Hiking is one of the best ways to have adventure through walking in the woods, climbing mountains and rocks. Every step of the activity gets interesting when every requirement is in place. However, most people do not realize the importance is choosing a perfect hiking shoe. The level of enjoyment in your hike is directly proportional to the type of footwear you have.
In hiking excursions, your foot takes on the most work so it’s extremely vital for them to have the best protection and padding. If, on the contrary, you put on uncomfortable shoes, you can end up ruining the trip and incur bruises on your foot.
When making the choice on the kind of shoe to go for, several things must be demystified.
How to Choose Your Hiking Shoes
1. What is the nature of the hiking ground?
Walking through a trail requires different types of shoes. A mid-cut hiking shoe provides more ankle balance and support and prevention from debris. The parts above the sole can be made of leather and fabric thus offering plenty of space for breathability.
Low-cut hiking shoes are almost the same as running shoes. Although these shoes are good for casual hiking, they leave your ankles vulnerable to injuries. You should choose these boots if you will be hiking in well-maintained trails otherwise I’d advise to leave them.
High-cut shoes are the best choice for highly adventurous people who like hiking in mountainous areas and potentially dangerous terrains.
Another important feature to consider when choosing shoes for a hiking adventure is that they should have gusseted tongues. This formation aids in keeping debris from getting in your shoe. The shoes should have protection in the toes area against rocks and other uncomfortable things that you might step on.
The common hiking injuries are stubbed toes and twisted ankles. A rough terrain requires more ankle support. Inclined surfaces, on the other hand, put pressure on your toes. Since these two scenarios might present themselves in a hike, it is important to choose a shoe to protect your ankle as well as enough space for your toes.
2. Understand your style.
Just like running shoes, hiking footwear is made for specific trekking types. If you are causal hiker spending little time on the mountain compared to the time you spend home, then you need to understand the type of shoes to go for.
If you plan to have a day hiking adventure on the roadside or paved paths, then you need to choose light hiking shoes. These shoes are also the perfect choice for long distance travelers because they are lightweight and convenient.
Mountain boots should be chosen when the hiking path is snowy, rocky and evident glacial trails. These boots are specifically designed to handle heavy load and ability to withstand the toughest terrain. If you are heading for a multi-day trek, then backpacking boots are the best option for you. They are made of stiff sole with an assurance of durability, therefore, giving the confidence to hike in any condition.
3. Test the shoe size.
It’s important to select the right size of shoes when making a purchase. Most people are carried away by the fun and beauty that comes with many hiking footwear and forget the most basic things like getting the right size for your foot.
You should allow enough room for your toes to breathe and wiggle. The shoe should fit around the ball of the foot while the heel stays comfortably in its place. If you choose the wrong shoe size, you may end up having a floating heel which is the main reason for blisters.
Always, try hiking shoes on your foot while wearing trail socks to get the shoe that won’t cause any discomfort during your adventure. It’s also important to inquire about insoles, socks and lacing techniques as this contributes greatly to the success of your hiking activity.
The best time to shop for hiking boots is in the afternoon because our feet expand during the day as a result of heat. It is therefore advisable to shop when the feet have reached their maximum size.
4. Understand the material used.
When choosing hiking shoes, the type of material used to make them is a vital consideration. If the wrong fabric is used to make the shoe, it will have implications of making your feet hot, cramped and uncomfortable. Its, therefore, crucial to find the right material that will guarantee a thrilling hiking experience.
Synthetic material is majorly comprised of polyester and nylon. Shoes made from this material are light, dry fast after washing or walking in water, easy to break in. However, they are less-water resistant. If you anticipate that your hike will be in damp areas, then this shoes is not a good choice.
Many manufacturers make hiking boots with a full-grain leather material. This material makes the most durable shoes, perfect for dangerous terrain hikers and rocky places. Despite these being firm and durable shoes, they are heavy and less breathable.
The split-grain leather is a material made of half synthetic and half leather. When choosing for shoes you can go for this option since it is porous enough to allow circulation of air in your foot. However, the material is not water-resistant and not as long-lasting as the full-grain leather material.
Another commonly used material is the nubuck leather. It is a full-grain leather buffed to resemble suede. The material is durable and resistant to water and abrasion. Shoes made from this material are easy to break in before a hike besides being fairly flexible.
Waterproof membrane material makes shoes that ensure the feet are kept dry in a wet environment. The major disadvantage with this material is reduced breathability making the feet to sweat during summer.
5. Test shoes before the actual event.
Before you can embark on the hiking adventure, it’s wise to take a few runs in your compound or wear them around your house. This pre-activity will aid you to know whether they will satisfy the purpose you’ve bought for. If for any reason you suspect any discomfort, you should return them to the store and get a replacement or purchase a different pair.
It is important to make a wise decision when choosing a hiking shoe. Many people get their adventure ruined because they wore a wrong shoe for the right event. Therefore, understand the nature of the terrain where you will do your hike, test size of the shoe, understand the material used and test your choice thoroughly before arriving at a decision to purchase a particular hiking shoe.