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Hiking Boots Or Trail Shoes For Backpacking?

Hiking Boots Or Trail Shoes For Backpacking

Since their invention and a rise within the variety of individuals taking over mountaineering, path footwear, or climbing footwear, have seen their reputation explode. Nevertheless, can they actually exchange the tried and examined, sturdy mountaineering boot or are they only one other fad that may cross? Let’s check out the benefits and drawbacks of every, that will help you to seek out out whether or not you must decide climbing boots or path footwear for backpacking.

Mountaineering Boots

Mountaineering boots are the historically most popular selection for backpacking journeys, providing all-round safety and a secure base that will help you to help the additional weight in your again. Climbing boots sometimes supply a rugged outsole full with lugs for grip, a inflexible midsole for cover and luxury, full with a water-proof higher for dry ft.

Their peak is usually ankle excessive to offer additional help. Obtainable in all kinds of varieties and weights, mountaineering boots have made some evolutionary leaps with the occasions, though the overall development might appear to be heading extra in favor of creating new varieties of hybrid footwear that start to blur the excellence between an precise mountaineering boot and a sports activities shoe.

Benefits of Mountaineering Boots


Mountaineering boots present tried and examined help, important for carrying heavy backpacks. With an excellent, strong pair of mountaineering boots that cowl the ankles, you’ve gotten a strong base.

That is particularly essential for heavy masses and people new to backpacking who might wrestle with their stability whereas supporting the additional weight from their pack. I feel this can be a massive one, as I can’t inform you what number of occasions I’ve almost went over on an ankle whereas backpacking on tough terrain, and it’s my mountaineering boots which have stored me good!


Though consolation is extra regularly related to extra versatile light-weight soles, mountaineering boots with their inflexible mid and outsoles supply your foot enhanced safety and luxury. Initially you could really feel extra snug in a extra versatile shoe fashion sort of footwear, nevertheless after a number of miles of lumps, bumps, roots and rocks, the soles of your ft will probably be aching far more than they might in a pair of extra inflexible boots.


Mountaineering boot outsoles are designed to supply wonderful traction in all climate circumstances and terrains. They’ll maintain you on the path even when there are unfastened underfoot circumstances, slippery rocks and dirt. It’s much more troublesome to hold a fully-loaded backpack over troublesome terrain and mountaineering boots present the grip that permits you to take action, minimizing the danger of a fall or lack of stability.


Ever been mountaineering by means of dense vegetation, brambles, stones, gravel, sand? Climbing boots shield your ft and ankles from vegetation and stop stones and sand from stepping into your footwear, which means you possibly can breeze forward with out having to cease to get out stones or sand each few yards.

This additionally means you’re free to take totally different routes with out worrying about scratches or underbrush, notably on overgrown trails. Additionally they supply wonderful toe safety and are perfect in colder climate, protecting your ft good and heat.

Waterproof Higher

With their waterproof uppers climbing boots will maintain you dry by way of mud, puddles, damp vegetation and whereas crossing shallow water programs. They’re additionally nice at drier occasions of yr once you may fancy setting out early earlier than the solar’s up however don’t need to get your ft soaked with the dew.

Climbing footwear can have waterproof uppers too in fact, however mountaineering boots usually supply extra safety on this regard as they sometimes attain up your leg larger and underneath your pants/ rain pants.


An honest pair of mountaineering boots will final you a very long time. They will even mould to your ft over time and put on to fit your strolling fashion. You’ll be free to wander with out worrying about them getting ripped or scratched, whereas their sturdy, inflexible outsoles are designed to final for lots of of miles.

Climbing boots may be costly, however good high quality ones final, making them well worth the price ticket over time. Their longevity additionally makes them extremely reliable, you don’t need to head out into the backcountry with a totally loaded pack and have a footwear drawback, tens of miles from the closest city.

