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  1. #1
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    Default Trail Runners Vs. Hiking Boots

    For over 20 years, I've been using Salomon XA Pro 3D trail runners to both hike in and trail run.

    I recently did two days of hiking in the White Mountains....one day doing the Franconia Ridge loop and the other day going up to Kinsman Pond. Both were done wearing the Salomons. Those trails are a perfect test lab for footwear.

    Are there any shoe experts on WB who can answer this question? Would wearing real hiking boots leave my feet with less soreness than the XA Pro's? If so, why would that be?

    Thanks

  2. #2

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    I have lived in the whites since 1987. I started with conventional boots graduated to custom Limmers and about 20 years ago switched over to trail runners and never looked back. I do use custom inserts that have arch support that works like a partial rock plate. There is a conditioning curve for trail runners as they allow a lot more flexibility of the feet and ankles, that means you need to redevelop the supporting structure of the feet. With me, I used to sprain my ankles on frequent basis until I switched to trail runners, I still roll my ankles on occasion but far less damage, its just a minute or two of cussing and I back hiking.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    I have lived in the whites since 1987. I started with conventional boots graduated to custom Limmers and about 20 years ago switched over to trail runners and never looked back. I do use custom inserts that have arch support that works like a partial rock plate. There is a conditioning curve for trail runners as they allow a lot more flexibility of the feet and ankles, that means you need to redevelop the supporting structure of the feet. With me, I used to sprain my ankles on frequent basis until I switched to trail runners, I still roll my ankles on occasion but far less damage, its just a minute or two of cussing and I back hiking.
    Iíve been wearing trail runners for 20 years.

  4. #4

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    I use different footwear for the season and terrain. I will use trail runners for fairly easy to moderate conditions, trail shoes for moderate into difficult terrain, and high leather boots for difficult terrain on rock and talus and in winter conditions. I find my feet are less banged up and feet/legs are less tired when using the boots on rocky terrain, conversely, I am less tired overall when using runners or shoes in light to moderate trail conditions.

    Though I understand some folks prefer a single type of shoe for all conditions, for me having a choice is akin to a carpenters tool box with a variety of saws designed to cut wood. Having a single cross cut saw can work, but making a rip cut will impact arm joints and hands fairly quickly.

  5. #5
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    I propose that the question presumes a false dichotomy. I hear this question all the time. It ignores that there are options in-between. These are sometimes labeled as hiking shoes. They are more substantial than running shoes but not boots. Merril, Oboz, and Keen are popular brands in this category. These are what I have always used. They have the sole (soul?) of a boot, but are low cut breathable and non waterproof like trail runners. Having not hiked in anything else I can't make a comparison. I just find it curious that the middle of the shoe spectrum is ignored in these "boot vs trail runner" discussions.

  6. #6
    Registered User JNI64's Avatar
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    I'm very much looking forward to getting up there to the whites for some hiking. But for me it's been the Altra temps with the green superfeet insoles. I like the wide toe box ,breathable, dry quick, super light, gator fixes. That's worked for me personally for about 1,000 miles of section hikes. Now winter trips I'll switch to keen high boots ,waterproof, beefy. Especially snow and snowshoeing.
    Last edited by JNI64; 08-10-2020 at 23:14.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Odd Man Out View Post
    I propose that the question presumes a false dichotomy. I hear this question all the time. It ignores that there are options in-between. These are sometimes labeled as hiking shoes. They are more substantial than running shoes but not boots. Merril, Oboz, and Keen are popular brands in this category. These are what I have always used. They have the sole (soul?) of a boot, but are low cut breathable and non waterproof like trail runners. Having not hiked in anything else I can't make a comparison. I just find it curious that the middle of the shoe spectrum is ignored in these "boot vs trail runner" discussions.
    Shoe and boot, in my parlance, are used interchangeably.

  8. #8
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    I like your answer. My feet seems to be changing.I have a high arch and hard to find anything comfortable.I used to wear Sundowners but would like something lighter. I'm wanting to hike easier, not boulder climbing .This old body is feeling the miles. Happy trails.

