Trainers on the hills, moors and mountains

Scarpa Nepal Boots

Scarpa Nepal Boots

Right, it’s time for me to have a bit of a rant (so it might not be a very cohesive post) Yesterday i read and watched a lot of news stories concerning the rise in the number of call outs that the various Mountain and search and rescue teams had received this year.

Each report mentioned that the increase was mainly due to people venturing into the hills without the correct gear. Having witnessed many people heading off onto the North Yorkshire Moors or up into the Lakeland fells with nothing more than the clothes they were wearing and a map on the back of a leaflet, i can see their point.

What really wound me up was the constant point that you shouldn’t head off walking in anything other than hiking boots, this may surprise some of you reading this, but boots aren’t essential.

For many years i have walked in hiking boots and covered thousands of miles, mostly in complete comfort, over the last few months as the weather has been rather hot and sunny i got sick of my feet being far to hot in my big clunky Scarpa Nepal Boots (Don’t get me wrong they are fantastic boots). So i started to look for a lighter alternative.

A friend who’s blog i follow, PTC, is for want of a better phrase, a light weight loon, he is in the very privileged position of being able to test some of the hiking world’s gear. He loves nothing more than heading up into the stunning scottish hills kitted out in the latest lightweight fabrics and his purple buff.

Now here’s the catch, no matter what the weather, PTC is rarely seen in traditional hiking boots, the closest he gets is probably a lightweight pair of montrail mids which are half way between a boot and a shoe. So after many hours of research i decided something like the montrails was the way to go for summer walking, I hunted around for weeks on end trying to find something light, grippy and most importantly in a UK Size 13.

Now that’s quite a difficult task, not only have the UK shops picked up on lightweight evolution they also don’t seem to realise people have big feet, with most stores refusing to stock anything over a size 11.

Lightweight Hiking Trainers

Lightweight Hiking Trainers

To cut a long story short i happened to come upon a pair of budgie green Salomon xa pro 3d ultra in the sale and the only size they had was my size! It was fate, i tried them on and they fit perfectly, i handed over my cash, chucked the box in the recycler and headed for the hills (well the moors to be precise).

During the walk i hardly noticed i was wearing the “trainers”, i didn’t feel any less sure footed, in fact i possibly felt a bit more connected to the ground as the soles gave greater feedback. After the walk my feet weren’t achy or sore, they weren’t even hot and sweaty, This was the moment i was converted to lightweight footwear or to put it simply “Trainers”

I have even started walking in my sandals (see pic) on the really hot days, they offer a fantastic amount of grip while keeping my toes protected and my feet bathed in cool air.

I’m not for one second suggesting you all bin your boots and run off an buy some bright green trainers, after all i sill love my boots and if i am carrying all our camping gear i still wear them.

I just can’t believe that the reporters and journalists are singling out not wearing boots as one of the main reasons people are getting into trouble in the hills and having to call the mountain rescue.

While i whole heartedly think that something needs to be done to reduce the callouts, i think that instead of pointing out how important boots are they should instead, be pointing out the importance of taking some waterproofs, an insulating layer and a hat and gloves, even in the summer, you never know when the weather will change so it is important to be prepared.

Hiking Sandals

Hiking Sandals

They should also remind people that a proper map and compass is required along with knowledge of how to use it, it’s all right carrying something but if you haven’t got the first clue on which way round it goes, it becomes utterly useless.

Most importantly having some common sense and knowing your limits goes a long way in the hills, knowing when to turn back can get you out of all sorts of potentially sticky situations.

Anwyay that’s my rant over, I’m off to do some gardening and chill out a bit.


  1. Woolpack Dave
    Aug 30, 2009

    When I first saw your tweet about this I did wonder – of course boots are important, it’s all part of the being properly prepared malarkey. However, your post is nice and ballanced, of course it is OK to walk the fells in “trainers”, although I do think bright green ones should be banned. It’s all about “common sense and knowing your limits”. Unfortunately, too many tourists lack that.

    Too many don’t know how to read a map, and then it’s all down to us to find a solution to their self inflicted situation.

    • Moggy
      Aug 30, 2009

      how about orange trainers then??? ill make sure im not wearing the green ones when i pop in ;o)

  2. Paul FS
    Sep 2, 2009

    Couldn’t agree more mate. There’s too much emphasis on what not to wear, instead of basic hill knowledge e.g. map reading, compass skills, taking someone who knows where they’re going etc.

    One thing that annoys me is the way some seasoned hillwalkers seem to get so uppity and holier than thou if they see someone in (God Forbid) jeans on a hill!!! Well bugger me backwards with a spanner they could die!! And they’ve got their sarnies in a carrier bag!!! What are they thinking? They might have a wet lunch!!! I’m happy to be proved wrong but I reckon if you trawl the Mountain Rescue websites you’ll find more people in trouble because of poor navigation, poor judgement of daylight hours etc than poor choice of footwear.

    I know we shouldn’t condone people going up hills in flip flops, but I think if someone gets out there and discovers a love of the outdoors, the kit and the knowledge can be built bit by bit. We can’t be discouraging people because they can’t afford an ME Ogre and a pair of Paclite Berghaus pants. 9 out of 10 Catbells walkers have probably never even heard of Goretex and that’s no bad thing. Far better to applaud someone for giving it a go and then point out that they’d be far more comfy with a waterproof (even a £5 regatta pacmac) than an umbrella. Even a Radley umbrella.

    It’s important that people are prepared – as Moggy says – but let’s understand the difference between dangerous (Bowfell in flip flops) and uncomfortable (wet jeans on Catbells).

    Speaking of utterly useless compass – I came across a group of young people at the 3 tarns between Bowfell and the Crinkles in the mist. The guy who was leading was reading his compass upside down – and was lost. When he asked my advice – I tried not to embarrass him in front of his mates so held the compass against the map and showed him how Bowfell was in one direction and Crinkle’s in the other, trying to gently point out that North was THAT way. He told me I didn’t have a clue what I was talking about and led his group off to the Crinkles, (he wanted to go to Bowfell). I tried again to tell him, but he wasn’t having it. BUT he and all his mates were wearing brand new state of the art gear. So they obviously knew what they were doing.

  3. Moggy
    Sep 2, 2009

    thanks for the post mate, makes great sense, don’t forget the alpkit jeans though ;o)

  4. Paul FS
    Sep 2, 2009

    The Jeanius Jeans?

    I’m looking forward to the Alpkit fundamental flip flops!

    • Moggy
      Sep 3, 2009

      yeah thats the ones!! i’ve had a few funny looks when wearing them ;o)

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