Choosing the right footwear for your next hike

Apr 23, 2024

Wearing the wrong shoes or boots on your Life’s An Adventure pack-free guided walk can quickly wipe that excited smile off your face.

Squashed toes, aching heels and worst of all blisters can all occur if you choose the wrong type of footwear for a hike.

Clay Banks/Unsplash


So it’s always best to purchase your footwear from a proper outdoor gear shop where you can talk to a professional and tell them where you are walking.

You’ll be able to try on the shoes or boots on in the shop and walk around in them – some shops even offer a 24 hour return policy providing you only wear the footwear indoors.

So what are the things to consider when looking at the right type of footwear for your walking holiday?

You have three choices of footwear – trail runners and hiking boots.

Trail Runners are lightweight and flexible, and ideal for well-maintained trails. Most of our walks are on well-maintained hiking trails so this type of footwear is pretty good – just make sure the sole is grippy and has lugs (tooth rubber indentation that enhance grip).

Hiking boots are heavier, sturdier and more supportive than trail runners and would be a better option if you were carrying a heavy pack – which you’re not. But some hikers prefer boots as it gives them more reassurance on the trail and they don’t mind the extra weight.

Hiking shoe which offers a bit of both of the above.

If you want to go into a deep dive on hiking footwear click here.

Clay Banks/Unsplash


How should hiking footwear fit?

They should fit snug but not tight in the heel (to prevent heel lift and slippage) with enough room in the forefoot and toe box, so your feet don’t feel constricted and your toes can spread out comfortably.

As a general rule, hikers want about 2cm of space between their toes and the tip of their boots/shoes. This extra space will allow hikers’ toes to spread out naturally for a stronger base and prevent toes from hitting the ends of boots/shoes on steep descents.

The one-finger test – this a simple way to determine if the boots are right for you.

First, completely loosen all the laces. Then, slide your foot forward until your longest toe touches the tip of the boot or shoe. Now, have someone try to slide a finger behind your heel. If there’s room for one finger to squeeze in behind your heel, you probably have a good length for hiking. You need a larger size if one finger doesn’t fit — and a smaller size if more than one finger fits behind your heel.

Want more info on the boots V shoes debate? Watch below.


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