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Hiking shoes versus hiking boots? Hiking shoes win. Okay, next issue? No,
really. Hiking or running shoes are better for most backpacking trips, at
least during late spring, summer and early fall. Boots are heavy, hot, stinky,
and stay wet forever. A pound on your feet is like five on your back (some
say six), so three-pound boots leave you much more tired at the end of the
Hiking Shoes And Ankle Support
You may have heard arguments for the necessity of ankle support, but throughout
history people managed without stiff ankle-supporting boots. The problem
is weak ankles, not a lack of support. You can solve this by walking a little
each week on uneven ground (not in the mall).
Some may need boots, but be sure your ankle problems are not just due to
a lack of exercise before you settle for backpacking in hiking boots. You
may also need hiking boots if you carry more than thirty pounds when you
backpack. Cut the weight down, though, and you'll be more comfortable anyhow.
Why Running Or Hiking Shoes?
Feet stay cooler in a good running shoes than in hiking boots. This means
fewer blisters. After switching to running shoes and lightweight socks years
ago, I stopped getting blisters. I don't mean fewer blisters. I mean haven't
had one blister since I switched. Not even after a 110-mile 7-day trek in
the Rockies, for example.
How To Choose Your Shoes
Try to keep below two pounds per pair, unless you have size 13 feet. If the
weights are not shown in a catalog, you'll have to guess which hiking shoes
are lighter based on the description and photo. Quality shoes have soles
stitched to the uppers, so look under the insoles (a removable insole is
another sign of quality shoes). You can usually find a good pair of running
shoes that weighs less than 28 ounces for under $80, or half of that on
There's nothing quite as liberating as ditching the heavy pack and heavy
boots and hitiing the trail in running shoes. You get to go more miles, and
in comfort. You get to run up a hill just to see what's there. I have yet
to meet a person who has tried backpacking in hiking shoes or running shoes
- and then returned to boots.
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