Runners who hike and hikers who run often want to debate whether sneakers or hiking boots are the footwear of choice. If you ask most old school hikers, especially backpackers, they’ll tell you, it’s absolutely necessary to wear hiking boots. Younger backpackers are interested in whether it’s okay to just wear sneakers. One of the reasons there is such a debate is because sneakers couldn’t always handle the weight some backpackers carry. But, today, that’s not necessarily true. It all depends on the sneaker. So, here’s what you should know when determining if you should wear sneakers or hiking boots while backpacking.
5 Reasons You Should Trade Your Hiking Boots for Tennis Shoes
1 – Hiking Boots are Heavy
When compared to your favorite running shoes, hiking boots are heavy. The heavier your footwear, the more energy you use. Weight on your feet is especially important when you’re hiking. So, logic tells us, if you trade in your heavy boots for much lighter tennis shoes, you’re going to use less energy, which means you can cover more ground and even add a few more pounds to your backpack, if needed.
2 – Sneakers are Less Likely to Create Blisters
Boots won’t flex with your feet. Hiking footwear also doesn’t let your toes breathe, which means the sweat soaks right in. When your shoes don’t flex and they’re sweaty, you put yourself at risk of blisters. Even a well broken in pair of hiking boots can cause blisters on a long hike. On the other hand, you’re favorite tennis shoes are probably made to breathe, they’ll flex with your foot, and help you stay on your feet.
3 – How waterproof are your hiking boots, really?
Waterproofing is a tricky term. Most boots are advertised as waterproof. It will keep your feet dry from the outside, but what about from the inside out. If you’re waterproof boots don’t do something about the sweat that builds up inside, you’re not going to be comfortable after a long hike. Even the best waterproof boots don’t provide protection from long periods of rain.
If you’re out there long enough, the rain might just run down your leg and into your boot. So, what we’re saying is don’t get sucked into the hype. You don’t need waterproof hiking boots to stay comfortable on the trail. If waterproof protection is the only reason you’re choosing boots over tennis shoes, you might want to think again.
4 – Ankle Support can be Achieved with Tennis Shoes
If you want ankle support, you don’t have to go with a boot. Instead of worrying about your ankle support, you need to focus on a sneaker that improves your ability to grip uneven terrain. If you’re still worried about your ankles, you should start doing exercises that will strengthen and stretch your ankle muscles.
5 – Hiking Boots are More Expensive than Sneakers
Hiking boots are generally more expensive than sneakers. When you add in the extended break-in times, and the maintenance required to keep boots in good shape, the hiking boots are more expensive than tennis shoes. A lightweight, cheaper alternative like a tennis shoe is a much better choice.
Don’t get our advice twisted, we love boots. Boots are our business, but we also specialize in hiking tennis shoes. So, we want you to have all the facts when you’re making your decision.
Make the Switch to a Trail Runner or Lightweight Running Shoe
When you’re ready to make the switch, check out our running shoe and trail runner options. For instance, our Merrell hiking tennis shoes don’t require any break-in period. Most styles offer good traction, a soft, flexible sole, and will protect your feet from feeling rocks underneath. You’ll want to choose a style that breathes easily and dries fast after it gets wet. Do you need help choosing the right hiking tennis shoe? If so, we’re ready to help. Give us a call today and you’ll be happy that you did.