Hiking Boots or Trail Runners? Or, Heck, Sandals?

There are still backpackers out there who scoff at wearing trail runners. That may be hard to believe for hikers who’ve traded stability and foot protection for the lightness of the modern trail runner and who wouldn’t dream of hiking in something as heavy, stiff, and restrictive as a boot. But those same boot lovers will counter that the burly protection they offer, combined with a stable platform, are actually more comfortable, not less, than a feather-light piece of foam rubber.

Then there are the true sandal zealots. People who will hike in sandals in deserts, rainy forests, dry mountain trails, wet mountain trails, even with socks in the snow (I’ve seen this).

There is certainly room for all three forms of footwear in a dedicated hiker’s closet, but it seems more often than not, there are impassioned supporters of one or the other out there on trails. Myself, I’ve switched to mostly wearing boots, whether backpacking or day hiking. I just prefer the solid feel of a boot. It’s as simple as that.

I once encountered a late-middle-aged couple while hiking a stretch of the John Muir Trail not far from Mt. Whitney. They were backpacking in ancient Asics Gel Runners, which seemed crazy to me at the time, and, actually, still sorta does. But whatever works for ya, I’m not here to judge.

So, what does work for ya?


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