Do I need boots.

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I've always been quite the traditionalist, I'm on the hill I need boots, I also always thought my ankles were a weak spot so encasing them boots was the thing to do to protect them. 

But more and more I see people in walking/trail/running shoes and wonder if I should give it a go, will having lighter feet help me go further and maybe abit faster.

Anyone been a recent convert from boots to shoes, was it an epiphany moment, or any horror stories about how you tried shoes and immediately broke yourself. 

Also what sort of socks do you wear with them.  

Post edited at 09:59
 Graeme G 05 Apr 2022
In reply to Mrs Only a Hill:

Had this debate recently on here. I’m also a traditionalist, normally heavy leather Scarpas.

That said I’ve always used lighter boots for ‘summer’. I’m not convinced I go much faster, losing weight would make significantly more of a difference. But I do notice every step being ‘lighter’.

 JIMBO 05 Apr 2022
In reply to Mrs Only a Hill:

depends on the terrain...

if its dry, rocky, mostly 'path' like I'll be in shoes (e.g. most of the main trails to Mount Snowdon or the motorway to Pen y Fan)

if it's all rugged, baby heads, boggy, etc. I'll be in boots. (e.g. most of Dartmoor or off piste and less travelled peaks)

I suffer from an allergy to elastane which can blister badly in the heat... which is worse in boots about the top of the ankle... in shoes in the summer I never get it.

 daWalt 05 Apr 2022
In reply to Mrs Only a Hill:

I'm a big fan of trail / fell shoes with waterproof socks (even in winter). waterproof socks being a bit optional depending on temperature, terrain and general wetness. sometimes it's just better to accept wet feet and live with it.

it was a bit of a dramatic conversion for me at the time; there weren't half as many shoe options at the time and I just hadn't known fell-shoes were a thing (had no ideal what walshes were)

big boots just make you clump around like a ham-footed lummox. fell shoes have much better grip on steep wet grass, and having ankle flexibility gives you a much better feel for the ground beneath you. waterproof socks don't last forever, and your feet still get wet from condensation etc. 

IMHO it's not so much the "strength" of your ankles as flexibility; you're less likely to damage tendons rolling over your ankle if you've got decent range of movement.

In reply to Mrs Only a Hill:

I certainly prefer fell/trail shoes (or fabric boots) for walking in dry conditions.

However it's one thing to run through streams, mud and bogs on a fell race, and another to walk for hours with wet/frozen toes and bits of mud, stones and heather dropping down the ankle cuff and needing removing.

Each have their advantages and disadvantages.

In reply to Mrs Only a Hill:

Copied from my reply in a recent thread: "Many people seem to think that hiking/mountaineering boots do not provide significant support eg from recent thread: "I've got a pretty unstable ankle, but even B3 mountaineering boots don't really give it any support ". There's someone with a military background that was strongly of this opinion on UKC forums. It seem that a high ankle is mainly of use to minimize entry of water, stones etc. That's my experience too."

Sorry I can't remember the UKC name of the military guy who was quite convincing.

Post edited at 10:52
 C Witter 05 Apr 2022
In reply to Mrs Only a Hill:

Boots are hot, heavy and generally a bit unresponsive. If it's not icy or really wet, I'd almost always prefer approach shoes. I think the ankle rolling thing is a myth perpetuated by scout leaders and clumsy people who don't look where they're going. Fell running shoes are great, too. If you go for a shoe, make sure it has some fairly deep lugs, at least on the heel sole, to give traction on damp grass. If you're scrambling, an approach shoe is a delight compared to a stiff boot!

In reply to Mrs Only a Hill:

Thanks guys some good comments here, the things about water, heather, grit and such getting in is one thing concerning me, I get very paranoid about ticks, I wonder if exposing more of my lower leg is just inviting the wee beasties to nom me.  

