A good trekking shoe is the most crucial gear for a trekker. Trekking shoes definitely plays a huge role during the trek. A normal trekker actually spends more time in his shoes rather than in the tent. Hence it becomes a match making process while choosing the right trekking shoes. If you suffer from blisters or twisted ankles, it can ruin your trekking. A good pair of shoes can give comfort to your feet and a bad pair can feel like spike on your feet.
A perfect pair of trekking shoes or boots will provide you with plenty of support and traction when tackling uneven terrain. Depending upon the weather, trail and duration of your trek, different shoes are suitable for different treks.
It is easy to get overwhelmed by the different choices that manufacturers try to sell, when you go out shopping for trekking gears. We know this feeling and are here to help! We will clear up the confusion and give you tips for choosing the right pair of trekking shoes.
We know that the internet is flooded with options with all sorts of price ranges when it comes to trekking shoes. But if you are a frequent trekker then selecting the right pair of trekking shoes will be an investment for you. But we do understand that everybody has a budget and that is alright. The most important thing you need is a right pair of trekking shoes which provides you safety and goes for long term. However you really need to push your budget a little higher in case you are planning some high altitude treks. We will discuss what all factors will play a vital role in your selection.
TYPES OF TREKKING SHOES:
The First thing which you need to keep in mind will be the type of shoes. But before that let me ask you, do you honestly need trekking shoes? The answer is YES and it is worth investing.
The second question will be how do you choose which ones hiking shoes, trekking shoes or mountaineering boots? Well this is very easy, it will all depend upon the duration of your trek, trail and weather conditions.
Hiking Shoes are like trail running shoes. They look like sneakers or walking shoe, except hiking shoes are more rugged. These shoes are low cut models and have flexible sole and are lightweight. They are great for warm and dry terrains. And hiking shoes are good when you have to carry a lightweight pack.
Short treks like Triund or Chopta which are a day or weekend trek, these shoes will be the perfect option. Also if you are an occasional trekker and do easy treks, then also you can go for these without any second thoughts.
The Hiking Shoes price ranges from 1000 to 3000 INR.
Trekking Shoes are high end versions of hiking shoes. The trekking shoes range from mid to high cut models. Trekking shoes have stiffer construction to provide more support and protection to your feet and ankles on rough terrains. Trekking shoes are ideal for long treks (usually week long) and for carrying moderately heavy backpack. Most Himalayan treks favors these shoes. The shoes also perform well on snow, and are water resistant as well.
On treks like Indrahar Pass or Har ki Doon, these trekking shoes will provide you with great support to your ankles. Go for these shoes with hesitation.
The price of trekking shoes ranges from 3500-7000 INR.
Mountaineering / Expedition Boots:
These boots are generally used during challenging treks that involve glaciers and tricky pass crossings. These boots are big, sturdy and rigid to stand any kind of terrain and weather conditions. The treks where these shoes are used last longer than 10 days. They have thick and aggressive out soles and are high ankle. The shoe has insole padding which provides cushioning to your feet. They have an extra layer of insulation which keeps your feet warm while walking over glaciers. Mountaineering Boots are technical gear and should be purchased only by professionals.
You can choose them if you are taking massive heavy loads with you and carrying out an expedition or longer treks. You can choose them during winter or snow trek. Treks like Friendship Peak, Chadar Trek or Nanda Devi Base Camp are some where these boots will come in the picture.
However these treks are not done frequently so you can also opt for an option of taking these boots on rent.
The price of Mountaineering Boots starts from 8000 INR. Yes these boots are really expensive.
Now that we have talked about the different types of Trekking Shoes, we will look for the components next.
COMPONENTS OF TREKKING SHOES:
The component of trekking shoes actually holds the construction and aesthetic which determine the durability and comfort. So there are three main components; The Upper, Mid sole and The Out sole.
Let’s discuss these one by one.
The uppers of a trekking shoe impact a shoe’s weight, durability, breathability and water resistance. There are two types of materials used in the Upper namely Leather and Synthetic.
- Leather: Leather Shoes are the best when it comes to protection, comfort and durability. But in this material, you have a choice of two different types.
Full-Grain Leather: This leather offers excellent durability and water resistance. It is the most commonly used in trekking shoes built for rugged terrains and for carrying heavy loads.
And the downside, it is not as light and breathable as split grain leather. And requires more break-in time before you start your trek.
