Hiking shoe help needed!

Apr 15th, 2007, 08:39 PM
Original Poster
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Hiking shoe help needed!

I know this sounds odd but do we need to buy hiking shoes/boots for Switzerland?

We are travelling with my 12-year-old son and will be spending 18 days in S. this summer: 3-4 days in Lucerne, 6 days in Wengen, 5 days between Lausanne/Vevey and a few in Zurich.

All of our hiking at home has been done in good quality running shoes. And as my son is not a big hiker, we will be doing some there but it won't be the focus of the trip.

We are concerned about bulkiness on hiking shoes as we are only using train travel.

What say you, experts?...and thanks!
JuicyLucy is offline  
Apr 15th, 2007, 09:22 PM
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Not an expert, but. . . 3 trips to Switzerland, hiking every day. I take my hiking boots, but our teens are fine in their running shoes. We do pretty strenuous hikes every day (4 to 6 hours, 2500 feet or more of elevation gain).

Potential problems with running shoes (as opposed to hiking boots) are with water (rain, muddy trails) and support on the downhill treks. Any idea where you will be hiking? Some of the trails around Wengen will be fine; others might require more heavy-duty footgear.
enzian is offline  
Apr 15th, 2007, 09:29 PM
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We spent two weeks in the Lucerne area with our boys, then 9 and 12. Like enzian I used hiking boots almost every day because I'm concerned about ankle support, but the kids were fine in regular running shoes. You could pack trail runners and buy hiking boots there if needed.
crosscheck is offline  
Apr 15th, 2007, 09:51 PM
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Ditto above.

My kids, 9 & 11 have hiking boots but we live here and get a lot out of them. Running shoes with good soles should be fine for your son.
kleeblatt is offline  
Apr 16th, 2007, 04:05 AM
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Our rule of thumb is when we take hiking boots they are always what we wear when travelling (flights and train) so they don't need to be packed. That way lighter shoes can go in the suitcase.
julies is offline  
Apr 16th, 2007, 04:47 AM
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The trails you will hike on may even be paved; Switzerland is amazing in that it has "wanderwegs," or walkways, at even the highest peaks that are more like long walks than true hikes.

Last summer, my husband and I wore low cut hiking shoes and were fine, and two of my kids also just wore sneakers and were fine.

Are you set with some of the hikes you will be taking? I got such great information from the forums that we did the hikes that were not too strenuous, but offered incredible scenery. it also helped to know in advance where there were food stops along the way!
skatedancer is offline  
Apr 16th, 2007, 04:48 AM
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sorry, a correction to my post. Not all the wanderwegs are paved, but they are still easy walking on mostly flat, very well-maintained trails.
skatedancer is offline  
Apr 16th, 2007, 04:51 AM
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I find the trails in Switzerland to be less rugged than the ones I go on in the states. Personally, I prefer running shoes to hiking boots, unless I'm going on extremely rugged, wilderness hikes. I doubt you will do that. And the best thing for any kind of hiking, in my opinion, are trail runners which are waterproof and sturdy, but not nearly as bulky as hiking boots. If you google "trail runners" you can see what they look like.
Cimbrone is offline  
Apr 19th, 2007, 10:55 AM
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Thank you, all for such terrific suggestions.

I don't know what hikes we will be doing yet, but I will search the forums for suggestions and for those that have a food stop along the way.

Skatedancer (and everyone!), if you have any suggestions they would be most welcome!

JuicyLucy is offline  
Apr 19th, 2007, 11:27 AM
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Just about all the hikes can be arranged around a mid-day food stop---there are mountain restaurants and huts all over.

For example, from Wengen you could ride the Mannlichen lift up, then (after going up the little summit for great views), walk the level trail to Kleine Scheidegg. There are several restaurants there. There is a trail from there back down to Wengen.

Another possibility, if you are going up the Jungfraujoch, would be to get off the train at Eigergletscher on your descent, and walk the Eiger Nordwand trail downhill to Alpiglen. This is a great trail with amazing views of the Eiger North Face. You can have a snack at the mountain hotel in Alpiglen, then catch the train back up to Kleine Scheidegg and change trains there for Wengen.

One of our favorite hikes is from Grindelwald, starting with a ride up the First gondola. We hike to the mountain hotel Faulhorn for lunch (great Nüssgipfel pastries!), but for a more leisurely hike, you could walk to the Bachalpsee, famous for its views of the mountains, and then back to the top of the First lift for lunch at the restaurant there.

These sound complicated, but the trails and the lift connections will become clear when you get there. The local hiking maps generally recommend some nice moderate hikes and show the start and end points.
enzian is offline  
Apr 19th, 2007, 12:39 PM
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I use a lightweight pair of hiking boots with a lug sole, hard toe, and some ankle support and padding. The big feature is comfort! Having a shoe that provides traction and does NOT raise blisters is absolutely essential.

If the running shoes have some toe protection they should be fine if you use them mostly the trails called Wanderwegs.

If you are going on higher and steeper trails called Bergwegs, then a hiking boot with ankle protection is necessary.

If you look at the L. L. Bean website you will see some lightweight shoes for trails.

Red Wing, the boot company, also makes some low cut shoes with lug soles and a hard toe. These tend to be relatively expensive, however, but they last a long time. The problem with a 12 year old is that his feet will probably continue to grow, so anything you buy now will be too short in a year or less.

If the young man is agile and light on his feet like my skinny grandson, he sould be ok with good traction soles with cushioning. The big thing is the traction and comfort.

