Best Hiking Shoes

Hiking Shoes - Reviews & Guides For 2020

Our Top Hiking Shoes

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Hiking Shoes buying guide

Love to take long walks and spend time in nature? Invest in the right hiking shoes to enjoy your hikes comfortably.

The shoes provide proper support and comfort to your feet. They protect them from any unnecessary damage so that you can enjoy the walks.

However, while selecting the boots, you have to consider several elements. You have to look into the size, style, breathability, comfort, and other additional properties. To gather all the information, you have to look into tons of pages online.

To reduce your hassle, this buying guide provides all the information in a well-structured manner. You can quickly skim through the pointers and funnel down the best product. Moreover, you get answers to several common questions and queries.

So without wasting any more time, let us start with a quick introduction and then move further into the guide.

What are Hiking Shoes? Why do you need them?

You will need the best quality footwear when you are hiking to take stable steps on any terrain. Hiking boots should be included in your list to get maximum support on the trail.

You should consider some specific features for your shoes for hiking. Besides the shoes' weight, you must check waterproofing, traction, support, etc. to get a comfortable hiking experience.

If you like hiking and go for hiking trips very frequently, it will be better to consider the high-quality footwear that will support and protect your feet in the best possible way.

Hiking boots provide the highest protection and right amount of traction for the feet. Also, these shoes offer better durability than regular shoes.

Having hiking boots means that you have less chance of getting blisters. The comfortable cushioning comes along with the hiking boots that are not found in any non-hiking shoes.

Types of Hiking Shoes

  1. Day hiking boots

Day hiking shoes are designed for technical trails and long-distance hiking. The boots mid and high cuts design of these boots are perfect for heavy day hiking and backpacking.

They provide a fair amount of ankle support, which helps to increase your stability while hiking. Besides, the soles and uppers are durable as well as resistant to water.

Day hiking shoes are flexible and breathable enough. Also, they require no break-in time.

But one major downside is that you will not get proper ankle support from these shoes.

  1. Backpacking boots

Backpacking boots can be a great companion for rugged terrain. So, you can easily choose them for backcountry trips or off-trail travel.

The high cut design offers better ankle support, where the stiffer midsoles ensure durability and stability. They are also extremely resistant to water.

But backpacking boots are heavier, and due to their less flexibility, they have a longer break-in time.

  1. Trail Running Shoes for Hiking

You can consider the trail running shoes for short hiking trips, thru-hiking, running on-trails, etc. They are suitable for carrying lightweight packs, and you should not expect much ankle support from these shoes.

They are breathable enough, and they need no break-in time for their super flexibility.

Hiking Shoes vs. Hiking Boots

Boots and shoes for hiking have their purposes, so you must know the difference before choosing one.

You can have the shoes for hiking to travel in extreme weather conditions on rougher terrain so that you can ensure the highest protection of your feet.

Hiking boots also offer excellent protection, but they are different from the shoes in terms of weight. Usually, these boots are designed with more materials, which make them heavier than shoes.

Moreover, these shoes have better durability and waterproofing capacity compared to the boots. You can also have more ankle protection, which is essential for your stability.

Shoes for hiking come with more comfort so you can wear them for a long time without having any problem. However, the hiking boots offer a little more protection for the hikers.

Things to deem about while selecting an appropriate Hiking Shoes

Material

Upper

  1. Full-Grain Leather

Full-grain leather is mainly used in designing backpacking boots. It is durable and resistant to abrasion and water, so it is appropriate for rugged terrain, heavy load, and extended journey.

However, full-grain leather is not light and has less breathability. Also, it requires a more extended break-in period.

  1. Split-Grain Leather

The combination of split-grain leather and nylon is used in making lightweight boots offering more breathability. Though it comes cheaper, it is not much resistant to abrasion and water.

  1. Nubuck Leather

Nubuck leather is nothing but full-grain leather comes with resembling suede. It is incredibly durable and has good abrasion and water resistance. Though Nubuck is flexible, it will take more break-in time.

  1. Synthetic

Modern hiking shoes are designed with synthetic leather such as polyester or nylon. Synthetic leather is lightweight, requires less break-in time, and has quick-drying capacity. It is less expensive but prone to get damaged very quickly.

  1. Waterproof Membranes

Some hiking boots have waterproof construction. Waterproof/breathable membranes like Gore-Tex®, eVent®, etc. are used in making these boots. Because of the reduced breathability, your feet can become sweaty in hotter conditions.

  1. Vegan

No animal ingredients and byproducts are used in vegan-friendly hiking boots.

  1. Insulation

Some hiking boots come with synthetic insulation to add extra warmth for colder situations.

Midsole

It plays a vital role in determining the stiffness of the boots. It also provides comfortable cushioning to protect your feet from any shocks.

