Experiences and suggestions for switching from a boot to shoe?

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Rockyroad
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Experiences and suggestions for switching from a boot to shoe?

Post by Rockyroad » Fri Aug 02, 2019 5:08 pm

I’m looking for suggestions for a light boot/shoe that can handle off-trail backpacking to replace my Zamberlan Vioz GTX hiking boots. Also, what were your experiences when switching from a heavy boot to a trail runner?

Preferences:
1. I’m open to switching from a boot to a mid or low cut shoe which will be more comfortable and probably have less heel slippage. My only concern is exposing my ankles to sharp rocks while talus hopping. Maybe gaiters can provide some protection.
2. Grippy soles in both wet and dry conditions
3. Rock plate or similar protection
4. I’m not ready for a zero-drop shoe yet
5. My feet are probably a bit wider in the toes and narrower in the heels compared to average

Things I hate about my Zamberlan Vioz GTX boots
1. Soles do not grip. I slipped twice on my last trip. Once on a slightly angled granite ramp and another time over mud.
2. Soles fall apart. My first pair had small chunks of the sole break off. Returned to exchange for a second pair that had the same problem. Have had the second pair for ~4 years.
3. The fit around the heel seems worse now, always giving me blisters when I go uphill. I always tape my heels now and use lacing techniques to lock the heel.
4. Too heavy

I’ve tried La Sportiva Ultra Raptors on a few long day hikes. I like the grippy soles but the plastic supports on the outside of the shoe digs into my foot. My foot shape just doesn’t seem compatible. Also, I guess one of the drawbacks of good ventilation is that fine dirt easily gets in. At the end of the day, my socks looked like I was hiking without shoes.

I use and really like my Brooks Cascadias for trail running so might try those on my next backpacking trip.








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Re: Experiences and suggestions for switching from a boot to shoe?

Post by c9h13no3 » Fri Aug 02, 2019 6:02 pm

I don't think there's any magic formula, try on shoes til you find one that fits. If the Cascadias work for you, give 'em a whirl.

I have both boots & trail runners, and I use both. Boots are nice on talus & snow, they take crampons better. Trail runners are lighter & faster, but your feet get more beat up by rocks. The trend is certainly to move towards lighter footwear, but I think both tools have their place.

After I buy footwear, I leave the tags on them (tape the tags down), take them to the gym, and put 4-5 miles on them on the treadmill or stair climber. And a couple running stores around here have treadmills in them.
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Re: Experiences and suggestions for switching from a boot to shoe?

Post by neil d » Mon Aug 05, 2019 1:01 pm

I'm making the same transition. I had those same boots and never had quality control issues that you describe. I loved those boots, then ruined them by hiking in them soaking wet all day and letting them dry outside in 110-degree heat...they shrank and never recovered. Too bad, so sad.

Since the Zamberlans bit the dust I have been hiking in mid-height Merrell Moab Ventilators, which has reminded me how much I love Merrell shoes. This pair is about a half-size too big, as they belong to my son, so I will pick up my own pair. I have had many pairs of Ventilators over the years and their sizing fits me very well...I have narrow feet but like a wide toe box, and Ventilators are perfect. Wandering Daisy warns me of deteriorating quality control at Merrell over the years, but shopping at REI give me some protection from those sorts of issues.

I've always loved full-leather boots due to the superior foot and ankle protection for long day-hikes and backpacking trips, and am a teensy bit nervous about changing to a low-cut shoe like the Moab. But my pack weight has decreased drastically over the last two years, so I think I can get away with a lighter shoe as long as it has toe protection, which the Moab does.

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Re: Experiences and suggestions for switching from a boot to shoe?

Post by stevet » Mon Aug 05, 2019 3:22 pm

I made the transition several years ago. For about 2 years I rotated between my boots, various sandals, and trail runners both with and without rock plates.

Have settled on trail runners with rock plates. I like the Ezra stiffness and the foot protection of the rock plate. and have had good success with ASICS trabuco, Montrail Bajada, and Brooks Cascadia. The primary reason for switching brands /models is the manufacturers change the last and new models often don’t fit the same. For this season I am back in Cascadia’s.

