Hiking Footwear – Factors to consider when choosing hiking footwear
July 23, 2023
When it comes to enjoying the great outdoors and exploring nature on foot, having the right hiking footwear is crucial. From sturdy walking boots to flexible lightweight shoes, these differing types of footwear are designed to enhance your comfort and safety during your outdoor adventures.
Whether you’re embarking on a challenging hike or simply taking a leisurely stroll, being well-prepared with the right hiking footwear can make all the difference.
In this section, we will explore factors to consider when choosing your hiking footwear.
So let’s dive in and discover how your hiking footwear can enhance your next outdoor adventure.
Factors to consider when choosing your hiking footwear
1. Protection from the terrain
Footwear should protect your feet i.e. no cuts or damage to your feet from the elements such as rough rocks and stones. A stiffer sole will give your more stability and rubber toes and heel protectors will protect your feet from rocks.
Your footwear should be comfortable. They should keep you cool, dry and not cause friction.
Buy a boot that fit’s your feet well. If unsure about getting the correct fitting, buy your boots from a shop that supplies a fitting service. A lot of boot makers offer wide and narrow fitting boots, with special lasts for different foot types.
If your not happy with the fit of the boot Catstycam, the Outdoor Shop in Glenridding, Cumbria, Tel: 017684 82351, offer a boot stretching & modifying service and will guarantee the fit of the boot for the life of the boot.
Whenever you get a break during your walk, take your boots off to allow your feet to cool and release any moisture. This is the best and simplest way to keep your feet blister free.
In summer dry months it is prudent to wear footwear that is non-waterproof i.e. breathable uppers. Any footwear with a waterproof membrane (e.g. GoreTex ) is not as breathable as footwear with mesh uppers and no membrane. Non waterproof footwear allow your feet to breath more easily and so keep your feet cooler in summer, preventing blisters and ramblers rash.
Your hiking footwear should also be laced up snug enough for comfort, to prevent slippage. Tighten your laces at your toes and front arch to prevent foot rubbing forward and backwards.
When going uphill its better to loosen your laces at the top of a mid or high cut boot to help cool your feet. Hikers often roll there socks over the top of the boot to allow more ventilation also.
When going down hill make sure your laces are snug on your toes and ankles to prevent your toes from moving forward and rubbing on your boot.
Hiking footwear should be lightweight. Every pound/kilogram saved on lifting your feet is more energy saved to allow you to hike further more comfortably.
4. Ankle support.
Mid and high cut boots offer more ankle support, especially important on rougher terrain.
5. Materials used.
Look out to see if the hiking footwear is made from sustainable sources such as recycled materials and bio-based materials.
Is the leather certified by the Leather Working Group, which offers sustainable and transparent leather goods.
Vegan friendly footwear will show the PETA logo.
Look out for PFCs, or perfluorocarbons FREE textiles. And the ISO 14001, which is an internationally agreed standard that sets out the requirements for an environmental management system.
6. Hiking footwear options.
There are generally 4 types of walking footwear; Trail shoes, low cut, mid and high cut walking boots.
For easy trails (C walks) often in flat terrain without climbing hills, a flexible, shoe will make your walk more comfortable and less fatiguing. A low cut shoe is ideal on this type of terrain and is the more economical option. A low cut shoes will last for 800 miles or 9-18 months.
Another option for easy trails and uneven trials is trail shoes. This are lightweight and very comfortable and offer the best performance in terms of speed and agility. A trail shoes will last on average 500 miles or 6-12 months.
Check out our trail shoes buying guide
For Uneven trails ( B walks) on mountains and undulating landscapes and off-trail walking ( A walks) and for a hiker who wants very long life and maximum protection a hiking boot which is mid or high cut is the best option. Hiking boots are not as lightweight as low cut or trail shoes but will give you greater protection and last thousands of miles.