Hiking Shoes vs Hiking Boots
We believe that hiking footwear is one of the most overlooked but least understood, and one of the most valuable pieces of equipment you should have.
There’s two types of footwear that we will go into, the first one is hiking boots. The boot has been around the longest and the reason why is because they work very well!
The second type of footwear we will be looking at is the hiking shoe.
We will dive straight into these now:-
So, the average boot weighs around two times more than the shoe. However, the pro’s on the boot is ankle support, these boots have great ankle support.
It also has under foot support, this make it pretty sturdy, so for people that have week ankles the boot is a really good option as it has a high top aswell, this keeps the ankle protected, not only that – there is less risk of stones, sticks and any other bits of debris that might find their way into your shoe.
The boot is usually more waterproof than the shoe, some have goretex in there so when you’re crossing a stream or a puddle where water is half way up the boot, they should keep your feet dry. Hiking boots are also long lasting, a standard pair of boots should last you all season, from spring all the way through to winter time…Or even much longer if well cared for!
The cons on a standard boot is its breathability so your feet will get hot, or they can get sweaty; especially with the goretex in there.
Generally, a boot can be very heavy and clunky compared with a hiking shoe, some are better than others. Usually, the dearer the boot, the lighter they are, and the cheaper the boot…well, the heavier they are.
With boots, they tend to come in leather and will need treating, if you treat them the boots can last for years. Although leather is naturally waterproof, over time and without proper care the leather can dry out as the moisture and natural oils are lost. I’ll go a little more into the treatment of boots towards the end of this section.
A big con with the boots for me is the drying time, once you get water over the top and over the ankles, the boot gets wet inside, it can take a long time to dry, which is a pain.
Treating Hiking Boots
The first thing to do when treating hiking boots is to take out the laces, and then brush off any loose dirt with a soft brush.
Use a brush with hard bristles on the sole of your shoe if it is caked in mud.
Apply a small amount of Dubbin wax to a cloth and rub over the leather sparingly, this wax helps preserve the moisture within the leather.
Then once you’ve done that, let them dry naturally.
Simple enough? I’ll go into this in more depth with another article.
Let’s look at the pro’s and cons on the hiking shoes.
Compared to the boot they are very light weight and nimble, it’s almost like you are flying compared to wearing the boot. Because of the weight difference, this obviously means you’ll be less tired and that you’ll be able to go further.
Even the tread is really good, there’s no problems going over rough terrain. there’s not as much support there, it’s not as good as the boot for that.
Another thing I like about the hiking shoe is they are very breathable, a lot of them have mesh all the way around them, so your feet stay dry and they breathe really well in them.
A decent perk with hiking shoes is when you’re ever crossing a stream you wont have to worry about taking your boots off or putting on camping shoes to cross; because of the mesh surrounding the shoe, you know once you’re out of the stream that the water will be out of the mesh and will dry real quickly, by the time you get back to camp they’ll be practically dry.
The cons with the shoes is there’s not much ankle support, so for someone with a weak ankle, or general ankle problems this might not be the best type of footwear for you.
Because of the low top on the hiking shoe you will notice every now and then some bits of debris, odd bits of rock and leaves finding their way inside your shoe, it’s annoying but it doesn’t happen all of the time, its expected.
So these are pretty seasonal, I try and stretch these out all the way from spring, summer and autumn. I don’t recommend wearing these in the winter although we do try and push these as far as we can until we need to change.
Another thing I’d suggest with hiking shoes is purchasing a good insole.
The good thing with having an insole if the shoe gets wet, you can take it out and it helps dry both the insole, and the shoe itself. These are really great support, the insoles that come with the shoe originally are OK but after a while they’ll just break down, so I really suggest that if you’re going to get a good hiking shoe try and buy a good insole too. A lot of hikers use insoles from superfeet as they are good quality and last.
When you get your insole make sure you try one on and find which one works best for you. If you’re flat footed and don’t have much of an arch, there is a lot of good support on the insole which will help you a lot! All you do is simply slide it in and done, easy enough!
Overall, it just depends when you decide to hike. If you only go out when the weathers nice then the hiking shoe would be perfect for you. However if you decide to go out in the winter aswell then I recommend getting yourself a pair of boots too. A pair of each would be the perfect option, of course it’s all down to personal preference.