Wild Walking UK

What’s the best footwear for hill walking and backpacking, boots or shoes? 

In this blog I’m going to be looking at how and why, I’m wearing the footwear that I do, when I’m in the hills.

I’ve been wearing leather walking boots for over 30 years, because that’s what you do when you go to the hills. I had trouble with blisters, spent months doing short walks to wear them in and they’re expensive.

In 2017 I decided to tackle the infamous Cape Wrath Trail and needed a new pair of boots, so tried some La Sportiva TRK GTX which at the time I thought of, as light weight boots.

The walk went well and I loved the boots, I didn’t suffer quite so much with blisters, but when the waterproof lining failed after only 300 miles. I was looking for a new pair of boots again. I was thinking, lighter and no waterproof lining. Mainly because I cannot afford to keep buying new boots, just because they’re not waterproof anymore. It’s upsetting, throwing away boots that still look perfectly good, Just because they leak. The trouble with waterproof linings in boots, is they don’t breath very well. They are trapping sweat when it’s warm and when they fail they let water in and trap it there, then take an absolute age to dry.

So here I am looking for cheaper walking boots without a waterproof lining. I came across the Inov-8 Roclite 325. They were comfortable straight out of the box. I used them on the TGO Challenge walking across Scotland. Loved them, I thought I’d found my perfect 3 season walking boot, cheap, no sweaty feet and not a single blister. Only to discover the tread was gone in around 400 miles and they were looking fairly tatty sooner than expected. Funnily enough, the inside of the boots was still in near perfect condition and they were still perfectly comfortable. So I thought I would just suffer replacing them more often.

Then in January 2019, I couldn’t believe my luck when Inov-8 brought out the Roclite 345 GTX G-Grip boot. They have graphene in the sole making them last 50% longer. So in February I set off walking a 1200 mile LEJOG+ expecting to wear the soles smooth long before the end.

Surprisingly the tread lasted the whole way but again the Gore-Tex waterproof lining failed at around 300 miles. So I was back to wishing for a non lined boot.

That’s how I’ve ended up with my perfect footwear. It’s a running shoe, the Inov-8 Roclite 275 G-Grip. Which I then add mini gaiters and waterproof socks too, when needed, this is the perfect combination most of the year. And in full on winter conditions I have a more expensive and heavier pair of boots. But I will be trying the Inov-8 Roclite G-Grip 370 this next winter, so watch this space.

So in answer to my question, Both.

This way I get the best of both worlds, comfort and speed most of the time, when you need it, then tough boots able to accept crampons and warm enough for winter conditions.

My full ‘Boots or shoes for hiking’ story can be found here.

More information about Inov-8 Graphene.

Update Note: Inov-8 are updating their range all the time and adding Graphene soles to more and more of their shoes, so check their site for the best choice of foot wear for you.

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