Should I buy lighter weight boots?

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20/02/2012 at 21:31

I have a pair of Meindl Vakuum GTXs they have been fantastic and I have been singing their praises, but are coming to the end of their life after 3 years.

I'm thinking of just replacing them with the same, but since I have been making everything else lighter I figured I might entertain the idea of lighter walking boots.


Must be waterproof

Used for backpacking with a 20kg pack (a lot of which is camera gear just so that I dont get any 'what do you put in your pack' questions )

On paths, and all over Dartmoor.

Would prefer a relatively high cut

Any suggestions or should I just replace them?



20/02/2012 at 21:55
If you find them perfect then just replace them.
20/02/2012 at 22:40
Unless you've found they feel heavy or clumpy then I'd replace like with like.
20/02/2012 at 23:09
How about the Meindle Softline GTX ? Excellent boots.
21/02/2012 at 07:57
I gave up on boots a few years back and now wear trainers with mid length Sealskinz (waterproof) socks instead (unless there's snow on the ground in which case I'll wear lightweight boots). BTW my hiking alternates between Wales and Dartmoor so I'm well versed in Dartmoor's sponge-like qualities : )

I'd ask yourself why you even need to wear boots - for most people, it's one of the first things that they buy simply because that's what everyone has told them they have to have. Hell, I go barefoot in Dartmoor when the weather's good. Awesome : )
21/02/2012 at 12:45
Warhippo - how long do you get out of trainers on rough tracks? thx,
21/02/2012 at 12:59

I get between 3 months and 9 months out of my trainers. At about £60-£70 each it works out a lot. However my last Scarpa SLs cost say £160 and lasted less than a year. Then I got a pair of LaSportivas which still going, sort of, (the ankle cuff is falling apart badly) however they only got a year of use before they started to fail. They were nearly £200 IIRC even with discount. Then I got some Asolo Flames which cost about £150 but I got them for £136. They lasted less than 6 months before I had to wear sealskins in them!!

So for me it actually works out that trainers are at least as cost effective as boots even before you get me onto the improved stability and the reduction in ankle turning / ankle damage.

However, if someone is very happy with a particular boot then I would say replace like with like until you see something you feel is a lot better and worth the risk on or until they re-design it so it isn't as good for you. If it ain't broke don't fix it as far as footwear goes I think.

PS I only ever wear something like inov8 roclites when backpacking anywhere in this country. Also, depite reducing the weight of my backpacking kit I still end up overpacking and reckon it is not unusual for me to carry about 20kg of kit (for testing purposes). Did Knoydart with such a heavy load last year in trainers without issue.

21/02/2012 at 12:59
That's difficult to say as I tend to use one pair of trainers for pretty much everything (everyday use, training and hiking). Saying that, I'll buy a new pair of trainers every 18 months or so (at a guess).

My current shoe is a Hi-Tec Adventure that costs around 20 quid and they're about 2 years old and beginning to need replacing. I like them because they're cheap, have a reasonable grip pattern, are light and (most importantly for me) have almost zero heel lift (I like my shoes as flat as possible). They've performed brilliantly in all conditions in Brecon and Dartmoor - wet or dry - boggy or rocky and I've never had any problems with grip (not even when running with a pack in some pretty rocky areas). My feet certainly thank me for it : ) I haven't tried them in snow but I would anticipate that if I wore an additional pair of socks that they would be adequate (though as I've said, not preferable, for a start, they won't take a crampon).
21/02/2012 at 13:23

I have some lightweight boots: they are Montrail Stratos XCR (as worn by VG).  I also have some old fashioned full leather boots which are  Karrimors.

I am no more comfortable in my lightweight boots than I am in my old Karrimoors (nor am I uncomfortable though) so if you have a pair of boots you are happy with I'd be inclined to replace them with like for like. 

