What are Hiking Shoes?
This review is dealing with hiking shoes. This type of footwear is generally used by those who enjoy the outdoors.
Hiking shoes are unique in the fact that they are quite rugged when compared to other styles and therefore, they are the ideal choice when safety and comfort need to enjoy a hand-in-hand relationship.
How Do Hiking Shoes Function?
Hiking shoes are based off of the ability to provide functional support while not sacrificing mobility. The best designs are also able to stand up to the elements including rain, snow and mud.
It is also important to point out that these shoes are constructed from modern materials that allow air to penetrate the interior. The best models are therefore able to wick sweat away from the foot; helping to prevent mould and bacteria from forming.
Finally, hiking shoes can also be equipped with specific features such as high-visibility markings or steel toe inserts. These and other amenities can be used to address specific applications (such as walking in the evening or negotiating areas associated with rockfalls).
Advantages and Applications
The best hiking shoes on the market offer several unique advantages. It can be argued that the most important involves providing stability to the foot and ankle. Many outdoor injuries result from sudden jarring movements or the occasional strain.
While this is frustrating for those who might be close to home, it is important to mention that such instances can be quite dangerous in regards to longer journeys and those who might not have access to medical assistance.
The majority of the best hiking shoes have been equipped with space-age materials in order to provide the user with a lightweight feel while not compromising their integrity. Therefore, it is possible to walk longer distances without suffering from issues such as pain or fatigue. This very same trait once again increases the levels of safety that the individual can enjoy.
One of the reasons why so many online reviews exist arises from the fact that there are countless applications which can be addressed by innovative hiking shoes. Some are solely designed to be used when traversing difficult terrain such as valleys or steep inclines.
Others have been fashioned with high-grip soles; providing a greater sense of balance when negotiating snow and ice. Additional variants are engineered to work well in colder environments and they can help to prevent dangerous situations such as hypothermia or even frostbite. There are likewise varieties designed for speed and agility as opposed to strength alone.
What Types of Hiking Shoes are There?
This review will provide an even greater level of insight if we look at a quick comparison of the different types of hiking shoes on the market today. While most share more than one similarity, the sheer number and variety of models is intended to address equally unique situations.
Let’s take a quick look at the main types of hiking shoes to choose from:
- Light hiking shoes
- “Approach” models
- Middleweight hiking shoes
- Heavy-duty hiking boots
- Mountaineering models
The best boots in reach category provide a host of features and yet, some drawbacks might still be present. Light hiking shoes are comfortable and yet, they are not suited for rugged terrain. Approach boots are generally suited for specific activities such as rock climbing as opposed to long-distance walks. The best middleweight hiking shoes are great all-around options for those who want superior levels of control and yet, they may not stand up to the rigours associated with variations in temperature.
Heavy-duty shoes are much more stable and yet, they weigh significantly more than the other models. Finally, mountaineering boots are extremely rugged and known for their superior ankle support. The only potential drawback is that fatigue can occur on longer hikes.
The Big Hiking Shoes Buyer’s Guide
Now that we have a general overview of the purposes of the best hiking shoes, it is important to survey a handful of traits to watch out during an average evaluation. This type of user test is important so you know what to avoid in advance. There is no doubt that this analysis will come in handy.
A Lack of Ventilation
The best hiking shoes will always offer your feet the ability to “breathe” when out and about. Unfortunately, low-quality models often lack this feature. While many consumers tend to overlook this attribute, it should always be highlighted that a lack of ventilation can cause any journey to become extremely uncomfortable. It is also important to mention that issues such as athlete’s foot can quickly develop. This will often lead to superficial injuries of the foot and in severe cases, it could even halt the journey altogether.
Poorly Attached Soles
Another major issue associated with some hiking shoes is that their soles can become loose after a short period of time. It is critical to perform a close examination of the base of the unit. The best designs will combine the use of high-strength glue and double stitching. If you notice that no stitching is present, it might be better to look at a different brand.
This is particularly relevant if you will negotiating steep inclines or declines, as hiking shoes which are placed under this type of stress could suddenly fail. A detailed analysis is therefore important, as a lost or damaged sole can cause real problems when miles away from civilisation.
Comfort is king in terms of hiking. The best hiking shoes are therefore engineered in such a way as to provide the feet and ankles with freedom of movement. Many high-quality brands perform suitability tests before a new design enters into the marketplace in order to ensure that the wearer will not endure severe levels of discomfort; even after walking for miles on end.
Having said this, it is also interesting to note that hiking shoes also need to be able to grip the ankle and foot. This helps to prevent accidental slips and falls. Another advantage of this feature is that there will be less chance of chafing.
