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#39231 - 07/30/14 03:57 PM Boots v. Trailrunners
Snacking Bear Offline


Registered: 08/09/11
Posts: 502
Loc: Nashville, TN
Hello Knowledgeable Outdoors Community,

I have long been an advocate of high-top boots for any active outdoor adventure. My reasons are the following:

1: Your feet are your most valuable asset, ergo: more protection, more better.

2: With high-tops and appropriate lacing you are better protected from rolling your ankle.

3: Boots tend to be more waterproof/resistant by nature. and it is usually more difficult to get dirt/sand/gravel into your boots.

Yet as I've hiked more and more, I've finally tried my first pair of trail-runners, I love the firm sole and great support but I also love the flexibility and lighter weight. I think I may be converting soon (plus with ankle gaiters, you're just about impervious).

Now as I contemplate doing the JMT and or HST again in the next year, for the first time I'm considering forgoing my boots for TR's. What are your thoughts (specifically for backpacking/scrambling in trail runners)?
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#39232 - 07/30/14 04:13 PM Re: Boots v. Trailrunners [Re: Snacking Bear]
goldscott Offline


Registered: 06/23/14
Posts: 114
Loc: San Diego, CA
I did San Gorgonio in a pair of ultralight road running shoes and did just fine - though I wouldn't do it again. The sole was too flimsy. I just didn't have my trail runners with me.

I actually just bought two pairs of trail runners:
Saucony Peregrine 4 and Salomon S-Lab Sense 3 Ultra SG.
(I couldn't decide, so I went with both). The Peregrines have a very soft, squishy sole and the S3Us have a harder sole. Both have a sole plate to absorb and shield sharp rocks.

After doing Whitney back in June, I was talking with a guy doing the PCT and he was wearing trail runners, and said a lot of others were as well.

I usually hike in trail runners, but did Whitney in a pair of boots and longed for my TRs the entire time.

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#39233 - 07/30/14 04:40 PM Re: Boots v. Trailrunners [Re: Snacking Bear]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1255
Loc: Atlanta
SB, I used to be the same way, but I've been doing dayhikes and mountain training the past year as much in low-top approach shoes as in boots. Definitely lighter. I have noticed a tendency for my ankles to roll a bit more on rugged terrain, which is only natural without the high-top protection, but with a light pack and poles it doesn't necessarily concern me.

Before making a call on trail runners for an extended backpack, though, I'd load up the heavy pack for at least a day's hike in them on rough ground and see how it feels.

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#39236 - 07/30/14 05:14 PM Re: Boots v. Trailrunners [Re: Snacking Bear]
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1566
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
Originally Posted By: Snacking Bear
Hello Knowledgeable Outdoors Community,

I have long been an advocate of high-top boots for any active outdoor adventure. My reasons are the following:

To quote Charlie Brown;
Aaaaaaaauuuuuugggggghhhhhhh! Not the Boots vs Trailrunners debate! Not on my beloved Whitneyzone! Take a look at any other backcountry forum on this topic, and I hope to the God of Mt Whitney you will conclude that everyone's feet are different, and absolutely nothing anyone tells you about their preference and experience can be of any possible value to you in deciding what will work for you as between these two categories. I will give up my 1960's designed, 1980's built all leather Norwegian welt Vibram Montagne soled Zamberlain 5 1/2 lb Trekkers when they pry my cold dead toes out of them, but I would never recommend them to anyone ever. And I would listen to advice on underwear, feminine hygiene, male contraception, chemtrails and accepting Jesus as my personal savior before listening to one word on boots vs running shoes.

But that's just me.
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#39237 - 07/30/14 05:17 PM Re: Boots v. Trailrunners [Re: Snacking Bear]
2600fromatari Offline


Registered: 10/18/10
Posts: 453
Loc: San Diego
I used to wear boots a lot but am a convert. These days, I'm only throwing on the boots when there is snow or significant broken rock/talus which an beat up your soles. The runners are just more comfortable.

If you're backpacking, the boots will keep your feet more comfortable and resist fatigue due to the support, but wear your runners more during the daily training and exercise to build up those little muscles and toughen them up. No comparison if you're scrambling. I've worn a pair of 5-10 approach shoes for the North Ridge of Lone Pine Peak and never threw on my climbing shoes. Only issue was getting my feet wet at night on the way back while crossing a creek going cross-country.

My feet are particular about the boots I put on and have a tendency to get blisters. No issues with any runners/approach shoes.

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#39238 - 07/30/14 05:19 PM Re: Boots v. Trailrunners [Re: saltydog]
2600fromatari Offline


Registered: 10/18/10
Posts: 453
Loc: San Diego
Originally Posted By: saltydog

To quote Charlie Brown;
Aaaaaaaauuuuuugggggghhhhhhh!


