If your brand new to hiking or backpacking, picking out the perfect shoes can be an intimidating process! There are soooo many options to choose from out there, how do you know what will work best for you? The truth is, since everyone’s feet are unique, there is no one shoe that is best for every hiker.
But there are a few big choices you can make that will narrow down your options when shopping for hiking shoes.
3 things to consider when picking hiking shoes:
- Please please please don’t pick you hiking shoes or boots based on color or appearance! I have seen that too many times after working at an outfitter. Customers came in looking for hiking boots, we would recommend the best shoe for their feet, and they would refuse them because they didn’t come in purple! Correct fit trumps color or appearance every. single. time.
- Gore-Tex or no Gore-Tex? That is a good question. Gore-Tex is an amazing invention and has its place. Like in your rain gear! And your winter boots! But, if you’re heading out on a longer backpacking trip and you’re hiking in a region that gets rain or has streams, your feet will get wet. Water will get in your shoes, whether from relentless rain sliding down your body and into your shoes, or deep puddles, or shallow streams. Water will get in there, and it will not leave a Gore-Tex shoe easily. Consider a breathable alternative instead with plenty of mesh patches that dry out more quickly. But, ultimately this is personal preference, some people still go with Gore-Tex boots for their warm weather long distance hikes.
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- Ankle support – a lot of resources will say backpackers need high top boots with firm ankle support to prevent injury. Honestly, I hate boots with ankle support! However, they can be advantageous if you have a very heavy pack, say 60 lbs or more. You may want that extra support. Or if you know you have weak or wonky joints, then mid to high rise boots might be good for you. But for most people, with healthy joints and legs, and reasonably weighted packs, low cut boots would work just splendidly. Of course, using caution and common sense when hiking on tricky terrain, will be your best defense against injuries and sprains.
This should get you off to a good start to find your next favorite pair of hiking shoes!
For more information check out:
- 7 Steps to Find Your Perfect Hiking Shoe
- How To Pick A Good Campsite
- Top 10 Skills Every Backpacker Needs
If you have any questions about boots (or anything else!) drop them in the comments below!