Meet GORE-TEX® Products fan Tyler Norris. For those who know him personally, the mountains are more often his home than the residence he pays rent for. We asked him to walk through his experience with tennis shoes, and why he made the switch to hiking boots.

A couple weeks ago I read an article titled “5 Reasons To Ditch Your Hiking Boots” by CleverHiker. The writer talked about thru-hikers using tennis shoes (mostly trail running shoes) on longer hikes because they couldn’t handle the weight and bulkiness of hiking boots.

Let me be clear, I’m not saying Dave Collins of CleverHiker is wrong in his assessment, as much as I’m saying not everyone can or should ditch hiking boots outright. To do so, I’m going to walk through my personal decision to stop hiking in tennis shoes, only use hiking boots, and why I haven’t gone back.

1. Hiking boots traction action

I attribute one of my most embarrassing hiking moments to a pair of tennis shoes. I was walking around in my tennis shoes at Fossil Springs and slipped backward on some rocks. Lucky for me, the fall hurt my pride more than my body. But imagine that misfortune on a serious section of a hike. Embarrassment is nothing compared to a fall from perilous heights.

Tennis shoes may excel on concrete or groomed trails, but they’re often too flexible to give you uncompromised traction in the wild. Many hiking boots feature Vibram soles and heel brakes that deliver optimal control on the trail. I’ve learned that a lack of traction is a step in the wrong direction.

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