Tips for Trekking Enthusiasts: How to choose your hiking shoes
There is a wide variety of specific footwear for the mountains and especially for those who love trekking. It should be made clear that, to some extent, the choice of the most suitable footwear for each user will depend on many factors. From our level of physical fitness to the type of use for the footwear. It is not the same to walk in high mountains as on moderate altitude trails, in technical areas as on easy paths, whether we are going to walk with weight or light luggage, and so on and so forth.
In any case, there are some key points in the construction and structure of your footwear that you should check and take into account before purchasing new shoes or boots for hiking in the mountains. These are key aspects that, regardless of the technical characteristics, will allow you to practise your favourite activity with total surety.
Reinforced rubber toe cap
The toe of the shoe has the function of protecting one of the parts of the foot that is most vulnerable to impact. For this reason, any specific footwear for mountain walking should incorporate some toe protection, the more prominent the more technical the use for which the shoe or boot is intended. These are usually rubber or similar composite reinforcements, which are light in weight but provide sufficient thickness to minimise the effects of any impact or abrasion on the footwear.
Wraparound heel pad
In the same way that the toe cap with extra material protects our toes, a heel cup with added, enveloping material reinforces our heel. This is also an area exposed to friction and impact, as it is the first part of the foot that comes into contact with the ground and can hit or rub against irregularities in the ground. To protect the heel, different compounds are often used to surround the heel and give it a certain stability.
Cushioning and stability
The unevenness of mountainous terrain means that footwear specifically designed for this use must incorporate technical solutions that provide stability in the tread. In this sense, there are countless technologies and structures that stabilise your stride. Different sole and midsole structures ensure that the weight is evenly distributed in your stride and avoid imbalances. On the other hand, the midsole of the shoe can also implement either air chambers or compounds with high absorption capacity that cushion the impact of the footfalls, something that is even more relevant when we walk with extra weight in the mountains.
Related to the previous point is the aspect of grip. It is essential that the sole of your shoe is designed to provide maximum grip on any surface. Remember that in the mountains you can walk on almost any type of terrain, from clay tracks, rocky trails, slippery surfaces with water and humidity, etc. Therefore, make sure that the sole has a good number and arrangement of lugs, as well as a soft sole compound, which, although it will wear out faster than shoes with harder soles, will give you more grip and performance in the tread.
Breathability and insulation
In this aspect, it is essential that you find the right balance between these two qualities, depending on the use you are going to give to your footwear.
It is obvious that if you use footwear in cold temperatures and wet conditions such as river crossings, you should opt for footwear in which insulation predominates, with membranes such as Gore-Tex or similar, which, although they have a certain breathability, stand out for preventing water or moisture from entering the foot. In this case, you should assume that the shoe or boot is not as breathable as a conventional one.
On the other hand, if you are going to use the footwear in summer or under high temperatures, pay special attention to breathability in the form of mesh or mesh panels that allow more air to enter and ventilate the foot. It will give you much more comfort and better sensations in your feet.
This section not only refers to the comfort we feel in our feet when walking, but also to the possibility of reducing the risk of chafing or blisters, one of the most common disorders or episodes when walking in the mountains. You don’t make the mistake of putting aesthetics or any other factor before comfort. Issues such as the correct choice of size, the last, the height of the instep, the size of the tongue or the material on the inside of the shoe are fundamental to achieve this comfort that is so important for our feet.