I'm heading to SA for 6 months and debating what shoes to take for treking purposes. I will be doing a few 'treks' - inca trail, torres del paine and probably a few light day treks throughout. Am i best to get a hiking boot, trail shoe or what? I've read really good things about merrell trail shoes but i dont know if they offer enough support - i will be luggin around a 90-100lt pack as well.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
If you're doing serious mountain trekking (like the Inca trail) and you're carrying a heavy pack you are going to need the support that you get from a 'proper' hiking boot, otherwise you risk doing yourself an injury.
If you're doing smaller (day walks maybe) walks and not carrying much weight, Merrell-type-things should be fine, particularly if the terrain won't be too challenging.
i was in the same positition before i left for south american in july. i bought a pair of monotrails for just under 200 dollars. they are comfortable but i have been doing aloot less treking than i thought, a few in peru and bolivia, and its my only pair of shoes other than my sandels. more often than not i regret getting them since i have to wear them out to bars clubs or just walking around. if i were to do it again i would buy a pair of nice shoes that have good support, adidas oor something like that.
the better trail shoes are adequate for carrying up to about 15-20 kilos.. after that you probably want boots.
However I always take trail shoes rather than boots.
My suggestion is to buy a pair of actual hikers, but not huge clunky ones, La Sportiva make some nice approach boots that have a high ankle but are still pretty light. A 90-100lt pack is huge and the weight can quickly add up if you fill it. I would try to keep that puppy at most 3/4 full. It is possible to do a self sufficient 10 day technical mountaineering trip with a smaller pack than you have, so there should be no need to fill it for the trekking you mentioned. It also depends on your fitness level and the terrain you intend to hike in. Most accidents happen in the afternoon when people are tired and their foot placements are getting sloppy. So if you are in really good shape, used to carrying a pack and are highly aware of your energy levels, it is possible to get away with sturdy trail or approach shoes. Carrying a heavy pack without ankle support puts those joints at risk so make an informed descion, fill your pack to the weight you think it will and walk around on uneven terrain for a couple days with it on your back. Don't under estimate the power of cumulative fatigue. Just because you can do it one day does not mean you can do it day after day so be honest with yourself. Also lots of scree, talus or loose dirt makes wearing trekking shoes an ordeal, so if you are doing any off trail walking in mountainous terrain, I would go with boots. Hopefully this helps a little,