I Prefer Hiking Boots Over Trail Shoes

Call me old school, an old fuddy-duddy, or just old because I prefer hiking boots over trail shoes. Not only do I prefer hiking boots, I prefer all leather boots.

My first hiking boots were Fabiano all leather uppers. The leather held up so well that I eventually had the boots resoled with new Vibram soles. When the uppers finally wore out I purchased a second pair. The two pair hiked and backpacked with me on Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail, through West Virginia’s Dolly Sods Wilderness, across the High Peaks region of the Adirondacks, and through the Wind Rivers range while on a NOLS course. Unfortunately, I do not remember what ever happened to that second pair. That was all back in the day before there was even anything like a trail shoe.

I now day hike and backpack wearing a pair of Merrell Wilderness classic all weather boots. Yes, they are heavy. But they are also sturdy, generally keep my feet dry, and keep my feet warm when hiking snow covered trails when the temperature is in the teens and twenties. They do, however, get a little warm, and my feet perspire when I wear them in warm weather.

I own and have tried trail shoes. I have worn my Garmont Nagevi while hiking some wet trails in New York’s Shawangunks and in West Virginia’s Otter Creek Wilderness. They didn’t keep my feet warm or dry while day hiking over trails with frost and light snow.

I have worn my Solomon XA Pro 3D while day hiking in Western Pennsylvania’s Raccoon Creek State Park and a four day three night backpacking trip on Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail. They performed no better or no worse than the Garmonts. When hiking through the rain on the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail, my feet got wet when Merrell boots would probably have kept my feet dry.

When I am heading out for a day hike and expect the weather to be warm and dry, I will still wear my Garmont or Solomon hiking shoes because they are lighter than my Merrell boots, and my feet stay a little cooler and dryer in them. For wetter or cooler weather, however, I will always opt for my old fashion all leather hiking boots.

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Comments 2

  • Miles : Mar 11th

    I probably qualify as old school or a borderline old fart but I still prefer a hiking boot. I tried going to a light weight boot that was more like a running shoe and just didn’t work for me. I also wear boots for work so just might too used to wearing them. Been wearing boots of some sort for 40 plus years. It was great to see some one post on the Trek from my neck of the woods. I’ve hiked the LHHT and hike frequently at Raccoon Creek State Park. I help maintain the western portion of the Heritage Trail and the Upland Trail. Enjoy hikes in your boots.

    • John Edward Harris : Mar 14th

      Perhaps we have crossed paths at Raccoon Creek State Park. The Heritage Trail at RSP is my favorite. Thanks for the response.


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