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Hiking Boots vs. Tennis Shoes

Knoxville, Tennessee
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210 posts
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Hiking Boots vs. Tennis Shoes

I am considering foregoing hiking boots for the first time on our YS trip in June. They are heavy and hurt my feet especially my toes on the downhill after a couple of hours even though they definitely fit. We will fly, and they take up too much room in our luggage.

Last year, I wore my hiking boots and brought my tennis shoes in my backpack while hiking in Zion. I ended up mostly wearing my tennis shoes and carrying my hiking boots. I was so much happier and lighter on my feet.

What do you think?

AKJ
Bruceton Mills...
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1. Re: Hiking Boots vs. Tennis Shoes

I'm a fan of hiking boots. Either your boots didn't fit as well as you think or you need heavier socks. I like the traction they offer. We wear ours on the plane to save room in the bag and don't take sneakers.

On the other hand, they're your feet and take the sneakers if that's what you'll wear. Be careful on slick rocks or slick areas in general, though.

Certainly makes no sense to carry them.

Englewood, Fl.
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2. Re: Hiking Boots vs. Tennis Shoes

I guess that pretty much depends on the trails that you hike in Yellowstone, and how early in June your visit will be. I personally find the more interesting trails in the northern range to be a bit extreme for "tennies", but I visit the park in May and September. The trails can still be snowy or at least muddy in May, and last year that lasted into mid-June, so hiking boots are a must for me. If you visit the park in July and August, or stick to the boardwalks and paved walkways, tennis shoes might be fine, but for mud, loose soil, rock and debris strewn trails that can involve considerable elevation changes, I would rather have the more aggressive tread and the ankle support that my boots offer.

Bemidji, Minnesota
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park
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3. Re: Hiking Boots vs. Tennis Shoes

I wear boots, my wife wears tennies. We both walk the same distance, average day in Yellowstone was 10 miles, longest was 17. She never complained about her feet hurting, I didn't complain about the weight of the boots so we got along fine. We were there in mid-June and the trails that we took were dry so the boots weren't essential. If the trails were snow covered or muddy, the boots would have been essential.

The only trail we wanted to take that was snow covered was up Mt. Washburn. Fortunately there are 2 trails up and we took the "Old Chittenden Road" and it was clear of snow (snowbanks alongside the road near the top). Ask at the visitor's center nearest where you are planning to hike and they can give you up-to-date info on the trail conditions.

Oceanside...
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4. Re: Hiking Boots vs. Tennis Shoes

My thinking is that your boots don't fit as well as you think. Like the previous poster mentioned, if you plan to stick to the paved walkways and boardwialks then tennis shoes will probably be fine. If you plan to do some hiking away from those areas, maybe the hiking boots would be better. Have you considered a low-top style of hiking boot (looks like a tennis shoe)? That's what my wife wears. Me, I like a traditional sort of boot since I like having the ankle support. I also feel better knowing the support and traction I get with my boots is better than a tennis shoe.

I've hiked in Zion and was very happy to have my boots especially going up to Angels Landing.

Illinois
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5. Re: Hiking Boots vs. Tennis Shoes

If you're happier and more comfortable in your tennis shoes I think that answers your question! Granted, I am not a real serious hiker. However, in October my family did a fair amount of hiking in the Smokies. My girls and I wore tennis shoes and hubby wore boots. We were all equally comfortable during and after the hikes--and some of the hikes were a bit challenging. I'll be wearing my tennies this trip and we plan to hike much more than we have in the past so I hope they work out well again.

However, I also like the advice of wearing them on the plane to save room. Just think it would be a shame if you got there and realized you really wished you had your boots.

Knoxville, Tennessee
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210 posts
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6. Re: Hiking Boots vs. Tennis Shoes

Thanks. We are light hikers so I think I will check out the waterproof hiking shoes. I am determined to wear something softer and lighter but they should at least have a good tread. As to fit, I have bought my boots at mountain sports stores w/assistance and also my socks.

New York
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for Travel Gadgets and Gear
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7. Re: Hiking Boots vs. Tennis Shoes

I have both hiking boots and hiking shoes. I found that the hiking shoes were perfect for YNP and the Tetons because they had good traction but also were very comfortable to do all the driving in.

Everett, Washington
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8. Re: Hiking Boots vs. Tennis Shoes

I sort of draw the line along a distance and surface criteria. If it's less than 5 miles and just plain trail hiking (fairly smooth plain trail) I prefer sneakers. But if the distance is longer or the surface is rocky or there are roots and other things to step over...and especially if it is at all steep...I prefer the better tread and ankle support of boots. It's a lot harder to turn an ankle in boots so there's a bit of saftey factor to off-set a little extra comfort.

Besides, my Raichle boots are well worn in and as comfortable as any tennis shoe. Decent well fitting boots that are well broken in should never be less comfortable than tennis shoes.

New England
Destination Expert
for Ogunquit
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9. Re: Hiking Boots vs. Tennis Shoes

I prefer hiking boots if going off pavement.

As for your hiking boots, not all mountain store employees have the same knowledge for hiking boot fitting. I was fitted with the wrong size at a very popular mountain store here in the east. I went to another store and was fitted by an employee who really knew how to fit. The bottom line is that your toes should never touch the toe edge of your boot , especially after hiking for a while. There are also different lacing techniques that allow your boot to have a slightly different fit, depending on your particular foot needs.

Knoxville, Tennessee
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210 posts
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10. Re: Hiking Boots vs. Tennis Shoes

Thanks for the advice. I did buy some Merrell hiking shoes today and I think they are a good fit. My toes do not touch. They already feel broken in but I'll still be wearing them around until the trip. In fact, I'm wearing them now. The store had a slope to try them out.

I'll use more caution, of course, on the trails since I have no ankle support. Thanks.