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  1. #1
    Ga-Me 2011 Hopefull bumblebee99's Avatar
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    Default Do I really need big boots?

    I've hiked with legitimate hiking boots my whole life, but last time on the trail I met a nobo thru-hiker that swore by his trail running shoes. He was in NY when I talked to him and his shoes were still going strong. I'm just wondering if this is typical to anyone else? I'm only planning on being out for 9 days, so could I try leaving my boots at home?

  2. #2
    Registered User Summit's Avatar
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    Gosh, there are a myriad of threads here on this subject, but the short answer is YES. More thru hikers using trail runners than boots these days. They make better mileage too, because they don't have to spend hours a day tending to blisters!

  3. #3
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    I havent switched to trail runners because I have week ankles (HS basketball injuries). I find that the times I am out just for short dayhikes without the boots, my ankles start to turn and are sore at the end of the day. When carrying my pack, I need the extra support of an over the ankle boot.

    But yes.. a lot of folks are going to trail runners. There are folks that have hiked the whole trail barefoot, in sandles, and in crocs.

    find what is comfortable for you. Just remember... take care of your feet and they will take care of you.

    Have a good hike.

  4. #4

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    I also like having the ankle support. Also. . . I once stepped on a snake while on the trail bordered on each side with weeds so thick I couldn't see the snake. Without the boots. . . maybe not such a good outcome.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by bumblebee99 View Post
    I've hiked with legitimate hiking boots my whole life, but last time on the trail I met a nobo thru-hiker that swore by his trail running shoes. He was in NY when I talked to him and his shoes were still going strong. I'm just wondering if this is typical to anyone else? I'm only planning on being out for 9 days, so could I try leaving my boots at home?
    Limmer thinks everybody needs big heavy leather boots. leave the boots home

  6. #6

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    Recently switched to trail runners and I ain't never going back. Winter I will wear boots. Spring, summer, fall, trail runners are the way to go.

  7. #7
    Registered User Egads's Avatar
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    trail runners work best for AT hiking, This ain't Alaska
    The trail was here before we arrived, and it will still be here when we are gone...enjoy it now, and preserve it for others that come after us

  8. #8
    Registered User johnnybgood's Avatar
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    Short answer - no . There are LW ankle high boots if you must wear them.
    Getting lost is a way to find yourself.

  9. #9
    Registered User Big Dawg's Avatar
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    Yes, the heavier the better...

    just pickin... really it's what works best for YOU.

    Actually, I got caught up in the "I must follow the masses & switch to trail runners for backpacking" craze. Then after several decent trips w/ trail runners, I realized my big ole 6'5" 250lb frame needed regular ole hiking boots. Boots just give me the support & stability I need while cruising the trail, & I never get blisters or hot spots from my boots. Works for me. Go get some trail runners & give it a whirl & see which works for you.

  10. #10
    Registered User DavidNH's Avatar
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    Default boots

    I think the short answer to your question is It depends.

    When I did my thru in '06 I started out wearing standard big hiking boots. By the time I hit PA I noticed most of the thru hikers (younger ones especially) where using trail runners.

    I switched to trail runners to discover the difference. They where fine long as my feet stayed dry-- which they did until VT! in Vermont I hit all sorts of mud and water got into my boots. Hiking down hill off of Killington to the Inn at Long Trail my feet where in excruciating pain. I switched at that point to Vasque Breeze boots (very comfy but not rugged and when you get a tear and water creeps in feet hurt).

    A lady at the Inn told me that younger hikers (say 30's and under) have naturally more foot padding and thus handle sneakers better. us older folks (I am in my 40's) need the extra protection of bigger boots.

    That said, proper fit is critical. No shoe that is too big or too small will feel right.

    David

  11. #11

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    We hiked in SW Virginia a couple of weeks ago. Interesting to see that every overnight hiker, except one, that we ran into (section/weekenders at that point in that area) wore boots of some description. The one hiker wearing trail runners said that after this trip (12 days out), he was going back to boots. Sooo...this proves that, aside from thru-hikers, it's the web-walkers touting the trail runners...folks actually out there know better.

    I think the thru hikers (prolly the largest body of trail-runner-wearers) can get away with it better because A) they're younger (young and dumb??) , and B) many of them are not "career" hikers, and needing to depend on their feet and bodies for backpacking year after year. This year, a thru, next year...who knows what they'll be doing.

    And yes, trail runners work for a few. HYOH, if it works for you, all the better.

    Sorry if I offend....that's just the way I see it.

  12. #12
    Registered User Egads's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by waywardfool View Post
    We hiked in SW Virginia a couple of weeks ago. Interesting to see that every overnight hiker, except one, that we ran into (section/weekenders at that point in that area) wore boots of some description. The one hiker wearing trail runners said that after this trip (12 days out), he was going back to boots. Sooo...this proves that, aside from thru-hikers, it's the web-walkers touting the trail runners...folks actually out there know better.

