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

6 Style Tips for Flatform Sandals

Flatforms When the subject of warm weather footwear comes up, women’s sandals usually come to mind first and foremost. From simple constructions in earth tone leathers, to more elaborate and colorful designs in synthetic textiles, this popular shoe style has gone through many evolutions over the centuries. Loved by hippies and hikers alike, the sandal also has a foothold in the fashion industry. Sandals now come in heels, wedges, and platform styles. One of the most popular and fashionable sandal styles for the spring and summer is the flatform. A fusion of platforms and flats, the flatform sandal has a very thick sole to add uniform height, keeping feet level. This cute, feminine shoe pairs well with almost any warm weather ensemble. However, some may find it a challenge to style their outfits around them. If you’re intimidated by the thought of figuring out which shorts look best with flatform sandals, we’ve got you covered. Here are a few style tips to help you piece together the perfect outfit so you’ll be paparazzi ready:

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Colorful Clothing

1.) Add a Pop of Color

If you’re wearing an all white or all black outfit, consider wearing flatforms with bright colors to add visual interest. Try cheerful yellow or fire engine red flatforms with black capris, for example. Likewise, you can also reverse and wear a colorful outfit, and break it up with basic shoe colors in black, white, brown, or neutrals. This play on colors will make you stand out from the crowd and look über chic.

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2.) Keep It Above the Ankle

Whether you’re rocking shorts, skinny jeans, or a mini skirt, keeping your bottoms above the ankle not only makes it easier to show off your flatforms; it also makes your ensemble look more polished. Flatforms look just as good with cut-offs as they do with Bermuda shorts. If you wear a maxi dress, it’s essential that the hem is short enough for easy viewing of your fabulous shoes; plus it reduces the tripping hazard!

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Accessories

3.) Accessorize

Any fashionista knows that accessories can add that extra special touch to the perfect outfit. If your sandals don’t have any ankle straps that would get in the way, consider a bit of a boho touch with an ankle bracelet. Depending on the style of your ensemble, you can add a beachy vibe with puka shells, or a bit of bling for a fancier touch. A dainty toe ring also adds a fun little surprise and can be used with any style of flatform. Don’t forget a layered necklace and some shades!

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4.) Texture

Playing with different patterns and textures can also add another fun element. Some flatform sandals have textured soles with braided rope, cork, and even stripes of color. You can use the texture and color of your shoes as a guide to assemble your outfits. Think slacks with a black and white houndstooth pattern, a plain white blouse, and shoes with a rope sole. A suede mini skirt and cork sole sandals is another good combination. Or, how about some polka dot flatforms with a linen dress? The possibilities are endless!

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Layers of Clothing

5.) Layers Upon Layers

If there’s a slight breeze in the air, consider a layered outfit with your sandals. A kimono with cut-off shorts and a slightly loose-fitting top can further play up the look of flatforms in a carefree way. In sharp contrast, a slim black pantsuit and blazer adds a more business casual flair. In some cases, even wearing socks can be pulled off! Try that with a comfy t-shirt or tank tucked into loose-fitting shorts, and top it off with a light jacket or cardigan.

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flatform sandals

6.) Don’t Forget Your Toenails!

Remember that pop of color we mentioned earlier? You can also accomplish the same effect with nail polish if you prefer. Neutral shoe colors make it easier to style your wardrobe, leaving plenty of room for brightly painted nails. Regardless, keeping your toes in tip-top shape is essential while wearing any sandal. Whether you do it yourself or go to a nail salon, be sure to keep a regular mani-pedi schedule so your feet look pretty and smooth for showing off.

These are but a few secrets to help you get started so you can boldly go forth into the season and conquer this fashion challenge. However, don’t be afraid to try something completely new. Your style is your own, so experimenting with something a few may consider “off the wall” is part of the adventure of being creative. Once you get the hang of pairing them together with the perfect outfits, the flatform sandal is sure to become one of your most favorite styles for the spring and summer.

Springing Forward with Dansko Shoes

Dansko Spring Shoes

Since 1990, Dansko has been providing working professionals with its legendary comfortable clogs. From nurses to waitresses, the brand has gained a cult following in the footwear industry. Their shoes have ensured that the working class could stay on their feet during entire shifts without pain and fatigue.­ Over time, Dansko began expanding into a wide range of styles. The company even provides a variety of men’s shoes. With spring in full swing, most people are itching to freshen up their wardrobe with the latest trends catering to warmer weather. Not one to be left behind, Dansko has released its own collection of spring shoes to keep your feet stylin’ and profilin’ this season. Here’s a few of our brand new favorites in shoes for women:

 

Dansko Women's Selina

SELINA WEDGE

For a sassy, strappy wedge sandal for strolls on the boardwalk, look no further than the Selina. An adjustable ankle strap ensures a secure fit. The shock absorbing cork midsole and molded memory foam footbed ensured comfort, even with a 2 ¼” heel. These pair best with a billowy maxi dress and wide brim sun hat.

