Why we insist you wear walking boots...
If your planning to take on a mountain such as Snowdon or Ben Nevis with Large Outdoors this year read on. Its also really important for all of our long distance walks from the Yorkshire Three Peaks to our Hadrian’s Wall Walks.
It’s not an uncommon sight to see lots of people turning up to climb a mountain or go for a day walk in trainers or walking shoes. Most of them probably have an excellent day and are happy with their footwear. So why do lots of people wear boots, and what’s the point of them? Are they just an expensive fashion statement, or a way for outdoor shops to make money?
The most frequent reason you hear for wearing walking boots is that they provide ankle support, and by extending to your shin they certainly do. Ankle support is crucial in rocky terrain where your feet are placed at different angles with every step, which happens on nearly every mountain walk. The support boots provide help prevent twisted ankles, sprains, strains and even breaks, as long as the laces are done up properly of course.
Ankle support is even more important when you’re carrying a load, such as a backpack, as the risk to your ankles increases with extra weight, which your body isn’t always used to carrying. Consider the amount of weight you have on your back if you’re on a multi-day trekking trip, or even a day walk, and you’ll see what the ankles have to cope with. The extra weight raises your centre of gravity, making it more likely that a small stumble will develop into a fall or a twisted ankle. Since the vast majority of hill-walkers have some sort of bag on their backs then this is certainly a real risk.
The extra height of boots also provides cushioning to your ankle, so as well as providing support, it will also protect you from rocks that you slip into, or rocks which are loose and slide down, perhaps when climbing a scree slope or when someone above you causes one to slide. The last thing you want when walking is a bruised ankle bone caused by a rolling stone.
Another advantage of boots is that they’re waterproof, which is important as you may well have noticed that it sometimes rains in the UK, and even if it’s not raining then the ground in the hills can be wet or boggy. And if there’s anything that dampens a day it’s having wet feet, which are more likely to get cold, and also more likely to develop blisters due to the added rubbing. Walking shoes are also available made from waterproof material, but the lower top is still more likely to let in water, either from bog or from the rain – gaiters don’t work so well with shoes, and remember anything sold as waterproof doesn’t include the bit where your foot goes into the shoe!
So boots help with two hazards of the hills, ankle injuries and wet feet, and can be paired well with gaiters, which help stop everything from rain, snow and twigs getting into your boots. Feet are the most important part of a hill-walker’s body, and take all the impact, so do them justice and don’t skimp on footwear; get boots!
Author: Alex Kendall
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