Mid-Cut vs Low-Cut Hiking Shoes
What’s the difference?
It’s a common misconception that mid-cut hiking boots (with a higher ankle cuff) have the sole purpose of providing extra ankle support.
The differences between mid-cut boots and low-cut shoes are actually many and varied.
Firstly, let’s not discount the fact that mid boots do provide some extra ankle support (which certainly comes in handy if you’re carrying a heavy backpack on your back, which raises your centre of gravity and makes you more likely to over-balance).
But mid boots also provide other features such as extra ankle protection from cuts, grazes and bruises which are all-too-common if you venture off a well-maintained trail. They’re also more efficient at keeping feet dry if the trail is inches-deep in mud or slush.
Mid boots usually feature one or two metal lacing hooks at the ankle. This allows you to tighten the laces more efficiently and keep them securely in place during a rough hike.
In areas where snakes and other nasties hide, mid boots provide additional skin protection from bites or stings. (Who doesn’t love a little extra peace of mind?)
The higher collar also does a better job at keeping out pebbles and dirt as you explore rocky, uneven landscapes. (What’s more frustrating than dust and pebbles in-between your toes?)
On the other hand, the ankle flexibility offered by low-cut hiking shoes comes in handy when climbing up and down steep slopes and rock-hopping across lakes and streams. (This can be trickier when the ankle is more restricted in mid-cut boots.)
Experienced hikers, who have more practice with correct foot-placement on uneven terrain, are less likely to twist their ankles so they’re less reliant on the added ankle support provided by mid-cut boots.
Low-cut shoes tend to be more lightweight and minimalistic than mid-cut boots, making them more popular for shorter hikes along well-maintained trails.
Low-cut shoes can also be worn in more casual settings, like backyard barbecues and local sporting events. (Mid-cut hiking boots might look a little hardcore at your local plant nursery on a Sunday morning!)
So, at the end of the day, the type of hiking footwear you choose depends on your experience as well as your personal preference. If you’re new to the hiking scene, you might want to start with simpler hikes and low-cut, lightweight shoes. But if you’re diving into your first mega-hike with a heavy backpack, you’ll probably prefer a mid boot for added protection and stability.
Explore the examples below. Happy hiking!
By Hannah Begg
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