When it comes to exploring outdoor and starting thrilling journey to hiking. One of the most important thing you will look for is perfect pair of hiking shoes. Shoes that make you feel comfortable, gives you protection and ankle support from harsh environment throughout journey and hiking trails. If you are hiker right pair of shoes can make your experience more comfortable and safe on trails. In this guide we will explore everything you should know about hiking shoes, their importance, features, brands and how can you find perfect pair for yourself.
Importance of Proper Hiking Shoes
Before we look in specification of shoes. We will see the importance to find perfect pair of shoes for your journey. Hiking trails are always unpredictable from muddy to rocky surface steep ascent to deep descent. Proper hiking shoes can provide necessary support, stability and even protection to your feet. Reducing risk of injuries and discomfort during hiking. These shoes are specially design for hiking and outdoor adventures offers many feature that casual sneakers or shoes lack. Designs make sure that your feet are ready to handle difficult trails.
Types of Hiking Shoes
Hiking shoes came in different styles each suitable for different type of hiking. It is important to know differences among them and to find suitable pair for your adventure. Some types are mentioned here
Low cut Hiking Shoes
These shoes are suitable for light to medium trails and also preferable to daily hikes or short journey. These shoes offer breathability and support. That make them important choice for warm weather hikes. Although they do not provide as much ankle support as high cut but they are preferable choice for summer or warm weather hikes because of their relatively high breathing ability and are perfect for well maintained trails.
Mid cut Hiking Shoes
Mid cut shoes offers more ankle support than short cut hiking shoes. So they are prefer at more challenging hiking trails. They came in between light weight low cut to high cut shoes. They offer more ankle support than low cut. Mid cut shoes are essential for trips and hikes where ankle support is needed.
High cut Hiking Shoes
High cut hiking shoes provide maximum ankle support. They are design specifically for rough trails, rocky paths and difficult routes. They are prefered for multi day hiking or harsh condition. They provide superior protection and support to the feet so you can hike comfortably and safely but they are heavier and less breathable than low and mid cut shoes so thats why they are not preferred at warm hikes.
Properties to Look for In Hiking Shoes
When you go to buy hiking shoes there are several features you must look for in shoes. To meet your need it is important that shoes contain these important features
what shoes are made of
Understanding materials use in shoes like leather, fabrics and waterproof membranes help you to make decisions on durability, support, breathability and water resistant property of shoes.
- Leather: Full leather shoes are highly durable and provide best protection against rough and irregular trails but they need more time for maintenance.
- Synthetic fibre: Hiking shoes made of synthetic fibre are light weight dry, quickly and are more breathable. They are preferred in warm weather hikes.
- Waterproof Membranes: Some hiking shoes come with waterproof membranes that keeps your feet dry in wet conditions but this property also make them less breathable. Make sure about climate and trail you are hiking before selecting these shoes .
Types of outsoles and its features are important for stability and grip on the trail. Vibram and Contagrip are two famous outsole companies. Vibram outsoles are known for there grip, performance and have excellent durability. They are good on rocky surfaces and trails. Contagrip gives balance, flexibility and durability. They are used for different trails.
Hiking shoes midsole provides comfort and support. We will see various midsoles materials such as EVA ,polyurethane and their impact on comfort and performance.
- Eva: Eva is abbreviation of ethylene vinyl acetate. Eva midsoles are light weight comfortable and provide good support. These are recommended for day hikes and well maintained trails.
- Polyurethane: These midsoles are more reliable and offers better stability and support. They are preferred at long and irregular trails.
Water proof hiking shoes can be useful on hiking trails with wet and rainy environment. These shoes are not recommended to all condition because of its waterproofing membrane’s breathability is significantly low. Thats why they are not considered in hot environment and warm hiking.
Finding the Right Fit
One of the most important step in choosing shoes is finding best fit. Shoes that are not fit to your size can lead to discomfort and foot related issues. Here are tips to find right fit to your size follow these steps
- It is important to measure your foot size accurately before going to shoes store. Measure both of your feet as they vary in size
- Try hiking shoes with socks: Try hiking shoes with socks you will wear during hiking. This ensures you get most accurate fit.
- Visit a store in afternoon: It is recommended to visit store in afternoon because feet tend to swell slightly during day time. This ensure you get most accurate fit
- Check wiggle room: Your toe must have enough room so it can wiggle easily without feeling discomfort. It is necessary to find best size for you.
- Walk around: Take a walk around the store that makes you understand how shoes feel while walking.
- Consider insole: If you use custom innersole bring them along. Try hiking shoes with them to see if they fit accurately.