  1. Eva

Eva is good construction material for midsoles because it is cushier and lighter. Also, it is less expensive. The density of Eva differs according to the required firmness.

  1. Polyurethane

Polyurethane has better durability than Eva, and it is firmer as well. Therefore, it is used in constructing mountaineering and extended backpacking boots.

Outsole

Usually, the outsoles of hiking boots are built with rubber. Sometimes, additives like Carbon are added to rubber to increase the hardness and durability of the shoes.

Lug Pattern

The lugs are the bumps creating traction on the boots' outsoles. Mountaineering and backpacking variants have thicker and deeper lugs for stronger grips.

The wider ones provide good traction and remove mud easily.

Heel Brake

It is about the heel area, which is quite different from the arch and forefoot. It minimizes your possibilities of sliding under challenging situations.

Waterproof

It entirely depends on your personal preference and your hiking style, whether you need waterproof hiking boots or not.

If you go hiking regularly and love to hike in the snow, you should choose waterproof boots. It will help you to keep your feet dry and enjoy your hiking comfortably.

On the contrary, if you hike in fair-weather, it will depend on your preference.

You should remember that waterproof hiking boots are less likely to be breathable, but they make sure that your feet will remain dry for a more extended period.

When you are crossing a knee-high stream, it will be challenging to keep your feet dry, but when it comes to hiking through the snow or dewy grass waterproofing feature will be very useful.

Fit

You must choose the right fit for your hiking shoes. Otherwise, you may end up with smashed toes, blisters, or uneasy pressure points. Shoes that are too large or too small can not provide enough comfort during hiking.

You should make sure that your feet are not sliding around when inside the shoes. It will not be the right size for your feet, and you can have blisters quickly.

You can follow these tips to get the proper fit of your hiking boots—

  1. You can wear thick hiking socks when checking the boots to have a realistic idea of the boots' fit.
  2. You should try these shoes after your daily activities. Your feet may become swollen, and thus you can avoid choosing smaller sizes.
  3. It will be beneficial to wear these shoes and walk around the store in them. If there are any fake incline ramps or any inclined surface, you can walk on them to have a proper idea of how it will feel when you need to incline or decline.
  4. You can bring your inserts with you because they take some space inside the shoe and help you adjust the fit.
  5. You should be careful about the seams and the pressure points to ensure that they will not create any discomfort.
  6. You should never overlook your comfort. If your toes are feeling cramped inside the toe box or the arch support is not in the right spot, you should discard the shoes instantly. Ill-fitting shoes can not be the right choice for hiking.
  7. If your toes touch the end of the boots while going downhill, it will not be a good fit.
  8. You must consider the shape of your foot seriously. You should choose narrow shoes for narrow feet and wide shoes for wide feet.
  9. Different styles of boots have different break-in time, so you can start wearing the shoes to make your feet accustomed to the boot's fit.

Size and Shape

Size

The first thing you should do to get your hiking shoes' right size is to measure your feet from the store. You can also use a tape to do it at home and then compare the length to the sizing chart.

You should keep one thing in mind that the shoes' size varies from one brand to others, so do not rely on the size of your usual footwear.

There are some particular tips that you can follow before checking the size of your boots—

  1. You should wear your hiking socks while choosing your hiking boots.
  2. Bring the orthotics along with you if you use any.
  3. You should wear these boots at the end of the day. Your swelling feet will help you to get a realistic fit.
  4. Wear the boots in both feet, tighten the lace and walk around for a while before buying them.
  5. If possible, find any incline or walk up and down on the stairs. Make sure that your heels do not move too much while walking.
  6. Your feet should not get twisted inside your boots when you are walking on an uneven surface.
  7. You can get after-market insoles for more support and better fit.

Shape

Besides the size, You should consider the shape of your foot. Some shoe models are perfect for wide feet. Also, some shoes fit narrow feet properly.

You are suggested not to stick to a particular number because it may differ depending on the company.

Traction

Traction is essential for your shoes because it provides an excellent grip on your feet when you are hiking. How much traction you will get from the shoes depends on some factors such as the shape of the shoe, construction materials, and the shape of the sole.

Usually, the outsole of the hiking boots is made up of rubber, which increases the boots' stability and provides a solid base for your feet.

High-quality rubber is perfect for designing a solid base without any issues. Moreover, the amount of traction can be increased with a stiffer sole. If you have soft shoes, you will not get a solid base, so there will be chances of slipping in wet and muddy conditions.

Only a stiffer sole can give a strong foundation so that you can push off effectively. The lug pattern of the boots is also important to walk on the uneven ground steadily.

Weight

It is essential to check the weight of the hiking shoes before making your purchase.

If you choose heavier shoes, it will cause a sore leg when you wear them for an extended period. But on the flip side, lighter shoes have fewer materials, so they feel very comfortable on the feet.

