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 Hiking Boot vs. Trail Shoe 
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Sovereign Woodsman

Joined: Tue Jul 07, 2009 3:23 pm
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Location: Lakes Region, NH
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 Hiking Boot vs. Trail Shoe
So, after my 9.3 mile hike on Saturday, wearing my old EMS boots, I realized that they are pretty worn out and I am in need of a new pair. So, in doing some research and thinking I found something I would like, I found a blog of an avid AT, CDT, PCT hiker who weighs the merits of trail shoes vs. hiking boots and went on to say that he feels your better off with trail shoes, for weight, comfort, etc, and that the whole support so you won't roll your ankle thing is a myth. Hmm... not sure I buy that, I rolled my ankle really good on Saturday on North Lafayette and it didn't hurt. I questioned whether if I had my Columbia trail shoes on if it would have hurt and I would have gimped the 4.2 miles down the trail back to the car.... Not sure either way. This controversy sounds alot like the running shoe controversy, thick sole vs. thin sole.. I'm conservative, and am thinking I'll take my chances with the extra weight I have to lug with the boot and take the comfort, but wasn't sure if anyone else weighed this story out in their heads and/or what do you prefer and why? Husband is giving me a used pair of hiking boots to try before I throw out a couple of hundred bucks on a boot/trail shoe. My other thoughts are that a hiking boot may last longer as well. Plus I prefer something waterproof... I'm thinking of hikes where your walking on the hard talus of the Presidentials, etc.


Tue Sep 30, 2014 8:42 am
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I Spend All My Time on This Forum
I Spend All My Time on This Forum

Joined: Wed Feb 14, 2007 2:04 pm
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Location: Newmarket, NH
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I wore heavier boots for years - I still have a pair of LL Bean Cresta Hikers. A couple of years ago I decided to try some trail runners, so I bought a pair of La Sportiva Wildcats. Now I wear these most of the time until there's a chance of snow or ice on trail. They're absolutely not waterproof but who cares? I wore them last year on a Bonds traverse and my feet felt great all the way to the end of the hike. If you get wet (which is as easy as stepping on some wet ground and sinking in a half-inch), because of the way they're designed, your feet will dry pretty quickly. In fact, towards the end of that Bonds traverse I purposely stepped in a stream to cool off, knowing that they'd dry out pretty quickly. As for the Presis, I'm not sure how they'd be because I haven't worn them on a trip like that. Last year when I did Jefferson I used my Cresta Hikers though...I wasn't sure I trusted them up in the Presis so they probably do have their limits.

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Last edited by BobC on Tue Sep 30, 2014 9:36 am, edited 1 time in total.



Tue Sep 30, 2014 9:34 am
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Master Mountaineer
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Location: Worcester, MA
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BobC wrote:
In fact, towards the end of that Bonds traverse I purposely stepped in a stream to cool off, knowing that they'd dry out pretty quickly.


Been thinking about this myself - I've been told trail runners would actually help prevent ankle injuries.

My question, do you use socks, or just go foot-commando?
If socks, then what? Like the same sock liners we use in winter?

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Tue Sep 30, 2014 9:35 am
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I Spend All My Time on This Forum
I Spend All My Time on This Forum

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iagreewithjamie wrote:
My question, do you use socks, or just go foot-commando?
If socks, then what? Like the same sock liners we use in winter?


Good question. I don't use sock liners with these; all I wear is short socks like these that I got at REI.

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Tue Sep 30, 2014 9:40 am
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Hiking Forums Are My Crack
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I have some trail shoes but I only wear them on smaller hikes with the kids. I think my boots have saved me more than a couple rolled ankles and that's the main reason I wear them. Might be heavier but seem like they'd do that job better which is important to me. Not sure how the trail shoes would be better than a higher boot at that but I'm sure there are theories. I guess as mentioned it may come down to what type of terrain you like to hike. Lots of rocky trails like the Presis or muddy/wet terrain I'd want my boots. More ledge and rock like Acadia or the Daks I might like a trail shoe with more grip like the La Sportiva Raptors or something. The nice forested trails like much of the Belknaps it might not matter either way. All the trail runners wear shoes and I never hear of rolled ankles on crazy stuff like Hut to Huts so maybe there is something to it, or maybe their ankles, muscles, tendons etc are strong enough it doesn't matter what they have on.


