The Vento Mids
The Vento Mids (courtesy, Lowa)

What’s the right footwear for multi-day backpacking: trail runners or hiking boots?

I'm looking for cross-over footwear for hiking. I'm not so much into the high-top thing. What is the best shoe/boot for multi-day backpacking with a 25- to 30-pound pack? S Tujunga, CA

The Vento Mids

I try to discourage people from hiking with a load on low-tops, but I understand the appeal. It’s more comfortable. But you have to remember: No low-top will “support” your ankle. I don’t like trail runners because they all have EVA midsoles, which in my view are too soft to support a hiker and 30 pounds worth of gear, especially on tough terrain.

The Vento Mids The Vento Mids

How about a mid-height? They’re about as comfortable as low-tops, but typically have tougher, more supportive construction. Case in point: Lowa‘s Vento Mid hikers ($160). Breathable leather/mesh uppers, comfortable fit, and a polyurethane midsole that can take a load. Vasque‘s Kota Mid ($130) have EVA midsoles, but a dual-density type for a bit more heft. Like the Vento’s you’ll find that the Kotas make you feel a bit more stable on the trail.

If you must try a trail runner, try Kayland‘s Dragonfly ($120). A tough shoe, with a sturdy midsole and construction that can take some trail abuse. Or La Sportiva‘s FC 2.0 GTX ($140), which is really a light boot minus a top. Very tough, and comfortable.

Come talk to me again when your ankles fold under on you.