Split Grain Leather: This leather is combined with nylon or nylon mesh to make the shoes lightweight. Naturally makes the shoes more breathable. The benefit is lower cost but the downside is it is less water resistant (though many manufactures provide waterproof liners these days) .
- Synthetic : Synthetic material is lighter than leather, dry faster and costs less. Also you need less break-in time. But the downside is they wear out soon because of the excessive stitching on the shoes.
The Mid Sole:
The midsole provides cushioning, reduces shocks and determines the shoe’s stiffness. That is why it is said that Sole is the Soul of the Shoes. The sole of the shoe should be hard enough to provide stability and comfort while walking over rocky terrains. Although stiff sole might not sound good but it is actually a saviour for long treks.
The common materials used in sole are:
EVA – It is a bit more cushioned, lighter and less expensive. Different densities of EVA are used in the sole to provide firm support where needed.
Polyurethane – The material is more durable and firm. Hence makes it more likable to be used in most trekking shoes.
The Outer Sole:
The material used in the outer sole of the trekking shoes is rubber. But sometimes carbon can be used as well to add to the hardness. Hard outsoles increase the durability. There are two parts of the outer sole.
Lug Pattern: These are traction giving bumps on the bottom of the shoe which defines the grip of your shoes. The pattern eases your trek. Deeper and thicker lugs improve the grip of the shoes and spaced lugs provide traction.
Heel Break: The heel zone on the bottom of the shoe is heel break. It reduces chances of sliding during steep descents.
These were the three components which come while choosing the right pair of trekking shoes for yourself. But the list does not stop here because apart from these basics, you do need to focus on another three components as well.
- Waterproof or Water Resistance: It is very important for you to keep this in mind because while trekking you won’t like wet feet. More or less it makes the walk difficult. Check for extra layer on your trekking shoes which will resist the water and keep your feet dry. Also it will be useful while crossing a river stream or when you step in puddles of water. If not water proof then check for water resistance atleast.
- Breathability: The trekking shoes should be ventilated as well apart from water resistant. The breathability of the shoe takes the moisture away from the feet and socks and keeps the feet dry. If the shoe does not provide breathability it will be very unpleasant for you to do longer treks. Your tent mates won’t like it too.
- Crampon Compatibility: When you are already investing a good amount in trekking shoes, then give a little focus on crampons compatibility too. This is a safety issue when you are trekking in snow.
Last but not the least, the last factor which plays a vital role in choosing the right pair of trekking shoes is the FIT.
FIT OF TREKKING SHOES:
You will be wearing the shoes for the entire day and for days, so it is utmost important to select the perfect fit. The perfect trekking shoe should fit snugly. Keep in mind the below tips to make your fit right.
- Know your size. It is best to measure your foot size. You should have enough room to wiggle your toes. A tight fit can give you blisters. Select the size where your toes are not touching the front of the shoe when laced up.
- When you are out purchasing the trekking shoe, make sure you try them out with appropriate socks. Make sure the thickness of the socks matches which you will be wearing on your trek. Go for synthetic socks rather than cotton. Cotton does not wicken the moisture and takes time to dry.
- Break in your trekking shoes to avoid blisters and shoe bites. Find an inclined surface and walk on it, walk up and down the stairs. Atleast use the shoes for a week before you head out for the trek.
- Also you can consider buying aftermarket insoles. Insoles can enhance the comfort, support and fit. Plus many insoles provide extra cushioning which can be helpful during rocky terrains.
- If in case you are buying online, then consider the same brand which you have bought earlier. Change in the brand because of any factor can lead to bad experience. Most companies tend to keep their foot model consistent so the fit will be somewhat similar.
So to sum these points which we told you about, we can say:
- First and the foremost thing is to select the right types of trekking shoes. Keep the factors like duration of the trek, trail type and weather conditions in mind. For example for dry and warm conditions you can select the low ankle trekking shoes and for cold consider the mid ankle trekking shoes.
- Secondly make sure the trekking shoes should be of good material. It is your personal preference to select between leather and synthetic. But whatever choice you make, make sure the shoes are waterproof and breathable. You can go for Nova dry or Gore-Tex.
- Third and last, the size of the shoe should fit you perfectly. Ideally if you wear a size of 8 then go for 8.5 keeping in mind you might have to wear multiple socks on a colder treks. Plus a little larger size will prevent your feet from blisters.
HAPPY TREKKING TO ALL