The Boot Myth
- Back in the day, Paul Petzoldt (founder of NOLS) taught me, "Vibram will hold you on [almost] any surface," and he was right. So for four decades I've hiked in ankle-height boots. Now I've changed.
Of course that ankle support is good to have. No one wants sprains or breaks on the trail, PLB availability notwithstanding. But the weight is so huge ... when I did the JMT I swapped out one set of boots for another four ounces lighter (the pair, even) and the energy saved was staggering, figuring 222 miles, 5280 feet a mile, two feet a stride, two inches lift, 16 ounces a pound, 2000 pounds a long ton, you do the math (and please, you needn't convert to horsepower or terawatts or anything else, you'll be surprised whatever the coefficient).
But on the wilderness freeway that is the JMT, are those lug soles worth the weight? Earlier this month I tried some off-trail work* in not even trail runners but street walkers (unfortunate name) and was amazed. Sure, on a 70-degree granite slope covered with sand there was not nearly the grip, less when it was slick with rain. But I would have had trouble with my Asolos, too.
My decision: even off-trail the weight savings more than makes up for the loss of support. Mr. Petzoldt, meet Mr. Jardine.
* Out of Kings Canyon, the Cartridge Creek (pre-1938 JMT) area:
- On Sat, Sep 1, 2012 at 8:59 AM, scriv.ener <jeffreyn@...> wrote:
... Of course that ankle support is good to have.I'm a boot guy, but I doubt that any real-world hiking boot that any of us would wear gives much ankle support. The old leather combat boot had ankle support, but hiking boots don't really hold the bone above the ankle with any particular grip, so I don't think they give any appreciable ankle support.Compareorwith where you can visualize the ankle on this hiking boot pictureif pictures are not appearing, tryHiking boots just don't come up high enough for any significant ankle support.I think boots gain their advantages from other factors, largely a better "bite" into uneven or loose surfaces. I like them for that purpose but others don't. At the speed I walk (slow), boots swing forward mostly with the momentum of my walking (other than on climbs). I don't really have to accelerate them much. Faster walkers will find a bigger disadvantage of boots. For me, the added cost of lifting boots on uphill stretches are offset from what I experience as the advantages on even terrain and on the downhills.But, if lighter footwear works for you, go for it.John Ladd
- There's another factor, too, for even the short boots offer better protection against shallow snow, water and scree. But gaters solve snow and scree issues, and as to water, well the shoes dry quicker.
I agree, the lugs of a good boot sole "bite" better. And I appreciate what you say about ankle support. I guess we differ on whether that difference is worth it on a well-trod trail.
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, John Ladd <johnladd@...> wrote:
> On Sat, Sep 1, 2012 at 8:59 AM, scriv.ener <jeffreyn@...> wrote:
> > ... Of course that ankle support is good to have.
> I'm a boot guy, but I doubt that any real-world hiking boot
> that any of us would wear gives much ankle support. ...
> I think boots gain their advantages from other factors,
> largely a better "bite" into uneven or loose surfaces. ...