You should not expect much durability from the lightweight shoes. Some extra weight can increase stability and support, which means you should think carefully before jumping to the lighter model.

You should match the weight with all other features to maintain a proper balance. If you are going for short hiking trips, you will need a breathable and lightweight hiking shoe. But for regular hikers, a pair of durable shoes can be a great choice that comes with some extra weight.

Heavier boots offer better support and durability, but they can make you feel tired quickly, where lighter shoes provide less support and stability. So, it is your personal choice of how much weight you need to match the hiking goals.

Breathability

The amount of breathability you need for your hiking boots depends on some factors, including your hiking style.

If you are planning to go out on a hiking trip in hot weather, you will definitely need the extremely breathable hiking boots.

Otherwise, your feet will become sweaty, and the socks will get wet in less time. It will be uncomfortable and cause sore feet and blisters as well.

But if you are hiking in cold temperatures, you will need more protection than breathability. So, you should look for the waterproofing feature to keep your feet dry.

Some materials like Gore-Tex have the right combination of waterproof and breathable features, so it will protect your feet from getting wet but allow air to flow inside the shoes.

Support

The best quality hiking shoes offer the right amount of support and stability, so you must consider this factor while scanning for your shoes.

You should select a shoe that has a stiffer midsole for better support but make sure that the front part is flexible enough.

You can also look for the ankle collars for additional support that actually help to protect your ankle areas. A wider forefoot also enhances support, but it may reduce agility.

It will be better to choose the midsole and outsole materials carefully to ensure that they are incredibly rigid to provide better support. Getting a removable insole also can be a feasible option for increasing support.

Durability

You should keep in mind that your hiking boots are going to take a lot of abuse during your hiking trips. So, you must check the durability of the shoes before buying one.

It is very crucial to make a proper balance between durability and weight. Moreover, there are several other factors like breathability and comfort that can have great impacts on durability.

The outsole should be durable enough, so you should check whether it is made of good quality rubber. It will not be less prone to wear quickly.

The midsole should be compressible enough, but the material used in the upper matters the most.

So, if you are planning for an extended hiking trip, you must get a durable hiking shoe that will last long without any replacement.

Toe Protection

It is very usual to bump your toes while you are hiking on uneven terrain. Your feet have to deal with rocks, roots, and several other things that can cause accidents. So, toe protection is critical to prevent breaking your bones while hiking.

Not all hiking shoes have the same level of protection, so you must check this feature thoroughly. Especially if you are hiking on tough terrain, you should make sure that the front of your toes is protected effectively.

The toe protection can be less important for an easier trail because there will be fewer chances to bump your toes into harder objects. But if you tend to trip and fall frequently, you must pay attention to the protection of your feet and toes.

Laces

Many hikers overlook the lacing system while setting their hiking boots, but it is highly recommended to take it into consideration for the right fit and comfort.

Your boots should be designed appropriately with eyelets and hooks so that they can keep everything in the place, and thus you will get a proper fit.

Furthermore, loosening of laces can be very dangerous for the hikers, so you should make sure that you are not tripping over the laces when you are walking.

With a good lacing system, you can easily pull up the heels and keep the top part of your feet in the right place. If you can secure the heels in an efficient way, you will not have any blisters.

The single-pull lacing system is also good because you will be able to secure the boots without tightening, and it ensures the same fit as traditional laces.

Ankle Support

When you are about to purchase your hiking shoes, you must look for ankle support because it is very crucial to determine your performance. The boots come with a low-top fit that you can find just above the ankle.

Besides, You should know that ankle support makes the difference between hiking boots and shoes. So, hiking boots with proper ankle support can be ideal for hiking on a rougher trail or heavy backpacking.

The shoes for hiking can prevent slipping, which means you will need stiffer heels, a wider foot base, and maximum traction of the sole.

Therefore, when you are hiking on a rough trail, it will be better to opt for the hiking boots for excellent ankle protection. Nonetheless, most of the modern shoes are being designed with the same level of ankle protection that you get from the hiking boots.

FAQs

  1. Are the shoes worth their value?

Yes, the hiking shoes are worth their price as they provide adequate support and comfort. They allow you to form a firm grip over different terrains and have good shock-absorbent properties.

With excellent traction, they protect your feet and allow you to enjoy your hike smoothly.

  1. Can I wear socks beneath the shoes?

Yes, by adding socks, you can add an extra layer of protection and elevate the comfort and support for your feet.

  1. My boots feel too tight. Is it normal?

No, never opt for tight shoes as they can suffocate your feet and even cause blisters, which will hinder your experience.

Summing Up

Hiking shoes present a comfortable and efficient way to protect your feet and enjoy long hikes. All you need is to look for the best pair.

Here, in this guide, we have corner-stoned the critical pointers that will aid you in the selection process. Analyze them and pick the best pair for your hiking journey.

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