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  • Writer's pictureRaquel Stanton

Footwear for hiking- Part 2

Do you want to do some hiking but don’t know what kind of shoes to get?

We got some advice to help you make the right choice(s) for you.

This is Part 2 of 3

On this blog, we learn what type of shoes you can choose. Part 1 told you about the variables. On next week's blog - part 3 - you will be ready to pick what might be best for you. Shopping time!

Now that you are familiar with the variables, you are ready to consider footwear types. Starting from the boots for the most extreme conditions and working back towards items more suitable for normal, daily life for city dwellers.

Mountaineering Boots Mountaineering boots have a rigid plastic or leather shell and very grippy, waffle pattern soles. They are thickly insulated and worn loose to allow for thick socks. If you are not traveling over ice and snow, you don't need mountaineering boots, which is good because they are costly, even by fancy-shoe standards, and they are heavy and slow for walking.

Hiking Boots So-called "hiking boots" are best for Backpacking. They have a high, supportive ankle and are stiff and have a grippy sole to protect your feet from the sharp rocks you may be on. They are more flexible than mountaineering boots but still clunky, slow, and expensive. If you are hiking off-trail or on rough surfaces, while carrying a heavy pack, you want "hiking boots." They come in all leather versions as well as breathable but waterproof Gore-Tex. If you aren't carrying a heavy pack, you don't need these.

Trail Hikers or Light Hiking Boots These have a medium-height ankle to provide a little ankle support, flexible but still grippy sole. Trail hikers are like beefed-up running shoes and are suitable for hiking in rough terrain with a light pack. They also make appropriate "all-purpose" walking and hiking shoes as they are light and quick enough for pavement as well as sturdy sufficient for steep trails with a bit of rough stuff to stand on. You can use for overnight Backpacking with a medium weight pack on well-maintained trails. If you never leave the pavement, these are overkill.

Running Shoes for Hiking

Regular running shoes (as opposed to ultralight or "barefoot" shoes) are suitable for hiking on maintained trails with a day hiker's worth of snacks, drinks, and an extra layer of clothing.

They have no ankle support and provide only minimal protection of the bottom of the foot from pokey stuff in the trail. While some people do long backcountry tours in sandals or barefoot shoes, running shoes are not the best choice if you'll be on rough trails or loose rocks or if you'll be carrying more than a few pounds of gear. They are perfect for paved trails and hard-packed, smooth dirt trails.

Raquel Stanton

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