It might seem fairly obvious what type of footwear you would require for hiking, but that’s before you really get down to thinking about it. Consider this for a moment – you will be traveling over challenging outdoor terrain and you’ll also be doing it for extended periods of time. You will be covering a great deal of ground, but you will also be taking the time to appreciate the sights. Which, therefore, is more important? Durability and toughness, or comfort and lightness? Of course, the answer is that you want some combination of both.
But is there a shoe that can offer this? There are, in fact, several other factors which complicate the matter further. Hikes vary a great deal. For example, you could be scrambling over rocky mountainous terrain, or you could be strolling through country lanes and rolling hills. You could be hiking for a couple of hours in the afternoon, or you could be pitching a tent and hiking for days. The precise type of hiking shoe that you will want to use can therefore vary a great deal depending on the specifics of your hiking experience.
Thankfully though, this problem is nothing new and there are actually a range of hiking shoes out there. It is ultimately up to you to make an informed choice.
Hiking Shoe Care
The good thing about hiking shoes is that, even the ones that prioritize lightness and comfort are still pretty durable. This is one area where hiking shoes perhaps do not vary much. Furthermore, in most cases, this durability means that hiking shoe care is not particularly onerous – they can get dirty, they can scuff, and they can still last for years.
The only thing you might have to pay a bit of attention to is the smell. All hiking footwear will get smelly – they are simply on your feet for too long not too. ShoeFresh, producers of long-lasting foot odor sprays, recommend that this is the one shoe care product which you are guaranteed to get some use out of.
Different Types of Hiking Boots
Here follows then the different types of hiking boots out there:
Full Grain Leather Boots
These types of hiking boots can be safely described as heavy duty – they are tough, durable and will insulate your feet well in the cold. They can also handle the toughest terrain. Accordingly, they are overkill for gentler hikes, unless you are expecting subzero snowy conditions. If you don’t need them, it’s wise to spare your feet the tough break-in period.
Also known as composite boots. These boots make for a good middle ground, offering a great deal of comfort thanks to plenty of midsole cushioning and the softer synthetic parts of the shoe. They absorb shock well and are pretty comfortable. For the toughest hikes, however, they might not be up to the job.
Hiking “shoes” (as opposed to boots) incorporate a lot of aspects of trail running shoes. They are robust by ordinary footwear standards, but they are certainly not the toughest out there. They are though very comfortable and will cope with those hikes over gentler terrain.
Trail Running Shoes
Trail running shoes are effectively tough sneakers for actual running over natural terrain. They are the best for comfort and will cope perfectly well with gentle hikes. They will let you down, however, if there is any scrambling over rocks to be done.
To repeat the point again then: there are many factors to consider when picking hiking footwear, but it all starts with an assessment of your actual hike.