Hiking shoes/boots survey

The question of which hiking shoes / boots are best is often asked, and I would like to get some community feedback on your preferred shoes / boots and why. This is research for an article on hiking shoes – the more feedback the better so please participate!

Please copy and paste the structure below and answer + add other comments only on the shoes you own and use:

Trail running shoes
Preferred use: trail running / day hiking / multi-day hiking / long distance hiking / other (please specify)
Pros:
Cons:
Other comments:

Hiking / approach shoes
Preferred use: trail running / day hiking / multi-day hiking / long distance hiking / other (please specify)
Pros:
Cons:
Other comments:

Hiking boots
Preferred use: trail running / day hiking / multi-day hiking / long distance hiking / other (please specify)
Pros:
Cons:
Other comments:

Other hiking shoes:
Please specify what they are and for what you use them.
Pros:
Cons:
Other comments:

Your style of hiking for multi-day and long-distance hikes:
Fast-and-light / “normal” / heavy-pack

Approach shoes** 5.10 Guide tennies
Preferred use: Kloofing / day hiking / multi-day hiking /
Pros:Light, grippy on rock (wet/dry), robust.
Cons: Not the best on loose ground. If it’s wet, so are your feet.
Other comments:

Hiking bootsBoreal Ordessa
Preferred use: long distance hiking
Pros: Great support for heavier loads over long distances. Big mountain approaches etc.
Cons: Heavy, tiring and cumbersome on steep terrain.
Other comments:

Your style of hiking for multi-day and long-distance hikes:
Usually as light and fast as possible (more room for beer). Heavy loads only when ropes and gear are involved.

Trail running shoes
Preferred use: trail running / day hiking / multi-day hiking / long distance hiking
Pros: They dry quickly, so I never remove them for river crossings which saves time and protects my feet in the river far better than the ‘water shoes’ I have tried. The Altras that I use have really great grip, and their soles are more flexible than hiking boots, which allows the sole to ‘mold’ around uneven rocks and this allows more surface area friction between the sole and rock compared to a stiff hiking boot sole. I find than my ankles have gotten stronger because of using trail runners. They are also more comfortable than hiking boots. Trail runners are dual purpose: I use them for both running and hiking. When I retire a pair of trail runners from running, they become my hiking shoes.
Cons: They offer less stability for your foot, so your ankle muscles specifically will work harder with every step. This becomes exacerbated if you are carrying a heavy load. In general I also find that trail runners have a slightly shorter life-span than hiking boots. It is a bit easier for debris to find its way into trail runners than into hiking boots. Trail runners generally offer less insulation than hiking boots.

Hiking / approach shoes
Other comments: I have never used these.

Hiking boots
Preferred use: long distance hiking
Pros: They are more insulated for cold temperatures. They offer more stability for your foot and therefore place less strain on some muscles (eg. around your ankle). They do offer more ankle support and this can help prevent twisting an ankle, especially when carrying a heavy load. They can have a long life-span if they are high quality. They keep debris out of the shoe better than lower-cut shoes.
Cons: They are heavier, so there is more strain in general on leg muscles with each step. They are not as comfortable as trail runners. They take a long time to dry when wet, and will probably need to be removed for river crossings. In general on very uneven rocks I find the grip of hiking boots to be worse than trail runners because of their rigid soles not allowing for much surface area to be in contact with the rock. They can be too hot, especially hiking in South Africa.
Other comments: When my old pair of hiking boots reached the end of its life, I did not replace them. Trail runners work better for me.

Other hiking shoes:
Crocs
I use these only for river crossings if necessary and as camp shoes.
Pros: Lightweight, ventilated, comfy and can be dried off with a towel when wet. They offer more toe protection than flip flops.
Cons: They are a bit bulky and very ugly.

Your style of hiking for multi-day and long-distance hikes:
I suppose I am somewhere between fast-and-light and “normal”. My pack is usually around 12kg for a 2 night hike. I use a tent (sharing the weight) and not caves.

great thanks!

thanks Ruth that’s very helpful info!

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Trail running shoes
Preferred use: trail running
Pros: Stiffer sole, better support, good grip for the terrain, light
Cons: Not always that comfortable over long distances
Other comments:

Hiking / approach shoes
Preferred use: day hiking / multi-day hiking / long distance hiking
Pros: Sturdy, good support, good grip, lightweight
Cons: Not the same ankle support as boots
Other comments: I prefer these to boots, as they are more comfortable

Hiking boots
Preferred use: multi-day hiking / long distance hiking
Pros: Sturdy, good support, good grip, plus ankle support
Cons: Very hot in warm weather
Other comments: I used to hike in boots, but I have changed to approach shoes, as I find them more comfortable. I prefer to take the risk on ankle sprains in exchange for comfort and agility

Other hiking shoes:
Please specify what they are and for what you use them.
Street shoes, flip flops - Dog walking
Pros: If I am already wearing them, I don’t need to change shoes :slight_smile:
Cons: They’re not always made for the terrain
Other comments: I’ll walk in anything that’s comfortable

Your style of hiking for multi-day and long-distance hikes:
Fast-and-light / “normal” / heavy-pack: I either go super-light and spartan or all-out and heavy with gourmet meals. Depends on the mission and company.

