In the past, serious walkers would grab a trusty pair of walking boots and take to the trails, however times have changed and now you are just as likely to see hikers choosing walking shoes over the more traditional footwear. So are walking boots or shoes better? In this article we look at the advantages and disadvantages of each so that you can make an informed decision.
Choosing the right footwear is essential for your safety and comfort when crossing a range of terrains, so it is vital to know the difference between walking boots and walking shoes and when each would be the most appropriate option. There is no single answer to which is the best choice as it very much depends on the type of walking that you intend to participate in. Making the right choice for you should be based on your lifestyle, your preferences and the level of function that you require.
One of the major factors to consider when choosing between a boot and a shoe is the level of protection your require for your feet. If you will be crossing severe terrain, rocky surfaces or areas where impacts are likely, you would be better off choosing a sturdy pair of walking boots. These will offer optimal protection to your toes, heels and ankles, especially on mountainous or hilly countryside. A higher ankle cuff will support your legs when going up or downhill and will guard against any accidental sprains or strains.
If you are walking in warm conditions or want the benefit of being able to walking at a rapid pace, you may find walking shoes more comfortable and practical than the more cumbersome boot. Walking shoes generally weigh less than a standard walking boot and are more suited to hiking during the summer or when speed is of the essence.
If you are planning on crossing a wide variety of terrain types during your hike, you may prefer to opt for walking boots rather than shoes. Although walking shoes do have durable rubber outer soles which allows for a good grip on most terrain types as well as an optimised tread for grip and traction, overall, walking boots have the edge when it comes to versatility. Their strong and robust soles protect the underfoot area from rocky terrain while the chunkiness of the sole will provide improved traction on muddy, loose or wet surfaces.
While some pairs of walking boots do offer improved ventilation, overall walking shoes are a better choice if you are planning on hiking during the summer or in warm conditions. Air can move freely around the ankle and frequently, walking shoes offer larger ventilation panels which enable air to circulate around the feet making footwear much more comfortable and less sweaty on hot days.
When it comes to waterproofing for hikes in wet weather and around streams and lakes, both walking boots and shoes fare well. Most pairs of walking boots and shoes have Gore-Tex lining for rapid drying as well as water-resistant protection for the uppers. On the whole, however, walking boots do have the edge when it comes to keeping feet protected from moisture due to the added protection around the ankle which guards against water ingress and stronger materials for the uppers.
If you need to choose some new footwear to wear on your next hiking adventure, you should first determine your requirements before making a final decision about whether boots or shoes would be the best choice for you.