From easy day hikes to rugged treks, our state is a hiking enthusiast’s dream. As you gear up to get outside, we urge you to consider the health of your feet by choosing a hiking shoe that’s up to the task, allowing you to fully enjoy your time outdoors.
To get started, the specialists at Optima Foot and Ankle here in Bend, Oregon, offer the following five tips to help you select the right hiking gear for your feet.
One of the first things to consider is whether you want a hiking shoe that offers ankle support.
If you go into any outdoor retailer, you’ll find an enormous variety of trail shoes, from heavy-duty boots to lighter trail-running shoes.
Your choice of shoe style depends upon the trails you prefer to hike and whether you’re running or walking. If you’re scrambling up and down mountainsides on uneven terrain, a hiking boot may be the better choice for ankle support. (It’s worth mentioning that 28,000 people sprain their ankles every day in the US, so a little protection can go a long way.) And gone are the days of the 5-pound hiking boots, which have been replaced by lighter materials that allow you to measure boots by ounces, not pounds.
And all-terrain trail running shoes are equally as advanced, with materials that seriously lighten your load.
After settling on a shoe style, we urge you to try on as many brands as possible in that style to find one that provides superior comfort for your unique feet. And be sure to take the socks you would normally use for hiking. It’s tough to mimic the terrain you’ll be covering in the shoe store, but as you walk around, try rolling your feet, walking on uneven surfaces if you can find them, and feeling where the pressure points are in the shoe.
You want the hiking shoe to be snug enough to provide stability and support but not so snug that chafing and blisters wreck your hike.
Once you’ve found a hiking shoe that feels great on your feet and provides the support you need, ensure that the grip is adequate for your regular hiking routes. If you’re walking on wider dirt roads, you may not need an aggressive grip, which can work against you and trip you up.
If you’re climbing a single track in the mountains, an aggressive sole is just the ticket — especially for coming back down.
Another consideration when choosing a hiking boot is the season in which you’ll likely be hiking. If you want an all-weather boot that can handle mud, rain, and even snow, look for a hiking boot that repels water. You will lose breathability in these types of shoes, but your feet will stay warm and dry.
If you’re more of an fair-weather hiker, then go with a hiking shoe that’s more permeable and allows more air to flow through.
Many of our clients are avid hikers and come to us for custom orthotics to provide them with a little additional support to carry them over the miles. With custom orthotics, we can ensure that your feet have support exactly where they need it, allowing you to log the trail miles in comfort.
If you’d like any additional help in choosing the right hiking boot for your outdoor pursuits, and for all of your footcare needs, contact Optima Foot and Ankle over the phone or online today to schedule your initial evaluation.