I am not a big boot wearer, but I have been in situations where you really need to wear boots. One is on strenuous hikes. I have spent a lot of time in the Smoky Mountains, and many of the trails there are paved, and you can wear just about any shoes on those paths.
But it wasn't till I started doing more strenuous hikes--the Mount LeConte hike in particular--that I discovered the necessity of wearing hiking boots. It was at that point I realized you need almost work boots to protect your feet from stones and rocks on the trail. Otherwise, the bottoms of your feet can get bruised. I bought some good boots before the first of my two hikes up that mountain, and I was so glad. My feet were fine after the journeys. One funny moment was on one of the trips up, we met a woman wearing sandals, and she asked if we thought she could hike up in those. We said, gosh no! You wouldn't make it very far. You don't want to have to walk in your barefeet when your sandals break!