Cam Honan posted the best summing up I’ve read:
1. Why choose trail running shoes over boots for three-season conditions?
2. When are boots preferable to trail runners?
3. “Wearing Your Fears” – Examining the commonly-held belief that boots provide a greater degree of protection for your ankles than low-cut footwear while backpacking.
4. “A Piece in the Puzzle“ – Why your choice in footwear should be considered an integral piece of an overall lightweight backpacking strategy.
5. A list of 15 of the top trail running shoes in today’s market.
Click through for Cam’s summary.
THE HIKING LIFE – Trail Runners Vs Hiking Boots: A 30 Year Perspective
I’ve tried most everything over the years, ending up with something in-between runners and boots – approach shoes — most often Merrell Moab2 Ventilators. Normally without a Gortex layer.
I go with Merrell as they are available online in very wide sizes. I have bunions.
I go with trail shoes as I like the durability.
Cam finds he can get about 800 mi (1,287 km) out of a good approach shoe; as opposed to trail runners which normally need to be retired after 500 mi (805 km).
I’m loath to suffer stubbed toes so prefer footwear with good protection up front.
Like Cam, I wear low-cut footwear as my ankles are healthy and I’m agile enough not to bash into rocks.
For something VERY rugged — K2 Base Camp, for example — I would take high tops or boots.
The downside of approach shoes is weight. And the smell.
After a hike where my shoes get wet I need bake them in the sun. For days.
related – Cam’s more comprehensive post – Hiking Footwear Guide