The right pair of boots deliver the required protection, support, and comfort that lets the boots be forgettable.
While hiking on uncomplicated terrain, dry conditions, and smooth trails, you do not need boots. Sneakers, trail runners, or certain sandals will be apt for you.
Then why wear hiking boots?
Why wear hiking boots
Trekking boots are essential when going on technical, rougher terrain with creeks, scree crossings, or plenty of mud.
In those situations, trail runners or sneakers could invite injury – and that is why wear hiking boots.
It is also why firefighters, soldiers, and forest rangers wear boots rather than hiking shoes.
Why wear hiking boots?
Well, here is why wear hiking boots.
Hiking boots are extremely functional, and these respond to different environments and different surfaces.
Although, this typically depends on the hiking boot’s construction.
Unnecessary to say, these topics are related closely because the characteristics of a pair of hiking boots depend a lot on the boot materials and the features of the hiking boots.
Here are the top 5 reasons why wear hiking boots.
This can also be a significant reference issue for you when choosing a hiking boot, as it describes what to look for in your hiking boots.
Tip: After reading the reasons, you’ll want to learn how to find the right shoes for hiking. Check out my other blog article on this.
#1 Better ankle support
Ankle support is one of the most important things to pay attention to when hiking.
Although several trail runner experts will say that “better ankle support by a hiking boot is a myth.”
Even though it’s true that there are some factual investigations about whether hiking boots prevent any ankle injuries or not, it does not mean that hiking boots do not help.
Few studies confirm that high-top hiking boots significantly decrease the portion of ankle inversion than low-top hiking boots.
The investigators terminated that high-top boots may similarly prevent ankle sprains while carrying heavy bags.
On the other hand, so studies also support the usage of high-top boots for ankle sprain deterrence due to their capability to limit excessive ranges of movement, provide extra proprioceptive input, and decrease extreme joint stress.
That is why wear hiking boots.
#2 Slough off the mud
Trekking boots truly do a satisfactory job of shedding off the mud.
Alternatively, mud will assemble up around maximum regular shoes or sneakers.
Thus, they’ll get slippery and heavier with every step you take on the terrain.
If you desire to prevent any mud collection, you need to wear hiking boots.
It is not advised to use ankle-high shoes or sneakers around the creeks as they’ll let the water inside and make your feet wetter than ever.
Some other water-resistant materials are available on the market that can help you slough off the mud.
So, whenever you think about “why wear hiking boots”, remember this point as well.
#3 Hard sole with adequate traction
Hiking boots generally come with hard, thick soles with ample traction.
This is undoubtedly necessary when you’re hiking on shale or loose stones.
A soft sole of sneakers or trail runners will bend easily, stopping you from getting better traction.
Similarly, those hard, thick soles make some treks much more relaxed and safer.
When you hike on slippery terrain, you need supreme traction, which you can get from a good pair of hiking boots only.
So, if you don’t want to risk your life while hiking, it is better to know why to wear hiking boots.
That is why wear hiking boots.
#4 Saves you from snake bites
When you are hiking in the wild, you might come across different kinds of animals.
Although most of them will not harm you, some creatures can still be dangerous to you.
Snakes are one of them.
If you want to save yourself from their bites, it is always better to wear hiking boots.
Hiking boots cover your entire foot and lower leg, which provides extra protection against snake bites.
Snake bites hardly occur above your ankle.
That is why wear hiking boots with high-top features.
This could stop you from getting bitten by a snake in the wild.
#5 Good tread
Among the most significant things that you need to consider while choosing a hiking boot is the portion of tread you will require.
The tread of a boot is the base part of your boot’s sole.
It touches the ground and comes with a design to grip even the most uneven surfaces, stop slipping while you walk downhill, etc.
Top tennis shoes and sneakers are made with a light tread.
Thus, tennis shoes and sneakers are ineffective when you hike through uneven, rocky terrain or down and up the hills.
Trails with more difficult terrains need better treads with improved traction.
Tip: An alternative to the classic hiking shoe would be trail running shoes. In my other article, I compare these with the hiking shoe.
Do water-resistant shoes help?
This is another most asked question after “why wear hiking boots”.
Waterproofing is a concept that sounds great but does not do much in practical terms.
I will not dig deeper to explain the details here, but after walking thousands of miles while hiking, I can tell you that waterproof shoes are not worth the money.
They are more expensive, make your feet sweat more, and make your shoes heavier.
They are also difficult to dry if they get wet on the inside.
I would recommend using waterproof shoes if you plan to hike in extremely cold weather when there is a chance of snow and you want to keep your feet dry and warm.
But even then, I would only recommend using waterproof socks with regular hiking shoes instead of buying waterproof shoes.
In case you observe any AT or PCT hiker, you will see that nearly all of them use breathable hiking shoes instead of using waterproof shoes nowadays.
Thus, I will recommend you choose breathable uppers over the waterproof versions.
This will certainly help you on the terrain.
Arguments against hiking boots
There are some good arguments against hiking boots.
However, these arguments against hiking boots only hold up in a few situations.
Not all arguments are acceptable.
So, I have mentioned only two arguments below to clarify things.
Hiking boots are heavy and bulky
Hiking boots are not very comfortable as traditional shoes.
This is because they are heavier and bulkier than traditional shoes.
Thus, when you go for long hikes, you may feel uncomfortable after a certain time wearing hiking boots.
Boots take a lot of time to dry
Hiking boots are not completely waterproof.
Thus, they take plenty of time to dry as soon as getting wet while hiking.
On the other hand, when you wear lightweight traditional shoes, they will quickly dry out compared to hiking boots.
And I know exactly how it feels hiking in wet footwear.
It is certainly not something that you or anyone else ever look for.
So, as long as you are not hiking in wet conditions, hiking boots are great.
And even if you are hiking in wet conditions, there is a way to solve this problem.
You can always hike in dry socks and put on your wet shoes when you make camp for the night.
This will give your shoes enough time to dry out completely till morning.
Hiking boots are a bit more expensive than traditional shoes.
Thus, you need to spend some extra money to buy a good pair of hiking boots.
But I think the price is worth it because they last longer, provide better support and comfort, and protect your feet better than traditional shoes.
Moreover, if you take care of your hiking boots properly, they will last for years.
This is not the case with traditional shoes, which you need to replace every few months.
So, hiking boots are more economical than traditional shoes in the long run.