Dansko Women's Anna

ANNA HEELED SANDAL

Block heels are in! This stylish sandal stands out from the crowd with decorative buckles, and stain protected leather uppers. The footbed features dual density EVA memory foam cushioning for all-day comfort. Imagine sashaying on the dance floor in these at your friend’s wedding reception, and being the envy of the entire guest list!

 

Dansko Women's Lou Burnished Calf

LOU WEDGE SANDAL

What better way to make an entrance than in a flashy wedge? Burnished leather uppers contrast well with brushed metal buckles. The microfiber sockling features Aegis Microbe Shield odor control technology, and the memory foam footbed and shock-absorbing PU wedge reduce fatigue.

Dansko Women's Vera

VERA PEEP TOE SANDAL

A stylish choice for weekend brunch with the girls or while window shopping in a quaint, seaside town. The Vera offers a lower 1 ½” heel for additional comfort, along with a foam footbed and underfoot suede sockling. These are a great alternative to those who want the style of a wedge, but have difficulty walking in higher heels.

 

 Dansko Women's Xp 2.0XP 2.0 CLOG

The ever-popular Pro XP has gotten an upgrade! This version still features the slim silhouette, rocker bottom, and slip-resistant sole as the previous model. Improvements include a lighter EVA midsole to further reduce the weight of the clog. The removable memory foam footbed has been improved with Dansko Natural Arch technology, a TPU arch stabilizer for increased arch support. It’s a perfect choice for those colder, rainy spring days that require you to keep your toes warm and dry.

These are but a few of the varieties that are hot for Spring 2019. While coral and mango are the “in” colors this season, classic black is almost always available in most of these women’s styles as well. With so many Dansko’s to choose from, there’s a spring shoe for everyone!

Timberland: Tough and Trendy

Tough as Nails Soles

When someone thinks of Timberland, most people envision the iconic yellow nubucks on the feet of blue collar workers. The footwear was the brainchild of Sidney Swartz, who felt that the working people of America were in dire need of a hardy boot that could brave the cold, wet New England winters. The salt of the earth brand has been keeping feet dry since their release in 1973, and were an instant hit. For 45 years, “The Original Yellow Boot” has braved the toughest weather conditions, factories, farms, construction sites, oil fields, and even coal mines. Since then, Timberland has gained a reputation for manufacturing the best work boots. However, in recent years the footwear has been the kicks of choice for urban dwellers as well, surging in popularity with hip-hop artists in The Big Apple, and far from the rural heartland of the brand’s birth. Just what is so appealing about Timberland boots that make them so versatile and popular? These are but a few contributing factors:

1.) Weatherproof Design and State of the Art Durability

There is a reason “Timberland Tough” has become the brand’s moniker, and their Timberland Pro continues to be a best seller as a result. Full-grain nubuck leather with sealed seams work hand-in-hand with four-row stitching and injection-molded soles that are permanently bonded to the uppers. This creates a waterproof masterpiece. Work boots also don’t always equal discomfort; an anti-fatigue footbed and geometric cone support ensures shock absorption and all day comfort whether on the job or trekking across unforgiving pavement.

2.) A Plethora of Styles

Timberland has evolved far beyond work shoes since its humble beginnings specializing in just boots for men. With styles ranging from sneakers and snow boots, to hiking shoes and heels, “Timbs” are certainly now for anyone and everyone. Regardless of heel height, each style keeps the look and feel of a boot. Aside from now having shoes for women, there are also shoes for kids ranging in sizes from infants, toddlers, and even juniors. Colors can also vary, and no longer are limited to traditional wheat, brown, or black. Timberlands now come in red, white, blue, and pink! It is this fashion versatility that has led the brand to migrate from the hustlers and rappers in the 90’s, to today’s artists and Hollywood elite. Stars such as Rihanna, Gwen Stefani, Pharrell Williams, J Lo, and the Kardashian family regularly step out in the iconic footwear, and it has become a staple in celebrity style.

Timberland Now Has Many Styles

3.) Customization

Speaking of style, who wouldn’t want a custom pair of shoes? One of Timberland’s newest endeavors is the freedom to customize your own pair of footwear. Consumers have the ability to choose from a variety of men’s, women’s, and children’s styles for their custom kicks. They can choose from a variety of colors for the uppers, soles, laces, hardware, stitching, foot bed, and can also add monogramming. Even the pickiest buyers can now effortlessly create a boot that reflects their personal style. This newfound level of personalization has allowed the company to expand their market even further and increase their customer base.

4.) An International Hit

Timberland also became a popular sensation in Europe. The brand’s first international sale came about when an Italian gentleman went to Sidney Swartz himself, and requested 600 pairs. To Mr. Swartz’s surprise, the gentleman returned two months later requesting more, having already sold every single one! No longer just for North America, the brand has branched out from ASTM-grade footwear to also include CSA Grade 1 for Canada, as well as EN ISO and NOM requirements for various other countries. From the Middle East and Asia, and South America to North Africa, Timberland continues to leave its footprint across the globe.

So the next time you’re in the market for a shoe that can do it all, and transitions effortlessly from the most grueling workplace to the street, look no further. Stylish, tough, and versatile—Timberland is the whole shebang!

Timberland - Tough and Trendy

Never Fear! Your 2019 New Year’s Eve Style Guide Is Here!

