Work boots as hiking boots?

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Paulatic
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Re: Work boots as hiking boots?

Postby Paulatic » 5 Jan 2019, 6:07pm

As a young shepherd I used to look in awe at the old traditional herds and their Hoggs of Fife sprung boots. Eventually I reached a point where I could afford a pair of those boots. I was really proud of them and they lasted for years and years. However spending days on the hill gathering in those boots invariably ended up with sore feet. Often a relief to get back into wellies. I think I weighed them once and each were well over 2lb in weight.
I never bought another pair and my last 20 yrs on 5000 acre of hill upto 2000ft saw me only ever in wellies, dealer boots or trainers. If a gather was going to involve a lot of rocks ( Craigs ) i favoured wearing the lightest trainers I had. Like the post above I never sprained anything and found the available flex at the ankle important at maintaining balance in some tricky situations.
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rob_wales
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Re: Work boots as hiking boots?

Postby rob_wales » 5 Jan 2019, 6:35pm

Paulatic wrote:If a gather was going to involve a lot of rocks ( Craigs ) i favoured wearing the lightest trainers I had. Like the post above I never sprained anything and found the available flex at the ankle important at maintaining balance in some tricky situations.


Yes, that's a good point. The body needs to naturally respond to unexpected movement. If your foot/ankle is encased in a rigid boot then your natural attempt to avoid falling might make an injury more likely. The classic example of that is ski boots.

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Re: Work boots as hiking boots?

Postby brynpoeth » 5 Jan 2019, 6:55pm

I stay in one place and have several pairs of shoes/boots so I can rotate them, using the same shoes day after day might cause blisters and the like, or are modern shoes better for that too?
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Re: Work boots as hiking boots?

Postby pjclinch » 5 Jan 2019, 7:08pm

rob_wales wrote:Never understood the attraction of boots apart from in wet and muddy conditions. I did fell-running for 16 years wearing x-country running shoes. Hardly ever tripped, never sprained anything. They were fine. Now I just walk but I still mostly wear running shoes. There is less support than boots, but my theory is that your ankle and legs get stronger controlling your balance - it's more natural.


Indeed.
It's much easier for your foot to conform to the terrain, so there's more control. You can' bludgeon through stuff, but with New! Improved! Look Where You're Going™ technology this turns out not to be an issue.

There is nothing inherently wrong with the evolved form of the human ankle. It isn't intrinsically weak and if you're not doing something beyond what it has evolved to do (e.g., edging skis on ice, or front-pointing up a frozen waterfall, as opposed to walking or running) then the much vaunted "ankle support" is, frankly, a bit of a sacred cow.

I went in to hillwalking the traditional way and was a stickler for Stout Boots With Proper Ankle Support... until I came across mountain marathons, and figured a couple of thousand KIMM entrants loping over the moors and mountains in trainers with studs and no midsole couldn't all be wrong, and so it proved. Subsequently goy in to caving, typically far, far rougher going than hillwalking, and everyone wore wellies. Again, figured there had to be something to this, and it turned out wellies were much better than walking boots for it (warmer feet was the bottom line).

Outdoor writer, gear tester, photographer and blogger Chris Townsend has written some good stuff on light footwear that comes highly recommended, see this piece for the general case and this one for when snow and ice modify things.

If it's warm enough and small scree or scrambling with foot-jams isn't involved I actually do most of my Scottish mountaineering in sandals, and when it cools down I'll go for shoes. Off-road runners (though I'm not a runner) if I'm going fast enough that I don't mind wet feet, or suede "approach shoes" if we're looking at "damp" rather than "wet" as the likely worst case. You can get waterproof lined shoes but I'm not a fan: they're sweatier, don't drain and once the membrane goes (which in a flexible shoe is much quicker than the usable life of the rest of it IME) they retain their disadvantages while losing the plus points. The main problem is it's increasingly hard to find a walking shoe that doesn't have a liner. If I really want dry feet I'll wear wellies. The big boots usually only come out if I'm taking crampons (and work boots will generally not take crampons well, with the sole not stiff enough).

As has been said up-thread, whatever you use they really must fit well if they're to be a success, and you want a sole unit appropriate for the job at hand (cleat and stud is generally a pretty good "does everything reasonably" approach).

Unless you're wearing sandals, don't skimp on socks. Good ones make the whole walking experience more comfortable. Socks tend to be sold in a wide size-range, and I've found that getting a brand where I'm at the top of a size range works best (no spare material to ruck-up is my theory), so as I'm an 9 I go for a is 6-9 range rather than a 9-11 range.

