View Full Version : Going back to boots after trail runners?

03-09-2016, 10:15
Hello! I've been following this site for a while but this is my first post. I know the trail runner/ hiking boot is a beat issue but I haven't found any info on the opposite.

By hiking boot I mean Salomon not a heavy Danner or such. And my trail runners are new balance 610 I think. So here's my question, has anyone gone back to boots?

My boots are
20oz heavier for the pair
Stay damp longer
Not quite as comfortable in general

My trail runners are
Always wet if there is a hint of water
Feet are filthy
Not as protective
Not as supportive on the sole

My main problem is that my feet are always wet. Even with sweating 8 hours on a summer day my feet never wrinkled in my boots. I do remove them at lunch. But my trail runners have my feet wet all day. If there is 3/4" of moist mud, I am wet. And I've read they dry out faster but it's not fast. Its hours that they stay wet. In a heavy rain, my boots get wet. Or if I walk in water all day, they get wet. But if I air them out at night and wear dry socks the next day, I never feel it. With my trail runners, I am immediately wet the next day. So I kind of wonder if it's a fad? But I did read a survery on AT thru hikers and as many used shoes as boots. I want to experience the benefits of trail runners but I am not seeing it at this point. Any thoughts?

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03-09-2016, 10:20
Use what works best for u !

03-09-2016, 10:23
I know. And I feel like I am either being a baby about the trail runners or forcing it. My trail runners are slipper comfortable. I never read anything but praise for them.

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03-09-2016, 10:26
I suspect it's a case of material choice rather than anything else. If I had unlimited money, I'd probably experiment with all sorts of shoes with various names and labels. With all the different foot shapes, weights, weatger conditions, trail conditions, etc. there's always going to be something you like more or less based on your situation.

03-09-2016, 10:31
Your last paragraph answered your own question.

03-09-2016, 10:56
I tried a version of trail runners/ running shoes and don't like them either. My biggest peeve about them is the amount of fine dust that can permeate the mesh which, as you said, leaves feet perpetually dirty and at a higher risk for blisters. I also don't like shoes in general...I am always wearing boots (or barefoot in summer) so shoes just aren't as comfortable to me. I also wear a pair of ultra-light boots designed for law enforcement (I used to be in LE) that breathe well, dry quickly and are comfortable and supportive. They also weigh in about the same or only an oz or two over a pair of trail runners. This is my choice and it works well for me. As lonehiker said, you pretty much answered yourself. Wear what is comfortable FOR YOU.

03-09-2016, 11:10
i agree. where I hike I'm constantly crossing small drainages, and puddles/mud/whathaveyou are so common that trail runners are just more trouble than they're worth. in boots I can tromp through all of these obstacles without worrying about wet feet.

03-09-2016, 11:41
Just another long-term footwear progression (45 years of backpacking).... Decades of full leather boots (AKA: "waffle Stompers"), of course, it's what we used in the 70's-90's. Then came "light hikers", kinda boots, but softer, more comfortable out of the box. Then came the trail-runner era, my choice was New Balance, primarily because they have wide-width sizing (as do one or two others).

I love hiking in trail runners for many obvious reasons, light, dry quickly, comfy out of the box. But trail runners have their shortcomings, like in my experience, they wear out faster, and sometimes it really is nice to have a bit more waterproofness.

The #1 (by far) issue I have with practically every trail runner I've tried is the softness of the sole, or said another way, the lack of a significant shank. Contrary to popular belief, most ankle support comes from sole stiffness, in particular torsional stiffness (twisting stiffness), not boot height.

People generally believe that they get ankle support from high boots, but the main reason they do get ankle support from high boots is that high boots generally have a nice stiff sole.

So, voila, maybe about 10 years or so ago some boot/shoe companies came out with low cut hiking shoes (boots?) that had very stiff soles. perfect! Best of all worlds. My particular favorite is the Merrell Chameleon. comfy out of the box, lighter than boots (but heavier than trail runners), nice grippy tread, but most importantly, a very stiff sole (from a fiberglass internal shank). Other models, like the Merrell Moabs are comfy, but have softer soles.

