As mentioned in my About Me, I didn’t own snowboots for the first 4-5 years I lived in Utah. I lived in denial and rainboots, and was always too cold. The right footwear can be a deciding factor for enjoying hiking.
My first pair of snowboots were from WalMart. While I avoid that store, the boots worked very well for years. Costco (again!) had affordable Khombu snowboots a couple of years ago that I invested in. They’re comfortable and flexible and good for day-to-day wear, hiking, and snowshoeing. In the summer, I feel like there are many more options. I’ve hiked in old tennis shoes which work just fine on 3-4 mile hikes. Our go tos in the warm months are our Keens. I like being able to get our feet wet and know they’ll dry shortly. I’ve found some secondhand, and been lucky to get hand me downs from friends as well. My oldest has even hiked in flip flops with the back strap, but that’s not for me! I talk about the kids’ snowboots in the Kids’ Winter Gear post. Basically, I’ve been lucky in finding good options at Kid to Kid, and Zula and Northside are the brands they have now. We also have a Columbia outlet near us that has consistent amazing deals. A month or two ago we found waterproof tennis shoes for the kids for around $15 each. They’re slip ons which is a plus (less work for me!), and they seem to be quite comfortable.
Another great option, especially with more demanding hikes, is dedicated hiking boots. I have fairly weak ankles that roll often, so mid height boots have helped a lot. My feet are also really big. If yours are too, don’t be afraid to try out men’s boots. My hiking boots are men’s and they’re great. My husband wears regular tennis shoes for hiking.
When you’re looking for hiking specific shoes, you’ll want to size up at least a half size to a full size. This is because going downhill causes your toes to slide forward, and if you don’t have enough room you’ll end up with sore and potentially bleeding toes. I sized up one full size (pushing me into men’s) and even still my toes graze the front of my boots while going downhill.
One thing I haven’t quite figured out is which shoes will keep my feet comfortable for longer hikes. Generally, by mile 4 or 5, my feet are hurting. I’m not sure if that’s because I’m carrying an extra 35+ lb on my back, or if my shoes are not good quality, or if it’s due to lack of conditioning. It doesn’t stop me but is definitely an inconvenience.
What are your favorite hiking shoes? Any tips for hurting feet?