/ Hiking in approach shoes?
Anyone here go multi day summer hiking in approach shoes such as La Sportiva Boulder X or Guides Tennies or whatever else thats normally just used for the walk in? Did it kill your feet? Would putting in an insole make any difference?
Approach shoes are just trainers with a premium put on as they are a 'lifestyle' product. If they fit you they'll be fine. I don't own a pair of walking boots any more and just use cheap trainers or old running shoes for 'hiking'. An insole would only help if they don't already fit.
I did nine days on the GR20 in Inov8 Roclites. It was absolutely fine.
I did a peak in the Pyrenees in my guide tennies and they were great for the scrambling but left little support for long descents. I replaced them with something with a sturdier sole/support. Also footwear is so personal, and problems with it seems to be the most common stopper in walking/mountaineering.
Just watch out for going over on your ankles, especially when you're tired and descending. I've had some Guide Tennies and now have a similar pair of La Sportivas. Watch out with the Tennies, they have amazing grip for boulder hopping, but can be pretty deadly on wet grass. I find my Sportivas to be better all round in the UK and having a proper heel on the shoe gives a bit more impact absorption.
I go wandering all over the Cairngorms in approach shoes (in the summer!) - used more trainer-like shoes (TNF Hedgehogs) and more substantial shoes (Haglofs Vertigo II). The worst bit was getting over the mental block - being brought up with the mantra "...always wear substantial boots!" ringing in my ears. Once I got over that, it was a piece of cake!
Kill my feet? It's walking boots that kill my feet. That's why I never wear walking boots, and always wear approach shoes.
Funny you say that I was just in my kitchen perusing several makes and jars of strawberry jam, deciding which one to pick ( bear with me )
As had to choose one it reminded me of the test I saw on TV where they put the identical jam in different pots, the favourite 'pot' seemed to sway the choices. ( folk thought the jar with paper and elastic closing it was better than the multi faceted shaped and both better than the standard jam jar. )
So as the point has already been made, remember they are all just trainers, there are small differences, but don't get too hung up on the 'pot' and end up paying a huge premium.
Chris Townsend convinced me to give trail shoes a shot, instead of boots. I backpacked most of the Pennine Way wearing them, and they were great.
If conditions look really muddy and wet, then I'll wear boots, otherwise, I reach for my Inov8 Terrocs:
I soloed Mount Everest without oxygen in just a pair of Hi-tec silver shadows, was thinking of hiking to the southpole in a pair of espadrilles.
If your walking boots hurt, you have the wrong boots, or wrong size. My Scarpa Rangers are like carpet slippers. Walking any substantial distance in something like a pair of Tennies is going to give some mighty sore feet/ soles, especially on rocky ground. They are also not good on wet grass as one contributor said.
Like your work!
Man up. There are penguins wandering around down there with bare feet.
The missus and I are just back from two weeks away in the Alps and had the "pleasure" of watching an (inexperienced) French couple fall on their arses and slide a good hundred metres as they tried to negotiate a very steep couloir in their approach type shoes just because they were trying to avoid the snow and moraine/scree, they were very lucky not to have slid onto the snow and accelerated off over a massive drop. We administered 1st aid after I roped them across the snow to the more stable moraine and led them to the bottom of the couloir, they had gravel rash of epic proportions on their bums and legs. I don't know if they would have negotiated the snow or moraine with more suitable footwear but at least they would have had the option. I'd guess it depends on what delights your routes have in store for you but if you are above a couple of thousand metres and near the snowline consider the ankle support and sole stiffness you may need to save your feet from a beating as well, I think someone mentioned the descent which when you are knackered is when you tend to twist ankles and kick every stone and tree root, painful without good toe bumpers.
I think it's reasonable to say people who have poor movement skills on rough/steep terrain will have problems regardless of their footwear - it may have been the inexperience that was the problem not the shoes. The wearing of boots does not make someone automatically safer on difficult ground. Saying boots would have given them the option is one thing, but would they have known what to do with them?
Personally I find it much easier to move safely on scree and boulders in trainers than stiff boots - flexible soles and flexible ankles allow for lots of ground contact and hence grip. Snow however is a different matter - if it needs kicking trainers are not the tool for the job, and a stiff sole offers much more security.
The tired legs argument I think is circular - heavy boots make for tired legs but offer protection when tired, light weight trainers make for less fatigue but are less forgiving... It's a bit like the argument for ankle support: 'My ankles are weak so I need more support, which will reduce the amount of work my ankles do and make them weaker....'
