Take A Hike, But Use the Right Footwear

Jack Michaud, Contributor

A big pet peeve of mine is when people suggest I buy hiking boots. Boots are the worst, they just are. I own a pair of Timberland’s for yard work and that’s about all I find them good to use for.

I strongly suggest for most situations that you wear lightweight running shoes or trail runners.  They’re better for your knees, your calves, and most importantly they’re more comfortable -even when backpacking on long trails.

Shoes across all brands and styles have become more and more padded over the years, making runners land generally more on their heels, rather than how we originally did the neanderthal days, on the balls of our feet. Shoe companies selling their products for comfort over health has created a generation more prone to injury, since landing on your heels puts unnecessary stress on your knees and weakens your calves. Landing forwards on your feet eliminates this impact on your heel, but requires more of an output from your calves.

It’s important to be careful though, the switch to minimalist shoes is very tedious and can post threats to safety. Many people try to jump into wearing minimalist shoes too quickly. The fast switch can be damaging to your shins and arches of your foot, so take time throughout the process to let your muscles in these new areas develop and strengthen. Personally, I wear a combination of Seven 91 Congruzzo’s for the winter that I cut the soul out of and a pair of Vibram Trailrunners that I wear in more mild climates.

These styles suit me and my preferences in hiking, but if you find yourself being drawn back to boots after giving this a try, stick to what’s comfortable.