Many people think that they can go on a hike wearing their regular trainers. However, those that tried doing so have found out that this is the biggest mistake a hiker can make. First of all, regular trainers aren’t supportive or comfortable enough to allow you to walk for hours on end. And second, they aren’t able to offer the protection needed for tackling the rough outdoor terrain.
With that being said, having specialized outdoor shoes is super important when preparing for a long and demanding hike. However, just like regular shoes, there’s an unlimited number of models to choose from which can be quite confusing. In order to clear up some of the confusion, here are some important factors to consider when buying outdoor shoes.
Consider the Trail Conditions
It’s very important to select your hiking shoes based on the most difficult trail conditions you might come across. So, study the terrain closely and determine its difficulty level: easy, moderate or strenuous. Next, consider the time of year and the length of your hiking trip. Are you taking a day hike or going backpacking for several days? Once you’ve answered these questions, you can narrow down your choice of outdoor shoes.
For instance, for day hiking on an easy and relatively flat terrain and in the summer, lightweight hiking trainers with minimal support can be sufficient. On the other hand, if you’re hiking on moderately difficult terrain or going on an easy to moderate backpacking trip, you may want to get shoes that offer higher ankle support to prevent injuries to your ankles. And finally, if you’re hiking or backpacking around strenuous and bushy trails or during rainy or cold weather, you will need extra protection which outdoor boots can provide.
Make Sure to Pick a Waterproof Model
Regardless if you’re hiking on an easy or extremely difficult trail, it’s essential that your shoes are waterproof. This way, your feet will stay protected and dry if it happens to rain or if your path takes you through wet grass or a creek. With that being said, look for uppers made of leather or high-quality artificial leather which are stitched together with the soles. Some models also have a polyurethane coating which is an additional layer of protection against water.
Look for Good Traction and Grip
Your hiking shoes should offer good traction to help you move safely and efficiently around steep rock or slippery terrain. For traction, look for shoes that have aggressive tread on the bottom, like for instance deep and spaced out lugs with zig-zag shapes. This can be crucial for preventing slips and falls around steep and loose trails. And then there’s the grip to consider. If you’re moving around relatively smooth trails, you don’t need much grip which means shoes with soft rubber soles can be a suitable choice. On the other hand, it’s recommended to look for hard rubber soles if your hike takes you around rocky terrain.