Hiking is always a memorable experience. If you have ever indulged in a hiking trip, you would have probably seen a bunch of road-tested perma-travelers carrying heavy over-sized knap-sacks walking through the mountains or the dark thick forest searching for personal liberation. You would always wonder what is the driving force behind such ‘’insane’’ adventures. The feeling is epic!
If you are chocked up with life and want some personal space, or you are looking to lose some weight and take up a new lifestyle then you should consider hitting the outdoors and going up the trails. You can start form your immediate environment and explore your local parks and neighborhood before going out into the wild.
Hiking helps you explore your environment and nature itself while building up the required healthy stamina. If you are overweight and do not want to take up strenuous activity yet, hiking will help build strength and endurance in your legs and lungs.
It will help your body gradually get used to strenuous activities as it will always present the right amount of challenge for you at the right time.
If you have mind up your mind and decided to take up your bags and hit the trails, you are in for an awesome experience!
There are few things you have to know about hiking. The most important thing is choosing the right hiking shoes. Hiking is all about your feet, what you wear on your feet matters a lot as it will tell how comfortable you will be and how much more yards you will be able to cover before retreating.
Hiking boots and shoes are very much different from our regular fashion and sports footwear. They are specifically designed to protect your feet and ankles during hiking and other outdoor walking activities.
The hiking boots are an essential component of the hiking gear because the quality and durability of your boots can predominately determine your ability to walk long distances without hurt or injury to your feet. They are built to provide you with all the comfort even when you maneuver through rough typographies and terrain.
For successful hiking trips, you are advised to get good hiking boots to help prevent blisters and sore feet.
Finding the right hiking boots is as serious as matchmaking, your choice in hiking boots needs to blend with your hiking plans and sites and will have to be the perfect fit for your feet.
With plenty of choice today, you will definitely need proper knowledge to be able to pick the right choice.
Types of Hiking Boots
For you to find the perfect hiking shoes, you will need to know the different types of hiking boots. Here is a rundown of the various types of hiking boots.
Day Hiking Boots
Day hiking boots are designed for short and light day trips. These boots range from mid-to-high cut models that will serve your backpacking trips with light loads. They are light, easy, and require little break-in time, but cannot provide the support and durability of stout hiking boots.
These are stronger multi-purpose boots designed to carry heavier loads on several day trips and hiking. These types of boots are built with a high cut that wraps around your ankles for excellent support.
They are very durable, supportive with stronger midsoles than lightweight footwear and are excellent for on or off the trail hiking trips.
Mountain Hiking Boots
The mountain boots are made for mountain climbers and hikers, hill walking, and mountaineering. These special types of boots are very strong, durable and usually taller and stiffer than backpacking boots.
Mountain boots have stringer soles and provide the ankles and feet with insulation, support, and protection.
Rubber shoes are made from rubber and have good waterproof and drying abilities. This makes it ideal for crossing rivers while keeping the inside of your boots dry.
Although they have good qualities, they are not the best choice for hiking purposes and extensive use because it will cause your feet to breathe and sweat profusely, this can cause you to have blisters, trench foot and even fungal infections. The negative effects cancel out any good quality the rubber boots have.
Components of A Good Hiking Shoes
The hiking boots are designed with many components to always keep your feet comfortable while you hike. Let’s look at the competent of every good hiking shoe.
The Upper Part (Uppers)
The upper part of the hiking boots offers adequate support to the ankles and are made from the following materials:
Full Grain Leather
Full grain leather is usually used in backpacking and mountain boots built for multi-day trips, they offer excellent durability, water resistance and cover up for abrasions. They are fit for heavy loads and rugged terrain and requires ample break-in time for extended trips. They are heavy and not as light as the nylon/split-grain leather counterparts.
Nubuck leather is full-grain that has been modified to look like suede. They are also very durable and water and abrasion resistance. They are not all that flexible and require longer break-in time before a multi-day hiking trip.
Split Grain Leather
Split grain leather is a combination of leather and nylon or nylon mesh to create a lightweight boot. The split grain leather provides quality breathability as they split away from the rough inner parts of the leather from the smooth exterior. This provides a lightweight lower cost model. It has a lesser resistance to water and abrasion when compared to full grain leather.
This is polyester, synthetic leather, and nylon. They are common features in modern boots and are usually prefable because of the lightweight.
They break-in more quickly, dry faster and are less expensive when compared to original leather. They also wear out faster and needs plenty stitches when used regularly.
