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Work boots for hiking?

Q. I don’t have a pair of hiking boots, but I do have a pair of Georgia Giant work boots that come eight inches over the ankle. Would they work? Or should I get a pair of hikers instead?
— Nathan the Giant, Rio Dell, Calif.

A. First off, remember you don’t have to have any kind of special gear to enjoy the outdoors. Of course, you can hike in those work boots and be just fine. That said, with those eight-inch high ankles and steel toes they are what I’d call “overkill” for hiking. You’ll definitely be more comfortable on the trail with a pair designed specifically for hiking. If you’ll be hiking (and not backpacking) you can get away with a low-cut hiking shoe that is almost as lightweight and comfortable as a running shoe but with beefier hiking-specific traction. If you’ll be carrying a backpacking pack, then you’ll want a heavier-duty boot that provides plenty of over the ankle support too.

For more help and hiking shoe and boot buying tips, check out this Gear Guy buyer’s guide here.

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10 Comments on Work boots for hiking?

  1. Ive been a regular day (and i mean ALL DAY) hiker for years and I always wear my work boots. Timberland pros. Both steel toed and just plain hardened toe. I cannot even tell you how many times ive been glad to have them on my feet when i come across muddy trails, shallow water crossings, or surprise (or not so surprise… Iike a rainy hike some days) thunderstorms. Theyre great in the snow too.

  2. I do a variety of outdoor activities including hiking and backpacking in 6″ soft toe red wing work boots, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. If you take them out and you’re happy with how they perform, don’t second guess it.

  3. i wear them all the time even at the gym i asked the question

  4. skinny willy // June 3, 2011 at 2:10 pm // Reply

    I use Asolo brand hiking boots and they work great for any outdoor activity.

  5. there not steel toe

  6. Big George // May 24, 2011 at 4:33 pm // Reply

    The type of boot needed varies with the load on your back; a heavier load will require taller and stiffer the ankle support. You need to prevent ankle over-extension and twists. Blisters are a nuisance, but strained or torn tendons are for life. I would say no to steel toed boots for any hiking. Wear “Tennis shoes” only when nothing is on your back and the terrain is flat and mild.

  7. Weird.

  8. "80" Philmont // May 15, 2011 at 8:40 pm // Reply

    I used a pair of work boots my dad bought me when he worked at the post office. They were very comfortable and made of leather. If they fit you good and you can walk in them and they are comfortable by all means. I would upgrade to better insoles though.

  9. Thrifty dad // May 13, 2011 at 5:38 pm // Reply

    I got a pair of timberland pro steel toe work boots couple months back. Went on a three mile hike four days after getting them. Some of the other leaders thought I was a little crazy to wear them without breaking them in a little more, but they were great!

  10. Anonymous // May 13, 2011 at 4:04 pm // Reply

    Just get whatever shoes you’re comfortable hiking in. Whenever I go on hikes, I only have one pair of comfortable tennis shoes so I wear those and I do just fine. Its mainly about preference.

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