May 15, 2013 at 2:12 pm #1302961
I'm sure this question gets worn out, but here goes. I have a 3+lb pair of leather, waterproof hiking boots and am second guessing the need and weight of a boot. I've been posting around here lately about an upcoming trip to GNP. I don't get to hike regularly. I live in flatlands of NOLA. I wear my current pair of boots regularly while doing other outdoor activities, so new boots/shoes will get worn hard. In other words, the expense could be justified.
So, the quesion's – do I need boots to hike in GNP? and would you suggest swapping out of these heavy leather boots for a lighter model? I have plenty of ideas on what I would get, but feel free to offer your suggestions. ThanksMay 15, 2013 at 2:18 pm #1986429
what is GNP? Glacier National Park?
But im still pretty sure you dont need boots to hike it.May 15, 2013 at 2:24 pm #1986435
Boots are really heavy. Why not hike in running shoes?May 15, 2013 at 2:38 pm #1986446
"Why not hike in running shoes?"
I'm a runner and wouldn't run in hiking shoes. I don't play basketball in running shoes and I don't play tennis or golf in running shoes. Why would I want to hike in running shoes?
GNP = Glacier National ParkMay 15, 2013 at 3:50 pm #1986476
"Why would I want to hike in running shoes?"
Because a pound on the foot is equivalent to 5 pounds on the back… read that somewhere.
Perhaps you could hike faster in running shoes?
Perhaps you would be less likely to get injured in running shoes in many places?
They dry quickly?
This is Backpacking Light, so you are going to find few folks here still hike in boots. But, you need to wear what works for you.May 15, 2013 at 3:59 pm #1986484
Hiking shoes are whatever fits you and works well. Trail runners, tennis shoes, running shoes, sneakers, whatever you want to call them. I'm talking about lightweight low cut shoes. You said that your boots seem too heavy.
Some people even hike in sandles or crocs.May 15, 2013 at 4:12 pm #1986492
@jenmitolLocale: In my dreams....
I was one of those quite resistant to hiking in "running shoes" but as soon as I tried it I swore I would never put those heavy goretex boots on ever again. And I really, really like them.
No need to wear such clunkers on your feet for anything unless you are schlepping heavy metal or sharp stuff that might fall and crush your toes. Lightweight runners/low hikers/sandals/trail runners/whatever just let you cruise along without a care in the world. Ahhhhhh…..May 15, 2013 at 4:32 pm #1986506
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
If the shoe fits, wear it! Using lighter shoes is one of the snowball effects of a lighter pack. If you don't have a big load, you can wear lighter shoes and gain on the pick 'em up and put 'em down factor.
I wouldn't get too hung up on the name of it works. I personally prefer a "hiking shoe" design for multi-day hiking and rough stuff, but I have trail runners and use them. Trail running shoes tend to have excellent cushioning, rock plates in the forefoot to protect from stone bruising, and as other have mentioned, they dry quickly and are light weight.
Many don't like waterproof shoes as they won't dry easily once they are wet, some taking days to completely dry out. Many hold that waterproof footgear promotes blistering due to the moisture retained and absorbed by your skin. Waterproof low tops never made sense to me: like locking your convertible with the top down, it will only keep out the shorter thieves :)
I do prefer waterproof/breathable mids for winter hiking and early spring with intermittent snow and lots of runoff– many trails in the Cascades and Olympics are more like shallow (COLD) streams this time of year. For the rest of the prime hiking season, you will find me in a well ventilated low top shoe with good traction.May 15, 2013 at 7:35 pm #1986586
Amazing to think that the hiking shoe market sells any hiking shoes at all if most experienced hikers opt for non-"hiking" hiking shoes. I've always been concerned that running shoes, sandals and other less supportive soled shoes would lend to bruised feet and or sore arches. I haven't put much thought into how waterproofing a shoe could work against you. Shame on me for believing the "breathable membrane" description. Now I'm more confused than ever.