Tue Sep 30, 2014 10:12 am
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Peak Bagger
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Joined: Tue Nov 06, 2007 12:44 pm
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Location: Kensington, NH
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I wear trail shoes over boots. I made the switch years ago basically for comfort and versatility. I do get waterproof shoes, and it does make a difference. I have had excellent luck with waterproofing in 2 pairs...1 pair not so much.

I figured a thin layer of leather or fabric, however stiff, won't do much compared to my actual body weight were I to severely roll my ankle. I also love how light they are, and I just feel more "agile" on trails. Knock on wood, but I have never rolled my ankle to the point where a few "ees" and "ahhs" and light steps were enough to walk off the effects.

Some theories suggest that your ankle will get stronger without the support, but I think that would only apply to hiking 3-4 days per week and not weekend (more like bi-monthly) warriors like myself.

I also like that my hiking shoes can be worn normally in "civillian" life and still look somewhat normal....I use them to trail run, do yard work, walk the dog, or just run errands on a wet rainy day.

When I wear the soles out they get relegated to lawn mowing duty.


Tue Sep 30, 2014 2:24 pm
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Peak Bagger
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Joined: Sat Feb 22, 2014 4:44 pm
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I bought a pair of trail runners at REI. I have worn them on my walks around the reservoir near my house. It is an easy, flat walk. I like them for that. Although I did buy a pair of greenie insoles to replace the next to nothing insole they came with. I don't know if I would want to wear them on a 15 mile walk with various tourain and wet conditions. Although they would dry quickly, I would rather my feet not get wet. I know I can count on my boots to keep me dry unless I end up over my ankles in water or mud. I wonder how my feet would feel after a long walk over those rocky trails I am so accustomed to hiking on. I want to try them, but, I keep saying, why mess with something that works.
I know sometimes you try something new and it doesn't work. If it doesn't work, I don't want to pay for that. I have severely tweeted my ankle in the past. It took many years to get back to where I feel comfortable with it. So, I think I will stick with the boots.
Mike Z


Tue Sep 30, 2014 4:27 pm
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Sovereign Woodsman
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I mix it up depending on what im doing. Trails? I got to the trail runner type shoes. Doing a whack? Definitely the waterproof boots.
I find it highly debatable about twisting your ankle in one way verses the other; i always seem to turn my ankles with my adidas (low top) than i do with my boots. never hurt myself but id think the older i get, the short amount of time it will take for me to actually do damage.

Greg

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Tue Sep 30, 2014 6:00 pm
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Sovereign Woodsman
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To me, trail shoes are like iced coffee. People like them and that's cool and all, but just seems wrong.

In other words, I have nothing helpful to actually add to the thread.


Tue Sep 30, 2014 7:50 pm
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Sovereign Woodsman
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Location: Canaan, NH
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I had been wondering the same thing but was able to get a sweet deal on a pair of Lowa Ticam GTX boots. I like the durability and stiff sole of backpacking boots. They weigh in at a hefty 4.2 pounds but I'm OK with that. I haven't put them into service yet, other than short walks with Marlie, as my Tecnicas still have some life left. I can see how using trail runners could strengthen your ankles, but I don't see how a higher boot would weaken them. I'm on my feet all day and actually wear trail runners even though I'm inside. If you can justify buying 2 pair then maybe get a pair of each and see which ones work better on different terrain.