One of the ways in which consumers should sample a hiking boot is to closely examine the stitching. When compared to low-quality designs, the best hiking shoes will exhibit double stitching around the exterior.
Surprisingly Lightweight Models
Even hiking shoes designed for light tasks will boast a substantial amount of mass. Those weighing very little are always suspect due to the fact that they might not be employing quality materials. This is more of an intuitive type of test, as the wearer can generally tell whether or not the unit is built to last.
Results and Experiences from Consumer Tests
Choosing the best hiking shoes on the market is actually much easier than many consumers may initially believe. This is why we have included a handful of studies within our review. The test results will clearly illustrate which models have made the cut in accordance with modern standards. Let’s take a look at what these reviews have found.
MyOutdoors.co.uk is considered to be an extremely comprehensive source in terms of transparent and objective reviews of the latest hiking shoes. What is perhaps most impressive in regards to the comparison tables that have been compiled is that they are the results of physical trials by experienced hikers as opposed to mere technical analyses. Many models have been thoroughly tested and as a result, it is much easier to determine which are the best variants as well as what to look out for. What does this review have to say?
Was Taken Into Account and What Were the Test Results?
Several factors were addressed when creating this evaluation and the associated test results were intended to provide real-time insight. The user also wore each model for a test run of 24 hours in order to fully appreciate the physical impact over time.
Having said this, the main factors that were compared included:
- Water resistance
It is interesting to note that this review primarily addressed the design of hiking shoes that were intended for climbing extremely steep slopes (such as those models which would often be chosen for mountaineering requirements).
Therefore, comfort was taken into account and this tended to be the most important metric throughout the product test. Several top brands (Berghaus, Lowa and Anatom) were included and the results themselves were not entirely surprising. Out of all of the hiking shoes which were tested, the most expensive (Anatom) scored the highest on the practical tests mentioned above.
The experiment essentially consisted of real-world tests which were conducted on different terrains and under various weather conditions. This was important, as the only way to obtain a transparent comparison was to utilise as many controls as possible (as opposed to testing the hiking shoes within the same environment).
Were There Any Differences Between the Hiking Shoes?
The comparison table provided by this study illustrated that the main difference between the surveyed models involved the weight of the hiking shoes. However, it should be noted that those weighing significantly heavier did not necessarily have an impact upon the overall score. This highlighted the fact that weight does not necessarily correlate with overall performance. In fact, the test winner weighed heavier than the other models and it still took the top spot in terms of overall performance.
The Independent.co.uk is well-known for its ability to provide unbiased and objective suitability tests and their recent survey of hiking shoes is certainly no different. The Independent compared nine of the best men’s hiking boots currently on the market. As opposed to the previous review, The Independent took price into account during the analysis. This is very beneficial for those who are on a budget and still wish to purchase quality hiking shoes.
There were also several additional features included within the examination:
- Whether or not waterproofing is present.
- The material used for the construction of the shoe.
- The sole.
- The available colours and sizes.
What Similarities Did the Best Hiking Shoes Have in Common?
One of the main features which all of the inspection test winners shared was that the soles were comprised of cutting-edge materials. Many of these substances (such as Vibran and Gripex) were actually proprietary formulations intended to provide comfort, gripping power or a balanced synergy between the two. This actually makes perfect sense, as the best hiking shoes are always associated with high degrees of stability.
Another major similarity between many of the hiking boots within the review involved the use of full-grain leather on the uppers. Leather is known for its waterproof properties and yet, it is also durable and pliable. This is essential for those who plan to use hiking boots during challenging conditions such as cold temperatures or when exposed to high levels of moisture. The Independent also took visual appeal into account; another unique approach that was not particularly emphasised in the previous study.
Were There Any Differences Between the Hiking Shoes Within this Trial?
Notwithstanding the price differences between the different models of hiking shoes, this review also compared soft-shell variants with more durable construction materials. High-top hiking shoes as well as low-top models (for more casual walking) were likewise included. While the soles were engineered from different substances, they all shared in common the fact that the review focused upon mobility, grip and the comfort of the wearer.
A Quick Look at the Top Ten Brands of Hiking Shoes Currently on the Market
Let us now continue with this review by taking a look at the top ten best hiking shoes that consumers can choose from.
- The Merrell Series of Hiking Boots
- Aku Alterra
- Mammut Hiking Shoes
This is thought by many to represent the most cost-effective version within our review and an ultra-wide base provides additional levels of support for hikers. These hiking shoes are equipped with Gore-Tex waterproofing and a secure lacing system ensures that no snags will be encountered while out and about. While not made from leather, these could be the best options for those who are on a budget.
