January 19, 2013
Hiking shoes are must-haves when you’re on the trail. Sure, they can be expensive, but they sure beat a pair of ordinary shoes when you’re backcountry hiking on some roughhewn path to nowhere on any given day. Not only are they sturdy enough to withstand the aches of stepping on rocky paths, but they also protect your feet from getting wet and getting blisters as a result. With a good pair of hiking shoes, you can finish the hike faster and safer than you ordinarily would. And that’s the reason why hiking shoes are so important.
Below are some factors you ought to consider when you’re in the market for hiking shoes:
Heavy or Light?
When someone says hiking shoes, the first thing that comes to your mind is strong, tough, sturdy pair of leather boots. In addition, the boots should also be heavy and durable, great for serious mountaineering. But leather boots may only be good if your trail is extremely tough that even long-time hikers consider it a challenge – like a trek through rough country for instance or treks that last longer than two days.
For any other trek, the recommended hiking shoes are those that are a little more lightweight than leather. Lightweights are made of plastics, nylon and other synthetics. Because of the material they’re made of, they are literally a burden off your feet, not only in terms of weight but in terms of comfort.
There is a rule when it comes to soles: The thicker the Vibram rubber sole and the deeper the treads or “lugs,” the greater the traction, but the heavier the boot. So you have to consider which among these is more important to you. If you want to finish your hike faster, heavier boots are going to weigh you down. On the other hand, if you want greater protection and traction, then wearing heavy hiking boots is but a tiny snag to the ends you seek.
Likewise, the stiffer the “mid-sole” layer above the rubber sole, the stronger but less pliable and comfortable the boot. Day hikers do not need steel or plastic mid-soles as the hike is often too short for that kind of protection. However, mountaineers may need them.
Notice those stitching systems that join the boot to the sole? Well, those are called welts in boot lingo, and the better the welts, the stronger the join, Hence, welts make hiking shoes that are more water-tight, more durable, though perhaps less flexible. Lighter hiking shoes use bonding cement joins.
Aside from the appropriateness of the hiking shoes and the cost, another factor that needs looking into is the size. When it comes to size, there’s only one rule: get it right. Unlike boot types where kind depends on the type of hiking you’re getting into, size doesn’t depend on anything other than what it already does. Because if you get the size wrong, you and your hiking mates will regret it. Seek out a reputable store and an experienced salesperson to find the best fit. Here’s a tip: wear the same socks you will be wearing when buying shoes.
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