Hiking Gear Guide
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Do you hike in sneakers? Or do you slog around the woods and mountains wearing nothing but a set of sandals - leaving your three decade old hiking boots buried in your garage somewhere because they were too heavy, gave you blisters (read, how to prevent blisters) and were incredibly ugly?
What is wrong with you? Yeah, ok, sneakers and sandals work ok for a leisurely hike in a park, on a grassy trail or on a graded trail somewhere. But use them on rocks, in the mountains, miles from help?
|An example of a good hiking boot for day hiking - not too too or heavy, but solid in ankle support|
You see, ultimately, the vast majority of injuries that happen to people hiking in Montana isn't from people being eaten by bears, from getting lost or being mugged by a deranged backwoods drifter. No, the most common injury in Montana while hiking is twisted/broken ankles and legs - most of which were preventible if the people had the common sense to wear a hiking boot when in the backwoods of Montana.
So, unless you want to be a statistic in the local rescue page (always a popular read in the local Montana papers by the way), always, repeat always, wear hiking boots when hiking in the mountains of Montana or elsewhere. No exceptions!
And have no fear, hiking boots - particularly those designed for day hiking, have come a very long ways from those old, super heavy, leather "frankenstein" boots of yesteryear.
There are a number of reasons why it is crucial to have a good hiking boot when wandering around the backcountry of Montana or some other remote location. So let's tick them off:
Prevent Twisted/Broken Ankles & Blown Knees and Broke Legs - This should be pretty common sense stuff here, but I'm always amazed at how many people I see crawling there way back down a trail in Glacier Park at the end of the day, having twisted a ankle or their knee out while hopping over a rock.
You see, a good hiking boot - whether for day hiking or backpacking - will provide rock solid ankle support. What this means is that, while wearing the boot, you can't "roll over", or twist, your ankle like you can when wearing tennis shoes, dress shoes, etc..And, since you can't roll over your ankle, your balance is dramatically improved - particularly when hiking on wet and rocky surfaces.
The end result - You REALLY have to work at it to break an ankle when wearing a hiking boot that has solid ankle support. I suppose someone out there has managed to do it, but you do have to work at it. And, since your balance is far better, the odds of tweaking your knee or busting your leg in two has also been drastically reduced, too!
So, still want to hike around in those smelly sneakers???
Traction, Traction, Traction! - I'm still always amazed at the traction my day hiking boots provide. I usually buy pretty good quality sneakers for around town wear, but even those have awful traction in comparison to quality hiking boots. In short, with a good day hiking boot, you can, quite literally, "stick" anywhere you want to hike and wet, slippery surfaces pose far less of a threat to safe hiking.
Blisters 101 - If you like blisters, sure, go ahead and take those sneakers out on the trail. You'll quickly discover that those fancy, Nike sneakers which worked so great in town have more than a few shortcomings on a hike over long distances, especially on those that involve lots of hiking up and down in the mountains. A good, and properly fitted hiking boot, can prevent all blisters (see How to Prevent Blisters) when used with the right combination of hiking socks.
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