Good grief...

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#39239 - 07/30/14 05:34 PM Re: Boots v. Trailrunners [Re: 2600fromatari]
Fishmonger Offline


Registered: 01/07/10
Posts: 1033
Loc: Madison, WI
the only footwear I've been using in Sierra summers since 2008:


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#39240 - 07/30/14 05:46 PM Re: Boots v. Trailrunners [Re: saltydog]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1255
Loc: Atlanta
Originally Posted By: saltydog

Aaaaaaaauuuuuugggggghhhhhhh! Not the Boots vs Trailrunners debate! Not on my beloved Whitneyzone! Take a look at any other backcountry forum on this topic, and I hope to the God of Mt Whitney you will conclude that everyone's feet are different, and absolutely nothing anyone tells you about their preference and experience can be of any possible value to you in deciding what will work for you as between these two categories. I will give up my 1960's designed, 1980's built all leather Norwegian welt Vibram Montagne soled Zamberlain 5 1/2 lb Trekkers when they pry my cold dead toes out of them, but I would never recommend them to anyone ever. And I would listen to advice on underwear, feminine hygiene, male contraception, chemtrails and accepting Jesus as my personal savior before listening to one word on boots vs running shoes.

But that's just me.


Now that's one of the better rants I've read in quite a while. But Salty, let your hair down and tell us how you really feel . . .

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#39241 - 07/30/14 05:46 PM Re: Boots v. Trailrunners [Re: saltydog]
Harvey Lankford Offline


Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 1025
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
Originally Posted By: saltydog

To quote Charlie Brown;
Aaaaaaaauuuuuugggggghhhhhhh! Not the Boots vs Trailrunners debate! Not on my beloved Whitneyzone! Take a look at any other backcountry forum on this topic, and I hope to the God of Mt Whitney you will conclude that everyone's feet are different, and absolutely nothing anyone tells you about their preference and experience can be of any possible value to you in deciding what will work for you as between these two categories. I will give up my 1960's designed, 1980's built all leather Norwegian welt Vibram Montagne soled Zamberlain 5 1/2 lb Trekkers when they pry my cold dead toes out of them, but I would never recommend them to anyone ever. And I would listen to advice on underwear, feminine hygiene, male contraception, chemtrails and accepting Jesus as my personal savior before listening to one word on boots vs running shoes. But that's just me.

LOL.
SD, you don't need advice on some of those anyway!
The only trail thing more a personal-choice might be food.

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#39242 - 07/30/14 05:52 PM Re: Boots v. Trailrunners [Re: Fishmonger]
Snacking Bear Offline


Registered: 08/09/11
Posts: 502
Loc: Nashville, TN

- Thanks 2600! I also walk around home barefoot a lot and train in softer running shoes. I think I'll invest in a good pair of trail-runners. Also I read your write-up on your Blackcap Traverse TR, it looked like great fun!

Originally Posted By: Fishmonger
the only footwear I've been using in Sierra summers since 2008

- Haha. Thanks Fishmonger. I dropped $400 on a pair of La Sportivas and had to exchange em for Lowa and I returned those, it seems that all of those Mountaineering boots run far too narrow for me (my shoes size looks like it belongs to some creature from the Mesozoic era).

- I'm also sufficiently satisfied if SteveC wants to scrap this thread for the succor of saltydog smile
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#39248 - 07/30/14 07:01 PM Re: Boots v. Trailrunners [Re: Snacking Bear]
Ken Offline


Registered: 10/29/09
Posts: 742
Loc: Los Angeles
It is certainly a personal choice, and the diversity of choices out there is remarkable.

What I advise is for people to be open minded about these things. I, too, never used anything but Vaque boots in my youth. They always hurt, I always got blisters. But what choice was there??

I now interact with the PCT through-hiking community a lot, and they are firmly centered on trail runners or even just running shoes (which I don't favor). For a lot of these people, their base weight is under 10 lbs, some under 5.

Also, the weight of what you carry makes a big difference. for day hiking, a low boot or trail runner seems best for me. When I'm carrying a lot of tools or a pack over 20#, my feet hurt if I don't have more support.

If I had "stuck to my guns" of my youth, I would have given up hiking decades ago, as I could no longer put up with the pain.

BTW, I think ankle gaiters are invaluable, as are poles.