21/02/2012 at 14:44
What about the  old adage about a 1lb of weight on your feet being worth around 5lbs on your back? Just a myth or any truth in it?
21/02/2012 at 15:01
There's truth in it but most people will ignore it for two reasons : 1. They've never given the alternative (trainers / sandals / etc) a real chance so can't make a reasonable comparison 2. Not wearing boots runs even more contrary to common knowledge than the soft shell vs hard shell debate and people really don't like change : )

Dumbing it down, we've evolved to be agile and light on our feet - boots preclude that completely. I've spent years in boots and a couple of years in trainers so I feel suited to argue the case of trainers vs boots and for me, trainers win in most cases.
21/02/2012 at 15:14

I've been using approach shoes rather than boots (except in snow) for nearly a year now - I think it's time to explore the trainer option (I did once walk up Mount Ida, highest mountain in Crete at 8000ft, in sandals with no socks without any problem).

I use poles (bad knees now) so stability would not be an issue.

21/02/2012 at 15:28
I also like poles for hiking and have just started using them for trail running (I use plimsolls for running and they have all the grip of slightly roughened glass) - for me, the jury is out on them so far but for the moment, over mud, they're very useful.

For hiking I've found poles really help with balance in the rough sections but over the last couple of years I've lost quite a bit of weight and what with moving over to trainers, have found them less and less essential - still useful though.

Good luck trying out trainers, let us know how you get on.

Sorry if I hijacked the thread : )
21/02/2012 at 15:32
"Sorry if I hijacked the thread : )" Me too
21/02/2012 at 15:48

Well I've used trail shoes in snow and they are grippier than any of my boots. I keep meaning to get some spikes (pogu or hillshound or kahtoolas). They would be better for me than crampons and solid boots. I don't need to front point so the spikes are good enough but I haven't had to use them more than2 or 3 times in as many years and have always got around the problem in those cases as I haven't got any spikes yet.

On compacted snow on tracks and paths my old montrail highlanders gripped so well that I doubt spikes would give much of an advantage in real use / my useage. BTW I walk in the Lakes mostly and havn't died or been injured yet from trail shoe use. That includes scrambling.

21/02/2012 at 18:07

Hmm this is interesting. Trainers you say.....perhaps I should give that a try!

 One thing I have thought going up/coming down a mountain and kicking an unseen rock with my toe is 'thank god I'm wearing boots because otherwise that would have really hurt'

Do you guys not have problems with stubbing your toes? Its one thing with a 5kg bag when you can be really agile, but I find myself much less agile with 20kg.

21/02/2012 at 19:15
Can't say that I hurt my toes much, certainly not so that I can remember it. Boots do offer lots of protection, which is great but trainers allow you to be nimble which I prefer. I used to carry a pack that weighed around 25 kilos but now my overnight ruck weighs under 10 kilos (that's total weight including fuel, food and water) but I doubt it would make much difference footwear-wise if I had to carry more kit.

Why not give it a few tries with day hikes and sub-maximal loads - at least you can decide for yourself whether it's worthwhile or not.

BTW I very much recommend waterproof socks (such as Sealskinz) combined with trainers. I've never had problems with sweaty feet and if you get mid length socks, you can wade deeper than when wearing hiking boots and standard socks. Just my two penneth.
21/02/2012 at 19:42
"What about the  old adage about a 1lb of weight on your feet being worth around 5lbs on your back? Just a myth or any truth in it?"

Mostly myth. It originated in climbing (where it is quite relevant although i'm not sure if it's ever been proven) and isn't particularly relevant for walking. It sounds good though. By the same token we should be clothed in light weight clingfilm - not that nasty everyday heavy stuff.
22/02/2012 at 01:39

  True Parky, it's a myth.  If only I knew that before buying the Montrail Stratos eh?

22/02/2012 at 05:32
I've started wearing merrell mids, a revelation compared to the big boots I used to wear. I only carry a daysack, no more then 10k, so cannot comment on heavier loads.
I used to backpack in my younger days, wearing a variety of footwear from army boots to plimsoles. I think a pair of light weight leather boots were the most comfortable. They cost a fortune at the time at £60.
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