Water Resistant Membrane
Water resistant shoes have uppers built with waterproof/breathable membranes to ensure that your feet are dry even in wet conditions. They are very good for crossing rivers and hiking on snow and glaciers but the membrane reduces breathability which will, in turn, cause your feet to sweat profusely on hot days.
These are boots part made without any animal ingredients or by-products, especially for vegan hikers.
For hikers and mountaineers that take on snow and glaciers, insulation materials are added to their uppers to provide them warmth and protect their feet from cold terrain.
Hiking Shoes Midsole
The midsole is the component of the hiking shoe that provides cushioning, protects the feet from shock and provides the adequate comfort. The midsole of a hiking boot determines its stiffness.
Stiff boots do not look good but if you are planning on taking on a rock, uneven terrain, then a stiff boot might be the right choice. The stiff boot will protect your feet as you step on rocks and tree roots.
The most common midsole materials are polyurethane and ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA).
The polyurethane is usually firm and more durable, used extensively in bag packing and mountaineering boots for greater comfort.
The ethylene vinyl acetate is lighter and less expensive. Boot makers use varying densities of EVA to provide firm support around the fore foot and other areas.
These are made up of shanks and plates
The shanks are inserts placed between the outsold and the midsole to add load bearing stiffness to the midsole. They vary in length, some can cover the entire length of the midsole while some covers just half. They are 3 to 5 mm thick.
Plates are think semi-flexible inserts positioned below the shank between the outsole and midsole to protect the feet from getting bruised by roots or uneven rocks.
The outsoles of a boot are usually made of rubber, other additives like zinc and carbon are added to mountaineering or backpacking boots to increase their hardness. Hard outer soles increase the durability of your hiking boots but sometimes may hurt your feet if you go off trail. Hiking boots outsoles have two components: the lug pattern and the heel breaks.
These are traction-giving bumps you find on the outsole. Spaced out lugs offer good traction and shed mud ore easily while deep and tick lugs are used in mountain and backpacking boots to improve the grip.
This helps prevent you from sliding when you descend steep terrains and sloppy trails. It is the defined heel zone on your outsole different from the forefoot and arch.
Qualities of A Good Hiking Shoe
The Right Fit
The wrong fit will eventually lead to blisters, blackened toenails, bone spurs, sprained arches, and other feet problems.
The right shoes with the right socks will definitely ensure your feet is secured no matter how long you hike and the trails you follow.
You should always look at for small show points. Small features like overall thickness and toe fit can either cause or relieve pressure problems, the choice of your socks can alter how your boots fit so it is advisable to get the boot with the right socks.
A good boot should perfectly fit you no matter what the size number, so even if the boot is your size number but doesn’t fit you, you should ignore it.
A good boot will not cramp your toes. Toe boxes are very important as they are difficult to remold perfectly.
For you to pick the best hiking shoe that will suit you, you have to try out several pairs. Wear them and walk around in them for some time, carrying heavy backpacks and even trying out rough trails.
There are specific hiking shoes for different hiking activities like stated above. They are lightweight shoes for lesser hiking activities and heavy weight shoes for mountaineers and backpackers. The right shoes should fit its purpose and should not be used wrongly.
A good hiking shoe has the right build and construction. The right construction determines the quality of your boot. High-end boots are made with full leather grain.
The mix of leather and synthetic materials will give a lighter more flexible option, but less durable compared to full grain leather. The mix of leather and synthetic materials also makes the boots less expensive.
The midsoles of many hiking shoes are made from EVA, but some high-end boots use polyhedrane, for better stiffness and durability. The outer soles of hiking shoes are normally made with rubber, but the thickness varies for different shoes.
Soft outsoles are more flexible but are easily worn off due to wear and tear while hard soles are good for rough terrains with better durability but they feel slick in wet surfaces.
A good hiking shoe is well detailed, the construction process has a lot of impact on the hiking shoe and you should pay attention to every detail to pick the best shoe for your hiking trips. Details like the lace, the feel, how it bends and other subtle signs are likely to give out a bad hiking shoe.
You should carefully go through the specifications and previous reviews to find out how others feel about the shoe and it has fared in the market.
The best pair of hiking boots is the first step to a memorable hiking experience. You will love to engage in this fun activity if you have the right gear and helpful guides that would help see you through the trip.
So, if you intend to start with short hiking trips or want to go on daring multi-trips, you need the right set of boots to achieve your hiking dreams.
From the detail above you are bound to be properly guided and will definitely pick the right, comfortable, durable, and quality boots for your hiking trips.