/ Trail runners vs hiking boots
I picked up multi day hiking last year. Been on 2 trips so far. After much research I decided to go for trail runners instead of heavier hiking boots (La Sportiva Crossover 2.0 gtx). Read a lot of articles out there on the merits of trail runners vs boots but none seem to address the impact of overall weight on choice of footwear.
We don't do very technical trails BUT I do carry heavy loads, typically around 35kg. I weigh in at 95kg and we tend do cover 20-30km per day. I realized on my last trip that my trail runners were starting to reach their limits, twisted my ankle a couple times, slipped, etc..
Given the weight and the miles we cover each day, do you think it's sensible for me to switch over to a mid boot?
I have no experience with hiking boots so not sure how much more tiring/cumbersome our hikes will become if I leave my trail runners behind.
I've been recommended something like a Sportiva TX4 or Trango TRK GTX.
Any thoughts appreciated
This is a very personal call. I couldn't even contemplate carrying any load without a fully supportive boot (because ankles are weak and I've been over on them too many times to risk it) but others prefer lighter but less supportive options.
> I have no experience with hiking boots so not sure how much more tiring/cumbersome our hikes will become if I leave my trail runners behind.
i'm sure you'd cope, but longer distances are bound to be less unpleasant in lighter shoes. Have you considered walking poles for extra support on tricky/steep bits? And maybe it'd be worth focussing on reducing the weight you're carrying, if you can - 35kg seems like a lot
I tried on a pair of Scarpa R Evo Pro GTX yesterday and was very impressed with them. Very light and offer the ankle support the shoes lack. Maybe worth a look?
Forget what brand/boot you've been recommended for the moment and try on as many lightweight boots as you can; it is important that they fit your feet before anything else. If you are used to carrying such heavy loads, then take your lightest trail shoes with you and use them in camp and you'll also have them with you in case your boots give you problems.
35kg? Over what sort of distance? I'd be looking to reduce the load, you might then find you can travel further each day and need to carry less food.
Heard good things about them, will also check them out, thanks
Yeah I use walking poles already, lifesaver!
The weight is actually no issue for me to carry in terms of comfort, I also don't have ultralight gear tbh so my base weight already quite high. We do ~100km hikes so around 5 days worth of food, this also includes 4L of water which I always tend to carry
> this also includes 4L of water which I always tend to carry
There is your problem !! Where are these hikes in the world that you need to 'always' carry 4L or water ?
> We do ~100km hikes so around 5 days worth of food, this also includes 4L of water which I always tend to carry
35lbs that would be more like 2 weeks worth of food for me. 4 lt of water are you walking in a desert? If not just fill up when you need it, if you're worried about quality get a filter.
A bit of trial and error is needed to find what works for you
Agreed with previous comment. 4l is a bit bonkers. Again you'll need to drink more water to replace all the sweat you lose carrying all that water.
A litre Nalgene and a folding water carrier for boosting capacity is as much as you should really need. Water filter is a good idea, I just use tablets and a spare sock to filter.
The last 100k walk I did took 4 days carrying a 12kg pack. Tent and stove fuel was shared between 2.
Where are your walks? That is a lot of water and a huge amount of kit. I'm sure you could drop many kilos with just taking less stuff (not buying new kit)
> The weight is actually no issue for me to carry in terms of comfort, I also don't have ultralight gear tbh so my base weight already quite high.
Personally I'd say even 20kgs is high for a multi day camping trip.
Whilst you might be able to handle the weight now, when you are 40,50,60 your knees and other joints might pay you back for carrying such an unnecessarily heavy load when younger.
I've always hiked in boots, and find them much more comfortable. The only time were I find trail shoes come into their own is when scrambling where they are less clunky than boots, but for overall distance comfort boots are the best.
But as you say, it's a matter of personal choice
If you are twisting your ankle regularly, more support from boots is not the answer, you should start doing exercises to strength them. Even if you have a history of weak ankles supporting them with boots is only going to make what muscles you have left waste away.
Hikes will become more tiring the heavier your footwear, to simulate this go for a walk in your trail runners with ankle weights on.
The only advantage I can see to heavier footwear when carrying heavy loads is that the soles are generally thicker and will protect your feet when walking on very sharp stony ground.
Completely agree with this...
I’m in my mid/late 20’s and struggle with my knees after years of football 4/5 times a week. Didn’t notice it until I started walking a lot more. Now I carry a lot less to try and reduce the impact on my knees for the future.
Easy to forget about the later years when you ‘feel ok’
For what it's worth, ankle support in hiking boots is a myth used to sell boots.
Even high-top B3's don't actually offer much in the way of ankle support (i.e. if your foot lands past the point of muscular control will the boot prevent a supination or pronanting ligament pull).
The only boots that offer ankle support are ski boots. You could try those, but I suspect you would be less than happy. Or, you can wear a brace.