My particular feet feel much better, hurt less and are less fatigued after a day spent hiking many miles in my stiff soled "shoes" (boots?), my Merrell Chameleons. They come in both a "ventilator" and a goretex lined semi-waterproof model. I've been wearing various versions of this shoe/boot for about 10 years.

BTW: I'm not talking about the Merrell Chameleon "stretch" model, these feel horrible on my feet. YMMV.

03-09-2016, 12:55
I have gone the full route with waterproof leather boots, mid-trail shoes, low-trail shoes, and trail runners. Though I like the feel of less weight on my feet, I did not like the punishment and bruising the bottoms of my feet would get walking on trail that had exposed tree roots, small egg shaped rocks in dry stream beds, etc. Hiking shoes were a little more sturdy, but not by a lot.

Like the OP, I had a problem with wet feet nearly all the time in dew conditions to light nuisance rain. The dust that walked through the shoes into my socks was really bad some days, causing more than a few miles of discomfort. Then I developed a nasty case of Plantar Fasciitis that put me back into the hightop leather boots. Frankly, I feel much more at home in these, the added weight is not as much of an issue for me as I thought it was, I have better foot/ankle support and don't have to tippy toe around puddles and streams that would inundate the runners.

Being wet is part of the hiking experience, but I use Nikwax pretty much ever 90 days on these boots, so they are pretty water tight. I've a gaiter I use as a rain block for water coming down my legs in summer and deflects the water to the outside of the boot pretty well. If its raining heavily, I usually have rain paints that don't allow water near the top part of the boot. So I have to say my feet can remain reasonably dry most of the time, even in poor weather.

This has been my experience, which may not work for you (or others).

03-09-2016, 13:06
Sounds like waterproof shoes would solve your problem. Seems really obvious to me.

03-09-2016, 13:22
I agree with that. I'm ok with mids like my Salomons.

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03-09-2016, 13:28
"Sounds like waterproof shoes would solve your problem."

FWIW, I'm not a big fan of waterproof shoes for several reasons. They don't breathe as well; part of what shoe fans find appealing from shoes is that they don't create that sauna-like micro-climate, AND that when they do get wet, they dry faster. Waterproof shoes don't dry as fast, but being low-cut, more chance IMO of getting water in from the top. And since shoes aren't as long-term durable as boots, what I've found to happen is that you get a wear point somewhere on the shoe so it's not really waterproof anymore in that way, i.e., a little hole working it's way in the fabric. For me, at least, a waterproof shoe with even a small hole in it is akin to closing the screen door on a submarine. It's going to get wet inside, and then take longer to dry out.

A comment about dirty feet leading to blisters --- FWIW, I've not found that to be the case, not with the sort of dust that can infiltrate through the shoe mesh. Bigger stuff that gets in at the ankle, yes that can do it, but for me at least, not just dust, nor have I heard of others with that problem.

In terms of the OP's remarks --- yup, we're all different. We perspire to larger or smaller degrees, we might be willing to take a bit more care in foot placement in wet weather --- or not, we hike in different parts of the country and different climates, on different terrain and in different seasons. And we have different expectations and 'value' different benefits and costs to such a trade-off ... differently. So there really is no one-size-fits-all solution. Cudos for trying out options, evaluating objectively, and figuring out what works best for you! I personally find no need for support or extra protection from footwear, but I definitely don't feel that what's right for me is somehow the one true path for all! :)

03-09-2016, 13:28
Someone suggested I switch to boots once I hit the Whites. I took their advice and picked up some Salomon GTX. I'm all about the hybrid boots now, big difference on hard rock.

