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Your Ultimate Guide to Hiking Shoes

Your Ultimate Guide to Hiking Shoes

Posted by Ryan Skidmore on

A beautiful day hiking in the mountains is an incredible way to spend the weekend.

But if you’re wearing the wrong shoes, you’re going to be uncomfortable.

Let’s face it, you’re less likely to have a good time and more likely to get injured if you’re wearing the wrong shoes out on the trail.

While any hiking shoe is going to be better than a cheap pair of tennis shoes, you want to make sure you have the right hiking shoes for the kind of hiking you are participating in.

Here are a few common types of hiking shoes and what to look for in the best possible pair.


For some people, a regular hike isn’t enough, and they want to take things up a notch by doing some trail running.

If this is you, you want to make sure to pick a great trail-running hiking shoe, a shoe that can handle a good run on those mountainous trails.

When you’re looking for trail-running shoes, there are a few things you should be on the lookout for:

  • First of all, good trail-running hiking shoes will have a good amount of flexibility so they can adapt with your feet as you run across the trail.
  • Second, you also want them to be lightweight so that your feet don’t get tired throughout your strenuous run.
  • Third, make sure they are waterproof.
  • Lastly, a low-cut shoe is also generally a good idea for trail running hiking shoes since it can give you more range of motion to run more comfortably. 

There are several hiking shoe brands that fit this profile. You may want to check out Garrison Low Trail, Sawtooth II Low Waterproof, or Tamarack Low Waterproof.

If you find hiking shoes with all these features, you should be in a great position to take on your run.

Easy Terrain Day Hiking  

If you are a more casual hiker, you want to be on the lookout for a great hiking shoe for hiking on easy terrain.

You need a hiking shoe—or boot—that will provide maximum stability and comfort since you’ll be on your feet throughout the day. And since you are likely to wear them on a regular basis, you want to make sure they have a good balance between flexibility and durability. 

This will ensure they can handle whatever a relatively easy hike can throw their way. 

There are many shoe brands that will meet your needs, like Adidas Outdoor, Columbia, Merrell, Moab, Salomon, The North Face, and Timberland.

As for hiking boots, wearing a mid-cut hiking boot will provide more ankle support, which translates into more safety and comfort for your lower leg and feet.

Difficult Terrain Day Hiking or Backpacking

If you are into a more strenuous hike, you want to look for a hiking shoe optimized for more difficult terrain. A shoe that will protect your ankles. These shoes are specifically manufactured for bumpy, unstable trails that may require some climbing.

These kinds of shoes are perfect for:

  • Long backpacking trips
  • Mountain climbing over rocky terrain
  • Hiking around boulders
  • Hiking through dense forests

It may be hard to find, but you also want a shoe that still provides comfort and stability to get you through long backpacking trips.

Since these shoes are made to help you through difficult terrain, it is important they are at least a mid-cut, but a high-cut is also great in this situation since it will provide much more support for your ankles throughout your hike. 

Flexibility is less important and in fact you want a much stiffer hiking shoe for backpacking and difficult terrain because the stiffness will help you to make it through the slicker parts of the trail.

A good difficult terrain hiking shoe also needs to have the durability to get you through many long backpacking excursions with sufficient support for your needs.

Hiking in Snowy Conditions

Hiking in the snow is a whole other ball game.

It requires a very specific type of hiking shoe, one that checks all the boxes. You want a shoe with great traction, warmth, comfort and weather-proof.

For snowy winter hiking, you want to make sure you have a high cut hiking boot designed to prevent snow from getting in through the top.

You also want to look for a waterproof model so your feet won’t get wet throughout the day.

You may want to look into the Ugg Adirondack III boot, the Merrell Thermo Kiruna boot, the Salmon Vaya Powder boot or the Sorel Out ‘n About Plus Conquest boot.

With sufficient durability and insulation, you can be sure that you stay warm and that your hiking shoes will last for as long as you need them.

Winter hikes can be some of the most fun that you experience, but only if your hiking boots are giving you what you need to be comfortable despite the winter weather.

Hiking should be an enjoyable experience full of adventure in the outdoors. But just because it is an adventure doesn’t mean you should be uncomfortable at all. 

Having the right hiking shoes can make all the difference for your next hike.

Leaving you free to take in the beautiful views surrounding the challenging trails.

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