Hiking Boots <changes to a much softer voice so as not to offend anyone> for seniors

You do get Google results when you search hiking boots for seniors. But I wanted to ask here to anyone in whatever you think the “senior” age group is if you have any recommendations for the best hiking boots for seniors. I can’t tell you specifically what I’m looking for, but one thing that comes to mind are boots that maybe make it less likely that you would lose your balance. I used to live in Florida and this was no big deal. Now I live in the Atlanta area and tree roots and ups and downs are a very big deal. Thank you for any suggestions!

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Well…I’m not a senior, but I have been through a couple of pairs of Asolo boots that are now discontinued, but the brand is still around. They’re pricey, but with hikers you get what you pay for. Make sure you get a size or two bigger than you usually wear; this keeps your toes from jamming into the front of the boot when you are going downhill.

Anyway…if you haven’t worn real hiking boots with stiff uppers and soles, you might take a while to get used to them. But the stiffness keeps your foot and ankle secure and your foot basically planted where you put it. The Asolo boots I have don’t require a lot of break in and that’s another reason I love them. Some boots take many miles to become comfortable.

Pay attention to weight - again, the lighter usually the more expensive, but the less taxing for long days. Gore-Tex is your friend if you hike in wet areas.

Look for removable insoles if you wear orthotics. I’ve used some before when the footbed was very hard and they helped.

If this seems too much, a pair of what I call ‘glorified sneakers’ may be the ticket. They usually have Vibram soles and a bit more sturdiness in the uppers, but aren’t nearly as stiff as a real hiker.

Insofar as balance goes, there are hiking poles to assist, but even better, get a two by four or a big rope and practice walking on it. Some parks have courses for fitness that include balance apparatus and I find them fun and useful for staying right side up. I’ve been a weight lifter all my life and my bones are super dense and probably hard to break, but I don’t want to put my theory to the test!

All with a grain of salt since I’m only in my early 50s, but that’s what I can think of that might help.

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@Kris_Smith, thanks so very much!

You’re welcome. Oh and pay attention to the toe box as well. You want plenty of room up there!

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Hi Barbara. I don’t have any specific brands or models to recommend because everyone’s feet are so different. I would heartily recommend finding a good local hiking equipment retailer to visit. Something like REI is usually good, though you still want to make sure you find an experienced salesperson in the boot department. They can help you get something that fits properly and if you have pressure points can work with you on creative lacing patterns to relieve that issue. I have narrow heels and wide toes and it can be hard to find that combination. You can also look at ankle high work boots. That’s what I use currently. Keen makes most of it’s products with a wide toe box and their work boots felt better than their hikers the last time I was shopping. They’ve held up well for me. (OK, that is a product recommendation).

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Thanks very much, Dennis.

As a very experienced walker and hiker, my two cents worth: everybody’s ankles are different and therefore I don’t think you can make generalizations about high or low cut, stiff or not. I have “weak” ankles and prefer high cut boots. For years I hiked with very stiff boots, leftover from lots of backpacking in the 70’s and 80’s when stiff boots were the thing. When I switch to light boots (still high) I was amazed at the difference. I could walk much farther without muscle fatigue in my hips because with each lift up of my foot I was lifting less weight. Regarding stiff or not, I think the best you can do is try on a pair of stiff and a pair of not stiff and walk around in the store and see which makes you feel more secure. You will be amazed at how different each brand will feel. The single most important thing is that they fit your foot well. I think specific brand recommendations are not very useful because every brand fits differently and in the end what feels best on your foot is what is best for you. Dennis’s advice is well taken. If you can get to an REI, try on every pair they have in your size until you find one the “feels” right. You will know it when you put them on and walk around. And an experienced salesperson can help you.

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Thank you very much, Tony.

While we are on the topic of being old and falling, I read an article (can’t remember where or when, sorry) that said when physically active seniors fall, they tend to break their arms more often than their hips, which is a good thing: an arm fracture is less serious that a hip fracture. Something about being active makes you reflexly extend your arm to break the fall, which reduces the stress on you hip joint and bones. Maybe its true or not, but I think one can take from that that it is good to be active. And, many hip fractures result fall falls in the home. So, stay active!

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Take it for what it’s worth. I have had Merrell Moabs and the Keen Targhee, and both did the job well. The Moabs are more of a sneaker/light hiker. The Keens are more sturdy. As I got older, my feet got wider, and the Keen boots come with a wider toe box and in wide sizes, so my current hiking boots are Keens.

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Thanks very much, Ed!

Hi Barbara, I think everyones suggestions are good and I’ve had my feet in all those shoes… Asolo, Keen, Merrell… They’re all good for conventional hikers. I also think it’s good advice to maybe go to a hiking store where someone can help you, which I’ve gone through that too, REI, local hiking stores, local specialty shoe, etc… I’m not a senior but I have major foot problems from lyme disease and the one type of shoe that’s really helped me is a barefoot shoe. I’ve been wearing barefoot shoes for about 6 years now and I would say as far as balance goes it really helps, because you’re strengthening your foot muscles to do what they were meant to do. Also you can feel the ground and I think it helps your feet all the way up to your brain to be more aware of the terrain and surroundings. I used to do only shoes, like Merrell barefoot trail glove. I also have really liked Joe Nimble. But I can’t find the exact models any more. Now that my Joe Nimbles, which are boots, have no tread left I’m waiting on an order I placed for Vivobarefoot hiking boots. I’m excited about these because the company lets you try them for 100 days and if you’re not happy you can return them! So in my opinion, that’s the only way I can make a good choice on hikers. You should be able to find even some local shoe stores that also have that kind of guarantee, for me personally that’s the only way I can know if a shoe/boot will work for me. Not walking around in a store with a salesman breathing down my neck and not walking around inside at home. Oh, and BTW, my Joe Nimble boots, which I’ve worn almost every day for 3 years, are still in such good shape that after I get this pair of Vivobarefoot boots in the mail I’m going to have them resoled. I’m just adding that because these are expensive, over 200 but worth it because they last forever!

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Agree! Since I’m retired I spend a lot of time barefoot or in really minimalist shoes. When I walk for exercise I’ve used a barefoot shoe for about 10 years now and it’s done wonders for my feet. Not that I do it often, but when I wear heels it’s even easier than it was when I wore them all the time. Yesterday I was in stiff boots, but no problems although it does feel weird at first. Shoes? What are those? :laughing:

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Thank you, @vanessa !

You’re welcome! Hope it helps!