It’s hiking season. While most of us take the time to make sure we have all the essentials before hitting the trails (layers, first aid kit, backpack), many people often neglect to consider what they put on their feet. Your feet may seem insubstantial, but the shoes you wear can be one of the most important decisions you make when it comes to hiking. Many survival experts will tell you that an essential part of surviving in the woods is taking care of your feet. If you can’t walk, you can’t leave the woods, you can’t get help, and you can’t go find food, water or shelter. Bottom line – pick the right shoes. 

Wearing the wrong shoes can do serious damage to your feet that could put you out of the hiking game for weeks if not months. We’re not just talking about blisters here, either (though those can be a beast by themselves). The wrong shoes can cause stress fractures, ligament strains, rolled and sprained ankles, and more. These are injuries that could put you on the sidelines for months. 

So, how do you find the right hiking footwear? Well there are a few questions you should ask yourself: 

Where do I plan to hike and how far will I be going?

Where you plan to hike will dictate the kind of shoe you need. Are you going to be doing a three-mile hike on virtually flat terrain? Then you can go with a less aggressive hiking shoe. For ladies, this might be something like the Jambu Sierra Trail Ready. This shoe, sometimes called a sandal, is great for gentle to moderate hikes that might involve water crossings. The top of the shoe is made from Nubuck mesh and neoprene, making it great for going in and out of the water. Because of its design, you can wear it with or without socks. The shoe also has a bungee lace system to ensure that if you do get it wet, the fit doesn’t shift dramatically.

For the guys, this might be something more like the Scarpa Men’s Mojito. This is a low profile shoe, with a sturdy sole, and gripping rubber. Scarpa is a brand that also makes climbing shoes, so they have a great understanding of how the rubber sole interacts with the ground to provide optimum traction.

What are the trail surfaces like? 

Will you be hiking trails of smooth, well-worn gravel, or will you be climbing up scree to reach a summit? If you are looking at a more complex trail, then you will likely want to look for a shoe that has well defined tread, ankle support, and a solid lacing system. A perfect example of this is the men’s Ahnu Coburn and the women’s Ahnu Montara BootThese shoes have waterproof uppers, high ankles, an adaptable lace up system to accommodate various foot widths, and a robust sole. 

Do I intend to use these shoes for trail running? 

If you plan on using the shoes for trail running, then you should absolutely get a trail running shoe. In general, if you are simply running a flat, gravel trail, then a basic running shoe will get you by (though it will wear down faster on gravel than it will on pavement); however, if you plan to do some running on more rugged trails, then make sure you get a shoe that is intended for that purpose. 

Brooks makes the Women’s Cascadia 9, a shock absorbing trail runner with tread designed for traction and a sole designed for cushion. It has a removable footbed, and breathable  mesh uppers. The Men’s Oboz Helium is a trail running shoe that has a nylon shank to help prevent blisters, a robustly detailed sole for optimal traction, and an EVA Super Skin over the forefoot for protection and mild water resistance. 

Avoid Pressure Points 

The most important thing to remember when you’re looking for a new hiking shoe is that if you have any pressure points on your foot while you’re wearing it in the store, put it back on the shelf. Those pressure points will turn into major problems on the trail. Take the time to find a shoe that feels great on your feet – it’ll be worth the effort in the long run. 

Shoe Guidance and Support 

The Dardano’s family and professional staff have been providing quality comfort footwear to the Denver area for over 70 years. We are your one-stop shoe shop for outdoor adventures and every occasion! For more guidance and shoe support, visit our store, send us an email or give us a call at 303-692-9355.