The breadth of options available for hiking footwear is enormous. To further complicate things, experts will tout their own favorites – but those picks are still based on a wide variety of preferences. The reality is that footwear always comes down to personal opinion. Figuring out what footwear is best for you often requires logging some miles and trial and error. Whether you buy them online or in a store, make sure the retailer has a good return policy. To point you in the right direction, here are some favorites across the different categories.
Boots are the tried and true timeless hiking footwear. They offer stability, protection, comfort and durability. However, they also sacrifice speed, weight, and the ability to dry out quickly. Boots are a good option for rugged terrain and when stability is the top priority. Other options have gained in popularity recently, but there will always be a niche for boots.
Which boots do you prefer?
The rise of the athletic shoe in the hiking community has been well documented. Trail runners have become the choice of many long-distance hikers over the past decade. While light, fast, quick drying and comfortable, they aren’t as reliable in inclement weather or rough terrain. They can also break down much quicker than other options.
Which trail runners do you prefer?
If Goldilocks was a hiker, she would probably say that boots are too heavy, but trail runners don’t provide enough support. The middle ground of mid-weight shoes is what we call hybrids. They sit firmly between the durability and rugged support of boots and the light, fast minimalist style of trail runners. That’s why their popularity has been increasing drastically among all levels of hikers. We think Goldilocks would approve.
Which hybrid shoes do you prefer?