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Hiking / approach shoes
Preferred use: day hiking / multi-day hiking /
Pros: light, cool, cheaper
Cons: no ankle support, no water resistance
Other comments: I did the Tsitsikamma in June this year (5-day) in a pair of Adidas cross-trainers with minimal tread. Fortunately there was no rain, and they were fine except when I took a fall crossing a stream. After wringing out my socks, walking in wet shoes/socks was a non-issue (the socks were Bridgedale Trekker wool blend).

I am doing the Fanie Botha over 5 days later this month, and decided to upgrade my shoes. After trying on a number of different brands/types in the ±R1500 range, none felt comfortable – typically rigid sole, tight across the bridge (I have wide feet), and seemingly lacking in cushioning. I’d previously bought a pair of Mr P cross-trainers for mucking about, and was impressed by how comfortable they were right out of the box, how light they were, and the fact that over the course of a year, and several cold washes in the machine, all of the seams are still intact, even where the uppers meet the sole. The only thing that has worn faster than a more reputable brand is the sole. So I tried a pair of one their hiking shoe models (R400) and voila: comfortable fit and good cushioning. I’ve done several training walks with a full pack (18kg) in preparation for the Fanie Botha in them, and they remain comfortable and cool. That being said, I will pack superglue and duct tape for the trail!

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Hiking boots Merrell Mid WP boot
Preferred use: multi-day hiking / long distance hiking
Pros: Offer ankle support and are hard-wearing even off-path. Also waterproof.
Cons: Heavy.
Other comments: I use Merrell because they are generally a wider boot and support a broad forefoot. I’ve recently got an Altra Lone Peak 3 mid boot which is lighter and more comfortable but I can already see that it will not be as hard-wearing as the Merrell

Other hiking shoes: Barefoot shoes Fivefingers
Please specify what they are and for what you use them. I use them every now and then on day hikes
Pros: Allow natural use of the foot
Cons: Don’t kick a stone with them. The feet also feel a bit tender if I’m carrying weight over a whole day.
Other comments:

Your style of hiking for multi-day and long-distance hikes:
“normal” My pack normally is between 13 and 15 kg with food and water.
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Hiking boots
Preferred use: / day hiking / multi-day hiking / long distance hiking / other (parkrun)
Pros:I simply love the Hitech Vlite hiking boots.Give me full support around ankles and toes.They are very lightweight,not heavy at all.Exellent grip on soles.The high cut around the ankles aslo assist to protect your feet,if againt snake bytes.They are very comfortable to wear,(and if I could sleep in them, I would.) Wear them in winter,even if we are not hiking.
Cons:It is a pitty that the soles pulls away from the upper leather on the toes,after sometime,even though you take good care of them.
Other comments:
None
Other hiking shoes:
Please specify what they are and for what you use them.Watershoes…Rocky,Hitech,and Mr.Price sport’ s ones.
Pros:Very nice to wear when you have to go through water,but also good for wearing after a long day of hiking in boots…quite comfortable.
Cons: Cannot really use them on rocky terrain for hiking.Soles are too soft,and the do not have ankle support.
Other comments:none

Trail running shoes - New balance (various)
Preferred use: trail running
Pros: I only use trail running shoes for, uh, trail running. And pack weight up to 8kg (fastpacks or day hikes where speed / stamina is key)
Cons: Expensive, they dont last
Other comments: Trail running shoes do not work for me while hiking with a heavy pack, not enough “rock plate” i.e. feet get sore / tired. The most noteworthy issue with trail runners is they are expensive and simply do not last (I am an offtrail boi). Also I have wide feet so New Balance works well for that issue.

Hiking / approach shoes Merrel Chameleon
Preferred use: day hiking / multi-day hiking
Pros: My Chameleons seem to last very well, and are sturdy enough to handle a heavy pack. Good for scrambles on TM or on-trail hikes with a pack
Cons: For multi day trips, I am prone to ankle twist so these type shoes are a bit of a risk. I prefer boots when things get remote.
Other comments: Merrell Chameleons also suite wide feet.

