Hiking with a loaded backpack in tennis shoes vs boots

540-Virginian

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I'm an odd one in that I wear trail runners hunting and hiking vs boots. I have hiked with a backpack carrying 45 lb load many times in trail runners covering over 10 miles. Never had an issue with ankles spraining, rolling, etc. I've had an ortho surgeon say my ankles are probably stronger because I never wear boots.

But this year if I happen to get an animal to pack out, am I crazy to think I could carry the weight in trail runners vs boots? How heavy can your pack get when packing out a deer or elk? I understand it's as heavy as you'll let it get but curious if anyone else swears off boots.

If you're wondering why I avoid boots, it's because my feet breathe and I stumble less with trail runners. If my feet get wet, they dry faster. I have never gotten nasty swamp feet hunting or hiking.
 

SDHNTR

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It’s an individual thing. Only you can answer the question. For me, I have generally strong ankles too, but my arches get sore if I pack weight in trail runners. So I love trail runners until the meat packing enters the equation.
 

TheTone

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On trail or relatively easy terrain I don’t have a real issue with trail shoes. It’s when I get off trail on rougher, uneven terrain where boots make a difference for me. I’ve only packed one elk in trail shoes and it was short with pretty easy terrain, my feet were still sore when I was done
 

*zap*

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minimalist trail runners are the most 'natural' for your body, feet and posture. I wear very minimalist runners daily for everything including hard work....that said for very heavy packing.....boots & trekking poles may be good to have. Make sure you break in your feet to the boots first.
 
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540-Virginian

540-Virginian

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minimalist trail runners are the most 'natural' for your body, feet and posture. I wear very minimalist runners daily for everything including hard work....that said for very heavy packing.....boots & trekking poles may be good to have. Make sure you break in your feet to the boots first.
I do use trekking poles good point tho
 
OP
540-Virginian

540-Virginian

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On trail or relatively easy terrain I don’t have a real issue with trail shoes. It’s when I get off trail on rougher, uneven terrain where boots make a difference for me. I’ve only packed one elk in trail shoes and it was short with pretty easy terrain, my feet were still sore when I was done
Good point i have carried loads on hiking trails not off trail..
 

Poser

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I do much of my summer scouting in trail shoes because they are far less hot. I’ve never packed a load more than 45-50# in them, though. One thing to note about shoes and carrying the weight of a pack is that you will blow shoes at a extremely accelerated rate. Shoes that are normally good for 500 miles are pretty broken down by 300 miles etc. a week long scouting trip can easily eat up 1/3rd of the performance life of a pair of boots so, a long, heavy packout, say 100+ lbs for a couple of consecutive days is going to eat your shoe life for breakfast.
 

Wrench

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I picked hucks this last weekend in tennis shoes. On a steep side hill i had one spin on my foot. That almost sucked much bad. With 70 plus pounds, I may have to hit the sos button with a broken ankle.

If terrain is favorable....they're awesome, when not....not.
 

Bearwhisky

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The difference between what your body and feet go through to carry a 45 lb pack and a 70 lb pack is astronomical. The difference to a 100 lb pack is even greater. Unless you want to make 20 trips, you are going to be up in that neighborhood packing out an animal. Packing a 100 lb pack out in tennis shoes is begging for an injury, or long term foot issues at a minimum.


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easilyamused

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Load up your pack with 80+ pounds and go for a test loop with shoes and see how it goes for you. I know for my feet im pretty happy with shoes or light hikers up to about 35, but id never want to be out hunting and have to pack something out in them.
 

Bearsears

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I could never pack heavy loads in tennis shoes. I even use different shoes for lifting at the gym than I do running to protect me feet knees hips etc. I prefer stiff boots but these days stiff doesn't have to mean heavy either. My biggest worry would be flattening out your arches trying to do that. If you really wanted to then I'd at least get some custom made insoles like sheepfeet to give you proper support.
 

P Carter

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I hunt exclusively in trail runners, but keep a pair of boots in the truck to swap out after the first trip on a pack out.
 

mighteywhitehunter

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Its all good until its not.... I use good boots so that no matter the terrain or how heavy the weight is in my pack I will be able to manage it.
 

Marble

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Even with somewhat decent boots, Danners at the time, two 100 pound pack out trips bruised my feet for two weeks.

I now have better boots and insoles and have made other trips with packs like that with no issues with my feet.

March through September I hunt in trail runners and will continue to until in them until I'm on a hunt where there is a possibility of a heavy pack outs.

I would encourage the OP to keep doing what he's been doing, unless he faces a heavy pack out. Then put on your boots.

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sndmn11

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You will probably be more likely to hurt yourself in taller boots because they do not have the flexibility your runners do and your body, gait, etc. is used to what you can do in the runners.
 

JW7

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Get some lightweight breathable boots like under Armour or Oakley. They’re like shoes but with ankle support for heavy loads.
 

Dioni A

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I'm in the same camp boot and shoe wise. I'd get a light hiking boot like a Salomon x ultra, 4d gtx or maybe crispi lapponias. They're basically a tall heavy duty tennis shoe. I've one tripped deer and hunting gear a bunch of times in salomons.
 

*zap*

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My opinion:

Minimalist footwear is very good for your body but may require time to get used to. Now everything has its place....BUT, wearing heavy duty boots for all your outdoor activity is like always relying heavily on trekking poles for hiking......yes they make it easier but your denying your body the chance to improve. For centuries men carried heavy loads basically barefoot....but back then their T levels were 4x the average of todays man.

Ya'll should do what you want to do but also keep an open mind. Now, just the topic of walking is somewhat controversial with the heel strike vs ball of foot impact in debate...I think mid-foot or ball of foot impact for all foot travel is what to strive for. Minimalist shoes are made to accentuate that and with real minimalist shoes you really feel the jarring of a heel strike.... Happy packing to all.
 
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