Disadvantages of Climbing Boots

Time to Break-in

Climbing boots, particularly rather well constructed leather-based ones, are infamous for being uncomfortable the primary few occasions that you simply put on them. They should be progressively damaged in, probably incomes a couple of blisters alongside the best way, should you go too far too quickly.

When you have a visit arising in a rush and no appropriate footwear, chances are you’ll be greatest taking a look at different choices in case you gained’t have time to put on in a pair of climbing boots.


Mountaineering boots could be heavy, take into consideration the variety of occasions you’ll be lifting their weight on a day’s backpacking and it’s straightforward to see how they add to fatigue. Being heavier than different kinds of outside sporting footwear imply that mountaineering boots can even sluggish you down. Might sound loopy however if you’re pounding onerous miles over mountains, each little bit of weight provides up, and it’s not unusual for boots to assist make ft really feel heavy and fatigued

Should you’re making an attempt to construct up your health or embrace some cardiovascular train with just a little jog to your hikes the place the terrain permits, climbing boots are going to make that harder.

Much less Versatile

Mountaineering boots are inflexible for a cause, to supply your ft larger help and to guard them from the impression underfoot. Nevertheless, particularly over brief distances this rigidity can typically outweigh its protecting advantages when it comes to lack of consolation.

Lengthy Time to Dry Out

Do you have to get water into your climbing boots, both as a result of you’ve did not reproof them or by stepping in deep water, then they’ll take a very long time to dry out. A number of days even whenever you’re out and humidity is excessive.

I all the time advocate letting your mountaineering boots dry naturally at room temperature if potential, and so it does take time for them to actually dry out.

Poor Air flow

If its summer time, otherwise you like a brisk tempo, and even in the event you simply have ft that are likely to sweat, then you might discover the shortage of breathability provided by mountaineering boots problematic. The one answer is to maintain altering your socks and attempt to air your ft if you cease.

This will imply extra frequent stops that you simply’d like or else the sweat might construct up an excessive amount of and grow to be uncomfortable. It’s additionally fairly unhygienic, so you’ll want to take excellent care of your boots. I don’t actually advocate this, however I’ve taken my boots off on the path earlier than, often to dip my ft in an icy river although, can do wonders in your ft after a tough day backpacking 🙂

Path Footwear

Path footwear are extraordinarily fashionable and have gotten more and more used as an alternative choice to climbing boots. They mix good traction with a light-weight weight, permitting them to be worn over quite a lot of terrain.

Individuals trying to fastpack or clock up a variety of miles on thru-hikes typically favor them for velocity and finishing numerous miles over a short while. Path footwear can be found in all kinds of types with numerous specializations.

Benefits of path footwear


Path footwear are fashionable thanks partially to their light-weight design. As increasingly more individuals grow to be involved in mountaineering, once they first attempt on a heavy boot it feels alien in comparison with their day footwear and sneakers. A path shoe, on the opposite foot so to talk, is much more like common footwear and matches from the beginning with, often, a minimal break in interval required.

With the rise of recognition in operating, fastpacking and outside exploration, extra individuals are trying longer extra formidable hikes over shorter durations of time. Path footwear present a light-weight, go-to various that permits for higher velocity whereas nonetheless present a comparatively good diploma of stability and traction.


For shifting quick, excessive temperatures and sweat-prone ft, path footwear present a literal breath of recent air. They’re created from breathable supplies and their decrease minimize profile permits extra warmth to flee than from ankle peak boots. Drier ft imply a extra snug trek and fewer time rinsing and drying socks.

Fast Drying

Though they aren’t waterproof when you do get your path footwear saturated, they’ll dry fairly shortly because of their breathable higher. Which means you will get going once more sooner with much less discomfort.

Little to No Break-in Interval

Path footwear are able to go off the shelf. You gained’t have to fret about going sluggish and spending a number of cautious hikes avoiding getting blisters when you break them in. You’ll be able to just about put them on and also you’ll be able to go.

