially designed for hiking is what would be best right? I've never worn one so I wouldn't know, either way. Has anyone had experience hiking with both?
Don't buy boots. You won't spend the money needed to buy proper ones, as below $400 there's nothing. Just stuff that will give you horrendous injuries. Regular running shoes are totally fine when starting out (not sneakers), or even better trail runners. Again good ones here are $150 (sale) upward, with the difference with boots being that cheaper ones won't ruin your feet.
With that out of the way: I'm very glad I started with running shoes/trail runners, but my ankles were not really getting firmer as some claimed, and I'm not much into ultralight hiking, so I'm actually wearing more of a cross-over most of the time, so mid height boots, Salomon X Ultra 3 prime GTX. Purely because of ankle issues, else I would be doing low shoes. I like Salomon because you can get their shoes in all kinds of varieties, see here: https://www.salomon.com/en-nz/shop-apac/men/shoes/hiking-shoes.html
I'm glad that someone brought this topic up. In my last hike I noticed how many people actually had trail/running shoes rather than boots. They definitely looked very light and very firm. My only concern though is what happen when you cross muddy terrain or cross small streams ? With boots and gaiters definitely you will be more covered. Perhaps they are only good for beautiful spring/summer day hikes?
I detest getting into debates about gear because everybody is different and everybody has different opinions, often only based on their experience and budget. To some degree everybody has limited experience. We all have things to learn. Also, despite what you believe yourself, someone will always come up with an alternate argument. The fact is though, things exist within the current market for a reason. Boots have been around for a long time. They provide good lateral and medial support for the reason that when carrying a heavy load on your back, there is the very real possibility you may roll your foot or tackle uneven terrain. That means more weight behind a roll and the likelihood of injury. The lateral and medial support in a boot can help prevent this injury being too bad to continue. The brand of the boot, or any footwear for that matter, should not be the prime consideration. Every brand produces a range of options and that availability will depend on where you shop. Not every country or region will offer all options for all brands. Remember, Australia and New Zealand are a small market and will always have limited options. First consideration should go to the fit. That can be hard to determine because you're a beginner. Second should be the amount of support in the boot based on your activities. That is medial and lateral support. No doubt a mountaineer needs a higher degree of these than a trail runner. Third should be the strength in the boot for what you want it to do and how long you want it to last. Fourth should be the brand and fifth should be the price.
@aardvark, I completely agree boots have a place, I have a pair of Meindls too, and use it a lot. But I take a lot of kids and adults new to hiking, and forbid boots. Some still really really want them, get some cheap pair, and you should see their feet after a day. Skin completely gone, blood pouring out of the shoe. Boots are for experienced trampers.
@guiseppe23: > My only concern though is what happen when you cross muddy terrain or cross small streams ? With boots and gaiters definitely you will be more covered. Yep. So boots / mid-height trail runners and gaiters have their place. You'll know when :-) With trail runners you get wet in your case. But the concern is also about weather: if it's hot, you're going to be sweating, and your feet may get wet too in your boots, just from the sweat.
Really things come down to use. Great walks and good tracks then trail runners will be fine. Even river crossing will only mean wet feet but they will dry. For someone who has not worn either boots or trail runners its a fair guess this is what you will be aiming to do. Once you get into tree routes rocks waist deep rivers and a reasonable boot will work better but Ive seen enough people in that terrain in trail runners to know they can still work. Beyond that boulder hopping vertical scrabbles out of rivers bush bashing etc and a good boot is what you know you need. Ice and snow and you need a boot that can wear crampons or at least kick steps without mashing your toes. This is what I always wear but if there is a road walk at the end of the day they can be tiring on a hard surface.
I did a lot of walking in the Waitakeres and similar with trail runners, including a few full Hillary trail trips (really missing this biannual 3 day challenge with the ranges still closed, but that’s another story...). Used the same on the Travers Sabine and felt they were just not sufficiently supportive on the rougher tracks. Got quite sore feet from the torsional stretching on tree roots, rocks etc. The next trip to NL was with some mid height boots (keen targhee 2) and they were much better suited with the extra rigidity amd my feet felt much less sore at the end of each day. Also appreciated the water proofing as I’m a dry feet-if-possible tramper...
I don't generally do any ice or snow conditions, but it's Trail running shoes for me, or has been last 10+ years. I don't miss the ankle support, in fact the only time I've done my ankle in was years ago wearing a pair of Scarpa Mantas back in the UK. You're going to get wet anyway, unless walking in dry in summer so that's not so much a problem. Just ensure you've a dry pair socks for the evenings. I use ankle gaiters like the Montane/Inov8 ones on here, to keep out the worst of the mud and general debris:- https://www.ultralightoutdoorgear.co.uk/equipment-c3/footwear-c78/gaiters-c37 Trail running shoes do tend to wear out much much quicker, but there usually reasonably priced on the net. I favour Inov8s of which there are a multitude of different models. I'd settled on the Terraclaw offering the best year round grip, though don't seem to be stocked anymore, maybe replaced by Xclaw. https://www.sportsshoes.com/products/inov8/mens/running/shoes/?s=4&l=100
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