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Low-cut or high-cut hiking boots?


Q. Hey Gear Guy, this question has been nagging me for so long: If I’m going backpacking should I wear boots with high ankles or ones with low ankles?
—Puzzled John, Nashville, Tenn.

A. If you’re going on a true backpacking trip and carrying a fully loaded pack, you’ll be more prone to rolling your ankle on unstable/uneven ground. So you should be wearing boots with plenty of ankle support. The higher-cut boots also protect your ankles from sharp rocks and thorns and keep you drier in wet environments.

If you’re carrying a very light pack or just doing a day hike, low-top hiking shoes are fine. They are going to be lighter weight, more breathable and more comfortable.

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14 Comments on Low-cut or high-cut hiking boots?

  1. If you can afford two pairs of hikers, by all means, buy both, and then pick and choose. But if you are a ‘thrifty’ scout, buy high tops, which can, and will, serve in any circumstances.

  2. Always buy the higher ones–more support for the ankles and more protection against snakes.

  3. HuongdaoVN58 // June 16, 2015 at 10:23 am // Reply

    All of my hiking boots are high cut even though I go hiking or backpacking. Reason is to prevent dislocating my ankles.

  4. I like 3/4 boots

  5. a lower high cut works good at bdsr in collorado i work high cut but this was in thevfoothills of the rockys where it was hilly

  6. In my opinion, it’s a matter of preference. I’ve ran tons of trails in cross country shoes, and have been fine. But I’ve also hiked miles and miles on high top boots. It’s just a matter of preference.

  7. where can i find these boots

  8. whats the name brands of those boots

  9. Anything with a nice deep tread on the shoe. If you’ll be crossing streams or mud on your trip, you should get higher boots – it will keep your socks dryer (unless you’re up to your calves – then you’re out of luck).

  10. cpt. jack daniels // July 29, 2010 at 5:23 pm // Reply

    I agree with anonymous the worst the enviorment the higher the boots so you can be completely comfortable

  11. Low– you can’t run down a fourteener in high-cut boots. I have been hiking/running trails in CO and UT for almost 30 years and I have never worn high-cut (never had an injury either). High-cuts are way to cumbersome for me. When I get on the trail it’s all about moving…. and fast!

  12. if you are hiking on a rocky slope or a steep incline wear high
    if you are hiking a level slope wear low

  13. heathbar64 // July 27, 2010 at 2:01 pm // Reply


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