Choosing outdoor footwear for your adventures can be hard. With so much choice on offer, it is difficult to know where to begin.
If you’re buying shoes for your outdoorsy pursuits, the following tips will help you to pick something comfortable and fit for purpose.
8 Tips For Buying Outdoor Shoes
The most important consideration when buying outdoor shoes is what you will be using them for. Are you a hill walker or a marathon runner? Different activities will require different types of shoes.
Shoes or Boots?
Choosing between shoes or boots is largely a matter of preference. Popular shoes such as trail runners are much lighter than boots, allowing your feet to flex more. This makes them an ideal choice for runners and those who hike on low-level trails.
Walking boots are different in that they provide much more ankle support. This makes them a good choice for hill walkers who often tackle steep inclines and declines. The rigid structure of a boot helps to keep your foot in place and provide more protection from the terrain underfoot.
The type of terrain that you are likely to tackle should have a bearing on the outdoor shoes that you choose. If you plan to hike on well-trodden trails, a lightweight shoe or boot is a good choice. This type of walking is non-technical and as such, it requires a less specialised design.
However, for uneven terrain and steep hills, you will need adequate ankle support and stiffer soles. The latter will increase stability as you hike and also help to absorb some of the impact from the rough ground.
When choosing outdoor boots, you will need to consider the climate and weather conditions that you will likely be exposed to. In colder climates, you may need to opt for a shoe or boot with more insulation or better grip in snowy conditions.
In warmer climates, you are best to choose something lightweight and breathable. This will allow air to get to your feet and keep your feet cool. Well ventilated feet lessen the chance of blisters on the trail.
In rainy and muddy conditions, you will need to look for outdoor footwear with deep lugs and an aggressive tread pattern. This will enhance stability and traction when you’re on the move.
Whether you buy waterproof shoes is often a matter of personal preference.
Of course, there is no doubt that boots and shoes with waterproofing will come with benefits, especially in rainy environments. But, waterproof boots are often heavy and don’t always allow your feet to breathe.
Some outdoor enthusiasts prefer to opt for a light pair of trail runners which will dry out quickly when wet. They are also more breathable, making them better suited to warm climates.
Trust us when we say, comfort is key. Although durability is a factor you should consider when buying outdoor shoes, you’re very likely to give up on an uncomfortable pair of shoes, no matter how long they will last.
Bear in mind that all shoes are a little uncomfortable at first. It will take time to break them in and for them to mould to your feet. Always try to wear your new shoes around the house before taking them onto the trail. This will help you to avoid blisters while you are breaking them in.
If you are wearing your boots for hiking, make sure that you buy them either half a size or a full size up. When you hike, your feet swell and your boots will need to accommodate for this. The toe box should allow for a bit of wiggle room, however, your heel should still stay in place. This will help to prevent blisters.
If you are going outdoor shoe shopping in a store, try to visit in the afternoon. If you’ve been on your feet all morning, your feet will have already swollen a bit and therefore, you’ll get a more representative fit when trying on shoes. Don’t forget to bring your trail socks to wear too!
When buying outdoor shoes, it doesn’t hurt to know who the major names within the industry are. Leading footwear brands such as Salomon, Merrell, Scarpa and Keen are a few of the most popular.
A brand’s reputation often stems from the durability of their product and it is this that garners the higher price tag. A pair of outdoor shoes by any of the above is likely to be more expensive than the competition. But, the extra money is worth it when you consider the longevity of the footwear.