It's more important to have a stable and low boot to improve proprioception and reduce the chance / severity of an ankle roll.
Poles are also excellent.
> For what it's worth, ankle support in hiking boots is a myth used to sell boots.
From personal experience I'd disagree.
They certainly don't protect you from serious ankle injuries!
I have destroyed all the ligaments in my ankle while wearing good solid leather boots. I have had a client break her ankle in boots too.
I have since strengthened my ankles a lot and now walk a lot in trail shoes with no issues at all.
Ankle strength will protect you much more than boots
Ditch a load of weight and strengthen your ankles.
I find I trip more in boots than I do in trail shoes. They are less precise and heavier. Once you have tired legs I think trips are more likely.
I tend to use boots if I am bog bashing, but rarely if most of my walk is going to be on path
would it be possible to post a kit list?
As others have said 35kg is loads - the closest I've got to that would be when walking into remote crags for 3 or 4 days of winter camping with full winter climbing gear. Along with a reasonable volume of fine malt.
Well boots certainly can't prevent ankle ligament damage but in my case they significantly reduce the frequency of the damage.
I'm possibly not typical though, having had club foot as a kid which has left me with a legacy of zero elasticity in ankle ligaments and tendons.
I personally prefer boots for rough/mountain walking and with loads but can see that any increased ankle support may be slight, especially in lightweight and mid boots.
IMHO boots do often seem to have a much better, deep grip pattern, are better if digging the edges into slopes, and are better if using the toe and heel in ascent and descent (boots more often have a square rather than curved up heel and toe, and square, firm sides to the sole). Also being higher less likely to fill with water from pools etc.
However lightweight footwear often is a comparative joy to walk in especially with the "one kg on the foot equals 3-5 kg on back" 'rule', coolness and speed of drying.
Not really tried them but does anyone have experience of using ankle supports, including the cheap neoprene ones? They might magically turn a trainer into a lightweight boot!
Again 4 kg water (over half a stone in real weight)! I just use coke bottles and rarely fill with more than 0.5 l. Sometimes take sterilizing tabs but rarely use them.
Thanks to everyone
I’m gonna go try some light hiking boots, have seen a few that appear sturdy but hardly weigh more than my trail runners. As some of you say, assume it’s down to personal preference and what works for you.
With regards to weight, will try and write down a more extensive kit list.
Tend to hike in the Pyrenees on trails less travelled so we never know when or if we’ll run into a water source. I’ve found 3-4L per day necessary for myself when you factor in a bit of washing and cooking too. Had a few bad experiences with not finding any water so tend to err on the side of caution here.
I have had Crossovers, although first gen ones. I have also done a great amount of walks in B1 boots (including 150km in 3 days).
I wouldn't want to wear light shoes over rough terrain, long days and/or heavy loads. Light shoes are where day walks are for, but anything harder/longer than that and boots come in play. Yes, they are more tiring, but still work better for me. Will that be the same for you? Who knows!
Also, depending on where and in what conditions you walk, most lightweight shoes have very slim lugs, making descents on wet grass/mud deadly. I had cheap lightweight boots that I really liked until I did longer days with heavier loads. My soles were killing me and I was slipping on grass so much.
Crossovers were one of my most favourite shoes, but wore out in less than 15 mountain days.
3 to 4 L in the Pyrenees ? I usually carry about 1, occasionally a little more on limestone areas, and even when walking alone with camping gear and food for several days never carry anything like 35Kg (I suspect more like 10-15 max if more food than usual). I suspect the only time I've carried more than 20Kg was when I had camping plus climbing gear with several days food & fuel)
Or is this just a wind-up?
35kg is a really decent load. I'd go for full ankle protection and decent footbeds, even if it was just on plain gravel tracks. WIthout the support, your lower back and knees won't be happy.
Lots of options, go and try stuff on and see what fits. I love my nice light Meindl Air Revolutions but it's all a bout fit. And decent foot beds, especially as the loads creep up.
Overall, your trips won't be more tiring because you'll be looking after your feet, ankles, knees and hips more by giving them support. So, even though you'll have slightly more weight on your feet, the increase in support will mean less stress on the body over the course of a day.
Even with 4Kg of water that leaves 31KG of kit. I'd review your kit and you should be able to bring it down to 15Kg or less including that water.
> i'm sure you'd cope, but longer distances are bound to be less unpleasant in lighter shoes.
I really like trainers for days out on the hill instead of boots, but I have noticed on big days that at the end of the day my soles can become sore from the pounding, which I assume wouldn't be the case with a stiffer sole, for what the op is suggesting, I'd be thinking boots.
From personal experience, you're enjoying the placebo effect.
The protective effect of 'high-top' shoes remains to be established.
These findings provide preliminary evidence suggesting that wearing high-top shoes can, in certain conditions, induce a delayed pre-activation timing and decreased amplitude of evertor muscle activity, and may therefore have a detrimental effect on establishing and maintaining functional ankle joint stability.