I know people buy these heavy lunkers for fairly easy trails. They sure are not needed.

My boot are years old, but because they fit very well and are light in weight, I keep them and have new Vibram soles added.

There are miles of good trails in the Berner Oberland. I am sure you will enjoy your visit. I have gone there several times and hope to be back soon.
bob_brown is offline  
Apr 19th, 2007, 01:00 PM
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Thank you, Bob and Enzian. Your expertise is greatly appreciated.

JuicyLucy is offline  
Apr 19th, 2007, 01:10 PM
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I don't know if you have an REI near you (Recreational Equipment Inc) but you could also look at rei.com.

They have a hybrid shoe called a Trail Shoe or Trail Runner that is a lightweight trail shoe that crosses between a hiking boot and a running shoe.

jules4je7 is offline  
May 25th, 2007, 05:18 PM
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I have always enjoyed great performance from Timberland hikers even though I once encountered some hiking snobs that trashed Timberland hikers to my face.

There will be some walking areas that will require a genuine hiking boot instead of a running shoe.

I always wear my boots on the plane to avoid packing those things. I wear my hikers everywhere when I travel. On the trains, to dinner, wherever.

I bought backpacks and other outdoor stuff in the sporting stores in Switzerland.

Like some others, I prefer the ankle support.

Also, I highly agree with the suggestion on getting off the Jungfrau train at the Eiger Glacier station and walking down to Alpligen. The views of the Jungfrau, Eiger glacier and The North Face Eiger are just super. Good boots wil be needed on that one!!

sunstar is offline  
May 25th, 2007, 05:24 PM
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Would anybody like to speculate on whether there will be mud, any snow on trails during June 1- June5 time period? We'll be staying in Murren and hiking around for a few days.. and potential for mud, etc is the only reason i'm bringing a hiking shoe...
VeeBee is offline  
May 25th, 2007, 05:46 PM
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There should be a contact number to the tourist office in Grindlewald. No, it is not Murren, but you can get some information about weather and trail conditions from the information office in nearby Grindlewald.


I need a link to the Murren site also. Perhaps someone wil post a link to the Murren web site as well.
sunstar is offline  
May 25th, 2007, 07:03 PM
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We walked several of the trails (they were dirt, not paved, that Enzian mentions as some others in that area several years ago in late May/early June. One was was cold, snow, walking in ice and slush. One day was rain with mud. Third day was sunshine and everything dried out. No guarantees on the weather (and so trail conditions) in the mountains. They even have webcam with view of the Jungfrau down in the valley at the train stations for people to decide if the view is open at the top and they want to ride up.

We walked along the lake near Vevey and I think that was paved.
Kay2 is offline  
May 25th, 2007, 08:08 PM
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VeeBee---lucky you! Snow depends on how high you wish to go. You might try looking at the webcams--Google "Murren" with "Webcams" and you'll get an instant view of what is going on there.

There are lots of nice paved and/or well graded paths around Mürren, but if you wish to do longer hikes, you may well run into mud/rocks/ and/or cow poop and wish you had boots rather than tennis shoes.
enzian is offline  
May 25th, 2007, 08:22 PM
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I have walked many trails in the Berner Oberland. I can suggest several that need nothing special except a good sole with cushioning.

The First to Grosse Scheidegg trail needs nothing special other than traction.
The First to the Bachsee is a little rough with small rocks, so cushioning is needed, but the trail it wide and rolling.

The Pingsteg to Stieregg hike is fairly smooth as far as the site of the restaurant. If you attempt to cross the gully, you may need excellent traction. After that the way gets to be a Bergweg which is a mountain trail.

The Grutschalp - Murren hike is a piece of cake.

The Gimmelwald - Kilchbalm trail is relatively ok. I needed some cushion and a hard toe came in handy a time or two, but the trail itself is fine.

The Männlichen to Grosse Scheidegg hike is a piece of cake. The trail descends easily and without hard downward climbing.

In that vicinity, the only trail I have taken that I think requires an excellent lug sole, ankle support, and a hard toe is the Eiger Nordwand trail. This one has some gritty surfaces where the traction is essential.

If you take the trip to the Jungfraujoch, the trail to the Mönchsjochhütte is along a snow track, and you can get in snow up to your ankles, or deeper if you make a misstep.

Excellent traction is required for this trip. It is one of the most spectacular hikes you will find in the area. Nothing quite like it.

I do get amused at hiking snobs who comment adversely on lower cost hiking boots. If I took their criticism too seriously, I would not have made it to the top of some 14,000 foot peaks in Colorado. Tell them to go pound something soft.

Most people overboot and walk along with these huge clunkers on their feet that do little more than weight them down.

bob_brown is offline  
May 26th, 2007, 07:29 AM
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Hi JuicyLucy, One thing I would highly recommend from years of backpacking experience is that regardless of which footwear you decide on, the most important thing IMO is to break them in ahead of time. Have your son wear the hiking boots/shoes ahead of time for as long as possible to give them time to break in a bit and also to find if any rubbing or problem areas arise. I can think of very little that can ruin a trip more than foot pain, especially when it could have been easily avoided in the first place. I always pack a small first aid kit with moleskin, Second Skin (available at pharmacy stores) and a little duct tape. Just throw it in your daypack each day. If any of you notice any rubbing, just put a piece of duct tape on the area that is rubbing, but by no means after the skin has broken. This will help tremendously. Have a wonderful trip!!!
michele_d is offline  

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