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Tue Sep 30, 2014 7:58 pm
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Mountain Maestro
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Joined: Tue Feb 02, 2010 11:22 pm
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Since this spring all of my hiking has been done in either :
http://www.altrarunning.com/fitness/en/ ... ak-15-mens
or
http://www.lunasandals.com/products/luna-oso

I've done all sorts of trails in the sandals, including Tuckerman Ravine, King Ravine, Chemin des Dames, Great Gully, Parapet Trail, Osgood Trail, Sphinx Trail, Six Husbands, Caps Ridge(in a hailstorm), North Twin Trail, Hale FWT, Webster Cliff Trail, Wildcat Ridge Trail, Desolation Trail, and a few others. The scrambles above the ladders on 6H were probably the trickiest thing I encountered. Never rolled an ankle. Got out about 3-4 times a month before breaking my toe(while wearing a third, different pair of shoes)

In my uneducated opinion I think the foot needs to be able to move freely, and if you restrict or "support" that movement then the muscles don't have to work and remain weak. So boots are terrible and most trail runners aren't very good either. I have a pair of Sportiva Raptors from couple of years ago and if I put them on now they feel like combat boots. I think another problem might be people with big burly boots thinking that their foot armor allows them total indiscretion in how they take their steps. Well since going much more minimalist I'm convinced that traction and agility is more about how you apply your weight to the ground rather than the friction of the rubber under your feet.

You've heard the saying "Trust your boots."? eff that: Trust Yourself.



(It is absurd that when it is 80 degrees out and I am wearing an overpriced flip-flop and you are wearing 4 pounds of sheep and cow on your feet that I am the one who has to explain myself.)


Tue Sep 30, 2014 10:19 pm
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The running shoes I could do and have thought many times about trying them. The sandals I just couldn't. I wear them from April - Oct almost every day off trail but tried some Tevas once up Mt. Hale and couldn't stand the rocks and sticks getting under my feet. Sure would be nice at river crossings though.


Tue Sep 30, 2014 10:41 pm
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Mountain Maestro
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Well the good thing is those sticks and rocks come out just as easily as they go in, but maybe it's not a big deal. I wore the Altras when I descended true Flume slide in June and they just got filled with rocks and there were very few places to dump them out so I just went with it and ended up with no harm done. I have walked a couple of hundred miles in soaking wet shoes over snow and monorail and fetid pond water over the years so maybe I have built up some resilience.

The most hilarious thing was on Mt. Straightback this summer when I was picking blueberries. I felt something under my foot and tried to shake it out but couldn't. So I take off the sandal and look and it is a crushed dead yellow jacket with its stinger firmly embedded in the rubber sole. I wondered how I would feel if that bug had been rotated 180 degrees.


Tue Sep 30, 2014 11:11 pm
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Sovereign Woodsman

Joined: Tue Jul 07, 2009 3:23 pm
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Location: Lakes Region, NH
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Walrus wrote:


Wow sandals for $100.00 bucks! I think the guy in the blog wore the altras. Interesting theory about the ankle roll, which probably was what the blogger was eluding to but really didn't give any specific reason other than conjecture.


Wed Oct 01, 2014 4:35 am
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Sovereign Woodsman

Joined: Tue Jul 07, 2009 3:23 pm
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Location: Lakes Region, NH
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IQuest wrote:
I had been wondering the same thing but was able to get a sweet deal on a pair of Lowa Ticam GTX boots. I like the durability and stiff sole of backpacking boots. They weigh in at a hefty 4.2 pounds but I'm OK with that. I haven't put them into service yet, other than short walks with Marlie, as my Tecnicas still have some life left. I can see how using trail runners could strengthen your ankles, but I don't see how a higher boot would weaken them. I'm on my feet all day and actually wear trail runners even though I'm inside. If you can justify buying 2 pair then maybe get a pair of each and see which ones work better on different terrain.


I like that idea since currently I have both but the trail shoes are wore out from training last winter for my half marathon and had I worn them Saturday I would have had blisters from their discomfort.

I had never thought about the weight ratio they talk about that you carry in a boot. Decisions decisions.....then what do I do with all my used boots laying around the house from years of hiking! I finally threw out my first pair of merrills from 1986 5 years ago.......


Wed Oct 01, 2014 4:42 am
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