Hiking Boots (and Shoes)

Historically people wore heavy weight boots for backpacking, trekking, etc.  Your feet need to be protected, and what could do a better job that a  heavy boot which will help prevent sprained ankles and give excellent support? 

Actually, most boots don’t give good “ankle support”.  The sides of the boot are flexible.  Only extremely stiff boots like the modern, hard plastic telemark ski boots or mid-calf jump boots actually provide good ankle support.  What actually helps protect your ankle in good quality hiking boots are a high quality heel cup, a well formed foot bed, and good traction.  This helps prevent your foot from suddenly shifting which is the source of most ankle injuries.

A special case for using boots is when you need your feet protected in a dangerous environment. The classic example of this is steel toed boots warn on construction sites.

Historically hiking boots were very heavy and used full leather on the uppers. These days, boot uppers are often a mixture of leather, nylon, and even plastic. If you need truly heavy duty boots I would recommend full leather boots with a Norwegian welt made in Europe, ideally by Italian companies like Scarpa.

Most of the companies which “back in the day” used to only sell 5lb all leather boots make light weight hiking boots and shoes. These boots and shoes tend to be much more durable than trail runners and “walking” shoes. They also tend to have stiffer soles which is useful when facing terrain which benefits from a good “edge” and lateral stiffness.  There are a number of old favorites which see to make popular light weight boots and shoes:

Most people can get away will lighter weight boots. I haven’t looked carefully at boots for many years. The few boot / hiking shoes I have had experience with recently are:

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