There was no significant difference among these 3 groups, leading to the conclusion that there is no strong relationship between shoe type and ankle sprains
For extrinsic factors, although they found some discrepancies among the included studies, they generally reported that the prescription of orthosis, but not high-top shoes, could help decreasing the risk of sustaining ankle sprain injury in players with previous sprain history.
There is no scientific proof however that special socks or high-top shoes can prevent sprains.
There was no statistically significant difference in the incidence of lateral ankle sprains between recruits who trained in modified basketball shoes or standard lightweight infantry boots.
Contrary to common belief, however, high-top shoes offer no advantages in terms of foot or ankle support over their low-cut counterparts.
Therefore, this study showed no protective benefit in the incidence of an ankle sprain with the use of ankle braces worn by high school volleyball players
My partner works for a company that makes many of the boots that you buy for hiking. I won't say which, but they regularly joke about it. "Ankle support" sells boots, but doesn't protect your ankles. You would get a lower incidence of rolling in low shoes because your stack height makes it more difficult for you to pass the point of control. 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.
Also, see this.
> The only reasons for wearing high boots are a) warmth, b) waterproofing and c) sole stiffness for crampons.
I quite like boots for rough terrain too, particularly deep heather and rubbly scree. Mind you, that could be because of the overall protection they provide the foot as much as any support as such, and I'd happily concede that trail shoes afford much more nimbleness and foot-feel.
Second Bwox’s point about high boots protecting from rock edges, scree etc.
Thanks for the interesting references. Lazily I’ve only briefly scanned them. However I always have reservations about conclusions drawn from this type of data with possibly large variations between individuals. And for example volleyball is played on a very different surface. Personally I don’t know what Israeli recruit training involves.
I do find your own experiences with the military far more convincing. I suppose fell runners are pretty good proof of ankle support not being necessary(though they don’t carry heavy loads).
Perhaps then the real reason many of us still choose high boots is not ankle support but that they tend, though certainly not exclusively, to be combined with other features that are not present in all low trainer type shoes. For example boots are more likely to have deep cleated, stiffer soles with square edges compared to the shallower grips, thin bendy flared edges and curved toes of many low shoes. Also it may be easier to hold a foot tight with a laced up ankle. These might lead to a low shoe being more likely to twist and slip on rough ground. A study of users of identical footwear but with half having a high ankle might elucidate J.
As I get older lighter footwear is increasingly attractive, as long as I can avoid injury.
Your ref saying “study showed no protective benefit in the incidence of an ankle sprain with the use of ankle braces worn by high school volleyball players” was particularly disappointing as I’ve often thought I might try wearing light footwear but adding and removing ankle braces as the terrain varied (this can’t be an original idea and I might start a thread asking for people’s experiences). However I can’t see the logic in an orthotic being able to protect an injured ankle but not a healthy one.
PS Just reread and you earlier suggested using an ankle brace yourself .
Last year on a hike I carried 5l at the outset because I knew there would be no water sources for the first day - otherwise I'd always try to keep it 1-2l and refill as needed.
As others say, 35kg seems crazy. My base weight is <8kg including camera gear. Lighter kit does cost more, but for under £1k you can get nearly all you need and then have much more enjoyable hikes. Even with 5 days of food and a lot of water it shouldn't be too hard to get under 14kg. I'd highly recommend making a spreadsheet of the entire contents of your pack and weighing everything - then evaluate where you can make the biggest weight savings vs cost.
I'd also highly recommend hiking poles - they've saved my ankles several times.
You don't need to spend a grand to save weight! I think this perception puts people off of trying to reduce their pack weight, a bit of creativity works wonders for saving weight.
I am a guide and live and work in the Pyrenees and for me, as others have said, the issue of your pack weight is a big problem. Whilst you may think that it is not a problem, trekking with a lighter pack is less stress and a delight. Regarding your foot wear, I work with people who use trail running shoes and people who wear B3 boots and all seem quite happy with their shoes/boots. Personally I wear B1/B2 boots depending on the terrain. As you have probably found out, the terrain in the Pyrenees is somewhat rockier than the Alps and for me the issue is not one of ankle support but of the thickness of the sole/mid-sole. I have tried trainers/trail shoes and I find that after a long day my feet feel every stone and pebble and get really tender. If you do not like wearing a solid boot then try out an approach shoe which tends to have a thicker sole/mid-sole and upper. As with all of the discussions over boots v shoes, fit is the key as if you get blisters your trip will be miserable. Good luck.
AKA "don't take stuff you don't need". Surprisingly, saves money, too.
Appreciate that, will weigh my gear when I pack for the next trip and stick it in a spreadsheet. If you ask me now how I load up 32kg I couldn't tell you but it always ends up being heavier than i anticipate!
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