I went on a road trip last weekend to try and find hiking boots that would fit my feet. My old boots, a pair of Reichles by Mammut, are still wearable, and I may wear them still on occasion, but they now leak. Their waterproof membrane is no longer waterproof and that restricts their use to trips where I would want to be keeping my feet dry. Which is most of my trips at this point.

Maybe someday I’ll be one of those hikers who wears lightweight shoes while backpacking, striding through streams and letting my feet dry as I hike on, but for now, I’m still a waterproof kind of hiker.

Although I did let myself be convinced to give trail runners while backpacking a try. I bought a pair of Altra trail runners, and I’m going to give them a shot. They are waterproof, so I’ll still have that, but they are low top, and I’ll admit a little nervousness about not having the extra ankle support. I’ll have to be more careful with how I step.

The main reason that I went with these shoes is that my feet are pretty wide and while I began my backpacking career without being a stickler for boots that fit my feet, I have become a fervent believer that it doesn’t matter how much the footwear costs – I need to protect and care for my priceless feet. So I need to be picky, even though it means I end up crying in front of the clerk at the REI flagship store.

There is a version of this shoe that is a mid-height instead of a low, but they didn’t have it in stock so I decided to just try this. This kind of shoe has been used by many people hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, and I’m not going to be putting that many miles on my feet – at least, not all in one season. So I’ll test these shoes as much as I can. I’ll run with them, hike with them, even do the Spartan Race with them to really put them through the wringer.

Only time will tell if I can make the transition from boot hiker to trail runner hiker.

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