I wear runners for both trail and off trail hikes. They don’t last like boots but can generally get several hikes before the upper tears. The one exception was the SHR leg between Tuolumne and Mono Creek. The upper was shredded in 2days and I patched by sewing pieces of duct tape.

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Re: Experiences and suggestions for switching from a boot to shoe?

Post by paul » Mon Aug 05, 2019 5:21 pm

If the Cascadias work for you running then they ought to be good walking as well. But if they do work out, I'd suggest you get a second pair. Running and hiking are both hard on shoes, you'll go through them pretty quick.
I have a used a few different pairs of trail runners, mostly Asics Trabuco of various vintages and now Altras (Lone Peak). No rock plates that I am aware of, but the Trabucos had pretty solid midsoles. the Altras not so much, but I have prescription orthotics that have a stiff layer up thru the arch, and I do fine off-trail. Scree is the worst case scenario with low cut shoes, gaiters are really the only help there. I have a pair of the Mid version of the Lone Peaks that I picked up cheap, and I have worn them on a couple dayhikes so far, seem pretty good. If you want a little more ankle protection (I will not say support) the mids are worth trying.
Yes, your feet and socks will be filthy, it's part of the deal.
I suggest building up to the full pack on dayhikes so that you get used to it and you can be sure things will work out before you head out on a backpacking trip.
On the zero drop thing I found it not too much of a transition, required some extra stretching at first to be on the safe side, and a little soreness, but very short term. I did not go looking for zero drop, but just liked the way the altras fit so much that I gave it a shot. I am on my feet a lot at work (construction), in hiking boots, and I have no issues going from boots with heels at work to shoes with zero drop on the weekend.

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Re: Experiences and suggestions for switching from a boot to shoe?

Post by CAMERONM » Mon Aug 05, 2019 11:52 pm

Hi Rocky. I like La Sportiva; they grip ankles well and come in half-sizes. I use the Wildcats for just trail stuff, they have a high heel which I need, and they breathe reasonably well, but not as well as my much older Cascadias. But with off-trail and peakbagging, I increasingly use the La Sportiva TX3 approach shoes. I feel far safer on inclined slabs and sketchy traction situations, they are indeed more "grippy" than trail runners. I use an orthotic and build up the heel a bit. They are comfortable from day one and I can even do 22 mile trail days no problem with them. They breathe even less well, but certainly better than the leather TX4's.

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Re: Experiences and suggestions for switching from a boot to shoe?

Post by c9h13no3 » Tue Aug 06, 2019 10:55 am

CAMERONM wrote:
Mon Aug 05, 2019 11:52 pm
I increasingly use the La Sportiva TX3 approach shoes. I feel far safer on inclined slabs and sketchy traction situations, they are indeed more "grippy" than trail runners.
Hm, I've thought about picking up a pair of approach shoes, but most look pretty light & minimalist. I'm worried my feet would be destroyed trying to run in them.

I'm waffling back & forth between a pair of approach shoes, or just buying some rock shoes. The classic 2 tools vs. the quiver killer debate.
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Rockyroad
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Re: Experiences and suggestions for switching from a boot to shoe?

Post by Rockyroad » Tue Aug 06, 2019 4:02 pm

Thanks everyone for the great suggestions. I''ll check out the shoes that were mentioned. The La Sportiva TX3 sounds especially appealing.

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CAMERONM
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Re: Experiences and suggestions for switching from a boot to shoe?

Post by CAMERONM » Tue Aug 06, 2019 11:04 pm

Hm, I've thought about picking up a pair of approach shoes, but most look pretty light & minimalist. I'm worried my feet would be destroyed trying to run in them.
Whoa, I would not recommend running with them.

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Re: Experiences and suggestions for switching from a boot to shoe?

Post by Dave_Ayers » Wed Aug 07, 2019 10:51 am

I switched decades ago, finally getting exasperated over blister, stiffness, traction, cost, and fit problems. Concerns about ankle stability were overcome by appropriate training (deliberately hiking on rough surfaces, including exercises on balance pods/disks/bosu/wobble board, etc.). Concerns about ankle scrapes and bruises turned out to be about 99% unfounded.

Those with a wide foot (EE or wider) will have very limited alternatives. I've had good success with Saucony Excursion Trail Runners (EE) the past few years and they are easy on the pocketbook too (~$60-70 online).

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