    I think the thru hikers (prolly the largest body of trail-runner-wearers) can get away with it better because A) they're younger (young and dumb??) , and B) many of them are not "career" hikers, and needing to depend on their feet and bodies for backpacking year after year. This year, a thru, next year...who knows what they'll be doing.

    And yes, trail runners work for a few. HYOH, if it works for you, all the better.

    Sorry if I offend....that's just the way I see it.
    So, you are basing your opinion that trail runners don't work on your experience of a single hike in SW Virginia? Boy that's shortsighted. You need to do a better job proving your point.

    If everyone you see on the trail is carrying 40 lbs then your logic assumes that anyone who knows anything about hiking must carry 40 lbs to do it correctly.

    I am not exactly young & am not dumb and my trail runners work fine for me. I've used them SE trail hiking, desert trails, Pac NW hiking, Rocky Mtns, & hiking in snow. Then again, I don't carry 40 lbs. I go lightweight carrying anywhere from 10 to 16 lbs including food & water for summer SE USA trail hiking. My trail runners provide plenty of support for this style of hiking.
    The trail was here before we arrived, and it will still be here when we are gone...enjoy it now, and preserve it for others that come after us

  13. #13

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    Umm, maybe you didn't see all the smiley faces.

    ...and, not just a 'single trip', either...many thousand miles over the last 35 years. They don't work for me. Great if they work for others.


    Quote Originally Posted by Egads View Post
    So, you are basing your opinion that trail runners don't work on your experience of a single hike in SW Virginia? Boy that's shortsighted. You need to do a better job proving your point.

  14. #14

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    Oh, and "proves" was in italics...maybe that bit of sarcasm wasn't obvious enough.

  15. #15
    Ga-Me 2011 Hopefull bumblebee99's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone! I guess I'll just test out the trail shoes on a shorter hike this weekend and see how I like them!

  16. #16
    Trail miscreant Bearpaw's Avatar
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    I have found that to get real ankle support from a boot, it needs to be heavy enough to basically be a cast. Then you have issues with pressure to the Achilles Tendon and blisters.

    I've hiked in everything from mountaineering boots (cinderblock casts I called them) down to regular running shoes. I'm happiest with a lightweight mid-cut pair of cross-trainers, basically just beefy trail runners.

    When I injured my ankle a couple of years ago, I tried going back to boots. They just didn't help with ankle support. What I finally found was a very light brace specifically designed to give ankle support. It makes a big difference for me.

    I wear it beneath a pair of Merrell Moab Ventilators. In winter slop, I switch to the waterproofed, still relatively light, Lowa Renegade.

    And I wear othotics in all my hiking shoes. I think this makes a bigger difference than boot versus shoe.
    If people spent less time being offended and more time actually living, we'd all be a whole lot happier!

  17. #17
    Ga-Me 2011 Hopefull bumblebee99's Avatar
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    Also, I'll clarify that I dont really have "big" boots- I've actually been using a brand of Vasque- the breathable ones with Gore-tex and they haven't really given me many problems. I just dont know if I need all that for the relatively short hike I'm doing. The alternative would be a pair of Adidas- the "kanadia" brand. I am young and haven't had any ankle problems, so I think I should be fine with the trail runners.

  18. #18
    Registered User ChinMusic's Avatar
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    Started with traditional boots, went to mids, and am now firmly in the trail runner camp. Someone mentioned it was a problem if they got wet. I have not experienced this. In fact I just march through water crossings without a concern anymore. Trail runners dry quickly. I also use Hydropel on my feet which helps.
    Fear ridges that are depicted as flat lines on a profile map.

  19. #19
    Registered User Summit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by waywardfool View Post
    Sooo...this proves that, aside from thru-hikers, it's the web-walkers touting the trail runners...folks actually out there know better.
    You can put all the smiley faces you want following a false statement . . . doesn't make it true! If you don't want something to be taken the wrong way, don't say it the wrong way. You see . . . I'm "actually out there" quite a lot and over 35 years of hiking . . . started with the heavy leather clunkers and have evolved into trail runners / cross-trainers, and no amount of horse radish from you is going to convince me that high-top leather or gortex boots is the way to go.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Summit View Post
    You can put all the smiley faces you want following a false statement . . . doesn't make it true! If you don't want something to be taken the wrong way, don't say it the wrong way. You see . . . I'm "actually out there" quite a lot and over 35 years of hiking . . . started with the heavy leather clunkers and have evolved into trail runners / cross-trainers, and no amount of horse radish from you is going to convince me that high-top leather or gortex boots is the way to go.
    I'm enjoying agreeing with you on this one. Leather really is obsolete due to weight even for a nonultralight guy like me. Leather boots weigh at least a pound more than trail runners. Multiply moving that pound on your feet for the number of steps in a mile and you move a ton per mile. Fine for a day hiker, but long distance, a ton per mile adds up. There are one or two of us without poles, however I have not seen a single hiker in leather shirt and pants and a coon skin cap in a very long time.

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