This blog is brought to you in partnership with Oboz Footwear
(Photo credit: Vicki Woods Heck)
Are you looking for the perfect pair of hiking boots or shoes? Do you always end up with blisters or hot spots on your feet after hiking?
Whether you’re brand new to hiking or you’ve been hiking for a while, but you can’t seem to find the right fit, this blog on Hiking Footwear 101 will help you!
To bring you the most accurate information possible, we sat down with hiking footwear expert Krystina Beatty. Krystina is an Outreach Specialist at Oboz Footwear, a leader in hiking footwear innovation and design.
During our conversation with Krystina, they broke down how to find the right fit, the many styles of hiking footwear, what hiking boots or shoes to wear in certain conditions, and so much more.
If you have questions on how to keep your feet happy while hiking, you’ll definitely want to read this.
In this blog you will learn:
- How to find the right shoe size for your hiking adventures
- How to avoid blisters and hot spots while hiking
- Which style of hiking boot or shoe is best for you
- Pro tips on waterproof vs ventilated hiking footwear
- The difference between lows and mids, and more!
First let’s talk about what to look for when searching for your ideal hiking boot or shoe.
What to Look For in a Hiking Boot or Shoe
In a nutshell, you should search for hiking footwear that provides:
- Arch support
- And more
One of the best ways to ensure all of the above is by knowing your right size. Keep reading to find what size you are in hiking footwear.
How to Find Your Right Size in Hiking Footwear
If you’re buying hiking footwear for the first time, you may have heard about buying a half size smaller or a full size larger.
According to Krystina, neither of the above will help you find more comfort on the trails. Instead of subscribing to these myths, it’s best to find out the true size of your feet.
You can do this by visiting your local retailer. Ask a qualified associate to measure your foot with a Brannock device to find your true fit.
A Brannock device is a tool used to take two main foot measurements:
- The length of your full foot from toe to heel
- Your arch length from the back of your heel to the first metatarsal joint on your big toe
Pro Tip 1: Get measured at the end of the day when your feet are most likely at their largest and most swollen. Wear the same socks you’ll wear while hiking.
Pro Tip 2: A smaller size will not help you avoid heel slip, blisters and hot spots. Instead, you want to match your “flex zone” with the shoe.
Pro Tip 3: You can test if shoes are the right size by tapping your toes and walking up and down a ramp or stairs.
Now that you know how to get sized to find your perfect fit, let’s talk about the various styles of hiking footwear available to you.
How to Find The Right Style Of Hiking Footwear For You
There are lots of options out there when it comes to choosing a style of hiking footwear. There are waterproof boots, hiking sandals, ventilated hiking shoes, low- and mid-top, and more.
All of the options can be overwhelming, but we’re here to help you narrow it down. Different styles work best for certain conditions, elements and more.
Find out which hiking footwear style will work best for you below.
Low vs Mid Hiking Shoes
So, what’s the difference between low and mid hiking shoes? We’ll break it down for you:
Low Top Hiking Shoe
Mid Top Hiking Boot or Shoe
Hits below the ankle
Covers your ankle
Offers an athletic fit
Provides a more secure fit
Option for trail running (depending on design)
Great for keeping debris out of shoe
As you may have guessed, a low-top hiking shoe hits below the ankle while a mid-top shoe or boot covers your ankle.
A low-rise hiking boot or shoe will give you a more athletic fit while a mid-rise boot will offer a little more security.
While some people think a mid boot will give more ankle support, Krystina explained that this is a common misconception.
In fact, having appropriate arch support is primarily responsible for keeping your ankles safe. This all ties back to having the right fit because when the shoe fits, your arch is supported and therefore your ankles are protected.
Pro Tip: Hard plastic orthotics can help support your arch, but be cautious because they can rub against a hiking shoe’s waterproof membrane if not installed properly.
Waterproof vs Ventilated Hiking Footwear
Should you wear a waterproof or ventilated hiking boot?
The answer might surprise you.
The truth is the type of hiking footwear you choose depends on the climate, elements and conditions that you are hiking in.
Waterproof is not necessarily the best option for hot, humid climates. According to Krystina at Oboz Footwear, a ventilated shoe is actually more ideal. Here’s why:
Because waterproof hiking shoes have more layers, it takes them longer to dry out. On the other hand, ventilated hiking footwear typically dries out faster due to less layers inside the boot.
As a result, Krystina recommends waterproof hiking footwear for treks where water levels are below the top of the boot (such as creek crossings) and ventilated hiking footwear for hikes where you can’t escape the humidity.
As you can see, the type of hiking boot you choose depends on the conditions you’re hiking in. Evaluate the terrain and the environment before making a decision. When in doubt, ask a professional at your local retailer.
Now that you know the various styles of hiking footwear and how to choose the right one, we’re going to share a few more pro tips from our friends at Oboz Footwear.
Hiking Footwear Pro Tips for Your Hiking Adventures
Below you’ll find pro tips on everything from how to dry out your boots and how to make hiking with plantar fasciitis more comfortable.
Pro Tip: How to Dry Your Boots
Never dry your boots with a heat source. Do not dry your boots using a vent, fireplace, or dyer. This will cause certain materials, like leather, to shrink. It will also delaminate the toe area.
To dry your hiking footwear, remove the insole and set it on its side. You can also stuff newspaper or tissue paper inside the shoe for faster drying.
Pro Tip: The Lifespan of a Hiking Boot
How long your hiking footwear lasts depends on multiple variables including your body weight with or without a backpack, your foot sweat content and acidity, how often you hike and the conditions.
If you want a hiking boot that will last longer, you can look for certain materials that are proven to be more durable than others. For example, polyethylene will outlast EVA foam.
Pro Tip: Hiking With Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis is a condition that causes irritation in tissues at the bottom of the foot. It can be uncomfortable and painful.
To alleviate the effects of plantar fasciitis, Krystina recommends reducing arch collapse and adding more support with an aftermarket insole. Oboz and Superfeet have great insole options by the way!
Want to learn even more? Watch our talk with Oboz here:
Now that you’re well equipped with all the pro tips for hiking footwear, we’d love for you to learn about our amazing sponsor who shared all of this helpful information with us.
Read on to hear what sets Oboz Footwear apart from other hiking footwear brands.
Meet Oboz Footwear: The Most Innovative Hiking Boot Brand
Based out of Bozeman, MT, Oboz Footwear is not like other hiking boot brands. What sets them apart from the rest?
For one, their attention to data. Before Oboz became a company, their founder, John Connelly, set out to collect his own data about the human foot. What he found was that the basic North American foot is shaped in a “V,” making it more narrow in the heel and wider in the forefoot.
Oboz used this data to design the perfect pair of hiking shoes in three main ways:
- A narrow heel that prevents slip
- A wider forefoot that allows space for toes to splay out naturally
- A sculpted mid-foot that provides ample arch support
No matter what style of Oboz Footwear you choose, you will always get a design focused on the perfect fit.
Not only is this outdoor company making strides in innovative hiking footwear design, but they’re also giving back through sustainable practices.
These are just a few reasons why we love Oboz, and we know you will too!
Visit www.obozfootwear.com to learn more and shop their collection of hiking footwear now.