If you are into hiking, you already know the importance of hiking shoes when you are out wandering or exploring the trails. Any discomfort to your feet not only makes you struggle on each step but also causes severe damage to toes or heels during your backpacking trips. That is why picking the best hiking shoes becomes a vital necessity for any hiker.
Though it is easy to say, finding the best hiking shoes can be challenging as there are several attributes you need to consider. One can consider the best lightweight hiking shoes as the right pick, but in reality, you need to check on weight, comfort, support, and waterproofing abilities, as well.
To help you in picking the right hiking shoes, we have gone through several hiking shoe reviews and created a list of the 10 best hiking shoes in 2021. With that, we have also added a comprehensive buying guide, so that you can filter the right pick for you.
If you're shopping for very lightweight hiking shoes, look for models that have a "rock plate" —a tough insert in the forefoot — to protect your feet from roots, pointy rocks, and other trail hazards. A tough, thick midsole and outsole can serve a similar purpose.
Want a more supportive hiking shoe? Look for models with a nylon or lightweight metal shank to provide extra stability and support. That shank will reduce your shoe's tendency to twist and bend as you walk over uneven ground.
Will you be doing a lot of walking in damp or wet terrain? Waterproof shoes might be a great solution. But keep in mind that they're only waterproof up until about the tongue of the shoes. Step in water or mud higher than that and you'll end up with wet feet and shoes — and waterproof shoes take a long time to dry out.
How To Choose The Best Day Hiking Shoes – Buying Guide
Just like any other product, the material is the first thing you need to consider while picking hiking shoes for yourself.
- Upper Layer: Made up of leather, synthetic material, or a mixture of the two, this layer is responsible for protection, resistance to water, and breathability.
- Midsole: The midsole sits above the sole of the shoe and just below the insole. It acts as a shock absorber and helps your foot deal with the constant impact. The midsole is also generally made of two different types of materials namely EVA and TPU.
- Outsole: The outsole is mainly responsible for gripping and traction, thus needs the utmost focus while making a choice. Almost all outsoles are made of rubber but feature different types of lugs to create a difference.
One of the big differences that you find between shoes and boots for hiking is the waterproofing. You may not need waterproofing all the time but if you are going in snow or wet area, you must pick a shoe with top-grade waterproofing.
A typical hiking shoe always offers high support to your feet. For doing so it considers several ways such as overall height, stiffness from the heel to the middle of the shoe, flexibility in front, type of sole, and so on.
Another important aspect of a hiking shoe is the grip it offers on various surfaces and a nice way to understand is to look at its traction abilities. There are several factors such as materials, lugs, designs that ultimately affect the traction ability of a shoe.
Generally, lightweight hiking shoes are considered to be better as they allow you to cover miles and miles without causing fatigue. However, considering the lightest shoe can ask you to compromise on other attributes such as durability, support, or traction. That is why the best hiking shoes are the ones that equate the balance considering all the aspects including the weight.
Durability is a key feature with most products but for hiking especially as your equipment is going to take a lot of punishment. That is why the best hiking shoes stand high on durability and so should be your choice.
Hiking needs a lot of body effort that makes your feet warm and sweaty. In such cases, a breathable upper layer can help you keep your feet dry and comfortable. That is why you need to ensure that your choice comes with a layer that offers a good amount of breathability.
As there are patented and unique lacing systems associated with brands or shoes, you can spend some time and look for a lacing system that allows you an easy in and out in shoe and keeps the shoe secure in its place without getting loose unintentionally.
With all other aspects, ensuring the right fit is equally important and hiking shoes come in different sizes and have a tight or loose fit that suits different segments of hiker. Depending on your choice of preference, you can select a shoe that is perfect for your purpose.
There are several attributes such as height, laces, mesh, color, etc. that affect the appearance and style of a hiking shoe. Moreover, few of these shoes come with a short shoe like appearance, that is preferred by many hikers as they can be used for casual outings as well.
Unlike normal shoes, hiking shoes come with an additional layer for toe protection. Having such protection adds confidence while keeping you protected from stones and other elements on the trail. Just like the outer sole, the quality of this layer is dependent on the material and design.
The insole of your hiking shoe is that first layer of protection between you and the ground. Depending on the feet and comfort, hikers have a different choice for insoles. There is also additional support to the insoles and that is why If you think you have specific requirements, such as help with your arches, pick that hiking shoe which fits all your requirements.
The difference between hiking shoes and hiking boots is the support that you are going to get in your ankle. The reason for this is the height as boots go above the ankle whereas shoes have a low-top fit which is just above it. If you are comfortable with additional ankle support, you can go with that as it also adds extra protection while you are on a hike.
Q: What Is the Difference Between Shoes and Boots for Hiking?
A hiking boot is the one that has higher height and offers protection till ankles, while hiking shoes are the one that has low ankle design but is light in weight.
Q: Are Hiking Shoes Necessary?
If you are going or planning to go on hikes frequently, you need to have hiking shoes as they come with dedicated features that make hiking comfortable and enjoyable for you.
Q: Do I Need to Wear Socks with My Hiking Shoes?
Yes. As Hiking socks are a lot more specialized than your regular socks, wearing them with hiking shoes can add a layer of comfort and protection to your feet.
Q: How to Avoid Blisters?
Blisters are the enemy of anyone who loves walking. To avoid them you need high-quality footwear which is going to be comfortable and also has a great fit.
Q: How Does Hiking Shoes Improve Hiking?
Hiking shoes bring you comfort at different levels thus help in improving your hiking in many ways. They help you avoid blisters, absorb shocks, and protect your joints too. Moreover, they offer excellent traction that boosts your confidence and lets you challenge your limits and improve your hiking abilities accordingly.
Q: How To Clean Shoes For Hiking?
Gently washing the inside of the shoe with an anti-bacterial product will help to reduce any smell Even hot water also helps with this but make sure the shoes are not soaked in water. For removing little pieces of dirt, you can use a brush or air drying but avoid direct contact with heat.
Q: Can I Wear My Shoes for Hiking in Winter?
It depends. If the temperature is low and you have a hiking shoe that can keep your feet warm, you can wear your hiking shoes.
Globo Surf Overview
Shoes for hiking are a brilliant way to get out there on a trail and have a very comfortable and easy hiking experience. But to pick the best hiking shoe you need to go through different factors and balance the equation between weight, durability, breathability, stability, and waterproofing to select the best for you. Though all of the hiking shoes in our list are top-rated, the best hiking shoes for you are the one that suits your feet and purpose the most. Hopefully, our list and guide have given you all the information you need to go for the right pick.
More Backpacking/Hiking Reviews:
- Hiking Pants
- Hiking Socks
- Shoe Glue
- Dslr Camera
- G Shock Watch
- Trekking Poles
- Tactical Boots
- Backpacking Stove
- Backpacking Sleeping Pad