Traveling the trails is an invigorating outdoor activity that can be practiced all year round. Hence the importance of taking the time to choose the right piece of equipment that will accompany you step by step: boots or hiking shoes? Between the two, which model to favor? Follow our advice to make the right choice.
Hiking boot or shoe: which model to choose depending on the type of hike?
Lightweight hiking boots and hiking shoes are designed for day hikes or short overnight hikes on fairly flat terrain.
For the mountains or longer hikes, high boots absorb the shock of a heavy load well and support you in all the right places on rocky ground.
Lightweight hiking boot and hiking shoe: the benefits and things to watch out for
The main benefit of lightweight hiking boots and hiking shoes is that you don’t carry so much weight on your feet, literally. This extra weight is added with every step you take. The old hiking adage that one pound on your feet equals six pounds on your shoulders still holds true. Removing weight from your feet allows you to maintain a faster pace and use less energy.
Lighter hiking shoes also allow you to be more agile on your feet. It makes a huge difference if you have to avoid rocks, stumps or other obstacles. A low cut saves you even more energy and is less bulky around the ankles, which keeps your feet cool. A low cut hiking boot is like a running shoe with a winter sole.
On the other hand, the disadvantage with low cuts is that they provide less support for the ankles and protection against abrasion. For day hikers carrying snacks and water on a flat trail, that’s no problem. For long hikes in the mountains, you might want to consider taller hiking boots, especially if you’re carrying camping gear and heading into the backcountry.
High hiking boots and mountain boots: the advantages and points to watch out for
Taller hiking boots, whether made of full-grain leather or a combination of leather and synthetic materials, are designed for extreme conditions. They are heavier, but the extra weight is worth it.
Leather or rubber bands in the upper of the hiking boot absorb the majority of scrapes and abrasions. As for the soles, expect aggressive notches and a pronounced heel for maximum traction over rough terrain. Cut high above the ankle and having a stiff upper, they provide good ankle support, preventing strain that can ruin your hike. Finally, the padded heel will prevent irritating little rocks from sneaking into your hiking boots.
Hiking boots or shoes: which upper to target?
Now let’s talk about rods. The upper is what gives rigidity to the sole. Hiking boots and lightweight hiking shoes are designed with a half upper or three quarter upper, which makes them flexible and allow you to walk like when wearing a running shoe.
Tall hiking boots, on the other hand, feature completely stiff solid uppers so they can support your weight when walking over rocks or through stumps. A full upper also absorbs the extra impact caused by the weight of your backpack when walking on a rocky trail or in a moraine.
Ask yourself the right questions when shopping for lightweight, short or tall hiking boots and hiking shoes. This will help you narrow down your choices to a few models that really suit your needs.
There are a variety of hiking boots that fall into categories ranging from tall, stiff boots to lightweight boots for day hikes. It all depends on the type of hiking you do the majority of the time. The key is to keep a hiking boot as light as possible without compromising support and durability.
Lightweight boots can be used right out of the box, while tall boots usually need to be gradually adjusted to your feet by wearing it often before a long hike. Wearing them a few times on short day hikes can be the difference between curing blisters and relaxing by the fire with a hot drink.