In reply to Mrs Only a Hill:

 The following is from UKC forums in 2018: Trail runners vs hiking boots.
"My partner works for a company that makes many of the boots that you buy for hiking. ..... they regularly joke about it.  "Ankle support" sells boots, but doesn't protect your ankles. .... The only reasons for wearing high boots are a) warmth, b) waterproofing and c) sole stiffness for crampons. Equally, I work in the forces and a particularly pointy part of the forces where we spend a lot of time on our feet. Ankle MSKI due to  boots being low is being debunked and people are regularly running long distances with weights from 15-30kg and little to no "mechanical ankle support" and mski are reduced."

Post edited at 10:54
In reply to Mrs Only a Hill:

I never wear boots, and the only downside is that I frequently end up with wet feet from unplanned bog-sploshing. I'm one of those who think that boots don't really offer any advantages, but plenty of disadvantages such as making you clomp around unnaturally, decreased sensitivity to the terrain, reinforcing weakness, etc. I don't think you can 'protect' a joint or a weakness by encasing it in supportive things - ultimately I think it's far healthier to work to develop ankle strength rather than try to make up for biomechanical shortcomings with footwear. Strength comes with use, and conversely always wearing boots will result in developing weakness through underuse of the muscles and ligaments that stabilise the ankle. And I suspect that the more natural our gait, the healthier it will be both over longer distances and in the long term. Boots force a less natural gait by virtue of them being clunky and lacking sensitivity.

I once sprained my ankle good and proper in France by falling onto it, twisted underneath me, with my entire bodyweight. I'm certain that the outcome if I'd been wearing boots would have been snapping my leg in half.

I'm no expert though, so free salt sachets are provided alongside this post.

 wbo2 05 Apr 2022
In reply to Mrs Only a Hill: I own a pair of boots, but only because I'm required to wear them for fieldwork.  Most of the time running shoes, then straight to B3's. And even my B3's have minimal and I would assume ineffective ankle support, but have a long gaiter to keep the feet warm and dryish

 BruceM 05 Apr 2022
In reply to Mrs Only a Hill:

It really depends upon your own body.  What works for others might not work for you.  Size of feet and relative size/strength of ankles etc.  There is truth and logic in all of that talk about flexibility and removing splints that stiff ankle boots are to strengthen your own ankle/leg/foot.  Wobble boards and all that.  But for some people nothing might work very well -- at least not all the time.

I have to pick and choose carefully what to wear based on ground/weather conditions, load carried, whether I need spikes/crampons, poles....  Sometimes it's minimal Teva sandals over rocky glacier moraine.  Sometimes it's custom stiffened boots for extra lateral support on traversy mountain stuff.  (Note: my feet/ankles don't look like many others, for the shape/size of my body.)

So, I'd say, if you're interested, try shoes, gently on predictable terrain.  See how they work for you.  Be careful.  Take it from there.

In reply to Mrs Only a Hill:

Looks like I will be looking in to getting some hill shoes then, and there was me thinking my next purchase of footwear would be these.

In reply to Mrs Only a Hill:

I have both the boot and shoe version of the Merrell MOAB 2 GTX.  I tend to use the boot version if it's been wet, as the higher ankles mean I'm less likely to get wet feet, but the shoe version otherwise.  I much prefer the freedom of movement, and I find I get a lot less chafe.

However, being a bit "cack footed", if there is such a word (two left feet?), I've gone over on my ankle countless times in daily life - enough in fact that I can go all the way over without injury as the tendons have stretched.  If that's not true of you, the ankle support may be of some value.

By the way I do recommend the MOABs as long as you don't mind needing to replace fairly often - they aren't a shoe for life (the sole wears out and they develop leaks), but they aren't outrageously expensive and I find they stick to literally anything almost as well as climbing shoes.  I tried a pair of traditional Brasher Fellmasters to see whether they would suit, and I found the rather hard rubber used on the sole slipped all over the place, and ended up selling them and going back to MOABs.

(MOAB = Mother Of All Boots, if I recall )

Post edited at 11:48
In reply to BruceM:

I've seen someone doing Lakes in a Day in Xeros, and respect to him - I can never cope with sandals when it's rocky or wet - I always end up with stones stuck in them, and when it's wet my feet slip around and I get blisters (or they're done up so tight it cuts the blood supply off).

