IN a recent article, newcomers to the hiking craze were advised on what to look out for when choosing footwear. Given the nature of the activity, the shoes are the most important element of all the required gear. So for the moment, forget about the cute fanny pack or the macho-looking military-style water tumbler and give full attention to choosing the right footwear.
The HikingGuy website categorised the types of hiking footwear into the following categories:
If you want the best option and are okay getting new shoes every 800 km or so, go with trail running shoes. They are lighter and more “springy” than hiking shoes. Trail runners have more breathable uppers than hiking shoes, but offer less protection.
If you’re bushwacking off-trail, trail runners are probably not the best bet. But the lightness and comfort make hiking feel like you are walking down the street in sneakers. Some trail runners have problems with durability and will last much less than 800 km.
Hiking shoes take the best elements of hiking boots and trail runners and combine them into one. They are lighter and more comfortable than hiking boots, but generally offer the same level of protection (minus the cuff around your ankle).
Hiking shoes are designed to last longer than a trail runner but are usually a little heavier because of the extra protection. They’re also a bit stiffer than a trail runner. Overall the durability, lighter weight, and and protection offer the best balance for hikers.
If you just want the maximum protection and a shoe that will last (potentially) for thousands of kilometres, go with a hiking boot. These are tough as nails. Overall they are heavier and require more energy to hike with. If you are going off-trail or want something very beefy for all conditions, including wet weather, a hiking boot is a good choice.
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