Your first backpacking trip might be ruined by choosing the incorrect footwear. Don’t misunderstand me—you don’t need to spend $800 on personalised shoes to appreciate your adventure. You might get blisters, aching feet, and other discomforts and strains if the shoes you select aren’t cosy, don’t fit properly, and aren’t appropriate for the lengthy excursions you plan to take.
A pair of conventional, full-leather boots can be your first option if you haven’t done much or any hiking previously. With a few notable exceptions, they are not the best choice for the majority of novice hikers or anybody searching for all-purpose footwear, so resist the urge to buy them. They are weighty, to start. Although they have seen substantial technological advancement in recent years, most leather boots still need to be broken in before they can conform to the shape of your feet when you walk (they are not your typical long-distance hiking boots). They add extra weight, which is another crucial problem. According to a renowned U.S. Army study from 1984, carrying 1 pound on your feet requires as much energy as carrying 5 pounds in a rucksack. strain quickly.
So what sort of footwear are recommended for new hikers? There isn’t a universal solution to this, but there are some suggestions that can assist you in finding the right match. In general, trail runners and hiking boots are the two shoe alternatives that hikers should choose.
Runners on trails Making a lightweight decision while selecting shoes for a lengthy hiking journey is frequently a smart option (refer to the military research we just discussed). A pair of trail runners or low-cut hiking shoes could be the way to go if you’re planning a backpacking trip with a light load, largely hiking on level or well-maintained trails, or if you’re a day hiker who occasionally goes out overnight. What to look for is listed below.
Look for models with some stability and a mild drop. Experienced hikers choose zero-drop trail runners, which have no height difference between the big toe and the heel. Altra’s Lone Peak series is one of the most popular choices for long-distance hikers, especially on the Pacific Crest Trail. But they may be challenging to adjust to, and you can experience a little more weariness, particularly on the uphill, if you’re new to long-distance hiking or using shoes with more apparent elevation fluctuations. The Merrell MT-2 Long Sky 2, a tough, toothy trail runner that tackles hardpack, mud, and loose trail conditions alike, is a favourite among our reviewers. Additionally, they are lightweight, weighing around 8 ounces for ladies and 10 ounces for men each pair.
The Anacapa Mid GTX is the all-purpose boot we’ve been waiting for (Photo: Inga Hendrickson)Hiking Boots
You might want to think about mid-cut boots for support if you frequently utilise equipment that weighs more than 20 pounds, trek in difficult terrain, or want to go hiking in challenging places. In contrast to vintage boots, the majority of contemporary styles are thinner and lighter than their forerunners. Due to the increased stiffness and decreased flexibility of boots, it’s crucial to test them out before buying more so than with trail runners. You’re prone to get hotspots if your kick doesn’t fit properly.
The Hoka One One Anacapa Mid Boots were our Editors’ Choice for beginner-friendly, all-purpose boots in 2022. They did incredibly well in every situation we could think of, from rainy woods to parched desert hardpack. They have the same cosy design as Hoka’s other boots, with a broad last that feels almost barefoot on long treks and a thick EVA midsole that is exceptionally comfy on the trail. They are the lightest pair of full-featured boots you can find, weighing in at just 2 pounds for a men’s pair.
Adidas Terrex Free Hiker 2 Hiking Shoe
Choosing the Right Footwear for Long Hikes
For your lengthy journey, are you thinking of making a compromise between hiking boots and trail runners? For a lengthy trip, a hiking shoe might provide more flexibility with the support of a boot. They are often less flexible and somewhat more supportive than your normal trail runner, but they are lighter than a complete boot. The Adidas Terrex Free Hiker 2.0 hiking shoe is my particular favourite because it has a soft, sock-like fit and a strong, solid EVA frame-integrated gaiter. It weighs around 1 pound 13 ounces each pair, which is about similar to a lightweight boot, but it feels considerably less bulky. For males, it is now on sale for around $140, and for ladies, it is under $200.)
Advice on Purchasing Shoes for Novice Hikers
- Spend money on insoles; you’ll be glad you did. With the Trade Labs Pace Insole Kit, you can quickly switch out a single insole between several pairs of shoes thanks to the removable foam cover that fastens to an arch support with hook-and-loop tape.
- Keep Shoes From Being Too Waterproof: If you’re walking through a hot, dry area, it’s best to avoid models with Gore-Tex-like membranes and instead choose a pair that dries rapidly. When your feet begin to perspire, you’ll be grateful for the capacity to breathe.