In reply to Mrs Only a Hill:

Guess it will be nice, at least on drier days to not need to be changing footwear getting in and out of the car. Cut own on the turbo faff time. 

 johnlc 05 Apr 2022
In reply to Mrs Only a Hill:

Here is another inexpert 'bloke in a pub' viewpoint:

I used to twist my ankles a LOT.  I ended up at a physo and I also saw a physiologist.  I started muttering about needing more ankle support but their viewpoint was in keeping with much of the above comments ie no - that is not what you need.

As you repeatedly twist your ankles, it stretches and damages the tendons.  These tendons have proprioreceptors in, which send messages to your brain to indicate that they are getting stretched.  This makes your body tighten up the muscles to prevent it.  Damage to the tendons damages the proprioreceptors, meaning that they are slower to sense that you are about to go over on your ankle.  Hence you are more likely to twist it.  Hence you damage those nerves even more.  Hence you are even more likely to damage it etc.

The key is to improve your proprioception.  Try standing on one leg.  Then try it whilst doing a task like washing your face etc.  Then try it with your eyes shut.  Then buy a wobble board and practice on that.  It improves your proprioception and hence you greatly decrease the amount of time that you spend twisting your ankle.

 Mike Stretford 05 Apr 2022
In reply to Mrs Only a Hill:

Trainers, unless it's wet or icy, in which case I'd rarely be out anyhow. I don't totally dismiss the old saying of 'be ready for anything', but modern weather forecasting has made a big difference.

 wercat 05 Apr 2022
In reply to Mrs Only a Hill:

I changed about 20 years ago from heavy leather boots (spring-autumn) to much lighter boots.  However, this does not mean a light sole!  A good supportive and not too flimsy sole can be combined with fairly light uppers,  Light uppers should still prevent lateral slippage and have good lateral support and good heel stability.

That is why I have used Aku for 10 years or so for everything from walking to soloing Cuillin scrambles up to Inn Pin and Pinnacle Ridge of SgNG standard.  Currently have a pair of pilgrims as they are the closest match to previously models that you can't get any more in the UK

 Babika 05 Apr 2022
In reply to Mrs Only a Hill:

Forget the boots just buy those Ruby Shoos. They look fantastic! 

I wear boots a lot as I live in the country, not the mountains, and seem to spend quite a bit of time struggling over ploughed fields and the like.

You can never tell what a footpath will be like from 1 week to the next sometimes. If I had fell running shoes I'd be carrying half the field around on my legs and be seriously wet and muddy for a lot of hours. 

Horses for courses. 

 Connor Nunns 05 Apr 2022
In reply to Mrs Only a Hill:

I started in boots, got tired of the weight, bulk, and warmth of them. Switched to trainers, the same happened again and now I go on the hill barefoot. Usually with a lightweight pair of barefoot style shoes somewhere in my pack for any particularly rocky sections, but I've made it up and down both Great Gable and Scafell Pike barefoot with no issues and regularly go cragging barefoot so they're normally just unnecessary weight.

I do get boots out for winter though, I'm not that tough yet. But I would definitely recommend trying going barefoot in mild to warm conditions over not too hazardous ground. If you don't like it you can always stick your shoes back on.

In reply to Babika:

I will probably still have the pretty shoes, I need them for a wedding, although saying that the groom of the upcoming wedding did attend mine in approach shoes so maybe I should return the favour, will go cracking with my dress.    

In reply to Mrs Only a Hill:

> Thanks guys some good comments here, the things about water, heather, grit and such getting in is one thing concerning me, I get very paranoid about ticks, I wonder if exposing more of my lower leg is just inviting the wee beasties to nom me.  s

If you are in that type of terrain get yourself a pair of ankle (or full length) gaiters to protect from ticks and small stones/twigs getting into the top of shoes.

 Sealwife 05 Apr 2022
In reply to Mrs Only a Hill:

Another vote for trail shoes unless you need a crampon or it’s almost impassable owing to bogs.