I went in to the shelter stone the other day to try the needle. I used hiking boots from the car park to the bivvy then changed to my approach shoes for the approach to the climb. Once at the base of the climb I changed into my rock shoes, taking them off at belays to change into recovery shoes to rest my feet. Once on the top I changed into my descent shoes, wore those till I got back to the bivvy then changed to hiking boots for the walk out. I saw some snow, so I was glad I wore my B3s.
(oh and yes they are a thing https://www.google.co.uk/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=recovery+...
I have a pair 5.10 Camp four's, which are rather beefy and suitable for walking long distances in. They are much lighter than my Trango's and very effective on scrambling terrain. Crossing snowfields is a bit awkward in them, but manageable in combination with an Ice Axe... I did however twist my ankle wearing them when I was tired and descending to the valley after a long day of climbing. As mentioned above, that is the main downside of low shoes.
Whatever you choose, it's a compromise and a risk and you weigh up the choices based on what you are likely to find. I wouldn't have wanted light weight approach shoes (or were they sold as fell running shoes, I don't know?) if there was a possibility of lots of snow or long stretches of very boggy ground.
But where we were, in Corsica on a trail, neither seemed likely and so it proved. I got clonked a bit on stony descents, but accepted that as better than day after day of steep ascents in hot weather in much heavier boots.
I have a few pairs of approach shoes, I wear them as trainers , and have tennie guides as well as boulder x,
The boulder x are a better shoe, for a long walk IMO, just like a hiking boot but without the ankle bit, a good tough shoe, I have hammered mine and still going strong, thinking of resoling them now after 3 years.
Also I was worried when I got them as my ankles roll over easily, but I have not twisted my ankle in these shoes , excellent shoes .
if its not snowing (a lot) use an approach shoe
scarpa zen - expensive, heavy but tough and a good general hill shoe
if its extremely wet and slippy
inov8 mudrock (i think) proper sticky in all conditions but i find them fragile
tennies (nice kit) no good on wet grass so not much use in uk
>... It's a bit like the argument for ankle support: 'My ankles are weak so I need more support, which will reduce the amount of work my ankles do and make them weaker....'
Why might ankles be 'weak'?
Recurrent ankle sprains might be one reason. Whole host of reasons that this might occur. Some reasons rehab-able, some not.
Consider just one scenario-
One of the problems with forum advice is that many fail to recognise that, over challenging terrain, footwear suitable for say a thirty year old may not be the best choice for a fifty year old with arthritic toes or ankles.
The notion that someone with a chronically painful foot can just 'push it' more to rehab it is largely b0ll0cks. If they can't cope with challenging terrain without supportive footwear, then supportive footwear it is.
Thus equipped, the arthritic footed oldie may actually be fitter to the task in hand than the younger person.
Chris Townsend's strategy with light footwear works for Chris Townsend. Looking at the way he walks on film, he minimises the loading on the joints by a combination of a cautious gait, and the use of poles.
Someone who undertook the same journey but had a more proprioceptively challenging gait pattern might benefit from boots.
Horses for courses and all that...
There should be no value judgement in it.
Not really, something like the Boulder X is much more substantial than a trainer, much more like comfortable, stiff summer boot, without the ankle protection and extra weight. I would walk quite happy in rough terrain in my Boulder X, I rarely use boots these days outside of winter. Years of fell running has shown me that the need for ankle protection is very much exagerated and a lighter comfier shoe can be advantageous. I will also happily use fell shoes in the mountains, but for long days of rocky terrain I prefer something slightly more substantial when not actually running.
I have used la sportiva approach shoes for a long time and swear by them.
Crossed difficult terrain in Tassie, NZ, up to 5500m camp1 on Spantik in Pakistan and glacier crossing, all kinds of fell walks and scrambles, Alps etc etc
Boots can be heavy and something else to own, along with B3s, plastics, skis etc etc
Very annoying conversation with a patronising shop assistant yesterday as i am buying new ones for the Cuillin ridge that they are not suitable, you will twist your ankle etc etc and saying " I used to be an instructor and would not take you out on the hills with them"
Yep, I use approach shoes whenever conditions allow these days, find them so much more comfortable than hiking boots, and feel more sure footed in them.
Currently using a Sportiva boulders which I really like, had a pair of vasque ones before that which I used for all sorts. I do like shoes that have more boot like soles though, the Sportivas are fairly stiff soled.
I wouldn't walk in Guide Tennies! I love mine, but they have no sole, and - although ideal for scrambling - they'd be awful for any distance, or on loose or muddy surfaces.
