Hiking boots

3:12 p.m. on November 13, 2017 (EST)
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When I started and did most of my main backpacking from the late 70's to the late 80's I always wore high top hiking boots. But then in the early 90's when I was in my 40's to 50's I started wearing low top hiking shoes with basically no ankle support. I have hiked in these kind of shoes ever since.

But recently no in my early 60's I find my instep gets very sore from long distance day hiking. By the end of a 5 mile hike over various terrain I get very sore feet,soles and especially insteps. Maybe its time to return to high top, ankle support boots?

I have been a backpacker,hiker for almost 50 years and want to continue to be able to hike. Should I invest in a pair of ankle support boots to be able to?

7:36 p.m. on November 13, 2017 (EST)
Old Guide
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I've had the same trouble with same age approx. I'm just a little older, with multiple injuries on right leg. I prefer a taller boot after going the other route but one thing that really helped me was an Orthotic pad from a Podiatrist. It was an 'Instant change', like night and day...so that is something you might try.

In better shoe stores or repair shops they will have a Licensed 'Pedorthist' who also can fit you properly with an Orthotic.

10:14 a.m. on November 14, 2017 (EST)
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Second the orthotic inserts...high end shoe stores like the Walking Company, which was started by a podiatrist, will scan your foot and make custom or match to a certain type. Makes much more of a difference to me than the shoe which I vary based on conditions. Superfeet work well too.

10:42 a.m. on November 14, 2017 (EST)
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Inserts and high tops are a great idea. The other important things are a light pack and care where you place your feet. 

11:40 a.m. on November 14, 2017 (EST)
andrew f. @leadbelly2550
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after a knee injury and surgery 14 years ago, i went to a podiatrist and had them make custom orthotics. an insert i wear daily with every pair of shoes i own, and in running shoes and hiking boots. they made a big difference. health insurance sometimes covers the cost.

i think the inner ankle/instep soreness can be from a number of factors - not just the height of the shoe, but also the stiffness of the leather outer, the stiffness of the midsole, and the support you get from custom or after-market commercial shoe inserts.  in general, though, the most robust and supportive hiking boots tend to cover your ankle. 

the most supportive boots i have worn, and still wear, are from Limmer boots. the stock version is fairly expensive, unfortunately, and I suspect the price of their custom boots would discourage most people.  

5:37 a.m. on November 15, 2017 (EST)
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If you are getting sore over most of you foot sole, it is probably the consequent of age.  We tend to lose the natural padding on the foot bottom as we get older.  A more cushioned foot bed will help some, as well as taking more breaks in your walk, using the opportunity to raise your feet above your heart.

If you are addressing sore arches, that too, can be blamed on aging.  As we get older we lose some of our strength.  Considering the forces that our feet are subjected to, no wonder then, that the bones and ligament structures are placed under greater strain the result of less muscular support.  As others comment, get foot beds with robust arch support; it does make a big difference.


8:03 a.m. on November 15, 2017 (EST)
Old Guide
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One thing about  'cost' of Orthotic pads-my Podiatrist gave them to me, I guess the cost of the initial visit/s covered that. This won't always be the case.

Once you own the pads they can be 'tweaked' if necessary, by either professional mentioned in my above post.

10:42 p.m. on November 18, 2017 (EST)
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I've had feet pain recently and went to a podiatrist who tried to sell me a boot without asking me any questions or looking at my feet. I decided to see a Physical Therapist I've been to in the past, he was fantastic and within a couple months I'm pain free. Then I bought some insoles to support my high arches and cushion for the heels. Quality boots that fit your feet with insoles that support your feet. Different tying techniques may help too.


7:37 p.m. on November 23, 2017 (EST)
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Thanks for all your answers, I plan to go see a VA doctor soon about this, I am covered by both the VA, I was in the US Navy 1975-76.

And a free health care program.  here in Arizona called AHCCCS; Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System. It fully paid for a weeks hospital stay when I had an infected Gall Bladder removed in 2010, including all my prescriptions and doctors visits. 


10:55 a.m. on November 26, 2017 (EST)
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For the winter, I have now gone to insulated hunting boots which are warm and provide plenty of ankle support.  Buy em big for some heavy socks.

2:37 p.m. on November 26, 2017 (EST)
Bill S
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The most important part of footwear is proper fitting. Unfortunately, the number of properly trained and experienced bootfitters seems to be diminishing rapidly. Used to be, I had 4 experienced and highly trained boot fitters within 10-15 miles plus one located at one of the major ski resorts that we go to. As of about a year ago, we are down to only the one at the distant ski resort, and he is planning to retire next season.

Proper boot fitting includes not only stuffing orthotics into the boot. It also requires making modifications to the shape of the boot - BOTH boots!! (gee, that sounds like people, all people, have feet of different shape and orientation because of the varying bone and joint structures on each leg). Add in the damage we all do to our limbs.

Not all orthopods are experienced in working with hikers, climbers, and other athletes. 

For me, certain ones of the Superfeet work with some of myfootwear,while others do not. Dr. Scholls don't work for me at all, despite all their ads.

For some things, I use my Limmers. For hard shells (ski boots and snow and ice climbing with crampons), Scarpa and La Sportiva fit fine, particularly after my bootfitters spend a while re-shaping them. Low-top approach shoes from La Sportiva work well for me, again after a bit of modification (they fit reasonably fresh from the box, but some slight mods help even more). 

If your fitter does things correctly, you won't have raw ankles, sore arches, or sore soles. I also wear Injinji toe socks and no longer get blisters on my feet, including no blisters between the toes.

This works for me as I get close to completing my 8th decade.

Basic rule is get footwear that is for your intended purpose and work with a professional, well-trained and experienced boot fitter.

11:41 a.m. on November 30, 2017 (EST)
andrew f. @leadbelly2550
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I'm pretty easy to fit (with custom orthotics), but how do you think I might identify a boot fitter in Maryland? I had someone stretch some parts of a pair of Raichle hikers years ago, and it made a big difference with how they fit.  

10:03 p.m. on January 30, 2018 (EST)
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My "revelation" in backpacking boots has been Merrill GTX Moab Mid boots. Light, barely over the ankle and nicely waterproof.

For desert use I use the similar Merrill Moab shoes.

Previously I'd used heavy leather Danners then Danner Light bots. Both broke in the sole area!! (And Dinner would not stand behind them but Cabela's did. Amazing. No more Danners for me.

Eric B.

May 30, 2020
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