On The Question of Hiking Footwear

Hiking bootsPeople make a big deal about what you wear on your feet while hiking. Folks will fuss over the socks, the sock liners, the insoles, and the footwear. This makes sense, of course. Feet are quite important when it comes to hiking, and the condition of your feet will directly influence how enjoyable your hike will be.

Here’s a little insider tip. You can really hike in any type of footwear. You can hike in socks and sandals, those silly little shoes with a separate compartment for each of your toes, Nike Dunks, or whatever. There are even goobers out there that hike barefoot.

But while it’s possible to hike in any type of footwear – or no footwear at all – that doesn’t mean that your choice of footwear is insignificant.

Sure, you might be able to hike safely in sandals, or go barefoot without suffering, but you’re at greater risk of pain, discomfort or injury. Your feet are more vulnerable and more exposed to sharp rocks, exposed roots, the cold, moisture, snakes, thorns, etc., etc. If you have something toprove, you pride yourself on being different, or you genuinely love it, go ahead and hike without shoes; just know that it’s not the wisest decision.

It’s a pretty good idea to wear shoes while hiking.

Hiking boots offer the most protection. They provide full coverage and better ankle support than low top shoes. The taller the boot, the better the support. Hiking boots can be waterproof, and many are designed with a toe rand for added durability and a stiff sole that provides extra support and comfort on hard, rocky, and uneven terrain (think talus fields).

More and more people are opting for trail running shoes over hiking boots. Trail shoes are lightweight and comfortable, which makes them an appealing alternative to heavy hiking boots. However, some people maintain that for long, strenuous hikes, you really do need the protection and support of an ankle boot with a stiff sole.

The type of hiking that you will be doing will determine what type of footwear you should wear while hiking. Duration, geography, time of year, and personal preference will all play into that decision. Each hiker has their own unique needs. To find out which type of hiking shoe is right for you, stop by the store and let us help you pick the right pair!

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