When I first started hiking, I didn’t understand which shoes to wear on the trail. The options were overwhelming and I ended up going through so many pairs of hiking shoes before I found the right ones.
Choosing the right type of hiking shoe will help to keep your feet comfortable and prevent injuries during your hikes. But there are so many things to consider when choosing hiking shoes, including terrain, climate, and trip length.
In this post, I’m going to discuss the best types of hiking shoes to wear and how to choose the right one for your next hike.
- What Shoes to Wear Hiking
- How to Choose Hiking Shoes
- 5 Tips For Choosing Hiking Shoes
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What Shoes to Wear Hiking
There are four types of hiking shoes to consider wearing on your next hike: hiking boots, hiking shoes, trail running shoes, and hiking sandals.
Hiking shoes tend to feel light on your feet and range from low-cut to mid-cut. They have just enough support to get you through day hikes or overnight backpacking trips with light loads.
The adidas Terrex Free Hiker 2 Gore-Tex Hiking Shoe provides the support and protection needed to stay comfortable on the trail, and the technology used in the midsoles provide the same level of cushioning and comfort you’d get in a pair of running shoes.
When to wear hiking shoes: Day hikes, well-maintained trails, overnight backpacking trips
Hiking boots are the most common type of hiking shoe to wear because they offer more support and protection, especially around your ankles. You can find hiking boots in a range of mid- to high-cut.
I really like to wear waterproof hiking boots during backpacking trips. They offer the right combination of breathability and protection to keep your feet dry on long treks. They also have great traction, which is perfect when hiking across rough terrain.
If you are carrying a heavier load or planning on traveling across technical terrain, you will want to consider a high-cut backpacking boot. These types of hiking shoes will give you the most support on and off the trail.
When to wear hiking boots: Multi-day backpacking trips, rough terrain, heavier loads
Trail Running Shoes
Trail running shoes are meant for exactly as they sound: running on trails. But most people use them in combination with hiking.
Trail running shoes are lightweight and flexible, and they have amazing traction. I actually only started hiking in trail running shoes two years ago. I never thought they were the right type of hiking shoe for me because I had previously sprained an ankle.
Now, I wear my trail running shoes for most of my day hikes. I just love how light they feel on my feet and how sturdy I feel when hiking in them.
When to wear trail running shoes: Trail runs, moderate terrain, fast-paced hikes
Hiking sandals are a great option when you hike on easy trails or in hot weather. They offer the least amount of support, but they are light and keep your feet cool.
I love hiking in my hiking sandals. I take them with me to most places and wear them to cross rivers and streams, walk through sand, change into at camp, and I’ve even climbed Machu Picchu wearing them.
They are so versatile, but you won’t likely wear them during super long day hikes or backpacking trips. It’s really easy to cut your feet, stub your toe, and get pebbles wedged under your foot while wearing them.
When to wear hiking sandals: Water crossings, warm weather, quick hikes, easy terrain
How to Choose Hiking Shoes
The best type of hiking shoe for you will depend on the type of hiking you will be doing, your personal preferences, and your budget.
Here are some questions to consider when choosing your next pair of hiking shoes:
What type of terrain will you be hiking on?
For rough terrain, consider a hiking boot that offers more support and protection. On well-maintained trails, you can get away with a lighter and more flexible hiking shoe.
What climate will you be hiking in?
If you will be hiking in cold or wet weather, consider a water-resistant or waterproof hiking shoe. If you will be hiking in warm weather, consider a hiking sandal or hiking shoe with breathable materials.
How much weight will you be carrying?
If you are carrying a heavy backpack for a multi-day backpacking trip, consider a hiking boot that will be able to support that weight.
What’s your skill level?
If you are a beginner hiker, consider a hiking shoe with more support and protection.
Do you have a budget?
Hiking shoes can range in price and you could easily spend more than $100 on a pair.
5 Tips For Choosing Hiking Shoes
- Walk around in the shoes to make sure they are comfortable.
- Check the fit around your heel and toes. You want enough room to wear hiking socks.
- Double check the features: ankle support, waterproofing, traction, and breathability.
- Break the shoes in around the house before you go on a long hike to help prevent blisters.
- Consult a specialist in the store and read reviews!
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Do you have any questions about the different types of hiking shoes to wear? Share them in the comments!