QUICK GUIDE TO CHOOSING THE RIGHT HIKING SHOES
Choosing the right pair of hiking shoes is not as easy as you think. That’s because everyone has different foot shapes. What works for one person is not necessarily going to work for the next. There are no “best hiking shoes” per se. It’ll all depend on what your needs are and if the pair is the right fit for you. So how do you choose the right pair of shoes? Well, first, you need to ask the right questions. Let’s take a look at how to properly choose the right hiking shoes for you.
LOW, MID OR HIGH CUT SHOES
Low and mid-cut shoes made of fabric or leather are most recommended for short day hikes or for a user looking to hike fast and light. They can also be used for longer treks with heavy loads. The drawback of low and mid-cut shoes is that even though they lighter on your feet, they doesn’t offer as much support during longer hikes. Most are not as durable as heavier high-cut shoes.
High-cut boots, on the other hand, are better suited for longer hikes as they provide more support around the ankle and through the midsole. They are usually made of heavier fabric or leather or a combo of both. With high-cut boots, you need to break them in before going on a long hike. These shoes will not be as comfy as their lighter counterparts if you’re going on short day hikes with light loads.
NARROW OR WIDE
Both size and width are used to measure shoes. And even if the size is correct, it still doesn’t mean the width is right for your foot. Shoes that are too narrow or too wide for your feet are not going to be comfortable. Make sure the pair of hiking shoes you choose are the right width too.
The tip to choosing the right shoes is not to get caught up on the number as you may find yourself going up or down a size from what you consider to be normal. Shoe sizes can be very inconsistent between brands and sometimes, even between different models within the same brand.
Try to do a bit of research first. When you see the term “true to size”, that means the shoes are true to the standard size. With a “half size up”, you need to go half a size above the standard size. As a general rule, it is recommended to have approximately a thumb’s width of space between the end of your toe and the end of the boot.
The shoe must feel like it’s wrapping around your whole foot comfortably to eliminate side-to-side slippage. A good sign your shoes are the right fit is if you can wiggle your toes. It should also not feel like it’s crushing your foot on the sides. If you’re shopping in a store and not online, take your time to try out the pair and walk around. Use the stairs, ramps, bumps, etc. so you can see how it’s like walking on an uneven trail. Your heel should fit snugly in the heel counter and not have an excessive lift.
OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER
When you’re going hiking, you’re bound to encounter wet conditions, so you need to ask yourself if you need waterproof hiking shoes. Keep in mind that waterproof shoes are great in cold and wet conditions, but it’s quite the opposite in warmer climates. Another thing to consider is the insole. Insoles provide cushioning and some support on the inside of a shoe. If you have unusually high arches or a low volume foot, you may need to consider different insoles to make the shoe fit correctly and comfortably.
One last thing, if you’re ordering a pair of hiking shoes online, it’s best to do the proper research first. Since you can’t try it on until you receive the pair, it’s best to scour the Internet for any info about the pair. Look for relevant information about the sizing, type of insoles and if it’s better suited for narrow or wide footed people. That being said, most online stores provide extensive information to help you choose.
By following the guidelines above, you should be able to narrow down your choices and wind up with the right pair of hiking shoes. Just like with any of your hiking gear and equipment, consider your hiking shoes an investment. Your feet and legs will work hard when you hike, the least you can do is provide your feet with the best and most comfortable pair of shoes you can afford.
Do you have any other tips for choosing the right hiking shoes or boots? Share your experience in the comments section below.