COMFORT AND FIT – This is the most important consideration when choosing hiking footwear. Different people need different things in shoes (wide vs. narrow, arch support, etc.), so finding what makes your feet happy is critical.
PRICE – We tend to be willing to spend a bit more for quality footwear because we truly believe the success of our adventures depends on having happy, healthy feet. Comfort and fit usually trump cost in our books, but we recommend quality options at a variety of price points in our top picks below.
WEIGHT – Weight on your feet zaps about 5 times more energy than weight carried on your back. Lighter shoes mean less muscle fatigue, less stumbling, and can help avoid knee and hip flexor problems. That doesn’t mean heavier shoes are bad, though. If you do a lot of rugged hiking, or you like carrying a heavier pack, you may be more confident in burlier shoes.
DURABILITY & MATERIALS – One of the biggest advantages to hiking shoes is that they offer a great balance of durability, weight, and comfort. If durability is more important to you than weight, a hiking boot or shoe is likely a great option for you.
WATERPROOF VS NON-WATERPROOF – Waterproof shoes can be a real lifesaver if you often hike in wet, muddy areas. We like using them for shorter hikes in spring and fall. As an added bonus, waterproof shoes collect less blister-causing debris than non-waterproof mesh shoes. On the other hand, they aren’t very breathable, and they can be heavy and slow to dry when they get wet. Non-waterproof shoes are more breathable, and though they’re susceptible to getting wet, they dry quickly.