hiking boots or tennis shoes?

Old May 15th, 2005, 11:50 AM
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hiking boots or tennis shoes?

We are new to hiking anywhere, let alone Denali and glacier area which are our travel destinations this July. Do we need to buy hiking boots for Denali park hiking or hiking up to Exit Glacier or other hiking areas we may decide to take? If so, what type. If not, will tennis shoes do throughout our trip. Thanks.
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Old May 15th, 2005, 12:24 PM
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There are some hybrid shoes out there that aren't hikers or tennis shoes but a good cross between the two. I've enjoyed mine from LL Bean. They work well as casual shoes all the time, but are great for day hikes.

Unless you are backpacking, I don't think you need hiking boots. I haven't worn my "hiking" boots in years.

But, there are drawbacks to wearing sneakers, in particular "tennis shoes". Slicker soles designed for tennis courts (or basketball shoes designed for b'ball courts) don't give you the traction you need on trails.

Look at your sneaker bottoms to see if you think they will provide good traction. If not, consider buying new shoes that would be better for trails and can also be worn elsewhere.

If you are carrying a pack or significant loads, you would want something with ankle support. But, I think you are only doing day hikes.
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Old May 15th, 2005, 01:10 PM
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I'd invest in a good pair of Vasque Sundowner hiking boots. I've hiked with the Sierra Club many times over 10 yrs in the Laurel Highlands part of PA and these boots are close to $200 but well worth it, I still have them, they give you great ankle support, nice lug heel, and Goretex waterproofing and you never know when you'll come across a small stream or wet part of the wilderness. Even after 10 yrs these boots are still wearable and durable. Tennis really aren't good unless they are on a major marked out trail. Remember your compass.
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Old May 15th, 2005, 01:34 PM
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Even on a marked trail, I prefer hiking boots. The hybrids starrsville is speaking of should also do well. I find that tennis shoes don't give me the traction or support a day hiker will give. I start to feel every pebble if I am in tennis shoes for very long. You don't need expensive day hikers, just ones that fit. A model that fits one person won't fit the next. A good pair of socks will also make your feet happy.
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Old May 15th, 2005, 01:50 PM
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Most of the hikes at Exit are very easy and you would be fine in tennis shoes. That being said, I always prefer hiking boots to tennis shoes for outdoor exploring. In addition to the extra traction, they also have better arch support and ankle supprt. I find that on a 2-3 hour hike, I can definitely tell the difference in my feet and legs!

I don't buy the extremely expensive boots, though. My last pair (that I wore to hike Exit) were Timberland, and the current pair are Columbia. Both were purchased at local sporting goods stores for under $100.

Have fun in Alaska!
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Old May 15th, 2005, 01:50 PM
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I just bought a pair of Lowa hiking boots for our two week trip to Alasaka in June. My old pair, RIP, served my feet well on hikes in Colorado, Utah and here in TX. Hiking boots / shoes hide dirt better than a tennis shoe and if the hikers are made with Gortex they'll keep your feet warm and dry.
 
Old May 15th, 2005, 01:58 PM
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Lowa's boots (above the ankle) rule for me for every type of hiking. They are the only hiking boots I can buy and the next day I can hike 10 miles and my feet are in heaven, no blisters, no rubs, just good support and extreme comfort mile after mile.
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Old May 15th, 2005, 02:25 PM
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sneakers are just too slippery. you can get reasonable light weight hikers- they come with no ankle support ,medium and higher this is based on how high they come up around your ankle. the highest ones tend to be harder to break in (for me anyway)

you should do fine with mid ankle. you will find that you can wear them as your shoes for all occasions.

IMO investing in a "good" pair of hiking boots is expensive if you are not going to keep at it, and it takes many tries to find the boot that fits you.

go to a variety shoe store and get some hikers , merrill, hitec, i'm sure you can find what ever. you shouldn't have to pay that much for the boots, maybe 49.

i got mine at EMS for about 79.00 wore them constantly when i was there.

also wear the boots before your trip. break them in. even around your house. also wear them on the plane and take them off once in the air so you don't have to pack them.