- Break in period: Keep in mind hiking shoes may require break in period. So plan next hike accordingly must use hiking shoes in house before going to trails.
To increase durability and to make sure your hiking shoes last for many more adventures proper care and maintenance is required.
After every hike keep in mind to remove dust and mud from your shoes use a soft brush so it may not damage shoes. If soft brush is not available you can use soft wet cloth.
Avoid drying your hiking shoes with direct heating source like heaters and sunlight instead cover them with news paper and drying material. Dry them at room temperature.
Store your hiking shoes in dry and cool places avoid storing them is sunlight or high temperature.
Regularly inspect you hiking shoes condition check for any sign of damage like tear, worn outsole or inner soles. Replace damage part.
Know when to replace
Although everyone love their hiking shoe but it is fact they won’t last forever. You should know when to upgrade them or replace them. Once they show significant signs to tear, less comfortably or support. Its time to buy new pair of shoes.
Hiking Shoes Recommendations for Different Environments
Different hiking trails demand different features from your shoes. It is necessary to choose shoes with features that are preferred to the type of trails you want to go. Here are some recommendation of hiking shoes for different environment.
Day Hikes and Easy Trails
For a day hike and good maintained trails with easy paths Low cut hiking shoes made of synthetic fibre is most recommended. They offers comfort and breathability allowing you to focus beautiful scenes of surrounding.
Long Trips with Medium trails
Medium cut hiking shoes with high durability is something you want on your multi day long trips. They provide you more stability than low cut hiking shoes. They provide better ankle support and protection on medium trails.
Rough and Irregular Trails
High cut hiking shoes with advance features like waterproofing are most recommended for unpredictable and rough trails. High cut shoes gives more stability on rocky path. Waterproof ability prevent your feet to get dry in wet environment. These hiking shoes provide most protection and stability.
With so many shoes brands in market it is difficult to decide which one is best. Here are some of the top hiking shoes brand which you can trust. They provide best durability, they are known for their quality and dedication for outdoor adventurers.
merrell is known for making comfortable and strong hiking shoes. They are nor cheapest or expensive. It is difficult to find comfort and durability in the price Marrell hiking shoes offers.
It s a leading brand of hiking shoes. They are famous for their expertise. Salomon make best hiking shoes in the market.
Keen is famous for its hybrid designs. Including comfort and protection of feet wit their shoes. You can find various hybrid designs with comfortability and protection.
North Face have many types of hiking shoes that can be used for all types of hiking adventures.
Vasque is famous for its toughness and durability. Hiking shoes of this brand can tolerate roughness of difficult trails.
Nike is a brand of shoes famous for its athletic shoes. Has also start making hiking shoes with their admiring designs. Nike shoes have style, comfort, durability, support and protection for all adventure lovers. Shoes are made of material like synthetic fibre and leather. Making sure of durability and protection on adventure. With availability of advance soft material in midsoles make it comfortable for long hikes. Nike shoes have strong and efficient outsoles. That increase durability and can tolerate extremeness of rough and rocky trails. Wether you are traveling to mountains hike or to less difficult hike. Nike hiking shoes have something for everyone. They offers mixture of fashion, reliability support and protection for hikers.
Hiking Shoes Vs Hiking Boots
As discussed earlier choice between hiking shoes and boots totally rely on your preference. It depends on factors like hiking trails and its difficulty. You can take look on following factors before making a decision.
For easy and maintained trails Low cut hiking shoes are recommended. Theses shoes can provide sufficient protection and support on the other hand, you decide to go rough and unpredictable trails with rocky paths. High cut shoes are good option. These shoes have maximum support and ankle protection.
Weight of your backpack can also make difference in needs of footwear. For light weight day hikes, hiking shoes are sufficient to support your ankle and provides you more comfortability. For heavy backpacking and trip of multi days demands hiking boots for more ankle support and protection.
Weather can also make effect on your selection of shoes. If you are visiting dry climate you should choose shoes with more breathability. And if you are traveling to rain expected areas waterproof boots or shoes are recommended.
Your preference plays important role in selection. Some hikers choose flexibility and breathability. While other prefers high support and protection.
Choosing perfect shoes is one of the most important task. That make your hiking experience more delightful and memorable. This step also focus one your safety and protection on the rough trails. By having knowledge of different types of hiking shoes, their features and how they respond to different trails. You can find best pair of shoes for you. Remember always give priority to comfort, fit, durability and protection while making your purchase. Never hesitate to buy a quality shoes pair because thy will be your partners on different adventures. Shoes gives you extra boost so boost up start a memorable joyful journey of natural wonders.