Poll: Hiking Boots vs. Trail Runners

9:18 p.m. on May 8, 2012 (EDT)
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Anyone else hike in Trail Runners? Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one. To me they are more comfortable, plus they cut out about two pounds of weight.

The only thing is you gotta be careful to watch where you step at times and not turn an ankle.

9:43 p.m. on May 8, 2012 (EDT)
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6 of one

half a dozen of the other

depends on the journey

9:48 p.m. on May 8, 2012 (EDT)
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I have given them their fair shake. I wear them often on day hikes and on trips where everything is expected to be dry . I know they dry fast, but my zamberlan boots are super comfortable and waterproof thus I wear them more frequently. I wouldn't mind trail runners if they were a little more sealed, especially on the bottom half. I hate stepping in a tiny puddle and then have wet feet for an hour or two. Heck even the morning dew would soak my feet.

I think I would rather just hike in some keen sandals etc rather than trail runners.

10:29 p.m. on May 8, 2012 (EDT)
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Dayhikes/overnights wet & cold(no snow)-Lowa Argon GTX

Lowa-Argon-GTX-006.jpg

Dayhikes/overnights dry- Merrell Excel Grid:

2011-03-10_17-12-11_178.jpg

Anything extended/week+ all season(snow)with heavy pack I go with Scarpa SLs.

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Anything in between(whatever that means) Keen Oregon PCTs:

2011-03-16_16-11-16_559.jpg

For walks around town:

Keen Pyrenees:

2011-01-25_17-33-51_392.jpg

So, with all of that I suppose my answer is... It depends. :p

(I got a whole slew of other footwear I use as well. Just didn't want to drag it out too far.)




11:54 p.m. on May 8, 2012 (EDT)
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I've been using Montrail Hardrock trail runners for 6-7 years now, on my second pair with the old ones being used still for weekend or one night bp trips.  No turned ankle issues, that can happen with boots too.  I've been off trail solo with them quite a bit too, carrying a 30 lb. pack.  Going over Thunderbolt and some of those other passes headed to Amphitheater Lake via Mather Lakes and Pass so forth here in CA.

Duane

12:52 a.m. on May 9, 2012 (EDT)
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Always trail runners.  The only difference will be season.  In the wetter, shoulder months, I wear a higher cut GTX trail runner based shoe.  

1:49 a.m. on May 9, 2012 (EDT)
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I like boots, but, I recently picked up a pair of Salewa Alp Trainers and I really like them. I've only wore them on a local trail along the river and I can't wait to try them on higher ground.

8:29 a.m. on May 9, 2012 (EDT)
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I would guess that I've seen less than 5% of users actually running while wearing them.

Probably about 1%.

                              ~ r2 ~

9:14 a.m. on May 9, 2012 (EDT)
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I also see only 1-5% of people wearing normal running shoes/sneakers actually running....

What's your point? I guess call them hiking shoes if your not a fan of the name trail runners.

10:16 a.m. on May 9, 2012 (EDT)
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Hi-Tec Palo Altos for summer


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Salomon Xa Pro For winter
100_0705.jpg

No running. Just lighter on my legs and feet.



10:19 a.m. on May 9, 2012 (EDT)
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depends on the situation.  i probably hike in low cut trail runners about half the time.  the larger the backpack, the more varied the terrain, the more unsettled the weather is, the more likely i am to hike in boots.  but, sometimes i just rotate them because my feet feel better doing that. 

11:05 a.m. on May 9, 2012 (EDT)
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 I think leadbelly2550 is on to something with rotation. That seems to really work for me also.

I used to hike exclusively in trail runners but they die quick deaths in the southern apps. With the Asics Gel-enduro model that I used for several years, I would only get a couple hundred miles out of a pair before the support was gone. I never felt like I had enough under foot protection with trail runners in general for rocky trails.  

I'm still searching for a trail runner with good underfoot protection (specifically the forefoot or ball area). I love the fit of Montrails (that wide toe box is awesome) but they have the same issue with thin soles.  

Recently I have really enjoyed a "hiking shoe": essentially a low topped boot. I've used a pair of Vasque mantras for my last two backpacks that included rocky trails and a couple long days (18 miles and 19 miles), and the initial results are good as far as support. (although that model took a long time to dry out after getting rain soaked…).

All that being said, if I find a trail runner that works for me I will probably go back to using them more often.

 

And btw, I do trail run in my trail runners from time to time. :)

11:17 a.m. on May 9, 2012 (EDT)
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I think it totally depends on your hiking environment.

I live and hike in the hot, humid, flat as a pancake South East where rocks on the trails are non-existant and the only thing you may bump your toes into is an occasional tree root.

For me, hiking boots are an over-kill and I when I know the days on the trail are going to be dry, I often back pack wearing regular old running shoes (Asics Cumulus).

