The Ultimate Guide to Choosing Hiking Shoes

Hiking Boots

As Mother Nature continues to stretch, unfurling her vibrant greenery and fully coming into bloom, many outdoor enthusiasts are lacing up their boots and heading outside to shake off their cabin fever from the long winter. Nothing beats a satisfying hike through the forest, admiring the flora and fauna, and encountering a breathtaking mountain view at the end of the trail. In order to fully enjoy a trek off the beaten path, one needs the right pair of shoes. Blisters, scrunched toes, and sore feet are the last thing anyone wants to suffer through when journeying for miles in the wilderness.

During the hunt for the perfect hiking boots, some may be surprised to find that there’s a much wider variety of outdoor footwear than they anticipated. Leather or synthetic, midsole material, and cuts? How does one even know where to begin? If you’re stumped on which features are best suited for your trailblazing needs, don’t fret! Allow us to help clear up any confusion so that you can find the best hiking boots that will be your “sole mate.”

HIKING FOOTWEAR TYPES

The first step in deciding on hiking footwear is determining what purpose your shoes will serve, and what terrain you’ll encounter on your journeys. A plethora of hiking boots for women and men are available. Trail running shoes are specifically for lighter walks or runs on maintained trails. Hiking shoes are a hybrid between trail running shoes and hiking boots, and are often used for lighter hikes, are more flexible, and have a low cut. Day hiking boots have higher cuts, and are ideal for lighter backpacking ventures and day trips. Backpacking boots offer more support and durability than day hiking boots, and are intended for heavy loads on backpacking trips. Last but not least, mountaineering boots are the only choice for the toughest, roughest, rockiest of terrain. If you plan on walking across ice, be sure to also check for their crampon compatibility.

THE CUT

The cut of the boot is catered to the type of adventures you’ll be having. Low cuts should only be used on smooth, maintained trails, and is ideal for light hikes or runs. Mid cuts offer more ankle support and improved balance. Twisted ankles are one of the number one things you’ll want to avoid on rougher trails, so in those instances a high cut boot is a must.

THE COLLAR

How many times have you worn boots that rub and cut into your ankles? It’s not a pleasant experience. For hiking, it’s essential to have a boot with a padded collar. The padding prevents your ankles from being rubbed raw by the shaft of your shoes. Comfort isn’t the only advantage: they also help with ankle support, as well as abrasion protection from obstacles low to the ground that may bump or scrape against you during your adventures.

Merrell

UPPERS

If you plan on trekking through streams or will encounter rain or snow on the trail, a water resistant upper is a must. Full-grain and nubuck leathers, and some synthetics offer excellent protection against wet elements. Look for any shoe labeled with a waterproof membrane such as Gore-Tex, as featured in The North Face Men’s Hedgehog Fastpack. If you require more breathability and won’t encounter any moisture, split-grain leather, mesh, nylon, and more man-made materials are the way to go. There are also vegan options for the most eco-friendly adventurer.

MIDSOLES

Comfortable, but sturdy, cushioning can mean the difference between misery and bliss. Few things are worse than being stuck on a week-long hiking trek with aching feet. The stiffer the midsole, the greater the stability when it comes to walking over rocks and other hard, uneven surfaces. EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate), comes in varying densities for different levels of support. It’s more affordable and offers more cushioning. Our favorite is the Merrell Women’s Agility Synthesis Flex. In contrast, Polyurethane midsoles are more firm, durable, and ideal for backpacking and mountaineering.

OUTSOLES

If the uppers are the meat of a hiking boot, the outsoles are the potatoes. It’s essential to have good traction while journeying through the wilderness, so the right lug pattern depending on your terrain is required. Wide spacing between lugs keep mud from sticking to your soles, as well as offer great traction. Thick, deep lugs improve grip, and are used mostly with mountaineering and backpacking. Rubber is a staple in outsole construction when it comes to hiking boots, but can vary in stiffness when other elements such as carbon are added in order to improve durability.