I'll stick with wear what works best (or what I think works best). Thanks for all the insight.May 15, 2013 at 7:51 pm #1986591
Bought hiking boots.
Regretted it. Switched to running shoes.
I will say this, though- there's a middle ground. My Salomons have lugs like hiking boots but the materials, weight, fit, and construction of the flexible sole and upper is definitely cued by running shoes.
You could slap a pair of Brooks running shoes on and hike the entire AT and you would likely do it faster, and more comfortably, than with hiking boots- even lightweight boots. It's worth considering, even if it seems outlandish. But if you want lightweight hiking-specific shoes, check out:
And there are others, but most BPL members seem to gravitate to these brands. Especially Altra.May 15, 2013 at 8:46 pm #1986605
"Amazing to think that the hiking shoe market sells any hiking shoes at all if most experienced hikers opt for non-"hiking" hiking shoes"
Don't lose sight of the fact that BPL is still on the fringe of the backpacking spectrum. Mainstream backpackers are still gobbling up traditional footwear.May 15, 2013 at 9:08 pm #1986610
In my experience the 'breathable membrane' is nothing more than marketing hype when it comes to boots. It may help with vapor but not liquid. The key with a waterproof boot is not to let your feet get wet! But if you are like me then that means changing socks several times a day to deal with perspiration. I used to hike strictly with boots but have switched to trail runners since I pack with a lighter load. I can hike farther and my feet are more comfortable than ever before. Although if I was anticipating a wet trip with cold conditions then light waterproof boots with gaiters would most likely be in order. I would check on trail/weather conditions in GNP before making a final decision on footwear.May 15, 2013 at 9:14 pm #1986611
Adam, you are right to be confused. The mainstream backpacking market sells some very heavy, expensive and unnecessary things. Double walled dome tents for summer, 1 pound backpacking filters for crystal clear alpine water, goretex jackets for ocassional rain, and such.
"I've always been concerned that running shoes, sandals and other less supportive soled shoes would lend to bruised feet and or sore arches."
It's all about conditioning. I am at the extreme end of this. I hike in extremely thin and flexible shoes (3mm sole) and it's like walking in traditional moccasins. It took a while to condition my feet for that.
Your arches are meant to support themselves and arch support is just a crutch for them that can cause them to be weak.
Now by all means, you should use what you are comfortable with. Shoes are a very personal thing. I hike with a gear who hikes waterproof steel toed boots, a guy who wears running shoes, and a guy who wears vans sneakers. It's preference. I'm not against boots at all, I just think it's ridiculous that so many people consider them a requirement for hiking.
Don't ruin a trip by wearing shoes that your feet aren't conditioned to use.
Once you get over the idea of wet feet and just accept it, you will feel liberated. I have done multi-day trips where my feet were wet constantly and it was never a problem for me. Wet feet doesn't mean cold feet. Your feet produce a ton of heat and wool/synthetic socks do insulate your feet well while wet.
If you are hiking in frozen or snow conditions it's different, but even then some gore-tex socks will keep your feet warm.
Also if you are hiking in warm weather, non waterproof shoes will be much cooler and less sweaty. If they get wet from rain they will dry very quickly when the sun comes out.May 15, 2013 at 9:14 pm #1986612
@millonasLocale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
"I'm a runner and wouldn't run in hiking shoes. I don't play basketball in running shoes and I don't play tennis or golf in running shoes. Why would I want to hike in running shoes?"
*goes to make some popcorn and then find a good seat for the upcoming flame spectacle*May 16, 2013 at 1:53 am #1986670
Glad I never hiked in "hiking" shoes.May 16, 2013 at 4:15 am #1986681
I can't understand why Adam is so defensive and dismissive of what people are recommending here…strange.May 16, 2013 at 4:32 am #1986683
I think the OP is simply saying "I understand what you're saying but I'm still confused — please explain it to me."May 16, 2013 at 6:02 am #1986687
@jenmitolLocale: In my dreams....