I've just picked up a pair of Scarpa Spark fell running shoes in the sale at Rock n Run. £30(ish), comfy, saves ruining my 5.10's, and I can easily walk double digit miles in them.
Berghaus Vapor Claws look good, too.
Agreed. But many people new to the mountains may simply have weak feet and ankles due to their spending most/all of their time on flat engineered surfaces that demand little in the way of ankle strength to maintain stability. I think there's a difference between weak ankle and damaged/injured/arthritic ankles. Weak ankles are almost certainly trainable, damaged/injured ankles may not be, though I challenge your dismissal of re-hab. Everything can be strengthened, regardless of it's current state, and that strength will always improve function to some degree.
Boots are so last century. I only ever use approach shoes now for walk-ins.
I bought the Sportiva Boulder X Mids recently, they have an ankle cuff and they feel pretty good. i haven't tried them for more than a day hike but I reckon they'd be comfortable for multiday. My concern would be shredding that soft rubber unnecessarily! Those things aren't cheap.
Generally, the problem in your scenario is not one of weakness, but of proprioceptive deficit-the neuromuscular system at the relevant joints is not able to respond appropriately to challenges to balance.
So, yes, paced and graded challenges could rectify the deficit of a willing and motivated individual with otherwise normal function who has not 'found their feet'.
>.. Weak ankles are almost certainly trainable, damaged/injured ankles may not be, though I challenge your dismissal of re-hab.
An an NHS physio, I can assure you I don't dismiss rehab.
Sometimes things are weak because they are painful, pain inhibiting the muscle action. Pain is not always well controlled.
sometimes the weakness comes from nerve damage.
In both scenarios, external support, whether a walking stick, insoles, or supportive footwear, has a role to play.
>Everything can be strengthened, regardless of it's current state, and that strength will always improve function to some degree.
Your foot and ankle are (or should be ) wonderfully dynamic, their joints and ligaments able to respond to perturbations in balance by sending signals to the brain to get the muscles firing and achieve balance. As stated, you can strengthen muscles where pain doesn't inhibit, or nerve damage curtail it. The question remains though, can you use the strengthened muscles to improve balance? Ligamentous laxity, congenital or traumatic, will create a proprioceptive deficit. Sure, you can try and get it as good as you can with proprioceptive training, but some defict will likely persist. Since we're considering challenging terrain, it's probably wise to consider some external support rather than risk early OA form joints pushed to their limits.
And as for intrinsic foot types, pronators, supinators etc, I've yet to see a middle aged adult who corrected this without suitable supportive footwear. Similarly, the heavy footfallers tend to remain so. Fellrunners are therefore self selected for minimally constraining foot wear.
Worst problem I ever had from footwear was with Koflach plastic shell boots. Ended up with a badly strained knee. I have three pairs of Inov-8 trail running shoes. The critical points are a sole with ample grip, and which is stiff torsionally so that it does not twist easily to cause a twisted ankle. I did once climb a near-3000m little snow peak near Grenoble wearing Walsh fell running shoes, carrying an axe. Got a few odd looks, but it was very fast going and the shoes rapidly dried out afterwards! I would never go back to conventional boots for walking. They restrict your natural stride and the natural spring in your foot. Have to admit that a pair of poles is very desirable with them though to help keeping balance in sometimes less-then-firm foot plants.
Be careful. Recently spent a week bothying on the weat coast in a pair of haglofs crag somethings, nice ankle support with a low profile vibram sole - superb on rock and gravel even when wet but lethal on wet grass and contouring on babies heads and other boggy shite. Took 6 or 7 near fatal slides only able to write this because I had poles and v. lucky. I'm a big fan of lightweight footwear but boots definitely have a place.
Agree, I think the soles on many approach shoes are OK for rock and trail but terrible for wet grass. Much better to use fell or some trail shoes which is what I use in the hills. Approach shoes tend to be used by me just for single pitch walk-ins kinda thing.
Yes I agree with that study they are so tiring. That the main reason I like approach shoes for the feeling of lightness and having more energy.
Look at the specifics of the study- healthy young males on a treadmill test.
You'd have to have pretty crap feet and ankles to need to use boots on such a consistently uniform surface in real life.
I've been over the Forcan Ridge, the Geal Charn group from Culra, and the Buchaille, in Innov8's. They keep your feet close to the ground and are very secure and grippy. They're also "open system " whereby the water just runs through the shoe, just slow enough to warm up to the temp of your feet. I've also been over one of the western Fannichs in the snow and lost 3 toenails as a consequence! So they're a no no in the snow for me....
