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Boots versus Trail Runners
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Paul Johnson
(johncooper) - F

Locale: SoCal
Boots versus Trail Runners on 03/14/2012 02:00:08 MDT Print View

I'm in the camp of trail runners for hiking, but I have a lot of resistance from friends- that use boots. I get the usual comments about ankle safety and foot impact. Does anyone have any factual evidence that debunk boots as a safer option?

On the contrary, is there any supporting evidence for boots?

I'm sure this has been covered many times. I would like to keep this thread to any data, evidence or studies rather than personal opinion.

Arapiles .
(Arapiles) - M

Locale: Melbourne
Other thread ... on 03/14/2012 03:28:35 MDT Print View

Perhaps you could check the other thread running presently on this question.

wander lust
born to run on 03/14/2012 03:35:06 MDT Print View

buy and read born to run and then hand it over to your friends. :)

there are many threads about this issue on backpackinglight.

one needs trained feet to be able to hike safely in trailrunners. and one has to try it out, before judging the whole thing. most doubters do not have any first hand experience to back up their claims at all.

go try it out for yourself, it doesn't matter what your friends think. in terms of training: it usually works for me to just walk barefoot at home and in the garden, and partially walk to work. no special training is requiered for me.

Roger's faq is still up to date and goes into detail:

boots make sense if it comes to mountaineerinng, ice climbing, skiing and in the deep winter.

I rather think that most of the foot impact is caused by the load one carries.
And nothing is 100% safe, if someone falls or slips badly even boots won't help. The whole ankle support thing is just a marketing myth most of the time.

I have seen people hurting them self wearing big boots and carrying heavy packs. I would rather say that some injuries are rather caused by heavy boots.

Just show you friends how many people do thru hikes with trailrunners if they are still not convienced. Someone hiking 2000 or miles usually knows and has tested what works and what not.

Aaron Reichow

Locale: Northern Minnesota
Re: Boots versus Trail Runners on 03/14/2012 09:35:57 MDT Print View

Similarly, it might be useful to ask around (your friends, REI salesman, or forums?) for evidence for the advantage of boots in backpacking and hiking. Are boots actually any safer, etc?

I'm afraid most responses will be anecdotes and conviction- most arguments people make for barefoot running (which is a distinctly different than the claim trail runners are better than or as good as hiking boots) are along these lines. Not that I disagree per se, but would love to see more evidence.

Rob E

Locale: Canada
Trail runners and heavy pack weight? on 03/14/2012 09:49:54 MDT Print View

My pack usually weighs north of 50lbs and I am almost exclusively off-trail bushwacking. I've been using lightweight hiking boots (Timberland Ledge Mid GTX, approx. 800grams per pair). I've been thinking about trying trail runners though. I really like the light weight hiking boots, especially for bushwhacking. They are light enough that I don't really notice them. The only thing I don't like is how long they take to dry and am interested in trail running shoes. Anyone have thoughts about using them with a heavy bag off-trail?


Ty Ty

Locale: SE US
edit on 03/14/2012 10:05:20 MDT Print View

Deleted (read the initial post too quickly, did not see OP wants studies not personal opinion, woops, sorry).

I have no studies, one thing that might help, ask the other boyscout leaders to lace up their hiking boots and stand on the side or put weight on it as if they are purposefully trying to 'roll' their ankle, then do the same with tennis shoes. This is how I proved to myself there is no real support with hiking boots.

Edited by TylerD on 03/14/2012 14:53:46 MDT.

Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
Re: Trail runners and heavy pack weight? on 03/14/2012 11:41:11 MDT Print View

"My pack usually weighs north of 50lbs and I am almost exclusively off-trail bushwacking."

Sounds like the first thing is get your pack weight down and then trail runners will make sense.

Larry De La Briandais
(Hitech) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Ankle support on 03/14/2012 13:06:33 MDT Print View

I know "everyone" claims that boots do not support your ankles, but if my boots are even a little loose around my ankles my ankles will start to hurt. Tighten them up and the pain goes away and stays gone. I might be able to get away with trail runners and and ace bandage, but it's just simpler to wear light boots. I also like the protection they provide for whacking my ankles into a rock. That really hurts.

Edited by Hitech on 03/14/2012 15:01:48 MDT.

jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
Boots versus Trail Runners on 03/14/2012 13:36:05 MDT Print View

Everyone's feet are different; what works for some is terrible for others. There's a book called Fixing Your Feet that among other things features interviews with many different ultramarathon runners. It's remarkable how wide a variety of responses are given about everything from blister control to ankle support name it. It's all about anatomy; there is no single right answer. And after this reasonable comment, let me just add--to stir things up--that Born to Run has more than a whiff of Carlos Castaneda and Don Juan about it, IMHO. A good tale; I'm not convinced about it's accuracy.

Paul Johnson
(johncooper) - F

Locale: SoCal
Boots versus Trail Runners - Studies and Published data? on 03/14/2012 14:47:56 MDT Print View

Thanks for all the comments. I have personally used trail runners for ~12 years, and only use boots for winter hikes in snow. I have read other threads, Roger's FAQ and have Fixing Your Feet.

One of my goals is to educate the Boy Scout community, which is entrenched in boots. Ankle protection is sited as the number one concern. Safety is always the top priority. Is anyone aware of any studies or published data supporting or debunking the theories regarding ankle support, as well as, the need for better ankle support based on increasing pack weight?

I would also be interested in information related to why basketball players moved from high top to low top shoes. My understanding is the high tops were prone to cause high ankle sprains that take considerably longer to heal than the low ankle sprains suffered in low tops. Is this a reasonable comparison to hiking? Is there any data on this topic.

Aaron Reichow

Locale: Northern Minnesota
Re: Boots versus Trail Runners - Studies and Published data? on 03/14/2012 14:52:37 MDT Print View

+1 to that!

As they say, the plural of "anecdote" is not "data." As interesting as personal anecdotes are, real evidence for one claim or the other would be a lot more useful.

Edited by areichow on 03/14/2012 15:21:03 MDT.

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: Boots versus Trail Runners - Studies and Published data? on 03/14/2012 14:57:02 MDT Print View

I think ankle injuries come from weak ankles. If you take (presumably) sedentary kids out on rough terrain with low tops you might get some rolled ankles. Boots may be better for them.

Basketball players, and folks around here get out more and probably have stronger ankles, so they/ we can use little bitty shoes.
I was never a scout so I don't know how often they actually go out and do active things, but the scouts that come in to my store, for the most part, aint very active.

Maybe light boots or mids? Gettin active would be the best option.


David K
(aviddk) - F

Locale: SW Oregon
Rattlesnakes? on 03/14/2012 15:40:12 MDT Print View

The only person I have know that was bitten by a rattlesnake had running shoes on. The strike hit him right above the shoe. This happened at work were he was required to wear over-the-ankle boots. He was reprimanded as a result. The reprimand stated that one reason for the requirement to wear boots was to give protection against snake bites.

Mark Ryan

Locale: Somewhere. Probably lost.
Very Personal on 03/15/2012 11:58:28 MDT Print View

This is like asking which beer is better. Everyone has a personal preference due to their own tastes and requirements.

Loved Boots then on a whim I tries out an old pair of Salomon's I had on an overnighter on the AT in PA. I haven't worn my boots since.

Now I use a pair of Salomom XA 3D Ultra trail-runners with no Gore-Tex. Dry fast and my feet don't ever prune up anymore.