This supplier might be considered the best provider of hiking shoes for individuals who tend to desire a more breathable model that is still completely waterproof. Regatta also incorporates a system known as IsoTex technology; allowing them to withstand prolonged exposure to water (such as when walking through streams). One of the only potential drawbacks associated with these hiking shoes and they can be slightly tough to break in; requiring a few days of wear before they adapt to one’s feet.
While slightly more expensive when compared to the previous variants, Aku Alterra hiking shoes offer extremely high tops for extra foot and ankle support. They are also quite stylish and their Italian design could be ideal for those who have been looking for a unit that offers a visual appeal. The Aku Alterra series has been featured in many reviews thanks to their fully waterproof design that will help the feet stay warm even when traversing through higher altitudes. In terms of personal preferences and unsurpassed support, these hiking shoes are certain some of the best on the market.
Mammut Hiking Shoes
This provider of low-cut hiking shoes could be the best choices in the event that a less obtrusive model is desired. While equally suited for street walking, trials have shown that they are just as capable of taking on difficult terrain with ease. It should still be mentioned that the Mammut series of hiking shoes might not be the best option for taking on rather steep terrain due to the fact that less ankle support is provided. Instead, these hiking shoes are suited more for casual treks in the wilderness. Their muted black colour will likewise work well with the majority of style preferences.
Comprised of full-grain leather and incorporating proprietary Gore-Tex waterproofing technology, these are worthwhile hiking shoes to keep in mind within this review. This line of outdoors footwear incorporates a thick sole and a high top; perfect when dealing with cold and wet environments that might present problems for low-cut variants. This is also one of the heaviest hiking shoes to be featured within our review, so users should take such a feature into account before making a purchase. However, these shoes could very well be the best option when durability is more important than aesthetic appeal.
It has been said that the Brasher selection of quality hiking shoes is a favourite by many experienced hikers. These hiking shoes boast a no-nonsense appeal and a solid overall construction. They could also be the best option in terms of mid-ranged pricing; an important concern for those who are on a budget. Still, the inclusion of thick soles and leather outer panels are ideal features in terms of overall quality. However, keep in mind that thick soles could cause slight fatigue during longer journeys in the woods.
One of the most interesting features of these hiking shoes involves the removal of standard heel supports. the main intention of the Vivo is to provide the user with a greater sense of the underlying terrain. In other words, they have done away with thicker soles. Some hikers will love this concept while others might find it slightly difficult to embrace. However, these hiking shoes are still extremely robust and completely waterproof. They are also some of the best boots in terms of overall flexibility.
Many of the hiking shoes supplied by Keen are best suited for extremely cold environments due to an increased amount of interior insulation. High tops and a firm (yet flexible) sole will help hikers deal with rougher terrains. In fact, the lining is said to be able to provide comfort in temperatures as low as -30ºC. One similarity of these models to others can be seen in the use of robust external waterproofing. Having said this, these hiking shoes might be too warm when worn during the spring or summer months.
The all-around hiking shoes manufactured and designed by Salomon are rated the best within many online reviews due to their solid and yet flexible design. A stylish two-tone pattern is also quite appealing to the eye while their breathable nature should suit the needs of most outdoor enthusiasts. Another interesting amenity associated with these hiking shoes is that they are both lightweight and flexible; two benefits which should never be overlooked.
Many reviews have rated Scarpa as the best provider of rugged hiking shoes for all-around requirements. Robust ankle support, copious amounts of waterproofing and one of the toughest soles on the market serve to define these hiking shoes. Another reason why many feel that Manta is a great choice for serious hikers involves the ability to use these models with crampons for an extra sense of stability during winter treks. As these hiking shoes can be custom fitted, they might take a bit of time to adapt to the feet of the user. Still, any who desires some of the best hiking shoes should definitely keep Scarpa in mind. It should also be mentioned that Manta shoes could be slightly expensive for those who need to adhere to a limited budget.
Your Guide to Hiking Shoes
It is also a good idea to take a look at some interesting facts about hiking shoes within this guide. Let us therefore examine some important themes and concepts before moving on to other helpful information such as care, maintenance and possible alternatives.
A Brief History of Hiking Shoes
Believe it or not, some of the best hiking shoes can be traced as far back as 12,000 years. During this time, these boots were generally constructed from plant fibres woven into stiff pattern in order to protect the feet of the wearer.
Some of this footwear also had leather bands which were strapped around the bottom so that they would not slip off when walking. The Romans were known to wear early styles of hiking shoes; particularly “runners” who would be required to travel great distances in order to deliver important messages to outlying territories.
While hiking shoes existed in one form or another for millennia, many breakthroughs took place after the industrial revolution (and the introduction of vulcanisation) as well as immediately following the First World War.
Facts and Figures
No review of hiking shoes would be complete without taking a quick look at some interesting facts and figures before moving on. For example, many consumers are unaware that the European market for this type of footwear is expected to reach more than €2 billion euros by the year 2022. In the same respect, North America is the second-largest market in the world for hiking shoes.
