Here’s Why You Should Ditch Your Trekking Boots
This blog is a part of our Trekking 101 series, powered by ULTIMATE TREKKER – the Outdoor Leadership Programme for pro trekkers.
It is common knowledge that trekking boots are great for treks. But expert athletes suggest otherwise. Dedicated trekking boots could become your worst nightmare as experienced by an amateur trekker Ankit. Read on to know more.
Ankit, an amateur who recently began trekking in India, dropped by at our hoffice the other day, having returned from a relatively low altitude, easy monsoon hike. Although the grin on his face was wide, the blisters on his feet told a different story. On being probed, he began describing his experience of wearing heavy trekking boots that became the obnoxious bugbear ruining his trek.
He had picked the best trekking shoes ranked for the price but, four hours down a particularly wet trail he realized that they were an overkill. The trekking boots were simply too much for what the hike offered in terms of difficulty of terrain. The label on the shoes said they were water repellent but that ended up becoming a curse rather than a boon for him.
By the end of the three-day trek, removing his shoes felt like subtracting a redundant 2 pounds’ worth of weight from off his feet, not to forget the aching blains as reminders. “Worst decision of my life,” he uttered in exasperation.
“Never use a sledgehammer to crack a nut” they say.
4Play aims to create awareness about the best practices, specific to the Indian outdoors. And enable you to step out with confidence. By making accessible an ocean of empirical knowledge gathered by the Indian Bear Grylls – Pranav Rawat himself.
Pranav Rawat is a seasoned mountaineer and an ice-climber, with a decade long experience as a summiteer. Pranav is also an UIAA certified Himalayan Mountain Guide and Wilderness First Responder, which makes him an unparalleled expert on climbing and trekking in the Indian Himalayas.
Anybody with a lot of experience of trekking in the Indian Himalayas under his belt will vouch for the fact that the joy of a trek lies in how happy your feet are. This blog is dedicated to understanding how new trekkers like Ankit can end up ruining their experience with a not so right shoe.
The common mistake noobies make is picking very heavy trekking boots on easy treks. It is defined by common logic that the more weight you carry, the more energy you expend carrying it.
“The weight on one’s feet zaps 4-6 times more energy than weight on your back.”
One needs to be extra careful while choosing these shoes,” warns Pranav. “The soles here are much harder than the ones found on lighter trekking shoes, with very stiff mid-soles (for additional protection from jagged terrain underfoot) and the upper parts are durable but heavy. They might tire you down on simple leveled trails and can cause blisters.”
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Rigid, hard-soled boots don’t flex with your feet and are not very breathable either. Overtime your feet will become wet with sweat because they can’t breathe making them more vulnerable to blisters.
Another common fly in the ointment with these boots is their waterproof nature itself. Wading through puddles enthusiastically may allow for some water entry in the shoe which will not dry up because these shoes work both ways: don’t allow water to enter nor leave. While your socks will soak this water up, it won’t be long before fungal infections will crop up, leaving you wondering why the shoes failed. Ankit suffered this exact fate.
The lighter, simpler hiking boots though not very water resistant on the outside, are breathable and don’t hold back the water inside.
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A pair of trail running shoes can also be an acceptable alternative for good trekking footwear.
Proponents of hiking boots are quick to point out that boots provide good ankle support, which prevents one from getting injured. However, there is not much evidence to back this up. The best prevention to ankle injuries is by working on strengthening your ankles.
“ Getting injured is among the top fears of wilderness travelers.”
Ankle support is primarily a marketing gimmick to sell boots. “Wearing ankle length boots often results in knee pains since the ankle is not taking enough pressure due to decreased freedom of movement within the shoe,” informs Pranav . Also, boots are expensive and they take relatively longer to break in.
Wouldn’t it be awesome to have a comfortable, breathe easy, light weight alternative?
Yes there is and you can make a switch to trail running shoes which would also work best for trekking in the Indian Himalayas.
If you ever had a bad experience with your trekking shoes, do comment in the section below.
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Author: Pranav Manocha
Pranav is a Nepal earthquake survivor with a flair for marketing. Beginning with a Quote T-Shirt business with a school friend after grade 12, he did his graduation in Literature from the University of Delhi. In his free time he loves reading Camus, trail riding and skinny dipping in rivulets around Manali.