03-09-2016, 13:37
This winter I used some Merrell All Out Peak GTX trail runners and really liked the water resistance they offer, especially in concert with some light gaiters, which are OR Wrapids that happen to be perfect for these shoes. All the comfort of trail runners but keeping out the vast majority of mud/water/dust/pebbles/twigs. We didn't have any deep snow this year — barely any at all, in fact — and if we'd had a lot of snow I would have used my Vasque Snowblime boots. But for garden variety dew and mud, the Merrells have worked out great.

Another Kevin
03-09-2016, 13:37
I've stuck with trail runners (except in winter, of course!) but tweaked the rest of the system. One thing that's really helped me is to wax my feet before putting my socks on. (I use this stuff. (https://www.gurneygears.com/gurneygoo)) Once that's on and dried, my feet don't wrinkle and chafe even if they get a bit damp. I had horrible trench foot problems on the Northville-Placid (which is a very wet trail) until I started using the waterproofing. BodyGlide does not work for this purpose. I'm sure that there are other products that do, but I haven't tried any.

Interestingly, I've had the opposite reaction with plantar fasciitis that Traveler has had. The high-top boots with stiff soles just kill my heel. I find that even around town, trail-runners, cross-trainers or Crocs are what I can wear comfortably. (I have Superfeet insoles in the first two.)

Then again, a lot of where I hike is wet enough (think Vermud - upstate NY is similar if not worse) that even in high-top boots and gaiters, I have muddy socks by lunchtime. In warm seasons, I'm in the habit of washing my socks and feet a couple of times during the day. That's one reason that I bring a silnylon bucket - so that I can dispose of the dirty, soapy water far from the water source. When I've gone with others and skipped the foot bath (usually because I didn't want to slow down the others), I've regretted it.

03-09-2016, 14:36
From my own personal experience:
Avoid Gore-Tex, or similar waterproof-"breatheable" liners.
I own 3 pairs of full leather Merrell Radius like hiking shoes. discontinued of course. So far, so good.
My latest purchase is a pair of La Sportiva Ultra Raptor Off Trail runners weighing 1 pound 12 ounces in a European size 43 - USA size 10. The Ultra Raptors either run small or the USA conversion is wrong. Size 43 has always worked for me in the past. If these work for me in the San Juan mountains in September, I will stock up before they too are discontinued.
I will also take my Asolo 520 full leather boots in case the Ultra Raptors don't work.
In the meantime, I will alternate the Asolo boots with the Ultra Raptor & Radius shoes on training hikes.
Pick the right gear for the job and your feet.


03-09-2016, 14:38
Ultra Raptor review.



Odd Man Out
03-09-2016, 14:50
I've always been middle of the road WRT shoes, going with low top ventilated mesh non waterproof light hiking shoes. First Merrell Moab, then another now discontinued Merrill, then Keen Voyageur, then Oboz Sawtooth.

03-09-2016, 14:57
Is there a major fatigue difference between a waterproof mid like the Salomon and a mesh trail runner?

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03-09-2016, 14:59
Ultra Raptor review.



I switched to the Ultra Raptors a couple years ago and love them. Very comfortable, but the tread isn't as durable as I would like, but still buy them anyways.

03-09-2016, 15:08
Someone suggested I switch to boots once I hit the Whites. I took their advice and picked up some Salomon GTX. I'm all about the hybrid boots now, big difference on hard rock.

I have these as well. I am a very heavy woman and the trekking I have done so far as been predominately Rocky (both large platform type and pebbly and everything in between) and tree rooty. These have been a toe saver for me for sure. Also, My ankle has turned on roots several times and it hurt at the moment, but nothing major at all, and I attribute that to these boots. Love them!

03-09-2016, 16:13
Is there a major fatigue difference between a waterproof mid like the Salomon and a mesh trail runner?

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I found the Solomons provided a little more support than trail runners, specifically in the ankles. I didn't notice a real fatigue difference between them, though my ankles were less tired with the Solomons if thats any help. As someone noted, the tread isn't all that robust, so I started feeling small stuff underfoot pretty quickly, but that wasn't a lot different than the runners.

