If there is one thing that significantly determines the success of your hiking trip, it is your choice of footwear. Hiking is often a long and tedious affair that will have you on your feet for most of the time. It is thus essential to pick the best pair of hiking shoes and test them before the actual hike. Testing gives you time to make necessary adjustments before D-day. Consider these eight features that expert hikers rely on to choose quality hiking shoes.
1. Good Fit
Before anything else, hiking shoes should always have a good fit. The right hiking shoe should be neither too tight nor too big for your feet. While tight shoes tamper with proper blood circulation to your feet, loose shoes can make you vulnerable to sprains. You will also end up exerting too much pressure on your feet to drag along the big shoes. A wrong fit usually makes you lose energy prematurely. Ensure your chosen pair are the best fit for your feet.
2. Firm Soles
The soles of your hiking shoes should be firm enough to hold without wobbling. That means that they should preferably be flat-based. Avoid shoes with heels because they do not provide the best support on rocky and other uneven terrains. Make sure you also check the stitching or binding that connects the sole to the rest of the shoe. If you notice any tears or gaps, make sure to get them reinforced before taking them out for hiking.
In general, good hiking shoes should feel comfortable on your feet. Comfort comes in different aspects including perfect fitting, cushioned inner and outer soles, and space for natural blood circulation. One way of knowing how comfortable the shoes are is by taking them for a spin for a whole day. If you can stay in them for an entire day without any problems, then they are most likely comfortable.
4. Ankle Support
Most people make the mistake of wearing shoes without ankle support during hiking. However, you will see that quality hiking shoes always offer firm ankle support to the wearer. Your ankle is one of the main weight carrying points you use, and it should be adequately supported. This is especially true if your hiking destination is of steep elevation. Therefore, look for hiking shoes with the ankle-boot feature for the best result.
Excellent hiking shoes always have shoelaces. I know that might seem unnecessary, but the truth is shoelaces aid in giving your feet support. Shoelaces fasten the shoes to your feet, thus ensuring they do not come off even when you run. Shoelaces also ease the pressure of lifting the boots with every step, as they help distribute the weight throughout the whole foot.
6. Tough Exterior
If you plan to hike areas such as Mount Longonot, Menengai Crater or even the Karura Forest, rest assured there will be thorns and sharp rocks. Without the right hiking shoes, you will be vulnerable to pricks and stabs to your feet. Therefore, always check that your chosen hiking shoes have good exterior material and design to keep your feet safe from injury.
As you can tell by now, the sole of the shoe plays a significant role in its overall performance. Quality hiking shoes should have well-defined treads for best traction. If your shoes lack traction, you risk suffering accidents from slipping or sliding during hiking.
Lastly, stress-free hiking shoes should be light in weight. Stout shoes are uncomfortable and they cause you to use up more energy than necessary. When hiking, a lot can happen. For example, you may come near a dangerous animal, which will require you to run for your life. When you have heavy shoes, this might prove difficult. You should have light shoes that are easy to drag and lift even on reasonable grounds.
Hiking is always a great way to explore the country especially when you do not have enough time for a full trip. Hiking is also an excellent way to keep fit while reconnecting with nature. That is why you need good shoes for the best experience. So whether you end up with a Scarpa, a Salomon, a Lowa or a Meindl these features should be present if you are in the market for well-mannered hiking shoes for your upcoming expedition.