If you’re looking to save time before or after a hike then you may have found yourself wondering if it’s ok to drive in hiking boots. After all – they’re just like any other pair of footwear right?
While you can legally drive a vehicle wearing hiking boots is may not always be the best choice. Hiking boots are often bulky and can restrict ankle movement, therefore limiting your ability to quickly respond to actions while driving.
But is the risk all that serious? Can you get hurt? In this article, I’ll explore some of the risks of driving in hiking boots and why your best bet is to stay away.
Risks of Driving in Hiking Boots
While driving in hiking boots may seem completely natural, you have to remember that they’re made for walking, not driving. Additional factors- and not so obvious ones- also complicate driving while wearing hiking boots. So, should you be worried?
While the thought shouldn’t terrify you, you should think twice before doing it. Hiking boots have a lot more mass around the bottoms of the feet to compensate for the wear they experience on harsher terrain.
Also, hiking boots are much heavier than your average shoe and might disrupt your usual gentle transfers from pedal to pedal.
Size becomes a problem because the pedal-space below your steering wheel isn’t built for big, clunky boots. Your boot may get stuck in one of the corners when slide your foot to the brake.
Boots also have much coarser bottoms to provide traction on the trail. If these bottoms scrape against the driver’s side’s plastic walls, they can become stuck, and your heel might land on the brake instead of your toe. This will provide more leverage and make you break harder, which might be a problem on the highway.
Hikers are also often advised to buy hiking boots a size up from their everyday shoes. This is because as you hike, your feet swell, and as they swell, your boots get tighter. Moving these larger shoes in a space you’re used to navigating by feel alone may cause some complications.
So, if you’re tempted to drive home in boots, we would recommend you put on some new shoes.
Are There Laws Against Driving in Hiking Boots?
There are no state or federal laws that expressly prohibit any kind of footwear. Therefore you cannot be arrested or ticked for wearing your hiking boots while driving.
However, just because there isn’t a law against something, doesn’t mean that it’s still a good choice!
Frequently, drivers will hop in their cars, flip-flops on, and assume they’re doing just what they usually do, but they’re wrong. Driving in improper footwear can cause accidents and even be fatal if the footwear malfunctions.
For example, Flip-flops can roll out from under the wearer’s feet and cause them to release the brake. You can imagine this happening while you’re tailing a monster semi.
Hiking boots are similar in that they’re hard to move around the driver’s-side foot area. Hiking boots may scrape against the walls or become stuck in corners, inhibiting a driver’s ability to press the brake or the gas.
What Kinds of Boots Can You Drive in?
While practice can certainly make you feel more comfortable, there are also boot selection choices that can help.
For example, low-cut or low-profile hiking boots that have less bulk are clearly better for maneuverability than a heavy duty boot.
Choosing to step down to hiking or trail running shoes can also help to cut down on their size and weight. However, keep in mind that even these lighter shoes tend to have heavy tread lugs that can still get caught on pedals and other surfaces of your vehicle.
The better question to ask is really what kinds of boots are the worst to drive in.
Boots with higher tops can cause problems by limiting horizontal movement. When you have high restrictive laces, your ankles can’t move how they usually would, and you might not be able to get to the break on time.
Additionally, lace-hooks can become stuck on the places where plastic pieces join together. If you’re tailing someone too close, this could cause an accident.
If you have other shoes in the car, it’s best to put them on. Sneakers and sturdy sandals with flat bottoms work best for driving, and driving in any other kind of shoe is unadvisable.
However, if you don’t have any other shoes in the car, don’t think stripping down to your socks is the answer. Your socks are likely to be slippery due to sweat from your hike, or simply that material that they’re made from.
So if you must drive in boots, make sure to sit down and take a minute to get a feel for the pedals. It might seem silly, but it could save your life if you have to act fast. Move your foot from pedal to pedal, and make sure to test for where the walls are.
Also, make sure to press down a little lighter when you accelerate or brake. The added weight can be a shock to your system, and you might end up giving yourself whiplash if you press too hard.
Should I Be Concerned?
You should be concerned for both yourself and others while you’re driving with hiking boots.
While you might think it’s worth the risk to get home quick and enjoy a nice cup of hot cocoa or a bottle of Gatorade, you might be endangering yourself and others. If you’re not so concerned about your safety, think of the drivers around you.
‘As we have stated, driving in hiking boots inhibits your ability to jump from pedal to pedal quickly and might cause problems breaking or accelerating. Other drivers don’t know this and might be prone to brake or speed up in flat areas.
You also may not be the one at fault. If an inattentive driver happens to speed up on a straight section of the highway, and you can’t speed up to match them, you might get a few dents in your car or a touch of whiplash.
Between medical bills and repairs, you’ll wish you’d had the time to just put on a nice pair of sneakers before leaving the trail.
What to Do If Someone Else is Driving in Hiking Boots
It’s essential not to be annoying when you ask someone to do something! Just like when someone texts while driving, there’s an art to asking if they’ll stop.
If you’re concerned about your safety while riding in a car with a booted driver, you might simply speak up. Remember not to be accusatory or hostile when you ask them to change, or else you risk becoming a black sheep.
Instead of saying, “You should really change your shoes…” Try, “Hey, you mind changing your shoes before driving?” It also helps to apologize in advance for the inconvenience.
You might skip out on explaining yourself because confidence is often respected more than deference. If they ask why calmly state that it just worries you when people drive with boots on. They might get stuck.
On the more subliminal side, you could change your boots out for tennis shoes and say, “Man, I’m glad to be out of those sweaty things!”
Doing this helps to avoid conflict and confrontation. We would advise you to keep an extra pair of shoes in your car, so you never have to drive with boots on.
In conclusion, while driving in hiking boots is not illegal, it can cause complications.
The area where the pedals rest in a car is navigated by feel alone, and the awkwardness of a clunky pair of boots will pose an obstacle to your usual sense of the space.
I advise hikers to change into something like tennis shoes before driving. After all, a change of shoes usually great after a long hike anyway!
Make sure to take a look at these other related resources before you go!