For some time, I have been following both European and American long distance hikers and a few things stood out to me, gear wise, and I was curious if someone could shed some light on it. For example, while trail runners seem to have gained popularity in the USA, the sturdy hiking boot seems to be the choice of most European hikers. Is this just a cultural thing, slow adaption, or is there a point to be made for Europeans to stick to hiking boots? Same thing for single walled vs double walled tents and other lightweight options. Thank you in advance.

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    Both the EU and the US are large and diverse. You might want to specify what parts. – Guran Feb 10 '19 at 13:12
  • It's more of a general question. I noticed this phenomena for all of continental USA during spring summer, and for Europe mainly central and northern Europe. – Hjalmar Feb 10 '19 at 14:14
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    At least in the Alps trail running shoes are quite popular at the moment. Not sure if long distance hikers use them as much as other hikers, but I myself have fully switched to trail runners for all my hikes. – april rain Feb 11 '19 at 8:54
  • I have closed this as opinion based. In different areas and with different groups, you will see different trends. I'm with April on this - everyone I see hiking trails uses trail running shoes, not boots. – Rory Alsop Feb 11 '19 at 15:47
  • There is a YouTuber called "Darwin OnTheTrail" who is a thru hiker from the USA, he is going to do one of the trails in Scotland in the coming months so it might be worth checking out his channel to see if he changes his gear or sticks with trail runners and shorts. – MJH Feb 13 '19 at 9:43

I've hiked in the UK, and a little in the US and western Europe. I'll concentrate on the UK.

My perception is that British hikers keep their gear for longer than Americans, leading to two things: old fashioned kit, and a preference for sturdy kit. I, for example, have a pair of leather hiking boots from over 20 years ago. They're heavy but still the best I have in snow (even with crampons of similar vintage) or fording streams. They've outlived several pairs of soft boots. Our changeable weather and wet summers means you could well end up spending the rest of the day with wet feet in trail running shoes. In general I think we tend to go out more heavily equipped this side of the Atlantic (fell-runners aside). Certainly many people I hike with formed some of their attitudes in the Scouts in the 80s and 90s - and having the kit to deal with emergencies was the idea then.

  • You must have shallow streams. I have found most streams to be over my boot tops, and then the heavy boot becomes even heavier. While a trail shoe and sock will be only damp a half our after emerging from the stream. – Sherwood Botsford Feb 10 '19 at 19:50
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    @SherwoodBotsford we have deep and shallow streams, but commonly if they need fording and you're on a path they're shallow, otherwise there would be a bridge or stepping stones (the latter may be just submerged). That's a benefit of a densely-populated country. – Chris H Feb 10 '19 at 20:29
  • Thank you Chris, the importance of longevity and the Scouts mentality make sense. – Hjalmar Feb 11 '19 at 12:02
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    The scouts formed my attitude heavily as well, often in a way that for some might look purist, for others stupid. Basically it was a mixture of cheap, sturdy and traditional gear, often preferring natural or low tech solutions (like wool jackets, leather boots, candles instead of flash light...). I am from Europe. – Paul Paulsen Feb 11 '19 at 12:47
  • Trail shoes tend to only last me a single season before they're destroyed, a good pair of boots will last me for years. – Separatrix Feb 15 '19 at 10:13

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