Disadvantages of Path Footwear

Much less Traction on Slippery Surfaces

Path footwear have a reasonably respectable grip, nevertheless, they’re simply outperformed by mountaineering boots when it comes right down to extra treacherous circumstances resembling slippery rocks and dirt. While they are going to be superb on common terrain in dry circumstances, in case you’re heading off into the unknown you then would in all probability be greatest suggested to put on a pair of mountaineering boots and to take it slower.

Some path footwear have outsoles which might be designed to offer higher traction on slippery surfaces nevertheless, they’re primarily designed with velocity in thoughts. When you use them for operating over slippery rocks they need to maintain regular. Attempt strolling over them with a heavy backpack and they don’t seem to be going to offer the identical grip as a pair of mountaineering boots would at a sluggish tempo.

Brief Lifespan

Whereas climbing boots are constructed to final, path footwear are a lot much less sturdy, particularly in case you are utilizing them over extra excessive terrain. In the event you’re utilizing them for lengthy thru-hikes at velocity, then it’s not unusual to undergo a number of pairs at a reasonably good clip over time.

Much less Safety

With their decrease profile, path footwear understandably supply much less safety, exposing your ankles to the weather and any branches, thorns and vegetation. Being decrease minimize, additionally they don’t supply any ankle help. Whereas climbing boots will hold your toes protected, you might have to be careful you don’t stub them on rocks when sporting path footwear in areas with unfastened rocky terrain and ascents.

As they’ve much less sturdy uppers and are breathable, you’ll be much less more likely to need to use path footwear for heading down overgrown trails or crossing over underbrush. You’re additionally going to get bits of stone, gravel and sand in addition to little bit of plant in your footwear rather more regularly.

As a consequence, this will imply you’ll are likely to maintain your eyes down on the path rather more, in search of the subsequent pebble, department or rock, with much less time spend admiring the view or catching glimpses of the native wildlife.

This one is fascinating to me, as I do know hikers who actually want path footwear as they like their ft to be extra versatile and free to maneuver. That’s all properly and good, however once you foot by accident slides right into a rabbit gap you didn’t see, that flexibility and free motion might spell issues fairly shortly. For me, I choose the safety of trainers and I’m joyful to sacrifice some flexibility and freedom of motion within the ankle. Most important level I need to make although is, every to their very own 🙂

Not as Waterproof

Sadly, though some might supply a level of water resistance, path footwear are often not absolutely waterproof. That could be wonderful in the event you’re on the lookout for footwear for hotter climate, nevertheless, you want to remember that aside from the very peak of summer time there are often probabilities of rainfall, moist vegetation, mud and creeks, waterfalls and so forth.

Should you’re used to having your ft shielded from water then you could not understand simply fairly how moist it may be out on the path, notably in areas of dense vegetation.

And so?

As you possibly can see, there’s a lot to think about if you find yourself contemplating whether or not to make use of your climbing boots or path runners for backpacking, and which is the higher choice. I’ve a really particular choice, as most will i.e. in some instances, relying the place you’re backpacking, there isn’t any definitive reply.

Earlier than we wrap up, take a look at this video from the great people at REI to listen to their ideas on this nice debate.


Within the contest of mountaineering boots or path footwear for backpacking, there’s no clear winner, though the chances are undoubtedly in favor of climbing boots as the higher, extra dependable all-rounder. It actually relies upon upon a number of elements, specifically, the time of yr, the terrain, your load and velocity. Private choice additionally performs a big half on this too.

If nevertheless, you’re carrying a heavy backpack then certainly, you’ll profit from the steadiness offered by mountaineering boots, and also you’re not more likely to be travelling very quick. That is much more so the case whenever you think about tough terrain and dangerous climate.

The one occasions that path footwear actually outperform mountaineering boots persistently, is if you wish to journey shortly and carrying a light-weight backpack on a well-traveled path with out mud or precipitation. Given their easy-to-wear nature and instant consolation, path footwear will solely proceed to develop in reputation as extra individuals take to the path to get match, reside higher and luxuriate in time spent away from trendy life within the nice outdoor.