03-09-2016, 17:21
I agree with Venchka and soumodeler. I like La Sportiva Ultra Raptors. I used them all last year and this winter. UR are not my #1 choice right now, but they are a great fall back shoe for me. I've worn then in quite cool weather for 2 hour walks, ie -20C, with no problem (being black maybe) for warmth. That is one of the drawbacks for SoCal though I would think.

I use the EU sizing across various shoe brands because I find it's more accurate than most US sizing. I'm normally a 10.5 street shoe, but all the trail shoes I've bought at 11.5 or 12.

Shoes I like right now are (all shoes I chucked the stock insole and replaced with Superfeet Green size G - I can explain why if anyone cares):

#1 Hoka One One Challenger ATR. Light. Love the fit. Like the heel-toe drop and like midsole cushioning. Cons are a light tongue padding (none basically) and light toe bumper. I've done about 200 miles and some midsole packing. Anyway, I have 3 pair now so can't be all bad :)

#2 Ultra Raptor, and if they weren't black they might be #1 (strickly the hot sun issue). Like the sole and fit for me. Sole is quite hard in cold weather, but traction remains fine. Nanospikes or Micro's are ok with the UR because it has a decent toe bumper vis a pretty light one with the Hoka which can pinch if you don't get the traction device on in exactly the right place.

#3 Peal Izumi EM2 V2 which I've only used on a treadmill so far.

Always a contender if I were stuck for options would be to fall back to the Merrell Moab Ventilator of which I've owned a few pair.

34011hoka, ultra raptor, pearl izumi, merrell, cascadia, salomon boots, keen boots, merrell

03-09-2016, 17:30
I switched to the Ultra Raptors a couple years ago and love them. Very comfortable, but the tread isn't as durable as I would like, but still buy them anyways.

Sticky rubber = reduced durability. Fact of life.
The good news: You don't slip and fall.
The bad news: The soles wear out faster.


03-09-2016, 17:41
So here's my thoughts FWIW: three options that I use are [1] mesh trail runners with Goretex socks packed (only worn if needed) so that if it's really wet I can use these to keep my feet dry - this is lightest option, coolest option, dirtiest feet option if trail is dusty; [2] Goretex trail runners for cooler weather when I expect wetness/mud/rain to be a frequent issue because they are warmer and more comfortable than wearing the Goretex socks every day - frequent Spring and Fall choice; [3] Asolo 520 leather Goretex-lined boots for winter slush/snow/cold - but too heavy for the rest of the year.

03-09-2016, 20:37
What socks? Weather conditions? No way am I going back to boots in warmer weather. If rain is an issue get a WP gaiter or rain pants extending over the laces. Current using Hoka One Speeds, you can feel the breeze on your feet, no wetness issues at all in non-rain conditions.

03-09-2016, 22:55
How much do you (and pack) weigh?

A Mack Truck needs huge tires. A moped can do OK with tiny tires.

03-09-2016, 23:03
My pack weighs 25lbs with food for a weekend and 1 liter of water. Thats with 10 degree quilts, all my comforts (pillow, chair, crocs, book) and not much clothing. On cold trips I'd say it's nearing 28-30 lbs. On warmer trips it's around 22 lbs. My base is anywhere from 18-25lbs I'd eatimate.

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03-09-2016, 23:04
Oh, I'm 215 lbs currently. I'm a comfortable 190 and on my way there.

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03-13-2016, 13:12
I used to wear boots on every trip, now i primarily wear trail runners and couldnt be happier. I tried various shoes and was pretty frustrated because Salomon and La Sportiva make so many shoes that look perfect on paper but they just didnt agree with my feet. So I finally landed on Saucony Peregrine 5 and i love em. They dont look as durable as others but after maybe 100 miles on them so far theyre doing well.

However for early season trips here in the Sierra i will take boots on occaision. My Keen Targhee waterproofs are light-ish and do quite well in the slushy wet snow we get here late spring early summer at high altitude.

I dont mind getting wet feet from rain but sloshing through knee deep wet snow in runners is just no fun.

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