When it's gonna be wet, I'll wear GTX mid height trail runners.

 

Now if I was back in Pa...ain't no doubt I'd be wearing hiking boots

12:08 p.m. on May 9, 2012 (EDT)
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Ed G said:

Now if I was back in Pa...ain't no doubt I'd be wearing hiking boots

 Oh its not that bad... One could hike this terrain in Chacos. :p

12:21 p.m. on May 9, 2012 (EDT)
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Mostly I use trail runners (I have several different types for different conditions/seasons) because I am running on the trail. If I do an overnight or weekend with a pack, then I use trail shoes (they have a shank for load support but are still much lighter than my boots). If I'm 30 plus pounds of pack weight, then I am in my boots, even on an overnight (Winter and cold Fall trips).

For trails I do over and over again, I do rotate my trail runners (between 4 pair). I have a goto pair for cold/wet/snow. They are eVent runners with a short, built in gaiter. I've done sandals where I'm in warm water a lot and can drain out the pebbles and debri.

My other consideration is trail type. If its relatively smooth single track, I go with less agressively lugged shoes. If it's rocky, then I choose my shoes with more foot protection and deeper tread.

PATMAN, I know what you mean about trail runners and lack of forefoot protection. I've had some good experience with Teva in terms of protection, but they no longer make trail runners :(. I had terrible bone bruises from some North Face trail runners.

12:48 p.m. on May 9, 2012 (EDT)
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mikemorrow said:

Hi-Tec Palo Altos for summer


100_0707.jpg

Salomon Xa Pro For winter
100_0705.jpg

No running. Just lighter on my legs and feet.



Cats somehow, always sneak into photos.

1:22 p.m. on May 9, 2012 (EDT)
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I often hike in my La Sportiva trail runners.

1:32 p.m. on May 9, 2012 (EDT)
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Almost invariably I use trail runners: right now, Montrail's Mountain Masochist GTX.

For those longer trips where weight is up by 35 pounds, or where I'll be in days of unfamiliar terrain, where I could face scree fields and the ankles could take a beating, I use lightweight over-the-ankle hikers. Which basically amount to amped-up trail runners.

I never use traditional, full-size boots anymore. Haven't seen the need in almost a decade now. (I don't do any mountaineering; I'm sure I'd choose something beefy for that.)

Everyone to their own preference and experience, of course; but as best I can tell, most of the time using traditional boots is just a reflex, a bad habit best left behind.

Trail runners all the way! :-)

Happy miles, all.

- AZ

1:44 p.m. on May 9, 2012 (EDT)
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I have made the switch to trail-runners while hiking, and now backpacking.  I still wear hiking boots on snowshoe hikes.

Happy Hiking!

Bernard

2:28 p.m. on May 9, 2012 (EDT)
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I've used cheap waterproof work boots on several outings in the backwoods with pretty decent success.

2 years I picked up some Columbia brand trail runners and they've been very successful in running and hiking.  Lightweight and pretty rugged.

I also have Columbia Bugaboots for snow adventure when needed.

3:29 p.m. on May 9, 2012 (EDT)
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As others have said, it's all about where you're going and what you expect to find when you get there.

A lot of my hiking is done on mountain trails that are rocky or rooted, and wearing trail runners just doesn't cut it. Wearing them in mountain terrain is asking for trouble. Best case, you have an unpleasant hike. Worst case, you incur an injury that could have been prevented by wearing proper footwear for the conditions.

  • On a scree slope, or in any kind of rocky terrain, you can feel every pebble through the thin soles. Try walking across a boulder field with jagged rocks sticking up all over the place - it hurts!
  • The lack of ankle support can be very dangerous. I once twisted my ankle quite badly at about 3,000 metres elevation, but because of the support of my boots, the force was transmitted up my leg. Instead of the ankle breaking (which was a real possibility) I got a sprained ankle and a wrenched knee. Not pleasant, but I was at least able to walk back out instead of being carried. 
  • The ankle support is also very helpful in terrain where you might have to kick in to a slope or scramble up a rock face. Trail runners can't help stabilize your foot if you're balancing on a small toehold or traversing across a slippery slope. It also helps where the trails are wet or slippery.
  • Unless there's a solid toecap, you can stub your toe, or even break it. For protecting your feet from injury, where a twisted ankle or broken leg might be life-threatening, it only makes sense to wear the best possible protection.
  • Added advantages; boots have more room for orthopedic insoles, the kind you'll use when you're carrying a lot of weight over a long distance (or just when you get older) and they tend to come with more extras, like waterproof liners. Also, good boots will last many, many years - trail runners are made to be disposed of after a season.

Because I'm used to the extra weight of a full leather boot and a thick lugged sole, I don't see a lot of advantage now to wearing lighter footwear. I do remember when I moved up from light boots to heavier ones that the weight difference was noticeable, but now I'm so comfortable with the weight that I even use the boots for local park trails where they're not really necessary.

