Footwear is an incredibly personal choice, and you should never pick something just because I recommended it. If you don’t know how to select your own perfect footwear, then you should definitely consult a professional at your local outfitter or running store to get you in the perfect shoe; or at the very least let you know what type of foot you have. The goal of this footwear section is simply to expose you to some very popular and effective brands that are working extremely well for countless people out on the trails. There are of course endless brands out there; below are just a few of the better known, tried and tested, most popular of them.
These are the shoes I am currently hiking in and will be hiking in for the foreseeable future. Altra has taken the long distance hiking world by storm, and for good reason. You have to try a pair on for yourself to know. Their shoes are built with a wider toe box area; ideal for us folks with wide feet. The cushioning, durability, and zero drop sole are amazing as well. These are great shoes for those of us with flatter feet. I’ve gotten 1,200 miles out of a pair before (I literally walked right out of them as they tore in half), but I usually replace them around the 700 to 800 mile mark.
The Brooks Brand
Before I got turned onto Altra, Brooks were my main shoe. I only use them for road running now, but they make a mean and popular trail runner that’s worth a look! My first pair of Brooks Pure Grit lasted me 700 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail. The Cascadia is the long distance hiking community’s favorite within the Brooks brand.
This is shoe I’ve tried on but found to run a little narrow for my wide feet. One of my best friends wears the Speed Cross and routinely gets around 800 miles out of each pair. A very established and well respected brand of shoe!
The Keen Brand
Keen is a BIG name in the international hiking community and the durability and quality of their shoes is legendary. I prefer a lighter trail runner nowadays, but I still covet my pair of Keens. If you need more support, check out some of what they have to offer!
My first pair of Merrell Moabs lasted me nearly 1,300 miles on the AT. This is another very popular and very affordable brand of shoe that wont let you down. Just make sure it’s right for you before you purchase it.
These are the latest version of Merrell’s Moab model of shoe. I have not tried them, but I can only assume they’ve made improvements form the original. This means better functionality and hopefully the same if not greater durability!
I have yet to try any Hoka shoes, but I know people who are sold for life on them. They are growing in popularity in the hiking community, so it’s only right that I expose you to the brand on here. They are known for their incredible cushioning; could be the perfect shoe for you!
La Sportiva Brand
I’ve never hiked in La Sportiva, but they are another very popular brand that many hikers love. I’ve tried quite a few pairs on, and found they are best suited for individuals with a narrower foot. My feet are quite wide, so they would go numb and wear through these shoes fairly quickly.
I own several pairs of Chaco Sandals, but I do not hike in them. I mostly use them throughout daily life when I’m home. Having said that, I know TONS of people who successfully thru hike with them. There are several styles; some without the loop around the big toe. I’ve noticed that these shoes are built with a high arch, making them a little uncomfortable for us flat footed folks after prolonged use. They are perfect for me to walk around town in, but for hiking day in and day out, they tend to wear on the center bottom of my foot pretty bad. Their durability is incredible!
Crocs are considered a “camp shoe,” or a “river crossing shoe” in the hiking community. They are super light, vented, don’t absorb or hold water, and comfortable! You can always spot a hiker in town because they will be wearing Crocs. I know of some people who even hike in them, but that takes some getting used to.
I’ve used Xero Shoes as my camp shoes and as my walking around town/recreational sandals. They are super light and you can fold or roll them into tiny spaces. They are certainly a unique sandal, and I still wear my pair daily. You could hike in them if you want, but you’re going to feel everything under your feet.
I’ve been using elastic speed laces for more than a decade. I put them on every athletic shoe (even non athletic shoes) I’ve ever owned. Once you’ve laced up your shoes with these, it essentially turns them into a “slip on” shoe that hugs your foot just right. Never worry about tying laces ever again. Simply slip it on and go. A great advantage to the elastic speed laces is they breath with your foot; meaning they allow the shoe to expand and contract when you plant or lift your foot or experience any kind of swelling due to prolonged activity on your feet (aka hiking). I can’t imagine owning a pair of shoes without these.