General Question

lilikoi's avatar

Do you have special hiking shoes/boots?

Asked by lilikoi (10028 points ) March 25th, 2010

I’ve always just kept one pair for running/hiking/walking. Never had a problem. Although, I haven’t done many hikes in weather that isn’t tropical (but I will be from the summer through the end of the year).

I’ve never had hiking boots. There are some pretty heavy duty looking ones with Gore-Tex and all that. They look heavy and stiff and maybe like they are made for cold climate conditions.

Have you always had separate shoes for hiking? If not, at what point did you start using hiking boots instead of regular running shoes? What are the benefits of using hiking boots instead of Nikes? What are they designed for?

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26 Answers

se_ven's avatar

I’m relatively new to hiking and I was surprised at the difference hiking boots made. I feel much more stable, my feet are better protected, and they are actually the most comfortable pair of shoes I have ever had.

Rarebear's avatar

I have Lowe Renegade Gore-tex. Light weight and waterproof. I use them backpacking.

Coloma's avatar

I live near a premiere river with tons of hiking trails and rafting/canoeing opportunities.

For summer hiking ( mostly level trail, some modest grades and lots of river dipping along the way, lol ) I prefer a sturdy river/hiking sandle. Good traction, comfortable and water proof. Of course not too great if one stumples across a rattlesnake on the trail as I have plenty of times. haha So far so good.

I have some cool Nike all terrain types now, and hey, bonus..they are stylish purple and white. lol

Obviously more uphill endurance type, or rocky conditions might bring a need for a more suppostive boot.

I am a veritable little mountain goat though, can cling to the most precarious edge with my little sandled hooves. lolol

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I do as I am out in the woods often enough.Mine are designed for warmth and have a good sole for gripping.They are also lightweight and I can wear them in the snow too as they waterproof.They are the best damned boots that ever walked the face of the earth;)lol

Ron_C's avatar

I have a pair I bought a couple years ago that were insulated with an aggresive tread but look like trainers. Since I have vein damage in one leg, I have been considering a more study shoe for hiking. I have tried a couple but haven’t picked out any yet.

I want them for several reasons:

1. A good pair gives ankle support which helps because it is pretty rocky around here.

2. The better shoes don’t weigh much more than normal running shoes.

3. Gortex breaths but keeps water and mud out of the shoes (another local condition)

4. They also provide protection from thorns and rattlesnakes (another local condition)

wonderingwhy's avatar

Vasque Wasatch GTX Backpacking boots; water proof well above the ankle with extra stiff midsoles helps make a trek with a 40+lb pack a good deal easier on the feet. They’re probably a little heavy for just general hiking without a pack or just a light pack but for me they make a difference. Invest in some good socks and inserts too. I’m partial to smartwool and superfeet respectively.

To me the difference is how my feet and ankles feel, knees too sometimes, after the hike is over. I can go in regular shoes but I can feel the difference particularly on rocky or off trail terrain. And I know I’ve saved more than a couple sprained ankles with good lacing in my travels.

Thus far those boots have done well for me over at least 40+ miles of off-trail/rocky hiking and probably 300+ miles of light duty.

liminal's avatar

I match my footwear not only to what I am packing and personal tolerances, but also to the terrain.

Try walking on a rocky path for more than 40 minutes in thin soled tennis shoes and you’ll know what it is like to walk barefoot on golf balls for too long.

I still use a light hiker or trail shoe over court or running shoes when I am not packing anything. Particularly if I am going to be scrambling over any boulders. Trail shoes and hikers are ‘stickier’.

Backpacker magazine has some good shoe and boot reviews you may want to check it out.

Ron_C's avatar

@wonderingwhy they look like just what I need but the first three or four sites I checked don’t have my size 9.5 D. I check out the magazine.

lilikoi's avatar

@Ron_C REI has them.

Thanks all for the replies.

Rarebear's avatar

As @wonderingwhy said, Vasque makes good boots—the couple I tried just didn’t fit me right. But the key thing is something lightweight as you don’t want to be trudging along with a couple of lead weights attached to your feet. REI has sales so look for them. Also, you can check out REI Outlet

Rarebear's avatar

One other thing, when I was shopping for boots, one guy at a mountain store told me to go for half a size bigger than I normally do. So I wear an 8.5, but I bought 9 boots. The rationale is that you’ll have thicker hiking socks, and if you’re hiking or backpacking for a long period of time your feet will swell a bit. Best advice I’d ever gotten.