That being said, trail shoes work just fine for jogging paths around the city, or at venues where you can be assured you are only going to encounter flat, level terrain and smooth, dry trails.

Footnote: I have been told (don't know if it's true) that some sections of the Appalachian Trail even have signs posted saying that if you have to be rescued because you're wearing the wrong shoes, you get to pay the bill yourself. Can anyone confirm that?

5:39 p.m. on May 9, 2012 (EDT)
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I use trail runners with a 25 pound pack anything over 25 pounds where boots or trail shoes.Just because they have more support and a stiffer sole.

5:59 p.m. on May 9, 2012 (EDT)
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Peter with much respect, this thread is not to debate boots vs shoe, but just a poll.

10:03 p.m. on May 9, 2012 (EDT)
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Went to sneakers  with stiff insoles for a couple of years as I dealt with a foot problem. Hiked two 4000 footers in Vermont with them:  Camels Hump and Mt. Abraham with no problems, in dry, clear weather. I am having my Fabiano's re-built because I love them and they gave me years of wonderful service. I am getting older and more concerned about ankle injury and the need for support,  so I may become partial to the boots . 

12:00 a.m. on May 10, 2012 (EDT)
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sabino said:

 I am having my Fabiano's re-built because I love them and they gave me years of wonderful service. I am getting older and more concerned about ankle injury and the need for support,  so I may become partial to the boots . 

 

   Smart feller.

  BTW --  I'll probably be wearing my Fabiano's 'till the end.    Never found a boot to work for me as well.   The build-quality is exceptional.   Have four pairs (all different) ... one pair, from the early 1970s.

                                ~ r2 ~

12:43 a.m. on May 10, 2012 (EDT)
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pixel.gif440

and these are my choices

1083474.jpg?1329227654

12:48 p.m. on May 10, 2012 (EDT)
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mikemorrow said:

Peter with much respect, this thread is not to debate boots vs shoe, but just a poll.

 Also with respect, Mike, there are a lot of people here comparing the two and explaining their reasons for doing so.

Admittedly, I did get a tad long-winded about it. Had a slack afternoon to fill.

:-)

6:59 p.m. on May 10, 2012 (EDT)
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  peter  Footnote: I have been told (don't know if it's true) that some sections of the Appalachian Trail even have signs posted saying that if you have to be rescued because you're wearing the wrong shoes, you get to pay the bill yourself. Can anyone confirm that? 

To be honest there are parts of the AT  where if they have to rescue you .You will be charged,.But never saw a sign about shoes. I know 12 people who have worn trail runners in the whites. 

 

9:31 p.m. on May 10, 2012 (EDT)
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For me it just depends on whether I'm day hiking fast & light - or full on backpacking.

Also depends on terrain, time of year, amount of rainfall, etc.

I will go bare footed in some places (like around camp or in streams) all the way up to wearing traditional FGL boots with welted soles.

To answer the question....yes, I will wear trail runners while hiking, but not for backpacking.

Mike G.

11:09 a.m. on May 11, 2012 (EDT)
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Quite reasonably, NH law permits the state to charge rescued hikers for costs of rescue, if the reason for the rescue was recklessness or negligence on the part of the hiker. However, type of footwear would probably not initiate charges unless the rescue occurred because the footwear created the unsafe condition or injury necessitating rescue. I suppose wearing wingtips or saddle shoes in deep snow might meet that criteria :)

6:36 p.m. on May 14, 2012 (EDT)
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I wear trailrunners all the time now. My only other shoes are my Teva sandals. I tried the Vibram Fivefingers but didnt like them as well. Just traded my last pair of heavy hiking boots for some other needed gear.

11:43 a.m. on May 15, 2012 (EDT)
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Teva sandals are great. I used to have a pair that I would wear all the time.

2:54 p.m. on May 15, 2012 (EDT)
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A couple of years ago I would have said no way, but now I'm really enjoying using light and minimialist footwear as much as possible. I've done a couple of overnights and some long day hikes in Merrell Trail Gloves or Five Fingers, in addition to running in them full time now. I think you want to build up to where your feet and ankles are strong enough the handle the weight and distance. I also stubbed toes pretty badly a couple of times until I learned to watch where I put my feet. Ankle rolling is not as much of a problem IMO becuase you feel the ground better and react faster. All that said, there are some mountain "trails" here in Norway that are mighty rough and rocky (never mind snowy) and I'm not sure I'm ready to give up my regular hiking boots on those.

By the way, I'm reading the Barefoot Sisters SOuthbound right now, which certainly shows that it's at least possible to go long and heavy with absolutely nothing -- except that jackrabbit bruised one foot so bad she had to give up for a long stretch, leaving Isis to go it alone for a long stretch.

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