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How to Choose best hiking shoes

How fun your hiking expedition will be ultimately depends on the type of shoes you wear – you probably didn’t know this. While outdoors, you want a comfortable, fitting pair of kicks designed to counter the rough terrain and conditions of Mother Nature. With this in mind, finding the best hiking shoes can be an uphill task in itself. Fortunately, we’ve covered how to choose the best hiking shoes for you below, just to make your outdoor expeditions worth looking forward to. Enjoy.

How to Choose best hiking shoes

How to Choose best hiking shoes

Before anything else, it’s worth noting that the type of shoe you go for should complement your preferred terrains and the amount of load you carry. That aside, here are the major features to look out for next time you go out shopping for a hiking shoe.

Mid soles

The midsoles of hiking boots are built to support and cushion the arches of the feet:

  • EVA  provides cushion-like support for the mid sole and provides some shock-absorption
  • Polyurethane is very firm underfoot and it provides extra foot-support.
  • Phylon cushions the foot, and is durable yet also lightweight.
  • Hiking shoes may also be constructed with internal support that further protects the foot.
  • Shanks are placed between the mid-sole and the out sole to add stiffness to the mid-sole
  • Partially flexible inserts may be placed between the out sole and the mid-sole and below the shank, if it is present. These provide extra protection from bruising.

Other Considerations in Choosing the Best Hiking Shoe

Fit is possibly the most important aspect to consider when you are choosing any hiking shoe. All the other features contribute to the value and performance of the hiking shoe, but a poor fit will negate these entirely. Some issues to consider when trying a hiking shoe for fit are: 

  • The hiking shoes should fit the foot closely, but not too tightly. Take a few steps in the hiking shoe to determine that the toes are not cramped in the toe box and the shoe does not pinch or rub anywhere.
  • The foot will swell slightly during a hike, so make sure that you can spread your toes. Always leave a little extra room for comfort.
  • The rand. This is a rubber guard that runs around the outer edge of the hiking shoe, including the toe. This protective strip adds reinforcement to areas that usually sustain high wear
  • Make sure that your foot does not wriggle around inside the hiking shoe, as this could mean that it is too wide or long.
  • The hiking shoes may be lined with a moisture wicking coating which draws sweat away from the foot. Some linings are treated with anti-microbial substances which eliminate odour.
  • Be aware of the way in which you normally lace your hiking shoes. Lacing should be comfortable but snug.

Durability

Durability is often played off against weight and the other features that go into the creation of a good hiking boot. Hiking shoes will in most cases be lighter in construction than a hiking boot. Some hiking shoes which are built with mesh uppers may have protective layers placed over the uppers for protection. These are the type of hiking shoes which score well in the categories of both durability and lightness.

Support

As earlier stated, the amount of weight you carry is a primary factor to consider when shopping for a hiking shoe. The amount of support you need should be commensurate to the weight on your backpack, the distance travelled and the terrain itself. In a nutshell, you stand to benefit from a hiking shoe with more support if you are navigating a long and rough terrain. Sufficiently supported feet will be less fatigued eventually regardless of how heavy your load is.

Weight

When it comes to the outdoors, light is always right. Thanks to technological advancements and modern materials, it is now possible to find the extremely light hiking shoes with plenty of helpful features. The best hiking shoes today offer performance, support and comfort at significantly lower weights compared to just a few years back. The latest trend in hiking footwear design comprises of trimming every ounce possible. However, be quick to distinguish the thin line between weight and durability while at it.

Waterproof

When hiking, the importance of maintaining dry feet can never be overstated. The point is, when it’s hot, dry feet are cooler and conversely, warmer when it’s cold. Secondly, wet feet will ultimately lead to blisters and thus, ruin your entire expedition even before it starts. You want breathable, yet waterproof membranes to keep your feet dry while navigating through heavy dew, puddles and mud. While non-proof hiking shoes tend to be more breathable overall, a waterproof membrane serves as ideal for those who hike in extreme weather conditions. In a nutshell, waterproof hiking shoes deliver optimal performance in extremely cold hiking conditions.

Fit

When you talk of comfort, it all boils down to how well your shoe fits. Once you’ve trimmed down your search – using the above factors – try on several pairs of similar hiking shoes to determine which one fits best. Keep in mind that some brands are specifically designed for individuals with narrow feet, while others tend to complement wide feet better. The idea is to ensure the shoe captures your foot well to avoid it sliding up and down – the main ingredient for blisters.

Price

When shopping for any product, the price should rank high on your list of priorities. Hiking shoes are no exception. You want an affordable shoe that provides great value for your investment. What’s the point of breaking bank for a hiking shoe you only use once or twice a year? In a nutshell, go for a low budget, but durable shoe that will serve you years if you rarely hike.

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Conclusion

While the above factors should help you find the best hiking shoes for your outdoor expeditions, it is of paramount importance to keep in mind that sometimes, more is better. In short, one brand may not meet all your needs – considering the vigorous needs of Mother Nature. For instance, you may need a highly breathable membrane for hot weather conditions and a waterproof hiking shoes for when it gets wet. However, the tips above should ultimately serve you right when out shopping for the best hiking shoes out there.

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