Choose The Right Fit For You

Hiking Boots, Versus Hiking Shoes, Versus Hiking Sandals

If you’re new to hiking or you just need a new pair of hiking shoes, then you’ve come to the right place.

Perhaps you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by all of the options out there, especially since there are more brands and styles to choose from than ever before.

Don’t worry, because this just means that you can find the right footwear that suits your needs to a T. Below are some recommendations for hiking boots, shoes, and even sandals.

 

We’ll also walk you through how to go about purchasing a pair of these shoes, as well as any additional considerations that you need to keep in mind. Now, let’s get to it!

 

Hiking Boots

 

Hiking boots might be the first type of footwear that you think of when getting ready to prepare for a hike.

After all, boots tend to offer more cover, greater durability, and just an overall feeling of being pretty darn cool. However, hiking boots are so much more than that.

 

Hiking boots are meant to protect your feet from the elements, including precipitation, temperature, bugs and critters, and debris along the trails.

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These lace-up boots fit snugly around the ankle to ensure greater stability and even distribution of weight. It’s not uncommon to see these boots made of durable leather, which has decent resistance against scratches and water.

Synthetic materials are more often found in modern styles, as they tend to be lightweight and less expensive. Sometimes, waterproof components are added to the boots to boost its reliability and life span.

Insulation is crucial, since you could be hiking at high altitudes or among rivers and streams.When choosing the perfect boot for your excursion, consider a few different factors.

First of all, there is the fit. Some models rise higher up on the ankle while others are a more low-rise design.

There are boots that are better suited to day hikes while others are meant to be worn for more intensive backpacking trips or mountain climbing. 

Depending on what type of activity you’re going to be engaging in, you might want a boot with more flexible soles so that you can have more freedom moving around.

On the other hand, a boot with a sturdier and stiffer sole will provide greater traction and support, which is what you’ll need if you’re trekking among different types of trails and terrain. 

 

The Moab II Merrell hiking boots are a crowd favorite, featuring a waterproof exterior and Vibram outsoles are added comfort.

Merrell Men's Moab 2 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot

Merrell Women's Moab 2 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot

 Ample heel cushioning, durable suede uppers, and a mid-ankle fit all come together to achieve an attractive design and high performance. They’re a lightweight option for those who are going on a day hike or climb, but they’re not the strongest boots for a more intensive excursion.

 

In addition, these X Ultra 3 Mid GTX boots from Salomon are a heavy-duty pair of hiking boots that are stylish and sophisticated.

Salomon Women's X Ultra 3 Mid GTX Hiking Shoes

Salomon Men's X Ultra 3 Mid GTX Hiking Boot

While being as comfortable as an athletic shoe, these boots offer supreme ankle support, reinforced toe protection, and solid traction all in a lightweight design. It’s a suitable choice for a wide range of hikers and terrains.

 

 

Hiking Shoes

 

Next up are hiking shoes and yes, they are different from hiking boots. Unlike their more robust cousins, hiking shoes are lighter and generally allow for a wider range of motion.

It’s a trade off, since hiking shoes won’t be as sturdy and proficient as boots, but the shoes are a great choice for those who are recreational hikers or trail walkers.

 

 

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As long as you’re not trekking up extremely high altitudes or going on an excursion in the winter, good quality hiking shoes should be able to cover all your bases. A decent pair of hiking shoes will keep your feet from getting sweaty, drenched, and fatigued.

In addition, the shoes should allow for some flexibility when climbing up rocky hills, but at the same time provide enough traction on slippery surfaces.

 

One of the top picks are the X Ultra 3 GTX Salomon hiking shoes.

Salomon Men's X Ultra Mid 3 Aero Hiking Shoes

Salomon Women's X Ultra 3 GTX Trail Running Shoe

Weighing in at under two pounds, they won’t tire out your feet, and the cushioned interior will prevent blisters and heel spurs.

The Sensifit technology provides a plush interior for your foot so that you feel cushioned and supported, but at the same time, these shoes can deliver excellent traction, thanks to two types of rubber on the soles.

A stabilized heel and reinforced toe box keep your feet safe and sound.

 

Another option are these Altra Lone Peak 4 hiking shoes, which expertly combine style and stability.