  9. #9

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    I have used the Salomon XA Pros as my trail runners for about 15 years (bought the Comps once I think too) but also use heavier boots for periods of time as well for outdoor work. Would you consider yourself very agile in the trail runners? Can you dance on top of the rocks so to speak? I would guess yes if you actually run in them. If you don't regularly use beefier shoes/boots you may hurt yourself more trying to use them the same way. If you switch in and out of different types, you'll have more muscle memory. Heavier shoe and you will wear out a little faster too, particularly if not used regularly. Now if you just plow through the rocks you might want something sturdy.

    Not really a perfect test lab, trails come in multiple flavors. Sometimes even there is no trail.
    "Sleepy alligator in the noonday sun
    Sleepin by the river just like he usually done
    Call for his whisky
    He can call for his tea
    Call all he wanta but he can't call me..."
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  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by spfleisig View Post
    Shoe and boot, in my parlance, are used interchangeably.
    I think an important takeaway here is that this shouldn't be the case. There's a significant middle ground you might benefit by exploring.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by spfleisig View Post
    For over 20 years, I've been using Salomon XA Pro 3D trail runners to both hike in and trail run.

    I recently did two days of hiking in the White Mountains....one day doing the Franconia Ridge loop and the other day going up to Kinsman Pond. Both were done wearing the Salomons. Those trails are a perfect test lab for footwear.

    Are there any shoe experts on WB who can answer this question? Would wearing real hiking boots leave my feet with less soreness than the XA Pro's? If so, why would that be?

    Thanks
    I have only spent 3 weeks hiking the whites and southern maine, but I did see a very high percentage of people wearing lace up boots vs trail runners. In my personal experiences I was just fine in the Altras but yes I think alot more folks wear boots up in NE
    Trail Miles: 3,918.6 - AT Trips: 70
    AT Map 1 Completion: 2004.8 - AT Map 2 Completion: 265.0
    Sheltowee Trace Map Completion: 26.0

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by CalebJ View Post
    I think an important takeaway here is that this shouldn't be the case. There's a significant middle ground you might benefit by exploring.
    When I hear boot I always think footware that comes up to the ankle or highrr. Shoes not. For me that is a significant distinction.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by spfleisig View Post
    Shoe and boot, in my parlance, are used interchangeably.
    As noted by others, there is a considerable difference between hiking shoes, trail runners, and hiking boots. Each having their own benefits, drawbacks, and preferences.

  14. #14
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    I think there are other factors to consider as well: the weight of the hiker, the weight of the hiker with pack, trail conditions(trail runners in 8" of snow??), temperature, individual foot/bone needs - orthotics, how long one's hiking day is(miles or hours), tendency of the foot to sweat, what type of socks/liner setup, etc.

  15. #15
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    OFF TRAIL RUNNERS. Approach shoes. Real boots.
    Footwear to fit the task.
    Cheers!
    Wayne

  16. #16
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    Inovates. Aka “Inov8”. I wore them on my New England sections, love the sole. Switched to Altea Lone Peaks for southern sections. Had knee surgery & am back to new & improved Inov8 trail shoes. Wider toe box now with same great sole.
    .com

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Traveler View Post
    I use different footwear for the season and terrain. I will use trail runners for fairly easy to moderate conditions, trail shoes for moderate into difficult terrain, and high leather boots for difficult terrain on rock and talus and in winter conditions. I find my feet are less banged up and feet/legs are less tired when using the boots on rocky terrain, conversely, I am less tired overall when using runners or shoes in light to moderate trail conditions.

    Though I understand some folks prefer a single type of shoe for all conditions, for me having a choice is akin to a carpenters tool box with a variety of saws designed to cut wood. Having a single cross cut saw can work, but making a rip cut will impact arm joints and hands fairly quickly.
    Traveler said it best!

  18. #18
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    Traveler said it best!

  19. #19
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    Boots vs Runners
    As a sucessfull thru_hiker at 66 years old I hiked with Montrail AT Hiker boots. I had no foot or anckle problems. The boots lasted me for my entire hike. Folks who use trail runners require several pair to hike the whole AT.
    Grampie-N->2001

  20. #20
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    As someone with knee problems, I wear the lighter options I can find. Trail runners feel the best to me, agile and breathable. That said, you asked specifically about your feet. I have some heavy duty Danner boots that wear out my knee and tire my body, but my feet feel great at the end of the day. Stiffer sole with lots of grip and cushion feels fantastic, though they are warmer.

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