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Boots or Shoes?


Alan
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Hello All,
Allow me to give some background information to setup my question.

I've been backpack camping for years. My typical trip is a 4 day 3 nighter with a ~45# pack. Hike 3-7 miles, setup a base camp, day hike during the day. 2 trips a year... always the NC mountains. For the last 10 years I've worn an Asolo Fugitive GTX in a size 10. I prob could use a 10.5 but they have been fine for the last 20+ just a little snug. They also either need to be repaired or replaced as the soles are coming off. 

I am a distance runner. ~100-130 miles a month. I run in Saucony Triumphs in a size 10.

This year we plan on doing a totally different trip. We will do a 29 miles section of the AT. Amicalola to Gooch Gap with a few detours over tree days. I'll be going out with a 22-28# pack. So a little less than 10 miles a day.

Now the question.  New boots? or Trail shoes? 

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Most AT & PCT hikers use shoes, not boots. I've carried a 45# pack up Mt Whitney in shoes, so don't fear shoes. Look for solid rubber soles, and not a bunch of separate lugs like road running shoes. I bought Saucony trail runners recently and had to get a size bigger than usual.

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I've used both Montrails and Cascadias, and wouldn't recommend either.  I would suggest just wearing your current running shoes, since you know they're comfortable.

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I liked Saucony for running so I decided to try out the Peregrine 4 a year or so and could not be happier with them for hiking. I usually am out for 2-4 nights, averaging 10-15 miles a day, usually in the 20# range, but up to 30#. They fit well, have a solid enough foot plate for trails, and they dry quickly when I cross water. Good hiking shoes. If you like your Sauconys, you should check out a pair of Peregrines.

When you are doing all those running miles, are you on the road? Or grass/trails? There is something to be said for sticking with shoes that are comfortable.

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I have been Backpacking for years now and have chosen low top boots, high top Gore-tex boots, Chacos and trail runners over various trips. I have now narrowed it down to trail runners 90% of the time and Gore-tex boots 10%. Doing most of my backpacking in WNC, the trails are often times wet to some extent, so you have 2 choices here. Try and keep all the water out, or allow the water that gets in and drain quicker. I opt for the later. Now let me explain why:

Goretex boots (Salomon Quest 4d): These are awesome boots (albeit a little heavy), they fit like trail runners, have ankle support and are Gore-tex. I also got mine for an awesome price which helped. I wore these religiously on backpacking trips until I slipped at a river crossing on day 1 of a 3 day trip. At the end of the trip, the inside of my boots were still wet. In NC especially with the humidity, my feet sweat a lot, no matter the season. And this moisture gets trapped on the inside of the boots. It is for these reasons that these boots have moved their way to my winter only backpacking, where trails have ice, snow, water, and the added warmth of Gore-tex is nice.

Trail Runners (La Sportiva Helios): These shoes are lightweight, extremely breathable and sturdy. For backpacking, these allow my feet to breath and for any water that may get in them to run out quickly and dry nicely. I actually ran in them, (novel idea) 2 weeks ago, it had rained the day before so the trail was pretty wet. At the end of the run I changed shoes and by the time I got home (15-20 min) they were 95% dry. It is for these reasons I lean toward trail runners 90% of the time. Tip: Get a lightweight gator to keep debris out. 

Other Trail Runners I recommend: 

Salomon XA Pro 3d (These personally don''t fit me well, but everyones feet are different)
Saucony Peregrine 4,5 or 6 (although I feel like their fit is getting narrower)
La Sportiva Wildcat
Brooks Cascadia 11


 

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