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#39251 - 07/30/14 07:18 PM Re: Boots v. Trailrunners [Re: Snacking Bear]
2600fromatari Offline


Registered: 10/18/10
Posts: 453
Loc: San Diego
Originally Posted By: Snacking Bear

- Thanks 2600! I also walk around home barefoot a lot and train in softer running shoes. I think I'll invest in a good pair of trail-runners. Also I read your write-up on your Blackcap Traverse TR, it looked like great fun!


That's not me SB. I've been dealing with several injuries and haven't done anything big in quite awhile. Last traverse was Thunderbolt to Sill two years ago.

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#39252 - 07/30/14 07:51 PM Re: Boots v. Trailrunners [Re: 2600fromatari]
Snacking Bear Offline


Registered: 08/09/11
Posts: 502
Loc: Nashville, TN
Oh, sorry about that, I thought I had seen you post a few things from that blog!
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#39254 - 07/30/14 08:22 PM Re: Boots v. Trailrunners [Re: Harvey Lankford]
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1566
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
Originally Posted By: Harvey Lankford

The only trail thing more a personal-choice might be food.


Food! I'll talk about food all you want. As far as hiking is concerned, I am convinced that there are orders of magnitude fewer differences among the zillions of articulated digestive and metabolic functions between individuals than there are in the physiology and anatomy of the human foot.
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#39256 - 07/30/14 09:37 PM Re: Boots v. Trailrunners [Re: Snacking Bear]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7910
Loc: Fresno, CA
SB wrote:
> it seems that all of those Mountaineering boots run far too narrow for me (my shoes size looks like it belongs to some creature from the Mesozoic era).

I have a wide foot, too. FINALLY got a pair that didn't give me blisters: New Balance MW978, size 11 4E. This last trip, I never had one blister or problem. ...well, one big toenail is looking a little bruised. But those shoes are the best. Except a piece of the waffle sole peeled off the bottom (no wonder given the terrain I covered.) So I need to replace them. And now the problem: New Balance doesn't make them anymore! mad mad cry

Closest thing is New Balance MW1569, but they have eyelets rather than the older styles. I guess I'll have to get these, since NOBODY else that I know of makes a 4E hiking shoe.

And, SB, they even make a Mesozoic 6E width just for you! cool

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#39260 - 07/30/14 11:16 PM Re: Boots v. Trailrunners [Re: Snacking Bear]
Akichow Offline


Registered: 04/07/10
Posts: 659
Loc: SF Bay Area
This May, I found a boot that is the best of both worlds! I bet there are others!

http://www.sierratradingpost.com/salomon-conquest-gore-tex-hiking-boots-waterproof-for-women~p~7238y/?colorFamily=01



These are lightweight Salomons. No break in period whatsoever. Much lighter and flexible than traditional boots. Basically a trail runner that ends higher up your leg.

At the time I bought these, I was developing a numb big toe with my beloved Asolos. I had made an appointment with a podiatrist, but my $#@*&% HMO made me wait 3 weeks to get an appointment. In the meantime, thinking the problem might be impingement, I shopped around for a shoe with a big toe box and found out that Salomons are known for that. Further, I too have followed the boot v trail runners discussion, and these looked online like trailrunners in the shape of a boot, so that intrigued me as well.

Turns out, these new boots delivered on both fronts. No more toe numbness (the toe box is bigger than average). And they are super comfy and light. The only thing is that the sole is not quite as thickly protective as a traditional boot, so for a few hikes my feet were getting a little tired and feeling the terrain. But I figured I'd adapt and I did!

When I finally did see a podiatrist, I brought the new boots with me. He gave them a thumbs up for me (and confirmed the prior impingement issue). He did note that it is important for the sole of a boot to be rigid from the heel to the ball of the foot (the first 2/3 of the sole), meaning that you should not be able to twist or bend the boot/shoe in these places. (I think it is supposed to be flexible after that or you can become vulnerable to plantar fasciitis and achilles heel.) These boots passed that test even though they are so light and seem flexible.


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#39273 - 07/31/14 10:20 AM Re: Boots v. Trailrunners [Re: Snacking Bear]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1253
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
Originally Posted By: Snacking Bear
Hello Knowledgeable Outdoors Community,

I have long been an advocate of high-top boots for any active outdoor adventure. My reasons are the following:

1: Your feet are your most valuable asset, ergo: more protection, more better.

2: With high-tops and appropriate lacing you are better protected from rolling your ankle.

3: Boots tend to be more waterproof/resistant by nature. and it is usually more difficult to get dirt/sand/gravel into your boots.

Yet as I've hiked more and more, I've finally tried my first pair of trail-runners, I love the firm sole and great support but I also love the flexibility and lighter weight. I think I may be converting soon (plus with ankle gaiters, you're just about impervious).