Oh, and back to sandals, you don't need ones with "toe protection" if you get with the look-where-you're-going thing. Toe shields make it very awkward to kick stones out the front though, and just give more of an upper to rub against so they're heavier, more expensive and less comfortable (great for canoeing though!).

Summary: don't walk in boots unless some special feature of the route really requires them.

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Re: Work boots as hiking boots?

Postby pwa » 5 Jan 2019, 8:42pm

Most of my recreational walking is in UK countryside and I find standard leather walking boots are generally the best option. On a typical walk I could cover most of the ground in trainer style shoes, but then I find a pool of cow poo / mud around a gate I have to pass through or I find the stepping stones across a stream are a couple of inches below water. Sometimes thistles or low lying bramble can be a problem, and with boots I can get through easier. I could manage with trainers but boots are better. I would favour trainers in very hot weather, though.

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Re: Work boots as hiking boots?

Postby Airsporter1st » 6 Jan 2019, 9:28am

If the human ankle is such a good design, I wonder why so many people manage to 'twist' them on uneven ground. Nothing wrong with my ankles, but I've been over on them a few times in my life - as I am sure have all those who are saying that ankle support is not necessary when hiking.

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Re: Work boots as hiking boots?

Postby Paulatic » 6 Jan 2019, 10:10am

Airsporter1st wrote:If the human ankle is such a good design, I wonder why so many people manage to 'twist' them on uneven ground. Nothing wrong with my ankles, but I've been over on them a few times in my life - as I am sure have all those who are saying that ankle support is not necessary when hiking.


I went over on my ankle on a dance floor in 1970. I recall well the huge swelling making changing gear on my motorbike extremely painful.
Ive now sat for ten minutes trying to remember any other incidence. I’ve probably gone over and had a little ouch then carried on but nothing as painful as that dance floor.
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Re: Work boots as hiking boots?

Postby Vorpal » 6 Jan 2019, 11:40am

I have not seriously injured an ankle since I was a teen. I have turned an ankle a few times on rough ground. I honestly think that an ankle injury is unlikely, however, there are a few aspects that complicate it...

-rough gorund makes turning an ankle somewhat more likely
-carrying a heavy rucksack on a long distance trip increases the likelihood of serious injury
-something like the Overland Trail means being days without being near medical facilities, and a serious injury could mean mountain rescue, or even put life at risk (not just the life of the injured person, but those of other members of the party, rescuers, etc.)

For those reasons, I think that sturdy footwear with ankle support is appropriate.

The alternative view is that if you always hike in boots with ankle support, you will have weak ankles, and always need ankle support.

I think there is a difference between a day trip, with access to roads or tourist facilities, and a long distance trip into unpopulated areas.
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Paulatic
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Re: Work boots as hiking boots?

Postby Paulatic » 6 Jan 2019, 12:02pm

The exact same question was asked on an Australian 4wd forum over 8 years ago :(
Here’s s what they said downunder http://www.4wdaction.com.au/forum/viewtopic.php?t=95635
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Re: Work boots as hiking boots?

Postby pjclinch » 6 Jan 2019, 2:59pm

I work just down the corridor from these guys...
Many years back one of the researchers there was telling me about ankle injuries. He was from India, and a bit of it where lots of people walked barefoot. He said that the experience was that if anyone came in with an ankle injury it was likely to be someone who'd been wearing shoes of some sort...

Since they jack up your feet a bit, they provide a bit of extra leverage for if you do turn an ankle, and if there's a "supportive" ankle cuff as well, that helps push you over and make it worse. Ankle cuffs also act against you placing a foot at an angle, conforming to the terrain (useful if you're standing on front points, edging or the like, otherwise not so good). For this reason fell running shoes have practically no midsole, to keep the wearer close down to the ground, less likely to turn an ankle and with fewer consequences if they do, and this is why fell runners and orienteers, who move at speed through the best ankle-turning terrain out there, use them in preference to boots (supporting cuff O-shoes like these are available for people with an injury problem, but they're very much the exception and not the rule, and in any case with the power strap and moulded plastic support these give far more tangible support than most walking boots). Turning my ankle in light footwear tends to be a case of saying "ouch', and then carrying on.

