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alps & cities-hiking boots?

We're spending 2 weeks in Switzerland and then 2 weeks in Italy in Sept. We're planning lots of walking and hiking. I was planning to wear hiking boots and bring walking shoes. I figured I'd wear the boots in Italy too but now I'm thinking it will probably be too warm. I like having the ankle support for hiking but I don't want to lug boots around that I'm going to wear for only half the time. Anyone else been in this situation? Maybe the low hikers are good enough? I just don't want to twist an ankle or pass on a fun rocky hike. Thx.

Posted by
5837 posts

Most of my European holidays include as a primary component outdoor activities. I use light weigh hiking boots (light in comparison to mountain boots, no crampons) for walking/hiking trips. I use low top hikers as my waliking around footwear for winter ski trips. In both cases my boots have breathable water proof membranes.

In the spirit of packing minimalist, my boots are for walking, even around town and evening activities. Who really looks at your feet when you are patronizing their businesses.

On walking holidays, I wear the primary walking high (ankle height) boots on the plane, pack the low tops and flip flops. The low top hikers are for around town when the high tops are soaked and in the drying room, and my back up hikers. Flip flops for saunnas and washroom down the hall.

On winter trips, its low tops and ski boots plus the flip flops for saunna and the like. The ski boots are always a carry-on. If the skis are late, at least I have the boots with the hope of renting or borrowing someone's backup skis. Been lucky so far as far as grossly delayed skis.

Added benefit of hiking boots in town is dryer feet and better traction walking in the rain on slippery cobbles and uneven streets with puddles.

Posted by
4171 posts

About the weather. I don't know where you will be in Switzerland or Italy, but I like this source for weather averages: and Click on your location and you will get a chart with all kinds of average weather info. I look at the averages when making my preliminary packing plans, but having experienced very cold temperatures and lots of rain the 1st 2 weeks of June in northern France 2 years ago, now I check the predictions as best I can before I pack.

As previously mentioned, the ankle support of high-topped boots can be useful in locations other than the mountains. For my upcoming trip, I chose Ahnu Montara boots ( and will probably wear them most of the time. They are very light weight and comfortable for me -- even in the heat of Tucson. I wear breathable compression socks with them and that makes a huge difference in comfort for me.

Long after I bought them, I learned that my daughter had these boots last summer for an archaeological dig on an island off Sweden, wore them every day in the field (literally) and loved them.

I recently got a pair of Ahnu Sugarpine waterproof short boots ( for wet times in WA. I must say that I find them less comfortable than the Montaras and feel less stable in them. Part of the problem is that they hit my thick ankles in just the wrong places.

As far as the 2nd pair of shoes goes, depending on the weather report before we go, I will probably take some kind of sandals that I can wear with socks or not. It may look goofy, but after some harrowing slick cobblestone experiences while attempting to be somewhat fashionable in the past, I don't care. It's flat, supportive shoes for me from now on.

Another brand you might consider is Abeo, sold by the Walking Co. They have different kinds of support depending on what your feet need and I've found them far more comfortable than any other brands I've tried, and that includes Ecco, Naot, Keen, Merrell, Dansko and just about any name often mentioned. I have spent a lot of money on footwear mistakes. Fortunately, I have kids and grand kids that wear my same size and my mistakes usually work for them.

Posted by
10288 posts

You can pack two ankle braces and wear them with your walking shoes, if your walkers are tie-shoes. I got my first one from an orthopedist when I broke a foot. Don't remember the manufactureu, but they run fron 25to45 each. Look on a medical supply link.
Edit: the ones with figure eight straps and ties up the front hold the ankle very firmly.

Posted by
2528 posts

I've done much hiking in Switzerland and some in Italy. For me and with good ankles, low-top hiking boots work great.