Adam, as others have said you are right to be confused. You will read tons of stuff about people hiking in minimalist shoes, barefoot, whatever. It is decidedly NOT a good idea to go there right away, if ever. If you run a lot you may have thin-soled, light-weight running shoes which may also not be appropriate for you to hike rocky trails with.
I, for example, hike in Salomon XA 3D Ultra 2 something something… They are not goretex and they are certainly not hiking "boots." But if you look at them I'm not sure I'd want to go run 10 miles in them here in the city, either. They have relatively big lugs, a toe guard (which is great for ME), and they are quite cushy. They are, to me, middle ground between a hiking "boot" and my pretty minimalist running shoes. The sole is sturdy enough that I am not bothered by sharp, rocky trails but light enough that I don't even bother to bring camp shoes because these are just fine and I don't feel the need to tear them off at the earliest possible moment.
Anyway, part of the BPL experience is giving things a try that you initially think – "no way!" – because before you know it, you can't imagine why you were so set on doing it the old way.May 16, 2013 at 6:22 am #1986693
Martin RJ CarpenterMember
To be fair I'd be very surprised if many are walking in road running shoes. They just wouldn't grip well enough much of the time.
Luckily there have always been people mad (brave?) enough to run up/down mountains and the shoes aimed at them have nice, grippy sole units attached :) They've also picked a strong following for walking with.May 16, 2013 at 6:52 am #1986698
I don't mean to come off dismissive or defensive, just not as intune to the norm here at BPL. I clearly entered into this with pre-determined, traditional ideals that hikers wore "hiking" shoes. I live in New Orleans and the flat terrain and hot, hummid weather calls for sandals – all the time. Heading west for me is like a fish out of water. Please forgive me if I sounded cynical.
I have gone through Salomon and La Sportiva trail shoes. I still don't think my cityfied arches are ready to hike in my asic runnig shoes. I have my eye on another Salomon trail/hiking shoe. I am definitely leaning towards the shoe vs boot. However, I may opt for the goretex. I deal with rain and mud down here regularly and hosing off my shoes without getting the interiors wet is a plus.
Thanks again for all the great insight. I'm sure I'll post another annoying thread as I progress through my checklist. Keep the popcorn handy! :-)
adamMay 16, 2013 at 7:10 am #1986704
Just do a search on BPL for shoes. It will take you months to read all of it, and you will find a wealth of information. Unfortunately you will need to remove personal preferences to gain an objective view. Shoes are one of the most discussed subjects here.May 16, 2013 at 7:29 am #1986716
New Balance Leadville's for the win! I also like the Merrell Moab Ventilator Mids . . .
Your Mileage may vary!
DaveMay 16, 2013 at 7:34 am #1986718
I find the waterproof shoe to be rather pointless. It's like wearing waterproof shorts or a waterproof tshirt. There are reasons you don't find those items regularly.
To make a waterproof shoe worthwhile you would need, at the very least, gaiters because water usually comes in from the top, running off your leg/pants. Also worth noting that most streams have sections that are deeper than the slightly-above the ankle height most trail runners offer.
The biggest problem with waterproof shoes, as has been pointed out, is that waterproofing isn't a one way street. A non-waterproof shoe can drain quickly and waterproof shoe retains water because its waterproof membrane keeps it in there.
Get something that drains quickly, dries quickly, and wear wool socks.
I personally wear Innov-8 Roclite 295s and I love them. Very comfortable from the get go, extremely sticky, and they seem to wear well, and they're relatively light.May 16, 2013 at 7:40 am #1986721
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
I just went on trip with breathable shoe. Every time I went through a stream deeper than 1 inch, my feet got wet. At end of day, my feet/socks were quite a bit wetter than if I had waterproof breathable mid height boots like I normally use. But it wasn't too bad.
Now if I was on a warmer trip with no stream crossings or rain, then breathable shoe would be better than WPB mid height boot.May 16, 2013 at 7:43 am #1986725
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