Altra Women's Lone Peak 4 Mid Mesh Trail Running Shoe

Altra Men's Lone Peak 4 Mid RSM Waterproof Trail Running Shoe

Using Fit4Her technology, these shoes perform in accordance with the wearer’s foot, ensuring that both the heel and forefoot make contact with the ground at the same time.

This allows for greater balance and a more comfortable hike. Breathable, yet durable, uppers feature drainage holes and a webbing cinch strap.

 

One of our favorites is the Saucony Peregrine ISO for both men and women.

Saucony Women's Peregrine 7 Trail Running Shoe

Saucony Men's Peregrine 7 Trail Running Shoe

 Superb traction and quick-drying materials make it a must have for many seasoned hikers. The ISOFIT technology makes these hiking shoes feel like a sock rather than heavy-duty footwear.

You can feel the support of the uppers as you lace up, and yet these shoes continue to be comfortable and lightweight, even on longer hikes.

 

Hiking Sandals

 

We know what you’re thinking—hiking sandals? Aren’t sandals for the beach? Yes, but there are also hiking sandals, and they are one of the coolest things to wear.

The ideal solution for people who think hiking boots are too cumbersome, but everyday sandals are too flimsy, a decent pair of hiking sandals can transform your hiking experience.

 

To find the best hiking sandals out there, you need to pay attention to a few specific things. First of all, hiking sandals are meant for easy hikes on flat terrain, not multi-day backpacking trips.

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That being said, the most comfortable hiking sandals will be lightweight, but that doesn’t mean they should be thin and frail.

Look for deep tread or rugged outsoles, as well as lugs (or side soles) to ensure great traction and stability.

 

A protected toe is also going to be important, since you don’t want to be kicking dirt and debris into your sandals, or stubbing your toe against a tree branch.

While there are models out there that don’t feature a closed toe, you’re taking a gamble if you hike with open-toed sandals. Finally, there are the lacing styles to consider.

Velcro enclosures allow some hikers to get a more secure and cozy fit. Webbing straps can fit comfortably too, once you adjust them to your foot.

Some hiking sandals even have a single-lace adjustment system, which can help with securing the foot in the footbed.

 

As for a great pick for women, your first choice is these Whisper KEEN hiking sandals.

 

 

 

 

 

They’re waterproof, and their breathable design helps to keep nasty foot odors away.

They have polyester webbing on the uppers, as well as a single-lace system for easy adjusting. The closed toe and carbon rubber outsole are there for added protection and traction.

These sandals perform well in wet environments, allowing the wearer to glide through without slipping and sliding.

The hydrophobic mesh lining also helps. The footbed mimics the natural contours of the foot and provides great arch support. These sandals are also machine washable for added convenience.

 

Another great choice is these Merrell Tetrex Crest Wrap sandals.

Merrell Women's Tetrex Crest Wrap Sport Sandal

Merrell Men's Tetrex Crest Wrap Sport Sandal

 Similar to the Keen hiking sandals, these Merrell’s have a closed toe and are quick drying.

They’re definitely a more intense type of sandal, sort of like a hybrid between a hiking shoe and sandal. That being said, they’re insanely comfortable and feature the best of both worlds.

This includes a secure lace enclosure, flexible Lycra neoprene lining, and EVA perforations in the footbed for breathability and odor control.

My favorite feature is the lugged outsole for greater traction and support.

 

Considerations Before Choosing

 

Now that you know which are the best hiking boots, shoes, and sandals out there, you need to know how to choose the right footwear for your next expedition. 

 

Seriously consider what kind of hiking you’re going to be doing. You don’t want to wear hiking sandals on a two-day excursion, but you could definitely wear them for an easier day hike.

Also try to map out the kind of environment and terrain that you’re going to be going through.

If lots of water will be involved, you will want to make sure that you go with some footwear that is waterproof or water resistant.

 

For more intense climbs or hikes, boots may be your best option, as they can provide ankle support and greater traction for those steep hills.

You will also want to think about how light or heavy you’re traveling.

Adding a 50-pound backpack to the mix will probably mean that you need a shoe or boot that gives you stability and better balance.

Whether you choose Merrell hiking boots, Salomon hiking shoes, or any of the other recommendations above, we know you’ll be satisfied with your choice.