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To choose your hiking footwear well, you must research the models available on the market, and opt for the one that best matches your needs and activities. Walking sandals, shoes and boots for short and long hikes, fast hiking shoes it’s up to you to decide the main purpose of your footwear, and to choose your model accordingly.
Short-distance hiking shoes and boots are among the bestselling models because of their versatility and lightness. Often mid or low cut, they give the feet full protection and have thick, lugged outsoles to reduce the risk of injury. Some models are waterproof, and they also offer excellent breathability.
Fairly similar to the previous type, long-distance hiking boots have a stiffer outsole and a fairly thick midsole. Often with a high-cut upper, they are ideal for multi-day hikes and for some treks.
Initially designed for running and power walking, fast hiking shoes are also ideal for venturing onto highly technical terrain. They offer excellent hold and high protection, and deliver good foot-roll. However, they are less rugged than traditional hiking footwear, and will therefore wear out faster.
Walking sandals are your best ally on summer walks and hikes through fields: they’re very light and offer maximum breathability. Especially well suited to heat, they do the job on easy and flat paths, but should be avoided on more challenging terrain as they offer relatively precarious stability and protection.
Having defined your specific requirements, don’t forget to analyse the respective features of hiking shoes and boots. To choose the right pair, you also need to know how they’re built and the role they perform, so that they match your level and activity.
The outsole is your feet-ground interface. To deliver serious performance, it must combine grip, traction and cushioning. Softer rubber means better grip and traction, but it will wear out faster.
Leather or synthetic fabric? You choose! Leather is natural and waterproof, but needs to be well cared for and isn’t very breathable.Synthetic fabrics, however, are highly breathable but sometimes let the wet in. The material you select will therefore depend on your requirements, and on the type of weather and terrain you will experience most often.
The cut of your footwear’s upper plays a key role in your protection. The higher the upper, the greater safety it will provide – protecting your ankles and feet from knocks, cuts, sprains, etc.
Besides the model and its features, fit is also a big criterion when selecting a pair of hiking boots. To avoid any blunders, here’s some advice to consider before you buy :