How To Choose Your Hiking Shoes?

How to Choose Hiking Shoes

Hiking shoes can have all shapes and colors, low rods, tall, light, heavy rods, one finds everything but each shoe is suitable for your practice. Here is a short guide to finding you.

Upper high or low boots hiking boots

The upper stems of hiking shoes as described in lawschoolsinusa are less pleasant, they hinder movement and are heavier but:

  • They keep warm (and it’s not nothing)
  • They hold the ankle!

Hiking in low rod is not advised over long distances because one gets tired quickly, one loses in concentration and one twists the ankle.
There are actually three types of stems:

  • The low rods: they allow the movement and are light, they are used in trail, day hike or approach approach.
  • The mid: these shoes go up but less than the high stems, they are a compromise between the low and high stems. They are advised in day hiking and several days hiking.
  • The upper stems: these shoes are the most rigid, they are heavier and hold the ankle well. Depending on their stiffness (soft or rigid), they can be used for day trips as well as trekking for several months.

Figure 1: Low, mid and trekking shoes

The material of hiking shoes

The material used for the stem of the hiking shoe is decisive. There are two main ones:

The leather

The leather is of a resistance to any test, it is a little rigid (not too much anyway) and resistant.It resists water to some extent.
In return the leather is not very breathable and very long to dry. In addition it is heavy.
There are short-leathers called suede and nubuck that are finer and more breathable than leather but also less resistant.


Synthetic fabrics are a little less resistant than leather and less rigid (they do not hold the foot). On the other hand, they are extremely breathable and very light. There are synthetic mesh fabrics that are even lighter and breathable (often used in trail).

Synthetic leather

It is a faux leather that is located between the leather and the synthetic in terms of breathability, resistance and water absorption, it is a good compromise.
Leather and synthetics are used almost systematically in all shoes. Sometimes the shoe is only leather outside (for trekking) but the inside of the upper is almost always lined with synthetic because the contact of the leather is unpleasant and not very breathable.
If you are looking for light and breathable shoes for summer conditions the best is to take shoes with a maximum of synthetic (see mesh). If you use your shoes even in winter under harsh conditions then a good proportion of leather will not hurt.

Waterproof footwear

Waterproofing is practical in some cases but can sometimes pose more problems than it provides solutions.
There are two ways to have waterproof shoes:

  • From treated leather, it resists water (up to a certain level) but once wet it is extremely unpleasant.
  • The waterproof membranes, they still.Always faithful to the same principle these membranes are a microporous plastic film (Teflon) that allows the passage of water vapor but not water. This system is more breathable than leather and more waterproof but more expensive.

Attention, a waterproof shoe works very well for puddles, wet grass and a little snow, but if you take a heavy rain the water always ends up infiltrating through the ankle. Once water gets into a waterproof shoe this one will take a long time to dry and that is why it is often more strategic to have a very breathable shoe that takes water directly but dries a lot more quick.

The sole of hiking shoes

The sole of the hiking boot is composed of several parts:

  • The outer part, the one with the crampons
  • The intermediate part, between the cleats and the rod
  • The inner part is the removable insole

The external and intermediate soles contribute to cushioning shocks.

  • The outsole provides the stiffness of the shoe, a small part of the cushioning and its grip.The more adherent an outsole is, the less durable it is (there are no secrets). The stiffer it is the less pleasant it is to walk with but the less you feel the pebbles. To assess the stiffness of a sole, take the shoe in your hands and try to bend it.
  • The midsole serves only for cushioning, there are two types.Injected soles that have a very good cushioning, are durable but are very heavy. Microporous soles that are very light but more “soft” and less durable. They are best suited for activities or do not carry too much weight.
  • The internal part is much less important, it brings especially comfort and is easily replaceable if it does not suit you.

Generally speaking, the longer you go, the harder and harder you will need a stiff and adherent sole.On the paths without too many pebbles a flexible sole is much more pleasant because it accompanies better the unfolded of the foot.

The main soles

Here are the most used soles marks:


Used by almost all brands of shoes this brand offers soles of qualities but very different from one sole to another. To have all the information on Vibram it is HERE  !


Salomon uses this brand of insole which offers generally better adhesion than all its competitors but less durability. These soles are therefore more performance-oriented.


This five ten gum offers good adhesion while retaining a fairly long durability. It is a very good compromise performance / durability.

Accessories that make the difference

The shoes are generally very simple and do not have accessories. There are, however, one or two small details that make a difference.
The “automatic” laces:
Invented by Salomon and taken over by some brands this lacing system is fast, precise and avoids having laces that hang all over the branches.

The stone guard

Stone guards are rubber guards that protect the front (and sometimes the sides of the boot). This accessory greatly improves the durability of the shoe and is a sign of quality.
Figure 5: a complete stone baffle


Only the fitting will allow you to know if the shoe is suitable for you. If you feel the slightest gene, go to the next pair because after a few kilometers it could quickly become unbearable.
If you hesitate between two sizes, choose the biggest size because during the hike the foot swells and you soon find yourself with pain.