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What kind of hiking shoes should I buy?

Running Shoes



If you google "hiking shoes" you will find a plethora of options, and pretty much no guide on where to start. There are three basic shoes that are appropriate for hiking, and I have them listed below. Disclosure - these shoes are appropriate for 3 season hiking (spring, summer, fall), as very specific shoes and gear are needed for snow trekking. Continue reading below for additional hiking shoes that are appropriate for your specific hiking adventure.

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These are traditional hiking shoes for single day hikes where the terrain is a combination of dirt, gravel, and rock. Solid soles for gripping and good foot support. They also come in a variety of colors and styles. See hiker reviews.

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These are traditional hiking boots that are ideal for more intense single-day hikes and multi-day backpacking. There is ample ankle support for those longer treks, as well as solid soles for gripping. Many styles and colors available.

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These look like the traditional hiking shoes but they are different. Trail running shoes are designed for just that, running trails. But they also make a great hiking shoe due to their light weight and deep grips on the soles.

When choosing a shoe, be sure to try them on and make sure they feel comfortable not only on your foot, but on your ankle too. Hiking shoe sizes vary. Your normal shoe size might be too big or too small in a hiking shoe. Also, it's a good idea to try the hiking shoe on with the socks you plan to wear (moisture wicking and/or wool), as hiking socks are thicker than normal socks and you want to ensure your foot and sock both fit comfortably.

My go-to hiking shoe is a trail runner. I like the lightweight, sneaker feel to them. They also grip really well when hiking on uneven terrain.

Other hiking-related shoes to consider




Hiking in your everyday sneakers is entirely fine and a lot of people do it. It is not recommended for backpacking or hard hikes, but a single day easy hike is fine. Keep in mind that most sneakers do not have substantial grips on the bottom, so it is easier to slip and roll an ankle.




Campground sandals are great to have when you are backpacking. After a long day on the trail, it's nice to let your feet recover and breathe. They are also good to have when you are crossing shallow water ways. These sandals can easily clip on to the outside of your pack! Avoid flip flops.

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Water shoes are good to have if you are hiking or backpacking and are crossing through many water ways. Be sure to find a water shoe with slip resistant soles. Thick soles are also important as you may have to hike short distances in these shoes, depending on water crossings.

If you are still undecided about what kind of hiking footwear to purchase, you can't go wrong with a traditional hiking shoe. They are great for single-day hikes or short multi-day hikes. They provide ample foot support, grip, and comfort. Keep in mind that REI offers a one year warranty and return policy, so if you don't like them or you run into a problem, you can return them even after you've worn them!

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