Anyone hiked Whitney using Mountain Running Shoes?

Posted by: Avi

Anyone hiked Whitney using Mountain Running Shoes? - 06/08/19 05:55 PM

I was at the REI garage sale today and on a whim picked up a newish North Face Ultra 110 gtx for $50. I loved the deep treads on it and it seemed to have good foot support (though not as much on the ankle).

I did Whitney last year using a Vasque hiking boot and it killed my feet on the descent. I have been reading about trail running shoes and am seriously considering it for this year's trip.

I have most trouble with my knees and ankles on the way down. I have given up on ankle high boots giving me enough ankle support, so will be relying on ankle braces.

Thoughts/suggestions?
Posted by: Steve C

Re: Anyone hiked Whitney using Mountain Running Shoes? - 06/08/19 09:47 PM

I use Nike Leadville by New Balance. Use the ankle braces and good lightweight hiking poles. That's what I would do.
Posted by: MikeH

Re: Anyone hiked Whitney using Mountain Running Shoes? - 06/09/19 03:38 PM

I would work on strengthening your ankles v.s. wearing braces. Calf raises etc.

I hiked up to trail camp in my Altra Lone Peaks. I switched to the Altras after using light(ish) weight boots (Merrels etc). I've done multiple overnight backpacking trips with them. I much prefer the Lone Peaks- although I wish the soles last a bit longer. If I was rock climbing or bouldering, maybe I'd pick something with a sturdier sole.

I purchased a pair of La Sportiva Bushidas to try to get a longer lasting sole and have only been marginally happy with them v.s. the Lone Peaks.

I don't believe any boot short of a ski boot could provide enough ankle support without tying it so tight you'd be miserable.
Posted by: terraelise

Re: Anyone hiked Whitney using Mountain Running Shoes? - 06/25/19 02:08 PM

Every one is different, but my Whitney single day summit ('08?) was the last time I wore boots except for cave hikes for some reason. There is just not enough cushion and they are too stiff for me: my feet hurt and blister. I switched to trail running shoes all the time, though sometimes I forget to wear the ones with a partial shank / stiffer sole and suffer mostly temporary acute plantar fasciitis. In the snow or expected wet trails and on multiday trips I have fallen in love with just one shoe: some waterproof Merrell. I would have to look up the name of it, but since I can't find it online I fear for my future (luckily I have a new pair waiting, I always by another one or two when I fall in love).

ANYHOW the point is, for me the best backpacker/long distance hiker/snow or wet hiker is going to be a "trail runner" with Goretek that has both cushion and a stiffer sole or a shank. I have spent years trying out shoes and now I'm usually pretty solid - my feet are jerks and can give themselves blisters if they get wet so I pair a stable shoe with a toed sock liner and thick-ish wool socks.

EDIT: just a note that for actual trail runs and single-day hikes under 14 miles I am in Brooks trail runners of various types, they have the width in the toe and are cushy and are tight enough in the heel, which is the reason I cannot wear men's shoes despite being at the very end of sizing for women's (11).

Good luck finding what works for you!
Posted by: stoaX

Re: Anyone hiked Whitney using Mountain Running Shoes? - 06/27/19 04:42 PM

First a caveat: I have reasonably strong ankles.

That said, I have always used regular running shoes / sneakers. But as the previous post said "everyone is different". The only time I wear boots is when I am anticipating snow and slush.
Posted by: StorminMatt

Re: Anyone hiked Whitney using Mountain Running Shoes? - 07/06/19 03:29 AM

Honestly, I donít like hiking boots, and never wear them. Both times I have climbed Whitney, I wore trail runners. I canít see doing it any other way. And from what I have seen on the trail, you will be in good company if you choose trail runners over boots.
Posted by: Avi

Re: Anyone hiked Whitney using Mountain Running Shoes? - 07/06/19 05:06 PM

Originally Posted By: MikeH
I would work on strengthening your ankles v.s. wearing braces. Calf raises etc.



That is great advice. I felt the same about my knees, but been working very hard on strengthening my thigh muscles and (touchwood), my knees haven't bothered me as much.

But I feel my ankles are really weak.....it turns at the slightest of touches.....not sure how much I can improve prior to my trip in ~ month's time.
Posted by: Avi

Re: Anyone hiked Whitney using Mountain Running Shoes? - 07/06/19 05:08 PM

Originally Posted By: terraelise
Every one is different, but my Whitney single day summit ('08?) was the last time I wore boots except for cave hikes for some reason. There is just not enough cushion and they are too stiff for me: my feet hurt and blister. I switched to trail running shoes all the time, though sometimes I forget to wear the ones with a partial shank / stiffer sole and suffer mostly temporary acute plantar fasciitis. In the snow or expected wet trails and on multiday trips I have fallen in love with just one shoe: some waterproof Merrell. I would have to look up the name of it, but since I can't find it online I fear for my future (luckily I have a new pair waiting, I always by another one or two when I fall in love).

ANYHOW the point is, for me the best backpacker/long distance hiker/snow or wet hiker is going to be a "trail runner" with Goretek that has both cushion and a stiffer sole or a shank. I have spent years trying out shoes and now I'm usually pretty solid - my feet are jerks and can give themselves blisters if they get wet so I pair a stable shoe with a toed sock liner and thick-ish wool socks.

EDIT: just a note that for actual trail runs and single-day hikes under 14 miles I am in Brooks trail runners of various types, they have the width in the toe and are cushy and are tight enough in the heel, which is the reason I cannot wear men's shoes despite being at the very end of sizing for women's (11).

Good luck finding what works for you!


Thanks for sharing your feedback. I have tried out the North Face shoes I got on 2 short/easy hikes. Seems ok.....doesn't have the foot support of a heavier hiking boot, but at the same time it is lighter.

I need to go on longer practice hikes with a loaded backpack before deciding.
Posted by: jbinsb

Re: Anyone hiked Whitney using Mountain Running Shoes? - 07/17/19 12:42 PM

Nearly every single through hiker, nearly all of whom do a minimum of 20 miles a day on rugged and/or rocky terrain, use trail runners. I recently switched to Altras and find that after walking the 10 or 12 miles I normally do with a pack in the Sierra, my feet feel really good. I know they won't last as long as my Merrell Moabs, but I love the lack of "clunk" factor. I do not have big, fat ankles, but I am flexible and know how to roll with a twist, rather than resist it. I have heard that some people can have a problem with plantar fascia with the zero drop, but to me they are the closest thing to backpacking "slippers."
Posted by: Clmbr

Re: Anyone hiked Whitney using Mountain Running Shoes? - 09/09/19 10:56 PM

Trail runners are the only footwear I use for hiking now now, unless I'm expecting a significant amount of snow or ice. I got back from Whitney yesterday. Hiked it with $15 trail runners I got from Costco.