Exploring the wilderness depends a lot on your footwear. Whether it is the Himalayas or the nearby park, your footwear can make or break your experience. These will help you in traversing challenging terrain; assist you keeping in your entire body comfortable and supported. They carry heavy loads and help regulate temperature and dryness. They need to serve two basic purposes - matches your hiking ambitions and make your feet feel comfortable.
Different Types of Hiking Footwear
Flexible midsoles and low cut models are best for day hiking.
Mid or high-cut models and intended for day hikes or weekend backpacking trips. They are good with light loads. They require little break-in time and can flex easily.
These are designed to carry heavier loads and good for multi-day trips. For extra support, most come with a high cut that wraps above the ankles. These are suitable for on and off trail and are durable and supportive with midsoles that are stiffer than lighter footwear.
These are heavy and weightier boots and have stiff midsoles that help carrying heavy load. These boots are tough, supportive and durable.
What’s the intent of these shoes/boots?
Some boots are designed specifically for hiking trails (grass, stone and mud). There’s fine grit on these terrains that can rip the sole of a hiking shoe’s seam. If you’re going to be hiking in rough terrain, it’s a good idea to pair your hiking boots with gaiters to protect your legs. Also remember that wearing hiking boots on concrete or asphalt surfaces can damage the sole. In such cases where you intend to hike mostly on sealed surfaces, choose a trail or lifestyle shoe that’s designed for that purpose.
Duration of the Hike
Longer the hike, greater the demand on your body and feet and your boots need to be more supportive. Also, if your trip is longer that means the pack is heavier, again requiring further boot support - so you’ll need boots/shoes with a stiffer mid-sole and greater heel and ankle support. Lightweight shoes save you energy.
The weather determines what kind of boots would you need- a breathable mesh shoe or a waterproof boot. Will you be hiking in wet, hot, icy-cold, dry or humid conditions? If you’re hiking around water it’s more important to have a quick-drying shoe or a water-resistant boot. Good ones are those that have waterproof leather with sealed seams or a boot with a waterproof liner (also adds warmth).
Let’s now look at how to evaluate
Support depends on the thickness and materials of the midsole and the thickness of the sole. A shoe that’s comfortable would be stiff through the midfoot and flexible up front.
We want our foot to stay put every time we take a step, be it mud and slushy snow to smooth rock slabs and loose gravel.
The boots/shoes need to be equally comfortable on flat trails and rough terrain.
When you’re spending a lot of hours in the wilderness, you need to ensure you’re feet are happy. A few factors that could bring up the comfort are: fit adjustment ease with the lacing system, the amount of padding in the upper and shoe fit.
Picking the lightest footwear with good stability for your ankles and feet should be a top consideration.
Most shoes come with a waterproof membrane lining. This makes it more breathable and thus more comfortable.
Hot/Sweaty, wet, blistered feet will lead to a pretty miserable time. Therefore, it’s of great importance that you choose a show that’s the perfect fir and designed specifically for your intended purpose. Sometimes you may want to have more than one for your trip, trek to the spot with backpacking boots and then switch to lighter-weight hiking shoes for short day hikes from base camp. It all depends on your budget, if your budget allows for it, go ahead and get two pairs. If not, decide which type of hiking you’ll be doing most and start with a shoe that’s optimal for that. But whatever you have on your feet, just get out there and enjoy.