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My friends and I are going on our first hiking expedition through Michigan's Upper Peninsula, and I was wondering what type of shoes are recommended by experienced hikers? I have looked up information online, but it seems all I get is advertisements saying "THIS shoe is meant for hiking! Best price, best quality!", which isn't very credible.

What kind of shoes do you wear? What do you look for in good hiking shoes (i.e. comfort, wide-toe, etc)?

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    I have found Outdoor Gear Lab to be consistently good for explaining what they look for in outdoors gear, generally explaining their testing and comparison methodology and overall recommending some good gear: outdoorgearlab.com/Hiking-Boots-Reviews and outdoorgearlab.com/Hiking-Shoes-Reviews – mkingston Jul 24 '15 at 8:49
  • Lighter boots/shoes are less tiring than heavy. Heavy boot/shoes provide better protection from underneath (e.g. sharp rocks pounding the sole of the foot for 8 hours hurts.) and ankle support and are usually more water proof. Go for the lightest that will do the job. – user5330 Jul 24 '15 at 9:03
  • I don't think this is a shopping question, he clearly asks for features to look for in hiking shoes/boots. In my opinion it's not really too broad too, we had similar questions already. I vote to leave it open. Only the part about breaking them in is definitely another topic. – Wills Jul 24 '15 at 10:22
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    Maybe it's a duplicate then: outdoors.stackexchange.com/questions/101/… – Wills Jul 24 '15 at 10:33
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    I think this needs narrowing down, a list of everyone's preferences isn't a useful resource going forward. There are many types of shoes for many applictaions, terain, etc. A question asking abut specifics would be much more usful, e.g. For x type of terrain what types of shoes, should I be lookng at, etc. – user2766 Jul 24 '15 at 12:36
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The type of boot you want will depend greatly on what sort of hiking you are doing, both in terms of distance and terrain. Personal preference also plays a strong role.

For day walks on decent paths you will probably be fine with a sturdy pair of trainers or running shoes. Whereas for longer routes over rougher terrain, a studier boot if probably better, as they normally have better grip and ankle support.

Personally, I generally prefer a solid boot with good ankle support as I tend to roll my ankles a lot otherwise. However, I've been hiking in the alps for a week with someone who just had trainers and sandals. So people vary a lot in what they like.

Waterproofness is also a factor, depending on where you are going. If the ground is likely to be wet or muddy or you cross any rivers or streams you will want a waterproof boot, especially if you are doing a multi-day hike.

The most important thing is to be comfortable in what you are wearing. Poorly fitting boots that give you blisters are the worst.

For buying I would recommend going to your local outdoor shop. I only know of REI in the US but I'm sure there are others. They usually have knowledgeable staff who can advise you on what type of boot is best for you and help you get a good fit.

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    For multi-day hikes, once your waterproof boots are wet, they will remain wet for the remainder of the hike exposing your feet to moisture for an extended amount of time. In my experience this increases the chance of having trench foot over using a quick dry shoe. Waterproof shoes retain water for longer once wet. I'd only use them if I have a way to dry them at the end of the day which usually isn't the case on multi-day hikes. – ppl Jul 23 '15 at 16:21
  • waterproof shoes for multi-rainyday hike, that's a no. – njzk2 Aug 16 '15 at 2:38
  • If there are any river crossings, I always bring a pair of crocs as river crossing shoes. Doing non-trivial river crossing bare foot is uncomfortable (sharp stones) at best and unsafe at worst. Crocs are super light-weight, dry immediately, and can double as camp shoes. Make sure they fit well, otherwise you will lose them in the crossing. – Bruno Rijsman Apr 21 at 14:00
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I lean towards light and fast dry running shoes such as the Lone Peak from Altra. This shoe goes under $100 on sale. It also comes with a gator-ready velcro at the back.

There is no ankle support which I don't personally consider a problem. I've seen this shoe recommended at trail shops. They seem to be quite popular on long trails nowadays.

I recommend avoiding gore-tex boots (they all have a giant hole where you put your feet!). Good boots will typically be slightly over your budget ($140+).

  • This is a shoe I actually saw a store nearby my house - I'll have to check them out! Boots aren't necessarily an issue, because we are going during dry season (unless it rains, then I'll bring my current pair of boots, which have enough support for long treks of mud). I appreciate the answer! – Ryan Welsh Jul 23 '15 at 15:32
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    Boots can also help with terrain that has lots of jagged rocks. My running shoes often aren't up to the task of chunky granite, but handle dirt trails just fine. – Kathy Jul 23 '15 at 18:35
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A lot definitely comes down to personal preference. Some like tall boots, light weight trail runners, more "classic" hiking boots, regular sneakers, or even sandals (I don't recommend that last one...)

My preference is actually for a 8" combat / law enforcement style boot (preferably with a side-zip for easy removal). I feel that they provide a good amount of cushioning for comfort, provide excellent ankle support & as a bonus defend the foot and ankle from snake bites & stickers / sticks etc. They are designed for people potentially working on their feet all day and carrying heavy loads / moving large distances in rough terrain. (& no, I have no military background).

Although some of these will be above your price range, others will not. Some good brands are Danner, Bates, Converse, 5.11 Tactical & Rothco (there are others too).

My current pair are a 8" Bates side-zip. All that said, I also have a pair of Danner hiking shoes, which while comfortable enough, usually stay home. Same goes for a pair of North Face trail running shoes.

To add to those recommendations, it should go without saying that you shouldn't attempt a hike of any significant length in footwear that hasn't been broken in yet.

It's also important to recognize that even with the most comfortable seeming most expensive high-tech hiking boot on the market, if it doesn't fit your foot right, your hike won't go well.

Aside from obvious size & width, you also need to determine whether or not your foot pronates or supinates (the tendency of the foot to roll in such a way to place more pressure on the inside or outside of the ball of the foot). If you wear shoes or do not use inserts that properly address this, you will end up with blisters at the pressure point. I suffered blisters on the ball of my foot because of this when wearing trail running shoes that actually caused my feet to pronate MORE than they would have to begin with...

As to where to buy, I used to live in the Detroit area & recall that at the time Meijers sold a couple models of Bates. Also, there are Red Wing Shoes stores all over the area. I've never had a pair myself (why I didn't mention them above), pretty much anyone will tell you they have an excellent reputation. If you are in the Detroit area, you can also check out Joe's Army Navy (in Pontiac & Royal Oak) if you want to try on some combat boots (they may also stock other hiking boots as well). There is of course also REI & Dick's Sporting Goods.

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