What shoes to choose when hiking?

What shoes to choose

when hiking?

Shoes are the most important part of your equipment.

Basics about shoes is to use shoes for the right purpose. If you are hiking in rocky terrain or carrying a heavy backpack, wear real hiking boots. If you are hiking or running broad paths without stones or roots and without a backpack, you can easily wear running shoes.

The difficulty probably lies in between. Is it a steep ascent without big stones and only some small water streams? Are you going on a weekend trip and maybe just do a short and easy hike? Then you have more opportunities. Below are some tips on what shoes to choose.

Finally, blisters can easily destroy a hike no matter how beautiful the surroundings are or how nice your company is. I have always suffered from blisters but I have learnt by now how to avoid them. Read my tips below!

Hiking boots

Real hiking boots are a must if you are hiking in high mountain terrain, especially if it is a rocky path since you need shoes with a sole that gives you a steady grip in rocky or sandy terrain. The difference compared to running shoes is huge!

Hiking boots are also a must if you are carrying a heavy backpack with a equipment for a few days. The reason is that the sole must give you enought support to carry the weight.

If you have decided to invest in a pair of hiking boots there are a lot of different labels to choose between. The most important thing is finding a pair of boots that fit your feet. Shoes that are a little too big around the heel will sooner or later give you blisters. Also, the hiking boots need to be high enough to give you support around the wrists.

"The most important thing is finding

a pair of boots that fit your feet."

There are leather boots and mesh boots, Gore-Tex or not. Leather boots give you some protection against water. Gore-Tex are, however, more safe in that aspect. The disadvantage with Gore-Tex is that if they get really, really wet it will take some time for them to dry up. 

Mesh boots are softer and probably feel more comfortable in the beginning. They are also a little cheaper than leather boots or Gore-Tex boots. The disadvantage is that they are not as durable or stable as leather boots.

Trailrunning shoes

Trailrunning shoes are my favorites. They are lightweight and are less likely to give you any blisters if you have problems with that. Compared to ordinary running shoes the sole is harder and gives a far better grip in rocky or sandy terrain than running shoes.

You sometimes see people running in the mountains. They are using trailrunning shoes. They are used to running crossing streams and rocks and have trained their muscles, feet and balance for that. If you are not used to running and walking in difficult terrain, it might be difficult to keep you balance with these shoes and you risk wiggling one of your feet really bad.

Anyway, if you know the terrain is not that difficult, slippery or rocky you can sometimes very well use this kind of shoes instead of hiking boots. They are also a little cheaper than hiking boots.

We often bring our trailrunning shoes for weekend trips when the terrain is easier and we are not walking very far. They don´t not fill up a bag like hiking boots and they weigh a lot less.

Running shoes

It is always a good idea to bring your running shoes if you want to take a run in the morning or if you are walking the streets of a lovely city. If they are light-weight it is also a good idea to bring them along with your camping equipment as an extra pair of shoes in the evening or if you get really bad blisters.

The BIG question: How to avoid blisters?

Depending on the shape of your feet you might be very used to getting blisters. You are probably also a bit tired of those telling you that they never get any blisters and that you should simply stop complaining.

Thing is, unless you are one of the lucky ones that happens to have the feet the boots were cut for or can afford buying hiking boots that are 100 per cent customized to your feet, you will probably sooner or later end up with blisters. 

Too bad, most day hikes start with an ascent and that increases the risk for blisters on your heels since the shoe is scraping your heel all the way up if they don´t fit your feet perfectly. Also, if it is warm, your socks will probably get sweaty and that increases the risk for blisters.

But don´t give up. There are several ways to at least reduce the risk of getting blisters:

  • Walk with your shoes at home for several days before going on "the" hike.

  • Try different set ups of socks. Some use two pairs of woolen socks: one thinner sock as a first layer and one a little thicker as a second layer. Others use a pair of nylon socks as a first layer and then woolen socks as a second layer. The risk with nylon socks is that they easily break. 

  • Use clean and dry socks. Dry your socks when taking a break, especially if it is sunny and warm. Your socks will dry in no time at all if you let them dry in the sun.

  • Tape your feet. This is the only thing that works for me and I got this idea after reading about long marches in the military. Taping your feet is in a way the same thing as using an extra pair of socks, but with perfect fitting. Some say you shall tape your feet a couple of days before hiking so that the tape becomes like a part of your skin. Taping your feet can be done in several ways depending on where blisters like to show up. I always get blisters on my heels so I protect them like this:

Great tape!

Just did it

2 days later

Leukoplast works fine with me. There is also water proof Leukoplast in a blue coloured box but from my experience it fell off as soon as it got in touch with water.

Now that you know what shoes to choose, let´s go hiking!