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.
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.