Now as I contemplate doing the JMT and or HST again in the next year, for the first time I'm considering forgoing my boots for TR's. What are your thoughts (specifically for backpacking/scrambling in trail runners)?


Three letters...EVA.

This is the mid-sole material used in trailrunners...and road running shoes. It breaks down very quickly and the pebbles you walk on will feel like razors after about 100 to 200 miles of use. My Kayland Contacts are working on a thousand and I don't feel any rock. So, in the long run, they are a more expensive choice than good pair of European made mid weight backpacking boots.

They are for trailwalking. Forget steep off trail fun stuff.

I use something similar, I use them on short on trailwalks...8 to 10 miles, +<=3,500'. Basically, to save wear and tear on my boots.

Those who are big on the railroad tracks, they work extremely well, not so much for anyone finds a impromptu ridge or drainage exciting.

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#39276 - 07/31/14 10:40 AM Re: Boots v. Trailrunners [Re: Snacking Bear]
Hobbes Offline


Registered: 03/28/14
Posts: 144
Loc: The OC
"With high-tops and appropriate lacing you are better protected from rolling your ankle."

Your ankle is supposed to twist & roll. The number of muscles & tendons in your foot+ankle dwarfs those in your knees/hips by many orders of magnitude. Properly conditioned, they all work in unison to keep you steady and "sure footed".

If you isolate your ankle/foot in a cast (ie boot), guess where twists & rolls are transferred? That's right, but your knee isn't supposed to twist - it's just a straight lever.

Here's a good conceptual model: your hand/wrist becomes tired from some kind of activity. Rather than spend time strengthening your hand/wrist muscles to perform the task(s) as required, you decide to lock it down in a rigid glove/cast, transferring all the kinetic energy to your elbow & shoulder.

Now, who would ever consider doing something like that? Well, the same is true with a barefoot/minimal approach vs boots. But the process isn't easy for "zoo humans". We've been wearing shoes with heels/ankle support for so long that it takes a very long time to condition your foot to the point where it operates as it should in nature.

To give you a specific example: me. It took me two years of jogging in 4mm rise minimal trail runners before I felt confident enough that I could barefoot run (on semi-packed dirt). And even then, it's a modest proposition; day-in, day-out, I use my trail runners.

The modern day bible that describes how humans walked & ran for 2m years - up until 30 years ago - is:
http://www.amazon.com/Born-Run-Hidden-Superathletes-Greatest/dp/0307279189

Here's a quick recap:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2JWUhW5yRdI

Here's a medical overview of how our feet & legs are suppose to operate:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSIDRHUWlVo

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#39277 - 07/31/14 10:49 AM Re: Boots v. Trailrunners [Re: wbtravis]
Hobbes Offline


Registered: 03/28/14
Posts: 144
Loc: The OC
"last about 100 to 200 miles"

First of all, that's not entirely true. If you follow the accounts of this year's crop of PCTers, they're getting 400-500 miles per pair of shoes.

Secondly, so what? Trail runners cost $100+. It costs me more than $100 in gas every time I head to the Sierra from SoCal. For many numbers of out-of-state & foreign visitors to Calif, they're spending $1,000s to come out & visit.

I have never understood the allure of false economy & attempted savings. You'll spend way more than $100 for a single night in a flea-bag hotel + dinner before/after your hike. Your shoe is a key component - why not spend the money on a quality trail runner that will do the job?

Here are the biggies worn on the PCT. As far as I'm concerned, 20-somethings averaging 30 miles/day for 4 months are experts on what and doesn't work when it comes to hiking:

http://www.amazon.com/Brooks-Cascadia-Trail-Running-Shoes/dp/B00B1JJBVI

http://www.amazon.com/Altra-Lone-Peak-Trail-Running/dp/B00CM3AJG8

PS While Zpacks are nice & light, this is the go-to UL pack for most:
http://www.ula-equipment.com/product_p/catalyst.htm


Edited by Hobbes (07/31/14 10:51 AM)

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#39278 - 07/31/14 11:02 AM Re: Boots v. Trailrunners [Re: wbtravis]
Sewellymon Offline


Registered: 08/15/12
Posts: 6
Loc: LA, CA
I've run the whole spectrum.

Age, weight and fitness play a role.

Me 57 and now carry 20 lbs more than I should = I need more boot.
Last year did a 3 day backpack with a light, low-cut trail runner (Sportiva Wildcats.. love 'em). Descending I'd get bad ankle roll. Had to tape ankles.

This year I am finding my ankle rolling is a concern, but extra weight makes it hard on feet. I've been using heavy Asolo boots and they make me slower, but add comfort and safety. YMMV.

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