Picking The Perfect Pair Of Hiking Shoes For You

There’s lots of information out there telling you what shoes are best for hiking. Lists of the authors top pick of boots for the year or this year’s hottest new technology. But ultimately, it’s up to you; what you’re comfortable in and what fits your needs.

Everyone’s feet are different, so what’s best for you isn’t going to be what’s best for someone else. Maybe you need something ultra-lightweight due to previous injury or back problems. Or perhaps you have a history of ankle injuries and need the additional ankle support. No matter what you’re needs, you want to pick the shoe right for you.

Here we get into what type of shoes are best depending on what your mission is….

Boots
This is what comes to mind when most people think about hiking shoes. A leather, waterproof boot with ankle support. Nowadays hiking boots are lighter weight, breathable and much more comfortable than they used to be.

Hiking boots are a great option if you plan to be tackling technical, rocky sections of trail that are easy to roll and ankle on. Boots are also a good idea if you will be backpacking or carrying a heavy load. The added ankle support helps protect you from rolling an ankle if you misstep.

Boots are typically waterproof and will keep your feet dry to a certain degree. If you’re crossing numerous creeks, there is only so much the boots can do before water overtops the boot. But if you’re hiking along muddy, puddly trails boots will keep your feet dry and comfortable. Dry feet are important since it helps reduce the likelihood of developing blisters.

 

Hiking Shoes
For those who don’t like the feel of the boot, hiking shoes are a good option. Typically hiking shoes are made of the same material as boots and offer the same benefits without the ankle support.

Hiking shoes are usually waterproof and offer the same benefits for hiking along muddy trails as boots do. If you plan to be in deeper puddles or water, the low-cut shoe is more likely to be overtopped by water than the boot.

Those who choose hiking shoes are looking for something a little simpler and lighter weight than hiking boots without sacrificing warmth and dryness. Due to their lower profile, hiking shoes are lighter weight and less clunky than boots. If you’re someone who needs something a little lighter and willing to sacrifice the ankle support, hiking shoes may be for you.

Trail Runners
This is a great lightweight, quick drying option as opposed to hiking boots or shoes. The thinner, lightweight fabric is not water proof, but that is not necessary if you’re not worried about your feet getting wet or being cold. Lightweight fabrics are able to dry faster, so even if your feet do get wet they are able to dry out much faster than in a hiking boot or shoe.

Trail runners sacrifice support in order to be light weight. A light pair of trail runners won’t hold up to the same abuse as a sturdy pair of hiking boots will. That being said, trail runners do typically cost less than hiking boots or shoes of similar quality.

If you’re looking for light weight shoes that still provide good stability and traction on the trail, try trail runners. Don’t let the name fool you, even if you never plan to run in them, trail runners make an excellent light weight hiking shoe.

Sandals
For the minimalist who needs one pair of shoes for the summer, you can’t go wrong with sandals. Good sturdy sandals like Chacos, Teva or Keen make great trail shoes. Each of these sandals feature multi directional strap closures that keep your feet in place on the foot bed and a sturdy sole providing good traction.

Sandals are really only great for summer and warm spring and fall days. You also sacrifice a lot of support, protection and warmth that closed toed shoes offer by choosing sandals. Your feet will become much tougher if you hike in sandals.

A huge benefit to sandals is that they are able to get wet and dry quickly. If you know you’re going to be hiking in an area that requires a lot of stream crossings then sandals can be a much better option as opposed to hiking boots. Sandals are also lightweight and keep your feet from getting sweaty which is great in warm weather. For those looking for one pair of due it all shoes for the summer, sturdy sandals are the perfect option.

 

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