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Hiking Shoes Or Hiking Boots For Utah’s National Parks

Apr 17, 2019 | Capitol Reef National Park, National Parks, Our Blog, Things to do in Utah | 0 comments

Hiking Shoes Or Hiking Boots For Utah’s National Parks

Remember when cell phones were foot-long bricks that wielded power like baseball bats in a fracas, when Converse canvas was the athlete’s choice for just about any sport, when basketball shorts looked like cute, little running shorts?  Well, back in the day, heavy, high-top, leather hiking boots were also the norm on Southern Utah’s trails.  Sure, there are some advantages to high-top waffle stompers, but the industry has changed to more aptly to meet the needs of today’s hikers.  This article explains when and why you should use hiking boots and when the sportier hiking shoes would not only do just fine, but also be preferable.

First, the high-top leather hiking boots provide some ankle support to help prevent the rolling and twisting of ankles.  Indeed, the ankle is a precarious place where leg bones join the foot bones, forming a strong hinge so you can run and walk.  But, that hinge is weak compared to the amount of poundage they are forced to carry. Ankle sprains are the commonest sports injuries.  Without some ankle support, there are special occasions when you might step on a small rock, the edge of trail, or hole in the ground, bending the hinge too far.  The weight of your body bends the hinge outward or inward causing the hinge to break or at least tear some of the ropes (ligaments and tendons) which hold the hinge together.  You may hear a popping sound or feel terrible pain, or both. This “spiritual” experience is less likely to occur while wearing the high-top waffle stompers. (Apply ice for a few days, not heat!)

Second, high-top leather boots are blessed with tough, thick soles, which enable you to tromp on sharp rocks, singing “La di da,” because those rocks can’t faze you.  Foot soles that don’t get bruised or cut from sharp objects are happy soles. If you’re a large person in thinner soles, those rocks can really punch as you step and bring you to a premature end of the day; so you may prefer heavier, thicker soles even when smaller, hiking shoes would normally be recommended.  And the heavier you are, the more prone you are to spraining that hinge, so ankle support is recommended for big folks. In fact, taping or bracing the ankle prevents ankle sprains better than merely the leather hiking boots do.

High-top leather has drawbacks in the form of weight and fashion.  They’re heavier than sporty hiking shoes, so if you’re small-muscled or unfit, those clod-hoppers can fatigue you fast.  And if those “dogs” have to slog through the Virgin River at some point, the leather will soak up the water, weigh “a ton” and take all day in the sun to dry.  Fashion is, of course, in the eye of the beholder; and perhaps you don’t care one shoelace what other hikers think of your boot choice.

Now, let’s get to some advice for Utah’s national parks.  Most of today’s hikers prefer lighter-weight hiking shoes.  They look sporty, feel light, are comfortable, allow fast hiking or running, and have non-slip soles for rivers and streams.  When Nike created revolutionary change to track shoes in the 70s, hiking shoes also changed forever. Contemporary hiking shoes often boast Gore-tex waterproof uppers, athletic insoles, non-slip soles, smooth or rugged soles, sporty looks, flexible or stiff soles, and breathable synthetic materials that dry fast.  Some are even “boot-like” reaching up and over the ankle, not pretending to prevent ankle sprains, but keeping pebbles and sand from entering the shoe and irritating the soles of your feet. You can run a trail, if you like. You can wade through the Narrows at Zion and the Virgin River, feeling stable on your feet and knowing those “puppies” will dry out fast later.

So, the choice between hiking boots or hiking shoes for places like Capitol Reef National Park depends on your fitness level, your susceptibility (size) to ankle sprains, the type of terrain your tackling (water, rocky, etc.), the length of your adventure, and what looks and feels just fine to you.


Hiking Shoes Or Hiking Boots For Utah’s National Parks

Article By: Clear Content Marketing

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