Whether your year was good or bad, most people always look forward to watching the ball drop, and the birth of a new year. New Year’s Eve is always buzzing with excitement, merriment, and a plethora of parties. With Christmas over and the New Year right around the corner, now is the time to start planning that last minute outfit for the evening’s festivities. But don’t panic; we’ve got you covered! The following are just a few of the trends we really love for New Year’s Eve this year.

CORAL IS IN! 

The official Pantone color of 2019 is Living Coral. Bright and attention grabbing, anything you wear in this shade will make every head turn when you walk into the room. Boldly go forth into the New Year, be on trend when the clock strikes midnight, and wear it proudly and with flair!

 

MAKE A STATEMENT WITH BOLD EARRINGS

Play up that little black dress with a colorful, fun pair of earrings. We especially love ones that dangle. Tassels, chandeliers, and pom-poms—the possibilities are endless!

BE ON THE PROWL IN ANIMAL PRINT

Animal prints are coming back in a big way in 2019! Dress shoes like this chic leopard print bootie from Pierre Dumas give off a cool, rock star vibe. They definitely add pizzazz to an all or mostly black look, especially with skinny black slacks, a button-up shirt, and a long, colorful scarf draped around your neck like you’re a band member of Aerosmith. Best of all, you’ll be able to keep on wearing them long after the last round of party streamers is history—perfect for the office, a power lunch with the girls, or anytime you want to feel like a force to be reckoned with! You can even pair these with jeans for an instant style upgrade anytime. Bonus points for wearing leopard or zebra print in bright, colorful hues; also a hot trend this coming year.

ALL THAT JAZZ 

If vintage vibes, 1920’s-themed parties, or Victorian looks are more your thing, there are numerous shoe options! Comfortiva’s Angelique and the Bewitch by L’Artiste are only but a couple of options if you love a look from yesteryear.

 COMMAND
ATTENTION IN A DARING JUMPSUIT

Elegant yet edgy, look like a boss in a jumpsuit this New Year’s Eve. A pair of high heels compliments them perfectly!

The one shoulder trend is also in the forecast for 2019, so accessorize that bare arm with a dainty bracelet, or a gold wristwatch to countdown ‘til midnight.

CLASSY AND COMFORTABLE IN FLATS 

What do you wear if you don’t want to suffer in heels? Flats! Metallics are always in for New Year’s Eve, and you can’t go wrong with gold! The Maloree by Comfortiva is a perfect option for your party ensemble. However, if you’d prefer something more subtle, neutrals can also be worn. The key to making flat shoes in basic neutral tones work for New Year’s is to make sure they’re not completely plain. Go for pretty ballet flats with clever embellishments that add style, visual appeal, and interest to your party look. Think faux gemstones, fringe, decorative folds, regal medallions, or graceful beaded clusters! The more unique the embellishment, the better.

MAKE A STATEMENT WITH METALLICS

When you think of truly iconic New Year’s Eve looks, your mind instantly thinks of glamorous ensembles that sparkle and shine. There’s no time like the New Year to literally look positively golden, so, if you’ve been wanting to embrace the ever-popular metallic trend, now would be the ideal time to get on board. Add a flashy dose of glimmer to a more subtle ensemble, or polish off an all-metallic look to perfection. It’s up to you!

GIVE ‘EM THE OLD RAZZLE DAZZLE

A winter party presents the perfect opportunity to channel your inner snow queen, and New Year’s Eve is definitely no exception. Some of this season’s hottest looks in dress shoes take concepts like sparkle, shimmer, and glitter to exciting new heights, with features like gemstone detailing and glamorous beads that catch the light in all the right ways. The Silver 4 by Valenti Franco is a sparkly slingback heel that will definitely make a statement with a slinky evening gown. Don’t miss your chance to add it to your most stunning holiday looks this season!

These options are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to rocking out New Year’s Eve in style. What will you be wearing when you ring in 2019?

L’Artiste, BOC, Alegria, Dansko and more! Best Fall Shoes for Your Closet!

Fall Transitional Shoe

When it comes to fall, there’s definitely a lot to love. The oppressively hot temperatures of summer are officially over, but the bitter chill of winter is still a long way off. Mother Nature is at her best, brightest, and most beautiful. Cheerful, meaningful holiday get-togethers are right around the corner as well. Continue reading

BOC Penny, one of the 5 Must-Haves for Your Cozy Night Home

Essentials for cozy night at home

While there’s certainly something to be said for the warmer spring and summer months, there’s just so much to love about fall. Falling temperatures and changing weather reminds us that we don’t necessarily have to get dressed up and go out to have a good time. Sometimes a cozy night at home is exactly what the doctor ordered. Continue reading

Rieker Shoes: Dress with No Stress

leather crafting tools

Rieker knows there is a lot to consider when buying the right pair of shoes. Size, color and fit are all significant, but arguably the most critical components of a good shoe are style and comfort. Rieker has been making high-quality shoes with exactly that in mind for nearly 150 years. With this kind of vision and experience, Rieker dedicates itself to bringing you the best shoes on the market. Continue reading