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Hiking Shoes Guide: From Price to Durability

Those of you starting to show interest in hiking are going to need good hiking shoes, no matter the terrain. You might want to also call these hiking boots, especially if you're going to hike up in mountainous areas. It's not to say you can't buy straight-ahead hiking shoes, though you still need to consider how durable they are.

So what kind of shopping guidelines should you use to find good hiking shoes and boots? First, you need to consider the type, the components, and then how they fit. Take a look at this buying guide, especially if you're purchasing online.

Finding the Right Type of Hiking Shoes/Boots

Hiking shoes are usually low-cut models that look like a regular shoe, yet far more durable. They typically have flexible mid-soles for any type of hiking.

If you're considering basic trail hiking, you might want to try models like the Scarpa Crux Approach shoes designed for men. These price between $88 to over $300, depending on your size.

For women, consider Vasque Grand Traverse Hiking Shoes. Priced slightly lower, these come with synthetic materials and offer an athletic shoe comfort level.

Backpacking while hiking is going to require actual boots, and Salomon is one of the top makes for both men and women.

Deciding On Your Hiking Boot Materials

The materials in your hiking boots are as important as type or fit. It's going to determine the durability level and how they feel when worn. Plus, it'll determine how water resistant they are, something you need to consider seriously when hiking in wet climates.

Look at the type of leather the hiking boots use and whether it's full-grain, split-grain, or Nubuck. Full-grain leather is by far the most durable as seen in boots like ones from Danner.

Split-grain leather typically provides more of a lightweight feel to your boots. Despite this more breathable quality, they're not quite as good on water resistance. Nevertheless, you can find ones like this through brands like Merrell at affordable prices.

Nubuck leather is equally high-quality and very durable. It's a buffed leather made to look like suede. Look for this in products like Ahnu hiking boots made for women. In the latter, you'll also find hydrophobic ripstop mesh for the ultimate protection from water.

Synthetic leather is a more affordable choice. While synthetics has many of the same qualities listed above, they're often made with cheaper materials. As a result, they may not hold up quite as well as real full-grain leather.

Finding the Right Fit

To find a hiking boot that fits you correctly, you have to look at more than size. Things like midsoles, internal support, and outsoles all determine how they feel when worn.

When looking at midsoles, consider EVA or polyurethane materials. Both of these are durable, though EVA has a lighter feel. Timberland puts out hiking boots using EVA on the midsoles.

Internal support should include either shanks or plates inside the boot. Shanks add load-bearing stiffness to the midsole. Plates ultimately help protect your feet from bruising when walking on rocks.

Bearpaw puts out hiking boots with a full rubber sole plate.

Lug patterns and heel brakes are features to look for in the outsoles. The former comes in either deep or wide patterns for grip or traction. Heel brakes help prevent sliding.

Check out Arc'teryx hiking boots that provide a sharp heel brake for perfect stability.

Lastly, don't forget about crampon compatibility if you're going to do mountaineering as you hike.


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