How to Choose Your Hiking Shoes

hi-tec-hiking-boots-176455_250x250Here in the middle of the Ozarks, we have lots of amazing hiking trails around us. From lovely day hikes around Devil’s Den to spectacular multiple day hikes along the Buffalo River, we’re a little spoiled for choice. It would be a mistake not to take advantage of all the great hiking we have nearby. Before you get out there, though, you need to have the right gear. Since it’s one of the most essential bits of gear, you need to know how to choose your hiking shoes.

There are a lot of different hiking shoe brands, and all of those brands make a lot of different styles of hiking boots and hiking shoes. There’s a reason for that. Nobody is making a magical reverse-Cinderella type hiking shoe that will work for everyone. It would be great if that existed, but unfortunately it doesn’t. Each person will have different needs when it comes to choosing the right hiking shoe.

If you’re going to do a leisurely day hike twice a year, you probably don’t even need special hiking shoes. An old pair of tennis shoes would be sufficient, and it would save you some money. However, if you’re planning on doing monthly day hikes it would be economical to buy a pair of hiking shoes.

There are two main choices to make when it comes to hiking shoes. The first is whether you want a shoe that’s lightweight or one that is heavier with more support. The other main option is waterproof or not. There are of course lots of other important things to consider when choosing a hiking shoe like tread, material, toe rand, etc. but you’ll look at all of that after narrowing dialing in these first two choices.

In the past, heavy duty hiking boots with good solid soles and ankle support were the standard for hikers. There are still plenty of folks who live and die by the beefy hiking boot. If you’re hiking in rough terrain, uneven ground or loose rocks, it makes sense to bee in boots with good protection and ankle support. A good pair of boots is like wearing little tanks on your feet. you can stomp around all day long and not have to worry about hurting your feet. Long hikes beg for boots as well. After you’ve been walking X many miles for Y many days having a thick sole ankle support is the key to happy feet.

The substantial hiking boot is still popular, but more and more people are going in the direction of lightweight mobility. Low top hiking shoes are becoming increasingly popular because they are comfortable and weigh next to nothing compared to a heavier boot. They’re perfect for moderate day hiking and trump boots in nearly every regard when it comes to short easy hikes. However, low top hiking shoes don’t offer as much protection from rolled ankles and debris as hiking boots. Folks who wear low tops on long hikes benefit from lighter footwear, but the risk for injury is higher.

When it comes to waterproofness it’s best to think in terms of season. A waterproof hiking shoe will keep moisture out, but it will also keep moisture in. This means your feet will sweat in a waterproof hiking shoe during the summer, but you’d probably rather deal with hot feet in the summer than wet feet in the winter. Ideally you will have a pair of hiking shoes or boots for the summer that aren’t waterproof and then another pair of boots or shoes for the winter that are. If it’s an either or situation, waterproof is probably the best way to go.

Again, there are many more things to keep in mind when deciding on your hiking footwear, but those are the big ones. The best way to figure out which shoes will work best for you is to go into a store, try them on, and get some help from an employee. At Uncle Sam’s Safari Outfitters we love to help people get the gear that they need!

One Comment

  1. […] be extremely variable in the Ozarks. You need sound footing to avoid falling, so choose suitable hiking footgear. Comfortable, sturdy, well-fitting shoes and socks are essential for a happy hike, whether […]

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