Quick Guide to Choosing the Right Hiking Shoes

Man going up on the mountain

The market is awash with a wide range of innovative hiking shoes that claim to be the best in the business. Even though most of these shoes can stand the test of time, there is more to a hiking shoe than its overall quality.

The catch is, different hiking situations call for different types of shoes. For instance, fast Alpine hiking expeditions will need light agile boots while a trip down the Amazon’s riverine forest calls for stronger waterproof ones.

First Know What Hiking Shoes You Need

There are three main categories of outdoor shoes:

  • The typical hiking shoe
  • Hiking boots
  • Backpacking boots

When to Buy Hiking Shoes

Hiking shoes are light, flexible and offer less protection against nature compared to other types of hiking footwear. This makes them a perfect choice if you are going on short hikes along well-defined trails or are not packing a lot of luggage. You can also go for hiking shoes if you have been on many rugged trails and your legs, ankles, calves, and feet have built the strength they need to survive the walk without support from shoes.

Most hiking shoes are made of textile mated with leather or suede. They will either resemble trail running shoes or look like traditional boots that end just below the ankle. The light ventilation and lack of serious reinforcement against weather make them most useful in dry and warm weather.

Hiking Boots Are More Supportive and Protective

Hikers wearing hiking bootsHiking boots, on the other hand, are high-cut, strong shoes with stiffer construction. They are heavier but offer more support to the foot, hence preventing injuries of most nature. You should consider getting hiking boots if:

  • You are going for long hikes over very rough terrain
  • You will be carrying heavyweight
  • You need support for less developed leg muscles or easily get tweaked knees and rolled ankles

Hiking boots are stronger with stiff protection to the leg. This type of footwear not only gives you support but also provides solid protection from sharp objects and can even keep your legs warm and dry when you step through puddles of water.

Backpacking Boots

These sit at the pinnacle for regular buyers. They are tough, well-built boots that can take you through all sorts of terrain in any weather. Since they are taller than hiking boots, they offer more support to your feet and let you wade into deeper puddles of water without letting your legs get wet.

The only problem is they are really heavy and you are going to feel the strain. You won’t walk as fast as you would in hiking shoes. At the end of the day, though, your feet will be safer from the elements and the toil of the hike. You should, however, break them in with around two weeks of continued wear before heading off to your big hiking trip.

Sometimes, hiking shoes won’t be what you need. For instance, you might opt for approach shoes if you will be doing a hybrid of walking and climbing. Rafting trips where wet feet are merry will be better off with light performance sandals that offer the protection you need without being so hefty.

The important thing to remember is that you should always factor in the comfort and safety of your feet when choosing the right outdoor activity shoes.

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