|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
Backpacker Magazine – May 2001
Consider these points when deciding if an approach shoe is right for you.
Watch rock climbers hike into the mountains bearing huge packs loaded with ropes and gear. Then check out their footwear. Often, they're wearing technical scrambling, or approach, shoes. "How?" you wonder, and "why?" The "why" is easy: These shoes are very light, comfortable, cool, and great for trail hiking, scrambling off-trail, talus-hoppingeven lazing around camp. The "how" may be more puzzling, especially to hikers with weak ankles. Consider these points when deciding if an approach shoe is right for you:
If you encase your lower legs in big boots on every hike, your feet and ankles will never get stronger. Hiking in lightweight shoes will actually strengthen your feet and ankles and make them less disposed to injuryprovided you build up strength each season by gradually increasing the loads you carry when wearing these shoes. Exercises will also strengthen bad ankles; see a physical therapist for instruction.
Some scrambling shoes offer better support than others, but most of the models we tested manage light to moderate loads with minimal foot fatigue. That's because boot makers are using much-improved midsole technologies to increase support and stability. No longer must a light, low-cut shoe result in a sore foot after 10 miles.
Avoid these shoes if you'll encounter freezing temperatures, lots of snow hiking, or heavy rain. In big boots, you can plod along, oblivious to where your feet land. In scrambling shoes, step more carefully. Some tips: