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.