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Old May 15th, 2005, 03:15 PM
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I would definitely get something besides tennis shoes. Go to your best local outdoor store and get fitted for boots. I swear by Lowa's for myself, but each person is different. Find what works for you. A good pair of boots that fits you will make the trip much, much better.
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Old May 15th, 2005, 05:25 PM
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I had no clue, so I thank all of you greatly for your input. I will look into each response and all of your tips before purchasing. I thank you and my feet thank you. I am sure having the wrong pair of shoes (my tennis) would make the trip miserable.
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Old May 16th, 2005, 09:46 PM
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Don't go with ``tennis shoes,'' but also avoid the heavy old style leather boots. They rarely make sense.

As starrsville mentioned, the hybrids (trail runners or light hikers) are the way to go. They are often one-third the weight of the old school waffle-soled clunkers. They are usually better on a variety of surfaces.

If you doubt how well they work, just make sure you're in Seward on July 4 and watch the Mount Marathon racers cover 3,500 vertical up and down in less than an hour -- scree, rock, dirt and snow.

If you're near an REI, they usually have a nice selection. If not, Sierra Traders is a good place to look.
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Old May 17th, 2005, 03:08 AM
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The shoe recommendation for hiking is dependend on the terrain.

Denali is in most areas trailless wilderness. Where do you want to hike? The park-internet page says, some areas have wet tundra others are dry. Be prepared for river crossings without bridges. I assume, that you do not like wet foots in a marshland or river.

On a glacier you have to hike on ice and very stony terrain. This is a different demand in comparison to the Denali and this will require a different type of shoe.
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Old May 22nd, 2005, 03:10 PM
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As far as the types of terrain we will be on, we are not exactly sure since this will be our first trip to Alaska. Our itinerary is: Anchorage-bike on the Tony Knowles Trail and most likely just walk around Anchorage since we will be there for only one day. Then we will stop at Talkeetna, go onto
Denali and hopefully be with a ranger the first day and on our own the next hiking hoping to see wildlife. We will then go onto Seward and be on the glacier/whale tour-Saltwater Lodge something I think (my husband wanted that one and booked it), we will stay in Seward for 2 days, hike up Exit Glacier, then onto Homer to do some bear viewing by emeraldairservice. They will provide special types of shoes. We will to onto Seldovia and do some hiking there. After about 3 days we will travel back to Anchorage, stopping along the way. I don't know which shoe to get for which terrain and really don't want to buy several pairs. If anyone could recommend a type of pair that would be good for wet or dry terrain, we would like to purchase something like that. We are new to hiking and don't know how much we will end up doing after this trip. Thanks.
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Old May 22nd, 2005, 03:55 PM
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You need a good lug sole, such as Vibram, for traction and something to protect the ankles in rough conditions.

My advice: do not overboot. I have seen people with these huge boots on their feet. At the end of the day, you have lifted hundreds and hundreds of pounds just raising those things up to walk.

Fit is most important also.

Light weight, fit, good lug sole, and ankle support and protection. Those are the key factors. The choice of brand is so idiosyncratic that I would not even begin to suggesta brand.

I will say this much: Mine came from L. L. Bean and I have had them resoled 3 times.
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Old May 22nd, 2005, 03:56 PM
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PS I forgot to mention ice. If you are thinking of ice walking or doing anything on ice, that is a whole 'nother ball game. You need boots firm enough and strong enough to accept crampons.
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Old May 22nd, 2005, 03:57 PM
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This is an easy one.

Get some inexpensive hybrid Hi-Tec above-the-ankle boots. They shouldn't run over $50.

I've hiked many a mile in the Sierras with these and more "serious" boots. These are the ticket. Not only are they lightweight and comfortable, but they will prevent sprained or broken ankles that tennis shoes will not resist.
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