Choosing your Hiking Shoes

Have you picked up an interest in hiking lately? Perhaps you are thinking of challenging yourself further by choosing more extensive and rough trails. You’re probably searching online to find the best hiking shoes. As you begin your quest to become the ultimate hiker, we at Fords Foot and Ankle Care would like to suggest a few tips on finding the best footwear for hiking.

Types of Hiking Footwear

  • Trail Running Shoes – These shoes tend to be like running shoes or sneakers. They are generally lightweight, so they can be used on longer trails, but they are not necessarily waterproof, so you need to keep that in mind for any trails with water or mud. They have stiffer soles and better traction but not enough support for slippery or rocky trails. Trail Runners are great for well-maintained trails and light packs.
  • Rough-Trail Hiking Boots – These shoes can have mid to high cuts to provide more ankle support. They have even stronger soles for protection against stony trails but allow some flexibility. Lately, they are lighter, so they can still be sturdy while not straining the back. Rough-trail hiking boots are great for day hikers with light backpack loads.
  • Off-Trail Hiking Boots – These shoes tend to have higher cuts for increased ankle support. This increased stability allows you to bear more weight while hiking. Off-trail Hiking Boots are great for extended backpacking trips or very challenging rocky trails.
  • Mountaineering – These boots have increased traction and sturdy materials. They will be a bit more rigid as they are meant for durability and vertical support, especially in different climates. Mountaineering boots are great for those who hike in increasing altitude and rough terrain.

Fit and Support

A well-fitting shoe is one of the most important aspects when buying hiking footwear. If they do not fit well, you can get blisters, strained muscles, plantar fasciitis, and black toenails. Here are some tips on fit and support:

  • Make sure that you wear socks when trying on the hiking shoes or boots. Pay attention to the type of socks as well, since thicker socks will affect the size of the shoes you purchase.
  • Your normal sneaker size may not be the size you fit into for the hiking shoes. Choose a size that fits you best, without being too big or too small. Your foot should not be able to wiggle or slide around inside the shoes.
  • If the toebox area is too narrow or cramped, try for a wider size or a bigger size.

A most important tip is to make sure that you adequately wear in your hiking boots before your first trip. Also, if you have weak ankles that are prone to twists or sprains, make sure to prepare by stretching and strengthening your ankles, rather than solely relying on the cut height.

If you have foot or ankle issues, but wish to expand your hiking horizons, make an appointment with Dr. Carl Ingrassia at our Fords, NJ office. He will help you prepare for your next hiking endeavor with a plan to strengthen your feet or ankles before and after your hikes. Call our office at (732) 738-4441, today!