Cruiser's avatar

I recently bought these Merrells and am very happy with them. They said they would be waterproof . I had them fully submerged in slush puddle bone dry all weekend and you could go swimming with these and your feet will stay dry.
http://www.dickssportinggoods.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2979963#1

MissAnthrope's avatar

I can’t believe no one has mentioned Merrell’s yet! O.M.G. They are the best shoes ever. I can’t remember off-hand the ones I have, but they’re shoes (not boots) and they are so amazingly comfortable. When I hike, I feel very secure about my footing usually, as the tread is excellent. They are also very comfortable, like the cushiest walking/running shoe you’ve ever worn, plus arch support. The only thing this shoe isn’t good at is walking on hard, wet surfaces (concrete is fine, but wet rocks, metal grates on the street, etc.)

Aaaah, fist bump, @Cruiser.

janbb's avatar

Much better for ankle support as well as the bottoms of your feet on rocky terrain. I have a pair of medium weight boots for Fall through Spring and light day hikers for the summer. L.L. Bean has a variety of reasonably priced ones in many different sizes.

lilikoi's avatar

Have you Merrell users used Montrail before? I’m curious how they compare. I’ve heard great things about Merrell, but never tried em.

Honestly, I’m still leaning towards a trail runner than a boot. I’m thinking the boot’s sole is thicker, but that also means more rigid. I need flexibility, or I get foot cramps. It would be great to be water/mud proof, but I’m concerned about breathability which you definitely compromise w/ Goretex. I think it would be a definite plus for trails w/ many stream crossings where the water is cold, or snow, or heavy cold rain…but if it’s not cold, I don’t mind having wet feet for a while. I’ll have to give this point more thought, though. I also like that shoes are more compact and lighter than boots – easier to pack when traveling (when I’m not hiking I usually wear slippers [flip flops] and then have to carry shoes). I’m not used to the added ankle support….haven’t needed it thus far, even on very uneven terrain, but can imagine how it might help. Not sure.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

No, but I totally want some Vibram FiveFingers – sadly do to my conjoined toes, this is impossible.

njnyjobs's avatar

I have a pair of Bass boots that I use for hiking. You’re better protected wearing boots than regular running sneakers as it will support your feet as you thread along the various terrains. Also helps from getting bitten by snakes at the ankle.

Cruiser's avatar

@lilikoi That is what Dicks promote the Merrells as trail runner shoes. I needed hikers and bought mine cause the salesguy swore by them. They are light weight comfy with great support. And I went running off trail in the woods with them and they felt secure even in the frozen muck.

Ron_C's avatar

@lilikoi yes they do have them thanks. They’ll have to wait until next month, my wife just pulled my master card privileges.

lilikoi's avatar

@Cruiser Thanks! I’ve been checking those out, and they seem like a good compromise between the mesh runners and the full on boots.

Have you guys seen Gore-Tex socks before? These things sound awesome from the reviews. This with a mesh shoe I think will be my solution for now. From there, maybe I’ll up it to Merrells or Montrail GTX, but baby steps. I like the idea of being able to remove the Gore-Tex layer since I do live in Hawaii ;) and I really only need the waterproofing when I travel to colder climates for hiking >1 day…

iam2smart99037's avatar

I’ve got a pair of Columbia Tigertooths. They aren’t boots, but are more like hiking shoes. I love them and recommend them.

justn's avatar

I have some Cabelas hiking boots with Dry-Plus (like Gore-Tex). They look stiff, but are really some of the most comfortable shoes I own. Also, I think they were only about $60.

downtide's avatar

I own a pair of hiking boots but they don’t get much use these days. I used to do a lot of walking with my dog but now she’s getting old we only do a stroll around the local park. My hiking boots were a random very cheap find – £15 from my local Aldi’s (discount supermarket). For any kind of footwear that’s a bargain, and they’ve turned out to be a good, comfortable pair of boots.

lilikoi's avatar

I just got the Montrail Streak for under 40 bucks shipped! They weren’t feather light like I was expecting, but I don’t think I’ve ever had a better fitting shoe. I’m stoked!

Response moderated
majorrich's avatar

I’ve had one set of Limmers for 25 years now. They have been resoled twice, but are still my second skin on my feet. While they are in the shop, I wear Aku’s fitted with superfeet insoles

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