TOE PROTECTION

Don’t forget to protect your little piggies! Moderate toe protection is suitable for lighter, smoother terrain. It offers more flexibility and less weight, and is ideal for trail runners. For rougher landscapes where you’re more apt to stub your toe on tree roots, a bigger toe cap is ideal. Another advantage is that more toe protection also can help your hiking boots last much longer through wear and tear.

Additionally, you may need to buy orthotic insoles for better arch support and comfort. Be sure to bring them along when trying on new boots to ensure that the shoes fit properly, as well as the hiking socks that you’ll be wearing with them. Since your feet tend to swell, the best time to try on shoes to make sure they’re not too tight is at the end of the day. This will make sure your feet stay comfortable, and that your shoes won’t restrict your circulation during hikes. Mens hiking boots especially have several width options to help better achieve a correct fit. As with any new shoe, your new hiking boots will require some breaking in, so be sure to only stick to a few shorter hikes, or wear them around the house and while running errands at first. Once you’ve found your hiking boot Holy Grail and become accustomed to wearing them, you’ll be ready to conquer any trail that comes your way!

Hiking

OUR TOP PICKS

Favorite Fall Activity: Camping Essentials

Camping Essentials

Whenever you go camping, you never know what the weather will be like. This in-between time, after summer and before winter, means it may be hot and dry one day, and cold and rainy – even snowy – the next.

You need to prepare for whatever the weather and conditions are by ensuring you have the right clothing and footwear. Packing the right boots, jackets, and other gear will make all the difference in enjoying a cozy and comfortable camping adventure or being miserable because you did not bring the proper wardrobe.

Boots and Shoes

Probably one of the most important items you need to pack is proper footwear. You will need some sturdy shoes that are suitable for the woods and hiking. You will need a pair of quality boots that will keep your feet warm and dry should the weather turn bad.

One good choice is the Sorel Ankeny Elk Stout boot for men. This footwear offers not only great protection when the weather turns cold, but it also looks great, too. The textile mesh lining will keep your feet dry and warm, while the removable molded EVA insert gives you terrific heel and arch support.

A practical yet stylish woman’s boot for camping is the b.o.c Women’s Saturn, with faux leather uppers and a plaid collar around the top. There is a rubber outsole, and the heel is about 1½ inches.

Some women prefer a mid-height boot. If you are one of them, try the b.o.c. Women’s Cybele that has chic straps and buckles, with a side zipper, that make them very easy to put on and take off. They are lightweight, too, and have a padded insole.

Hats for Outdoor Activites

Hats

If you want to stay warm, you need a hat. According to the U.S. Army field manual, you lose 40-45% of your body’s heat through your head. This makes bringing a hat along critical when you go on a camping trip. Hats also protect you from getting sunburn on your face or head.

Hats are small and easy to pack, so there is no reason why you can’t bring several with you on your trip. A ball cap is great for keeping you from getting sunburn.

When it is overcast and cold, an easy and stylish way to keep your head warm is wearing a beanie. For example, for women, the North Face Denali Thermal Beanie is a great fashion addition for camping or any cold fall day. It is lightweight and comes in pink, gray, white, or black. Reasonably priced, you can pick up a couple so that, no matter what you wear, your beanie will match it.

Gloves

Make sure that you bring a couple of pairs of gloves with you when you go camping. If it is late fall or you know that an early snow is possible, ensure you have a pair of warm, lined mittens that will keep your whole hand warm. You might want to consider something that is also waterproof.

For less harsh camping climate extremes, pack a pair of insulated suede or leather gloves. Remember, you will be camping, and you will need something that offers good protection to your hands while at the same time keeps them warm.

Fall Jackets

Sweaters and Jackets

Sweaters are very practical items to pack for any camping trip. Even in the summer, the weather can turn chilly at night. In the fall, on a nice day, a sweater will keep you warm but not encumber you while walking the trails.

You will need at least two jackets: one lightweight and one substantially heavier. During the day, you can layer your clothing, maybe a sweater and jacket, or even a hunting vest and jacket.

You need the heavier jacket for the brisker night air or for that frosty morning.

