Trail runners instead of boots


Posted: Mon, Sep 3, 2018, 17:51

Is it fine to hike in a pair of solomon trail running shoes or do I need proper boots for north part of GR20?

I'm mostly concerned about the protection from rocks, bushes and getting full shoes of some trash, because they are low-cut and made of mesh.

The grip seems to be even better than those of boots.

I'm NOT one of those people who always hike in running shoes, I previously used them only for day hikes and running, but they are super stable, plus I always use poles, plus for me my ankles seem to be enough strong and stretchy from hikes and ballet classes.

I'm going in October if that does matter.


Posted: Mon, Sep 3, 2018, 18:02

I used boots on my first trek along the GR20. Never again. I've used shoes on all my other treks, but it really just depends on what you prefer for step rock and stony ground.


Posted: Tue, Sep 4, 2018, 7:04

For me I always have both with and trainers. Especially so for the Northern more rocky part of the route. Options are then available. Boots, for my use leather, on most of the trail and trainers for the evening when in camp. Trainers could be used for walking on some of the easier Southern stages.
Maybe also to be considered that when shouldering a fairly heavily loaded rucksack on the rougher ground the possibility to stumble is possibly greater when using the trainers/running shoes?
I have witnessed some very trashed and patched-up trainers on folks feet and heavily bandaged lower legs when I came up from the South....maybe the lasting properties of the running shoes are not so great on a multi stage trip?




Posted: Tue, Sep 4, 2018, 7:53


when it comes to footwear it is always a matter of personal choice. Personally I feel more comfortable in my boots, but a large number of hikers walk in trainers/trail running shoes. True to be told, the northern section has a very demanding and rough terrain and I too witnessed badly patched up too flimsy running shoes.
Some time ago I too bought a pair of Hoka One One Tor Ultra Hi trail running shoes
but I had to go back to my boots because these running shoes have a too flexible sole that would not hold the footing while walking some traverse sections (they would bend down sideways instead of staying up).
I don't know if this is a "feature" of all running shoes, but i certainly can't try them all.



Posted: Tue, Sep 4, 2018, 9:33

My shoes of choice are made by Inov8, so they are designed for mountain and trail runners. I can't run to save my life, but I like the fact that the shoes are fairly robust, yet light and comfortable. I would expect a pair to last the GR20 without suffering damage. The only problem with Inov8 is that they make so many styles with so many fittings. It would take anyone a while to figure out which shoes were the best for them. They discontinued my favorite style and I had to figure out which other models in their range would suit me best. Pay attention to the soles. Some are made for walking on rocky or stony ground, while other soles would wear out very quickly.


Posted: Tue, Sep 4, 2018, 9:48

No matter what kind of sole you have, statistically after the GR20 you need a sole replacement and sometimes you just need to dump your worn out shoes altogether. My boots are in for a sole replacement.



Posted: Tue, Sep 4, 2018, 12:22

After a GR20 trek I would still expect to get some wear out of my shoes, and would keep them for an easy trail or two before binning them. I usually have three pairs of shoes in action at any time. A new pair for the next rugged trail - a used pair for the next easy trail or two - and a very used pair for simple day walks before they go in the bin. Boots are reserved only for very wet trails, deep snow or glacier walking (with crampons).


Posted: Tue, Sep 4, 2018, 15:31

Thanks for all your replies!

So, after all, it seems to be more or less as I supposed: I can walk in shoes if I want to and know what I'm doing, but they may happen to be not enough sturdy.
If something really bad had happened to those "trashed trainers guys", we would have knew. So I guess they maybe damned their choice of footwear but completed the trail.

Going in October, I know I may have to leave because of weather. I don't want to put myself in danger or simply spoil the trip walking in clouds and not seeing anything. If i have to leave because of wrong gear - well, that will be more stupid, but won't break my heart, because this time it's more of a try than serious intent.


Posted: Tue, Sep 4, 2018, 21:44

The obvious compromise is to use what might be generically called trek shoes or approach shoes. Lighter and less restrictive than boots, they are mostly as robust as boots (similar sole etc). That's what we used in 5.10's and my partner in Scarpa's. No issue with robustness. In fact, no issues at all. And they weren't thrashed by the journey.

Trail runners are great but could be a little too light and tend to suffer in wet conditions.

There are lots of options, brands, styles, etc of trek shoes on the market and some are as expensive as boots. Choose carefully and make sure they have been broken in (though if they fit properly, little breaking in should be needed). Most good climbing shops carry a good selection.