Hiking boots Redline Hiking Boot double layer (similar to Jim Green Razorback)
Preferred use: multi-day hiking / long distance hiking
Pros: They are built to last. These boots are my go-to 90% of the time, especially when guiding or leading groups (cant risk rolling an ankle). I am about to have them resoled soon, after 2.5 years of hard use, incl. multi day trips and offtrail. Another pro is they are cheap, and relatively water resistant. When snow hiking in Matroosberg, my boots soaked through after 2 hours, while my wife’s K-Way Kili’s soaked through in about 4 hours.
Cons: They are HEAVY. This doesnt bother me too much, as I mostly hike with people of inferior fitness to me (does this sound vain?). I use them for “strength training” - after a few days of walking with boots I become young like a spring chicken when I wear trailrunners again! Another con - not waterproof. But I generally wear wool socks and just bear with it.
Other comments: Bringing old school back, big boots heavy pack

Your style of hiking for multi-day and long-distance hikes:
Mostly “normal” or a heavy pack laden with meat, fruit and whiskey. Once again, I mostly hike with civilians, so pack weight is my way of leveling the playing field and training for trail runs. This changes drastically however when I hike with experienced folk,but also then I choose to suffer.
Have done fast-and-light trailrun type missions, then I don the trailrunners and dirtbag it out. Deal with the pain and the hunger afterwards!

Trail running shoes
Preferred use: trail running / day hiking
Pros: Light, cushioned, breathable
Cons: Soft, doesn’t handle heavy weight as well as boots or approach shoes, often sacrifices durability for lighter weight, more breathability and more grippy rubber. Little or no ankle support/protection. Offers little or no protection against sharp objects piercing the sides of the shoe. Prone to gather debris in off-trail environments.
Other comments: The one time I used trail runners on a multi-day hike was on the Witels Kloof where your feet are permanently wet and you’re boulder hopping 80% of the time.

Hiking / approach shoes
Preferred use: day hiking / multi-day hiking
Pros: Fairly lightweight, strong, stable, durable. Basically all the characteristics of boots, minus the weight.
Cons: Little or no ankle support. Prone to gather debris in off-trail environments.
Other comments: Modern approach shoes are getting more and more technical, offering more feedback of what’s happening underfoot, while still protecting against bruising or pressure points.

Hiking boots
Preferred use: multi-day hiking / long distance hiking
Pros: Strong, stable, durable, protects against sharp objects, protects ankles against sprains and bruising.
Cons: Heavy, takes long to dry if water gets inside.
Other comments:

Other hiking shoes:
Rockys - strong sandals with adjustable straps
Pros: Light, reasonably strong and stable, easy to take on and off for wearing around camp and getting in and out of a tent.
Cons: No protection or ankle support
Other comments: A good pair of sandals can act as backup hiking shoes in case your main pair break - flip flops do not offer this option.

Your style of hiking for multi-day and long-distance hikes:
Generally my pack is on the heavier end of the scale, so I prefer a stiffer approach shoe or boot. For me, the piece of mind a good boot offers, cancels out the weight penalty.

Here are my comments. Hope it helps

Here are my comments…

Ooo another opportunity for me to talk about how great crocs are :smiley: (See Hiking / approach shoes)

Trail running shoes: La Sportiva helios 2.0
Preferred use: trail running
Pros: Soft and bendy sole that is stil durable, fits like a glove (I have never owned a shoe that molds to your feet like this one does)
Cons: Pricey
Other comments: Can be purchased at runners edge in Stellenbosch

Hiking / approach shoes: Crocs (Original) and socks
Preferred use: trail running / day hiking / multi-day hiking / long distance hiking / other (kloofing / camp shoes)
Pros: Dries quickly, lightweight, breathable, roomy fit that prevents blisters, good grip (except in deep mud, gravel and ice), easy to remove and put on.
Cons: No ankle support (but that is a social construct in my opinion (unless you have an ankle injury)), less support on the bottom of your foot (I only start to notice it on like day 3 of a 5 day hike though so it’s not so bad), feet get cold in cold conditions (obviously), thorns (not a problem in the western cape)
Other comments: I go into more detail here: Best shoes for Kloofing
Also: I have hiked the drakensberg and a few other multi day hikes (with a 20+kg bag on my back) in socks and crocs. I do all my day hikes in crocs. I have gone running in crocs (came 2nd in a parkrun with crocs, and also a 15km trail run with 600m elevation gain) but I will admit running shoes would be better suited. Wearing wetsuit socks and crocs is the best option for kloofing. I use the socks to prevent chafing and add some extra grip inside.

Hiking boots: I have some waterproof Merrells
Preferred use: Snow (thats it)
Pros: Keeps feet warm in cold conditions
Cons: Heavy, bulky, feels like my foot and ankle is incased in a concrete block.
Other comments: I think hiking boots are the definition of over-engineered.

My style of hiking for multi-day and long-distance hikes:
Between Fast-and-light and “normal”

Crocs seem the bees knees, think I’ll have to try them, factory outlet just down the drag, though…Screen shot 2020-06-26 at 9.09.21 AM

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