Trail running shoes are perfect for light hiking
August 20, 2009
After suffering long treks in hiking boots for years, I finally wised up and listened to my inner voice – the one that kept telling me to get the equivalent of comfortable shoes to wear when an outing doesn’t require a beefy boot.
Don’t get me wrong. My boots are broken in, serviceable and appropriate when, for example, I need the ankle support because I’m lugging a backpack or when jagged, rocky terrain would wear on my feet without rugged boot soles for protection. These conditions, however, don’t apply to 95 percent of the hikes I’ve taken this summer, and my boots tend to hurt some spot or another on my feet after a few hours in them.
After trying on a bunch of shoes, I took a deep breath and plunked down a serious wad of cash for a pair of Salomon XA Comp 4 trail-running shoes. They’re waterproof and “built to perform in rugged terrain and ideal for adventure running,” according to the promotional literature.
I try never to run during my adventures (or any other time, for that matter), but the shoes are a dream for hiking. They get high marks for traction, especially on wet, slick surfaces, and I waded into a rocky stream to fly fish with them once without difficulty.
I spent my first week after I bought the shoes wearing them to work, figuring I’d break them in. It wasn’t necessary. I slipped my custom orthotics into them and they fit like a dream from the get-go.
Then I started hiking in them and they got muddy. Then I started hosing them off at the end of every weekend so I could keep wearing them to work – they’re so comfy. In other words, I’ve been pretty much wearing them seven days a week.
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My only criticism is of their “Quickfit” lacing system – one pull is supposed to tighten them to a precise fit. I remain unconvinced and am dreading the day the single cord that constitutes a shoelace inevitably breaks. I’m sure they’re a pain to replace. A replacement set is $6 at REI, but the store assures me they’ll provide replacements for free since I bought the shoes there. Still, who’s going to drive to Grand Junction for shoelaces?
Probably me – because I love these shoes.