Rain Gear

Rain is part of camping. Be prepared by storing a poncho and or slicker, along with the rest of your camping gear.

Bring along a rain jacket, too, and make sure it has features such as a stow-away hood, adjustable cuffs, and drawcords to keep it snug if the wind is blowing.

Many are light enough that they can be folded when not in use.

Final Thoughts

While you may not scrimp on food or hiking gear, don’t make the mistake of forgetting to pack the right clothing. You never know when an extra pair of boots, a rain parka, a sweater, or gloves will come in handy.

 

FedEx Freight Nascar #11car will be showcased at GB Shoes in Hendersonville and HouserShoes in Kingsport, TN

HouserShoes in  Hendersonville and Kingsport will be hosting the FedEx #11 car on Tuesday Aug. 16th  from 3pm to 7pm in Hendersonville, 5418 Asheville Hwy,  and Wednesday from 3pm to 7p  at their Kingsport location at  1525 East Stone Drive.

Catch it…if you can and race in to see the #11 FedEx car. You’ll meet racing experts, get to ask question and take home fun souvenirs. There will be photo opportunities with the car as well.

GB Shoes in Hendersonville and HouserShoes in Kingsport will also be offering a 25% discount during the event off your entire purchase at the store. There will also be a free shoe drawing for anyone taking a selfie with the car and posting it on the Housershoe.com facebook page at :

www.facebook.com/HouserShoes    A random drawing will determine the winnier.

Don’t miss your chance to view the FedEx car #11 and meet racing experts, win gear and receive souvenirs and shoe discounts! This event is free and open to the public.

Find Your Perfect Hiking Boot

For those of you who enjoy hiking, finding the right pair of boots for your journeys can be very challenging.  Eventually every sole of every boot will wear thin, the stitching will come undone and even the best of leathers on the most reliable boots will crack and need to be replaced.  Hiking boots are all replaceable, however your feet are with you for life, so take care of them while you can by wearing the right boot for your hiking experiences. When shopping for hiking boots some important things to consider are boot material, the exterior sole, shank and the cuff of the shoe.  The best materials for hiking boots are breathable water resistant/waterproof fabrics or leather.  Fabrics that tear easily or that are not water resistant/waterproof should be avoided.  Leather boots are great because of their durability and they protect your feet for longer periods of time.  The exterior sole of a boot should bend slightly and flex naturally.  The men’s and women’s Keen Koven WP are hiking boots with a mulit- directional exterior sole that is the perfect boot for rugged rocky trails and rugged terrain. This boot is comfortable, durable and will protect your feet on any hiking trip.  Also, the tread on the Keen Koven WP gives you good traction but won’t retain mud and rocks which cause buildup and add weight to the shoe.  The shanks of a boot are thick inserts sandwiched between a boots midsole and outsole and add load-bearing stiffness to the midsole.  Most shanks are made of lightweight nylon or thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). Shanks vary in size; some cover the entire length of the boot.  The best way to test the shank of the shoe is by bending your foot in half.  If the shoe doesn’t bend much or it only bends at a certain spot, that is how long the shank is.  The cuffs of hiking boots are the sections of fabric that fit around the ankle.  The most important thing to look for in a cuff is that it doesn’t rub your ankle.  If the cuff is too tight or too lose, it can rub up and down causing friction and ultimately cause your ankles and feet pain.

Some good brands to consider when shopping for hiking boots are Keen Boots, Merrell hiking boots and Anuh. Each of these brands offer many different styles and colors of hiking boots for both men and women. Merrell’s Moab Ventilator is a great hiking boot available for both men and women and is perfect for various types of hiking trails. Check out Keen’s Koven hiking boots and the Targhee II boots.  Both style of boots are also available for men and women and are versatile, comfortable and durable hiking boots.

When shopping for hiking boots all of these factors should be taken into consideration in order to to help best choose the right boot for your feet.  Also keep in mind what type of hiking you will be doing and get a boot that meets your hiking trail needs.  Check out Houser Shoes great selection of men’s and women’s hiking boots and find the perfect pair of boots for you today.