May 10, 2018

Life’s An Adventure’s range of guided walks covers the country and this means you could be walking on a variety of terrain from soft sand to hard quartzite and from rocky tracks to open firetrails, so the big question is what’s the right footwear for each walk?

The main reasons why you need shoes on a bushwalk is to protect your feet from rocks and debris, offer good grip, keep your feet dry (well… as much as possible) and be light enough to move easily.

There are three types of bushwalking footwear: boots (one cleat below and one above the ankle which immobilises the joint), mids (one cleat below the ankle which prevents ankle rolling but not twisting), and lightweight shoes offering maximum mobility.

So basically the heavier the load the more supportive your footwear needs to be. Carrying a full pack requires a full boot. Capeesh?

However a Life’s An Adventure walk is a pack free experience, which means all you’ll need in your day pack is a jacket, a bottle of water and your camera. With this in mind there’s no need for a heavy pair of hiking boots – you’re just adding extra weight.

On most Life’s An Adventure walks a sturdy shoe or lightweight mid-cut boot is all you’ll need. You’ll be saving weight and $$ as a pair of full boots can cost hundreds. Now, when we mean shoes we don’t mean something you’d wear to the office or to a disco (do people still go to discos?) but a pair of hiking shoes designed for the great outdoors.

There are literally hundreds to choose from but they all have the following in common:

  • They’re lightweight
  • Have a study grippy sole like a Vibram
  • They easily expel water after you’ve had to go through a stream or the like
  • They could be made of leather but more likely the upper (anything above the sole) is made from some sort of flexible Gore-tex material
  • They breathe and dry easily – when we mean ‘breathe’ we mean air can come in about out of them so your feet aren’t sweaty and gammy the whole day (not a great experience when you need to take them off…)

What about mid-cut boots?

Mid-cuts offer the same features as above they’re just heavier and slightly sturdier but unless you were walking on rugged, rocky terrain like say the Larapinta Trail you really wouldn’t need them on a Life’s An Adventure walk. Even then, you could easily get away with a good pair of outdoor shoes on the Larapinta.

Happy Feet
 Happy feet = happy hiker. Photo by Noel Ross from Pexels

When buying a pair of hiking shoes consider:

  • The fit is the most important factor to think about
  • Look for a comfortable shoe that you can wear without any break-in period
  • Wear the shoes around the house and see how comfy they are first
  • Check the return policy before you buy the shoes – if they don’t feel right and you’ve only walked around the house in them you should be able to return them
  • Make sure they have a rugged, grippy sole – you’re going to want traction under your feet
  • Ask questions! If you buy your shoes from an outdoor gear shop the salesperson should know their stuff. Tell them where you’re going and what you need the shoes for. Their answers should help you make the right choice
  • Of course you’re going to do a bit of training before your Life’s An Adventure walk (see story here) so make sure the shoes you’re going to wear on the walk are the ones you’re training in

Here’s one more tip, it’s worth bringing along a pair of sandals that you could put on when crossing rivers or streams – saves getting your shoes wet – and they’re great to change into after a long day on the trail. It’ll give those little pink toes of yours some time to be free.

And here endith the lesson. Happy walking!

Words_Brent McKean

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