It is likewise estimated that the global market for these shoes will grow by as much as 26 per cent between now and 2022. Now that we have taken a look at some interesting statistics surrounding hiking shoes, let’s quickly list some lesser-known observations which might surprise some consumers.
- The length of the shank within the boot will determine its stiffness.
- Some hiking shoes contain both steel toes and shanks.
- The ultimate comfort of the shoe depends upon the shape of the insole.
- Some of the best hiking shoes are now being made of carbon fibre to reduce their weight while ensuring optimal strength.
While the best hiking shoes are intended to provide you with years of reliability, safety is still an important factor to mention within this review. For instance, it is important to choose the correct size. This will help to prevent slippage while out and about. Users should also make it a point to choose hiking chose based around the terrain that they will be traversing. For example, some models are suited for flat ground while others are best to be worn when tackling steep inclines.
Another key takeaway point to briefly review involves the inclusion of steel toes or shanks within the design of the shoe.
These are often worn to avoid injuries due to falling rocks or sharp objects that may be buried beneath the ground. Those who are concerned should always determine whether such amenities are present. It is likewise best to choose a non-slip sole in order to ensure safety during wet conditions.
How to Properly Wear Hiking Shoes
The best hiking shoes are meant to fully embrace the foot. This provides a greater degree of stability and reduces the chances of injury. However, it is wise to review how to wear these boots; particularly when they are new. This is due to the fact that many boots will need to be “broken in” over time. So, let us take a closer look at some top suggestions and tips.
The laces should first be removed before the tongue is pulled back. Once the foot is inside, replace the tongue to its previous position and insert the laces as they were. The key here is to avoid lacing up the shoe too tight, as this can restrict blood flow and even cause oedema. It is recommended that the tightness should be checked from time to time and adjusted if needed (depending upon the preferences of the user).
Top Ten Care and Maintenance Tips to Keep Hiking Shoes at Their Best
Feel free to perform additional research in order to discover other tips to best protect your shoes.
Alternatives to Hiking Shoes
While the best hiking shoes come in all shapes and sizes, it is still wise to review some alternatives in the event that money is an issue or the shoes themselves are too cumbersome to wear comfortably. Please recall that our suggestions will entirely depend upon the environment in question.
For example, those who casually hike in local woods or on the beach could possibly opt for a pair of high-quality running shoes as viable replacements.
Construction boots are another consideration, as some reviews place these on a similar level as basic hiking shoes. While indeed rugged, it is important to remember that construction variants might not be as comfortable.
Frequently Asked Questions
Let us finally end this review by taking a look at teen questions and their relevant answers.
Are hiking shoes appropriate for running?
In most cases, this type of shoe is only suitable for running short distances. Remember that their main intention is to provide balance when dealing with more difficult terrain.
How are these shoes intended to fit?
Hiking shoes should fit snugly around the foot and ankle. However, make certain that they are not too tight or too loose. Either of these situations could lead to discomfort while out and about.
Can hiking shoes be used in the snow?
There are many types of hiking shoes which are best suited for cold environments and conditions such as snow or ice. These are specially designed with extra levels of insulation so that feet will remain warm and dry.
How long are hiking shoes expected to last?
This depends upon the quality of the shoe in question and how often it is used. The best hiking shoes can last for five years or longer if properly cared for. Most also come within a limited warranty.
Are there vegan hiking shoes?
This is a growing trend and manufacturers are beginning to produce hiking shoes which are sourced solely from plant materials. Visit the website of the producer in question to learn more.
What are low-rise hiking shoes?
These types of shoes are known for a lower cuff around the ankle. They tend to provide the feet of the wearer with a greater range of motion. However, keep in mind that this could possibly sacrifice stability when walking over rough ground.
Where can I buy hiking shoes?
Many retail outlets will offer a wide variety of makes and sizes to choose from. However, it could also be a good idea to visit a specialist outfitter in order to obtain the best selection. Online distributors are other options to consider.
Can hiking shoes be washed?
You will be pleased to learn that it is always possible to wash hiking shoes if they have become dirty or otherwise stained.
How do I lace up hiking shoes?
The most common method is to crosshatch the laces back and forth (creating an “x” pattern on above the tongue of the shoe). This helps to ensure that the laces will not become loose when walking significant distances.
How can I waterproof hiking shoes?
While the majority of hiking shoes are waterproof, older models can lose this resistance over time. There are numerous spray-on products which will provide additional layers of protection. Please note that some solutions are designed for leather while others are intended for synthetic fabrics. Be sure to differentiate between the two in order to avoid damaging any expensive materials.