My boots were causing me achilles grief so I switched to trail shoes for off-road coastal walking near home (no mountains were I live).  It was a revelation, I’m so much more sure-footed when I wear flexible shoes that have a good grip.  Slithering around on rocky shores much easier and more enjoyable in shoes.  So even when I do get to the mountains, it’s the shoes I reach for.  

I wear them with medium weight running socks and if it’s likely to be wet, I take a spare pair.  My shoes aren’t the goretex lined type but they tend to drain and dry out pretty well and I can knock the muck off the stick them in a mesh bag and pop them in the washing machine when I get home.

In reply to Mrs Only a Hill:

Over the past 12 to 18 months I have been a convert from boots to trail shoes, specially Hoka Speedgoat 4’s. I love them. I tend to like fast and light in the hills and have been doing and training for some big none stop days and the cushioning and lightness make a massive difference to me as I have a dodgy knee.

I recently bought some Seal skin waterproof socks and wore them on Friday night whilst on a night time stomp along the Pennine way, went through a few bogs and stream crossings, shoes were wet through but my feet were warm and dry all night, I do move fast though so maybe if you were at a more sedate pace cold may be a factor in winter. 

also + 1 for gaiters to stop debri getting in. 

hope that helps 

Post edited at 16:47
 kathrync 05 Apr 2022
In reply to Mrs Only a Hill:

I think this is very much down to personal preference, and terrain. I experimented with trail shoes a couple of years back, but generally still prefer my boots. I'll use shoes in straight forward terrain (walking around in the Chilterns with Dad, coastal paths and similar). As soon as it's boggy, tussocky, boulder-y or if there is scree involved, I prefer my boots. If I'm unsure, I'll usually go with the boots.

I should add, I didn't have any particular problem with trail shoes - I just prefer boots!

 wercat 06 Apr 2022
In reply to kathrync:

and there are boots, and  boots, and boots ....

If people were aware of the vast differences in comfort and stability on steep, rough or difficult ground (including scree) between different models of boot whether big and heavy (which can be just as unsupportive and awkward if they aren't right) or lightweight (but always with a supportive sole and secure heel) - perhaps there would be far fewer bad boots sold.

 colinakmc 06 Apr 2022
In reply to Mrs Only a Hill:

Mostly boots for me, but years ago I bought a pair of Innov8’s (can’t remember the model name, but it was very soon after the brand appeared) and tried them, apprehensively, on Curved Ridge. They were great, you can place your feet much more precisely, tiptoe through bouldery sections, and pad up steep slabs that you wouldn’t look at in boots. And so much less fatigue.
I had expected that they’d be limited except on grassy hills but they’re good for everything except scree running. Your feet get wet but then the saturated socks warm up so you stay reasonably comfortable. So much so I started wearing them a lot - boots kept only for days of biblical downpour and for winter.

Well worth a try.

 John Gresty 06 Apr 2022
In reply to Mrs Only a Hill:

Very terrain dependant, but try a pair of decent walking sandals, it's amazing how efficient they can be.

But related to this, some people are a lot more skilled at walking than others, which can make a difference in the footwear they find  can cope with.


 girlymonkey 06 Apr 2022
In reply to Mrs Only a Hill:

I only wear boots if crampons are required. If you haven't been used to trail shoes, your calf muscles will get tired initially, so start small with them. However, once you are used to them they are great. I have much more precision with foot placement, so fewer stumbles. Ankle muscles are perfectly capable of supporting you. 

My feet get wet no matter what I wear, so lightweight trail shoes dry much quicker and much comfier. I wear warmer socks in winter, some swear by waterproof socks. In snow, but not enough serious enough to need crampons, I wear trail shoes and microspikes.

 David Alcock 08 Apr 2022
In reply to Connor Nunns:

Yeah, another barefoot person here in the warmer half of the year. I regularIy walk the Northern Rhinogydd barefoot. I stick a pair of sandals in a bag too just in case. I find it safer than boots in tough terrain - you can feel hidden holes in the heather better for instance. That said, you need your wits on wet grass. 

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