Approach shoes do generally have more of a lugged tread on the soles, and more cushioning/protection from stony ground than trainers, though. If I look at my floppy street trainers and sturdier 'hill trainers', they are different. The street trainers are floppier with thinner soles, with only indents to make the tread.
That's how I tore an ankle ligament, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have done in my walking boots, but it's sorted now.
I think I have the boulder x ones. All I can say is, they are great for hillwalking only when it is dry. The traction, especially on the heel, will catch one unawares because it is significantly poorer than a traditional boot. Wet grass is very bad. They also have a narrower toe box, so multi-day hikes might bring out the worst. In fact, the last is so stiff I think they resemble a boot without the usual benefits, when used for hill walking.
The sole on the Guide Tennies is even worse, I think.
Could this perhaps be related to the fact that they aren't designed for hill walking?
"Approach" shoe is a bit of a misnomer. Things like the Boulder X, the 5.10 Camp 4 that I have - or even more so the Sportiva Ganda - are intended as climbing shoes in which one can also walk to & from the route. You're going to be wearing them all day, but the day is expected to involve more scrambling and climbing than walking. I use my Camp 4s for long alpine ridge scrambles with climbing up to UIAA IV or so. Gandas seem to be the footwear of choice for guides in the Dolomites these days. Etc.
This is the reason for the somewhat narrow toe box which, as you say, makes them less than ideal for really long walks.
For pure hill walking if I'm not expecting snow I'd always use a decent fell/trail shoe. My current personal favourites are Inov-8 310s.
For an actual approach shoe that I'm going to be carrying while I'm climbing I'd also want something much lighter than a typical "approach" shoe.
I've done multi-day hikes in my Camp 4s because the "hikes" involved a lot of scrambling, but for the walking part they're far from ideal - heavier and stiffer than a trail shoe without the grip and ankle suport of a boot. It simply isn't what they're designed for.
I tend to wear fell shoes for most of the year - and boots only when I think I'll encounter hard snow and need to use proper crampons or kick into it.
There's also a case for lightweight boots in some very boggy places - and the ankle protection can be a bonus on scree, although ankle gaiters can do a reasonable job.
But it's not necessarily just your ankle they work harder - it's your foot, too, at least in softer shoes like fell shoes - having had a plantar fasciitis strain recently (happened whilst wearing boots, ironically...), it's far more noticeable in fell shoes.
Yes, of course it could be, to replay the sarcasm. But in the dry, they can function as hillwalking shoes if you know their limitations. So I thought I would answer the question that referred to adapting them, a design for scrambling and climbing, for general "hiking". I agree with the rest of your post as well.
So far from what I can gather most people think the benefits outweigh the disadvantages.
They are no use on wet grass...but I find them superb on wet rock.
They are no use descending scree slopes and boggy ground...but what are?
They maybe dont provide enough "cushion" on rock strewn ground and can make your feet ache a little. Minor nuisance!
They dont give ankle support? Yes but this is overrated. And at least they dont knacker your shins and knees like boots.
They feel light and dont sap your energy.
They make traditional fuddy duddies annoyed and this is good.
They are cheaper than boots.
My Boulder x have been used weekly for 3 years. Didnt Think they would last 3 months.
But agree as for taking them alone maybe on a weeks summer hiking with nothing else in reserve. I might be a bit hesitant.
But why approach shoes specifically and not walking shoes?
Agree with the others.. I use road shoes a lot but the sole does
Seem a tad thin so your feet can get sore but never out of trail running or road running shoes for most days out.. Just build up and see how it goes.. Once you get used to trainers it's such a pain ever using boots again..
I've used my Sportiva Boulder Xs for 8 years on 5 continents, different conditions, replaced the soles twice and reluctantly retired them at the weekend. I'll use them for anything. Ankle support is important but fitness, strength and ability are a factor.
Incidentally the Sportivas were significantly enhanced by a vibram sole
I also put in a shock absorbing inner
A decent aggressive sole pattern e.g. like on a Walsh PB works extremely well on wet grass, scree and bog.
I'm also old enough to remember the old late 80s Scarpa Attak sole, which I still think to have been one of the best heel designs on a boot ever, and worked well with yetis. I would certainly buy another pair of late 80s Mantas to be my only boot given the chance, but these days fell shoes do pretty much everything I need.
I don't think you need ankle support.. one you have done enough you get strong ankles, I think its probably safer as boots offer false security but having an ankle roll is now bad thing sometimes. a boot can hold it too much and not let the ankle roll free.
I recently did a four day hike through the Alps almost entirely in approach shoes. Not a single blister to report. I only had to put boots on for the glaciated bits.
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