It is a fair point that carrying a big pack makes the consequences of turning an ankle more likely to be serious, but with walking clumsiness correlating well to support (take a walk in downhill ski boots for something like a limiting case), the heftier your footwear the more likely you are to go over in the first place in rough terrain.

On light boots the main point of an ankle cuff is to keep stuff out (particularly if used with gaiters). and to fulfil the marketing requirement of lots of people who are convinced they need them for ankle support. The first can be very useful, the second not so much, and they provide very little in any case.

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Re: Work boots as hiking boots?

Postby pwa » 6 Jan 2019, 5:25pm

The main reasons I choose to do some walks with boots rather than trainer style shoes have nothing to do with ankle support. It is more to do with crossing water or mud, such as around farm gates, and battling through brambles and thistles, where an exposed ankle means you can't wade in the same. For a hike up a fell in dry weather, and only a day pack to carry, trainer type shoes would be preferable for me.

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Re: Work boots as hiking boots?

Postby thirdcrank » 6 Jan 2019, 5:37pm

PH wrote:OT - maybe - Was this ever a genuine enquiry? Someone from the US joins a cycling forum in the UK to ask about the right walking boots for a route most will never have heard of...


A subtle type of spam for this, perhaps?
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Re: Work boots as hiking boots?

Postby paddler » 6 Jan 2019, 5:50pm

You don't necessarily need boots even when carrying a full pack, as shown by those hiking the Appalachian Trail. Typing 'Appalachian Trail rocks' in Google images will give an idea. Of course, it is not all like that, but there are a lot of exposed roots as well, also scrambling and some climbing.

On that sort of long distance feet will get wet no matter what you wear. I just wore ankle gaiters to keep small stones out.

If I am on a shorter walk I will choose boots if there is going to be deep mud or loose sand.

The downside of shoes compared to boots is that they won't last as long - the light weight is the trade off.

I would say that if a person is happiest wearing boots, though, that is what they should wear.

Dave

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Re: Work boots as hiking boots?

Postby pwa » 6 Jan 2019, 6:02pm

Some boots are in fact more like robust trainers but with a raised ankle section. I had a pair of Meindl boots that were very light and had a sole more like a trainer type, and the same item could be had as a shoe if preferred. Both versions were feather light and nimble.

This sort of thing.
https://www.cotswoldoutdoor.com/p/meind ... colour=133
Halfway between a trainer style shoe and a traditional hiking boot.

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Re: Work boots as hiking boots?

Postby Flinders » 7 Jan 2019, 7:31pm

Ttiabinar wrote:I've always been a big fan of wearing joggers for comfort when going for long walks, but with a trip to the Overland Track in Tassie coming up at the end of the year I've decided to get a pair of hiking boots again. My old boots are from Kathmandu (the shop, not the city), and never really wore in properly, to the point where I still can't wear them for a walk over a few hours in length, even after multiple trips and trying various methods of wearing them in.

I'm also not too keen on all the marketing hype from the trekking oriented manufacturers so am wondering about trying some work boots this time, such as Steel Blue or Oliver which by the sounds of things are very popular and comfortable. The only thing is I'm not sure if I'd find them too heavy for walking decent distances. Sounds like there's no problem with durability though.

Has anybody used boots like this for hiking around?

Thanks for the help

If you're going on a long trek you need boots designed for the terrain and which fit. Boots that need breaking in to any great extent (more than one or two walks) are by definition boots that don't fit. A well-fitted boot doesn't need breaking in at all. I would recommend you go to a shop where they are serious about boot fitting. like Fishers in Keswick (I'm sure other people on here can recommend other places if that's too far for you).

It's far more important to have boots that fit than any specific kind of boot, so long as it can cope with the terrain. My concern with work boots, though, would be that the flexibility of the sole might be wrong for long walks- they are not intended for that. I often wear my heavy leather boots on summer walks, as they fit, they're still perfectly comfortable; heavy or not, I forget I have them on.

It's far better to choose a boot on fit than on what other people think are 'good' makes. All makers have different lasts. I find Scarpa lasts are pretty much the only ones that ever fit me at all, so there is no point me deciding, for instance, that a Brasher is good on the basis of reviews- all their boots are masses too wide for me.

In my case, It's easily an hour's job in the shop to find a pair that fits right, and add to that getting a foot-bed (custom in my case, as I have weird feet) as well (which I would recommend if you can possibly afford them).
The last thing you want is to have your fantastic trip spoilt by sore feet.