Don't forget not to stint on socks. Good wool socks or similar will pay dividends.

Bon chance.




Posted: Wed, Sep 5, 2018, 12:34

Hello Kevski,
Many thanks for that...I am ancient and need obviously to be introduced to the new models of footwear...and of the difference between trail runners and the Trekking shoes. Usefully of course you have first hand knowledge of these shoes worn in Corse.
I have looked up some of these models and as you say the price between these and a decent pair of boots is not a huge amount.

I must say that the trashed footwear that I have seen are no more looking that what I would call trainers.




Posted: Fri, Jan 25, 2019, 18:33

Each to his own :) I recommend light boots with some protection. Some stages have lots of loose rocks, where I’d hate to wear trail runners,


Posted: Mon, Jan 28, 2019, 20:47

Dear Mewria,
In 2016 I did a week thru hike in the Spanish Pyrenees on the GR11 wearing 1 of the heavier trail runners : Salomon X Ultra 2 : total weight of the pair was 830grams, so not at all the lightest. But anyway I know for sure that the sole of that Salomon would have been too soft for the GR20 (for me).
On the GR20 you walk on stones, stones and stones (maybe just not 100% :) : rocky and sharp !
You often balance from one sharp stone edge to the other. And with a backpack of 10kg or more you already for sure feel that in the sole of your foot. Too soft soles, ofcourse influenced by the weight you carry, also can be tiresome for the feet.
The trailrunners i saw there suited best ofcourse the actual runners carrying almost nothing, and some ultra lightweight backpackers. People with heavier backpacks I saw more then once with torn trailrunner mesh due to more easily slipping on moving stones or pebbles and sharp rocks. The less experienced on rocky terrain the more that can happen ofcourse.
Other thing i experienced in the Pyrenees : carrying a backpack going down for long time the Salomon's laces (low shoe remember) did not keep my feet in perfect place in the shoes endangering my toes, despite even having a large enough shoe . I do not know if that is the case for all low shoes/trailrunners but with all the many hours of steep descend on the GR20 my toes would not have survived.
Finally, as I do not like heavy sturdy boots with soles so stiff that your legs hurt after walking all day because your footsole and ankle are kept "free from work" in the boot, i needed and looked for a low boot that does not have to support ankles (train them!)
- with a sole sturdier then trailrunners to give more support on rolling or sharp stones
- but the sole still has to bend following the movements of the foot (not too sturdy not too flexible)
- and ofcourse the higher positioned laces keep the feet better in place when descending
So i ended up with the Mammut Mercury Mid GTX : total weight of the pair was 830grams.
They will not last as long as more sturdy/heavy hiking boots but did a perfect job. I even took them in 2018 to Chilean Patagonian Torres Del Paine where i did the O-trek and rained 6 out of the 9 days (including 2 days of snow).
Lastly for fun I can share my trick to compare the resistence of the sole of new shoes with my Salomon : find and bring in the store a small pebble, sharp pointed like e.g. pyramid shape, so you can put it on the ground and press your foot on it. Nobody has to notice it if you don't want to.

While nobody can tell you what footwear works best for you, I hope you find something usefull in all the comments :) and as you can read we all learned much by just going for it !




Posted: Wed, Jan 30, 2019, 5:18

From my experience I would go for something really beefy if deciding to choose trail running shoes. And IMO trainers should not be considered as they are not adequate for certain sections. But this does also depend on the season and weather! For example there are some sections, that even when dry, are really steep and you need lots of grip, especially with a heavy pack. Now imagine if those sections are wet or are covered in snow, then trainers or lightweight trail running shoes are not totally adequate and you will slip and fall.

Now if you were to get perfect weather throughout, I reckon you could get away with using light-weight trail running shoes (if not carrying a heavy pack), but you'll go through some pain on the sharp rocks, and I personally wouldn't risk it.

My recommendation is lightweight boots. I would also go for something waterproof/resistant and breathable using goretex or similar, which means spending a bit of money.

Here is a video showing potential conditions in June:
It's good to watch the whole video too, to see how these guys struggle a bit with their trainers and trail running shoes. They did a great job in the end but it really did seem that boots would have been a better choice for these conditions.


Posted: Tue, Feb 12, 2019, 12:51

As for me, the best shoes are Brooks Ghost 11 Using them for ages and completely happy about them!