I always try to get friends to come hiking and after I convince them to come their first question is usually “What shoes should I wear hiking??”
I have been hiking since I was a little kid. Mt. Monadnock in NH was my first real hike with my mom, which you can read about in a this post, which pretty clearly shows I was destined to have some interesting stories from hiking.
Anyways, you CAN hike in most types of foot wear, it all depends on how comfortable you want to be and your personal preference. When I started to get into more serious hiking in college I believed that mid-ankle hiking boots were the best way to go. I knew I wanted good traction, and I had terrible ankles growing up that I constantly sprained in soccer. I assumed that these higher boots would support my ankles and give me a better shot at not hurting myself. I maintained this philosophy up through most of college. My first pair of decent boots that I didn’t destroy with Cait on a missions trip were: Oboz Sawtooth Mid BDry Hiking Boots, which worked for me and are boots I still love and wear often to this day (Although, now after 3 years, I may need a new pair).
It wasn’t until I started backpacking that I started to really look at everything in terms of weight and what I needed. I read up on it and found a few interesting things:
- An article I came across said that ankle support from a boot, was essentially just a marketing scheme. That the higher boots can actually cause you to step down in an uncomfortable position because your ankle can’t move the way it naturally would
- Yes, the argument could be made that this lack of movement IS the ankle support.. but I had a few experiences that made me believe that higher boots might not be best in every situation.
- I had read that for every 1lb on your feet it is about 5lb in your pack. To me that meant more snacks (or at the very least less pain!)
- Between my two boots there is a 0.33lb difference, which is over 1.5lb difference of weight in my pack.
- I had also seen something about the potential benefits/ the option to wear non-waterproofed boots.
- The thought is that you would just ignore puddles, walk right through them, not have to focus that energy or time on finding a good path around streams, and just let your feet dry naturally instead of trapping them in little bubbles terrified they would get wet.
For the above reasons, and because it doesn’t take a lot for me to want to try new gear… I made a decision to try low sneaker cut boots and purchased these: Oboz Sawtooth Low Hiking Shoes. I opted to not go to the full extreme and get trail running sneakers, which are essentially sneakers with an aggressive tread.
I have really enjoyed this change, but still find myself using both pairs of boots. I make the decision on which pair typically based on the weather: I wear my waterproof boots if I know it is going to be super cold, or if I know the trail will be wet/icy/snowy. If the conditions are supposed to be all sunshine and rainbows, I usually go with my lower boots. I like the extra movement for my ankles, allowing me to move more naturally, which especially helps when we get into a little more climbing and awkward maneuvering.