There are many different types of hiking shoes, in fact the amount of options you have in this arena can be overwhelming sometimes. There are ultralight trail shoes all the way down to mountaineering shoes, waterproof to steel-toed. Understanding what materials go into the makeup of your hiking shoes will help you refine your selection before purchasing. Fit is also a very important aspect–no one ever loved a pair of poorly fitting shoes. The difference between blissful hikes and blistered ankles is having the patience and taking the time to find the right fit for you and your feet. Here are the three types of hiking footwear:
-Hiking shoes: low cut design with flexible midsoles are good for day hiking. Ultralight backpackers may even choose trail-running shoes for long-distance trips. Brands like Chaco even have lightweight, strappy sandals meant for short hikes on easy terrain.
-Day hiking boots: this type ranges from mid- to high- cut designs and are intended for short to medium distance day hikes or short backpacking trips with very light loads. They most often flex easily and need a little break-in time before wearing on a big trip. They do however lack the support and durability of stronger made backpacking boots. Brands like Merrell offer consumers well-made, sturdy hiking boots in a variety of styles and sizes.
-Backpacking boots: designed to hold the weight of heavier loads on multi-day trips through deep woods and often rough terrain. Most of these designs have a high cut that wraps up above the ankles for unbeatable support. These boots are often made most durable, with stiff midsoles and are suitable for on or off the trail trekking.
Now that you’re more familiar with the types of hiking shoes, there are other things to take into consideration before choosing your perfect pair and making the purchase. Firstly, know your size. It’s best to have your foot’s length, width, and and arch length measured on a specially calibrated fit device. Foot volume, another important part of a good fit, must be figured out by a specialist or a trained expert. Go to REI.com to use their sizing charts to help you find what size would be proper for your feet. Try on boots at the end of the day. Your feet sometimes swell during the day’s activities and may change how your feet feel in the boot itself. This will help you avoid buying boots that are too small. If you wear orthotics, bring them along. They will also impact that fit of your boot or shoe. Make sure to wear the appropriate socks. Familiar socks help you quickly assess whether a pair of shoes will fit comfortable and will also help you avoid foot sweat which can lead to health issues. Make sure the thickness of the socks you try on with matches the thickness of the socks you’ll be wearing most often when you’re on the trail.
Follow these simple tips and tricks to ensure that you end up with the perfect pair of hiking shoes for your next journey into nature!