Mt Whitney Zone
Good morning :-) Yesterday we did our longest hike, 17 miles, and I couldn't wait to take my hiking boots off as soon as we were finished :-( If felt like such a treat when I got barefoot! For those of you who have hiked up Whitney, what footwear (boots or good tennis shoes) did you wear. I was thinking of packing my tennis shoes in my backpack in case the discomfort is unbearable on the way down and I just have to take mty boots off. I would appreciate all suggestions! Cindy
I am somewhat old school, or at least somewhat old, and I always wear actual hiking boots, although I do frequently take flip-flops for a break around the campsite when I overnight. I totally get the temptation to wear sneakers, and I have seen plenty of people do so with success. However, the thought of rolling my ankle as I make my way through the 23rd switchback keeps me in check. Besides, I really love that feeling of finally pulling off my boots. Just my two cents.
Here's a good thread to read:
  Anyone hiked Whitney using Mountain Running Shoes?
Hi Cindy,

Trail runners/ tennis shoes are my preferred shoe of choice unless I'm hiking on rough rocky surfaces or traversing/ climbing snowy slopes etc. Realistically, you're just walking on a dirt path. Comfort and traction should be important factors in your choices. I switched to Altra Lone Peak trail runners a few years ago and have been very happy. Lots of choices of course.

I've only made it as far as Trail Camp before but do not see why a boot would be necessary on any part of the regular Mount Whitney trail.

Some people believe boots can help with ankle support, so if you have ankle issues, you might take that into consideration. They do make very comfortable, lighter weight boots like the Saloma Quests/ Merrils etc, but I don't think any of them are as comfortable or as light as a pair of trail runners.
I'm just as good at rolling my ankle in boots as I am in shoes (note I'm REALLY good at it - I've felt my ankle bone hit the ground in full high top boots before). That being said, I've switched to trail runners 90% of the time (unless snow or REALLY uneven off trail terrain) and actually tend to roll my ankle less now. Some of that is general strengthening, but also my Hoka One One trail runners have a very wide footbed outside of where my foot actually is - so I think that helps too. The comfort is absolutely worth it for me.
I tried Hokas but fell several times while running. They feel like stilts on my feet. Prefer Brooks Ghost as they fit my feet like a glove, have the normal 12mm drop, and have outstanding traction for a road shoe.
Ankle "support" from boots is mainly an effect called proprioception: That flexible high-top collar won't physically stop an ankle roll, but because it's in contact with your ankle you feel it happening sooner and can often react quicker.

If you want real support you can wear a lace-up or velcro ankle brace like the ASO over the socks to add true lateral rigidity. Then you can use lighter footwear that reduces fatigue and pounding while making you much more

I wouldn't use full boots unless I knew my feet would be continually wet and possibly freezing (long stretches of flooded trail, unconsolidated wet snow, eg.) or I needed to wear crampons.
Trail runners are my preferred footwear. Full high-rise hiking boots just seem SO 1975 to me. I hated them growing up back then. And I have no intentions of going back. Trail runners are FAR more comfortable and can be every bit as good in the traction department. Admittedly, I have never done anything more difficult than the main trail up Whitney, Clear Creek Trail to the summit of Shasta, and South Climb up Mount Adams (on rocks, not snow). But I have never felt like I needed anything more than trail runners. I never felt like I should have had heavy, clunky boots.
100% trail runners. I had a pair of the old Vasque Breeze II (not III) which I liked a lot and used like trail runners- meaning I would run in them. But after they finally wore out last year I began looking around for a replacement (they no longer make the II, and the III is not the same boot). I ended up using trail runners. I recommend Sauconeys. You can get their basic trail runner model for around $60 and it has pretty good traction. I wear them on long approaches and carry my mountaineering boots. This keep trail dust from grinding into the seams of the more expensive boots.
I love the Adidas GTX Terrex swift boots. They do not feel like boots at all and have amazing traction and comfort. I have hiked in them wearing a 20lb pack all the way up to a 65lb pack. Feet stay in great shape even after 30 miles in a day. I put over 1,000 miles on them and surprisingly they still are comfortable (however, the tread is completely gone now). The terrex boots were my go to hiking and climbing boots of choice for 5 years but now I have moved on to more of a trail running low top shoe. Retired these boots last month.

I own the Salomon Speedcross4 trail running shoes and find them pretty comfortable. They are super light and the tread is amazing. But after 25 miles of hiking, I for sure feel the feet taking a beating. I have had them 2 years now and they are starting to fall apart. I have probably put around 400-500 miles on them. Retired these shoes this last April.

I am doing the JMT thru-hike this late August and I am debating which trail shoes to take. I own new pairs of the Salomon X Raise and the New Balance Summit Unknown V2. Have not hiked in them yet. Both are super light and feel really good on my feet. They feel like they will not need a lot of break in time. I did not get the GTX version of the shoes due to the fact I wanted to keep weight down and the flexibility of the shoe to the max. Should be pretty dry on the trail too - streams will be low and rain shouldn't be a factor that late. Leaning towards the Salomon X Raise.

I have been hiking and climbing peaks in the Sierra now for 38 years - since I was 5 years old! I have tried and used every shoe out there from Converse high top All-star sneakers to heavy Asolo mountaineering boots - and everything in between. I find that the older I get the more I want comfort and flexibility/durability. My best advise is hike for context. What are your goals, where are you hiking (trail or crosscountry), what are you hiking, when are you hiking? And then go out and get as much as experience as you can!

Happy hiking/climbing season everyone!
Trail runners are probably better for trails. However, if you’re off trail, the boots are better. Boots work better for brush, stream crossings, scree, snow, talus, rock climbing, etc.

I didn’t set out to do a head-to-head comparison, but that’s what I ended up doing in 2010. I climbed the Mountaineers’ Route in trail runners, didn’t like them, and then climbed it again the same day wearing boots. In a direct comparison, the boots won, hands down.
Today's report from Outside:

Dale B. Dalrymple
I can't think of a single army in the world that has its soldiers not wearing boots. In the US Army I never had a rolled ankle, but most certainly would have had I worn trail runners.

Light pack or day pack and well established trail? Maybe trail runners are superior.
Originally Posted by futbol
I can't think of a single army in the world that has its soldiers not wearing boots. In the US Army I never had a rolled ankle, but most certainly would have had I worn trail runners.

Light pack or day pack and well established trail? Maybe trail runners are superior.

Then again, there are not a whole lot of through hikers on the PCT that hike in boots. Given the fact that these folks can make that choice (vs people in the armed forces), this says something. Let’s face it. Most people find that hiking miles and miles in boots just, well, sucks. Especially if you have to do it day after day. Of course, at the end of the day, it all comes down to personal preference.
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