It’s not easy. Not easy at all. So really not easy at all. The search for the perfect hiking shoe often feels like searching for the famous needle in a haystack. The world of hiking boots is almost endless. Leather or synthetic? Waterproof or not? Light and flexible or strong and robust?
And then there are these feet. Oh, these feet! Thick, thin, wide, crooked, narrow… one shoe squeezes here, the other rubs there.
And even after you’ve tried on the hundredth shoe in the thousandth shop, somehow nobody wants to find one that fits really well. No, the search for hiking boots is really not easy.
The bad news is: there is not one perfect hiking shoe. There is no ultimate guide. There are only many different feet and many different requirements for which you have to find the right shoe for you in the shoe jungle.
But there is also good news: If you know a few basic things about hiking boots and follow a few rules, it can make your search a lot easier. And so you can still find him, the only true hiking shoe. And even before you’re old and grey!
Be Sure To Seek Advice
You just can’t buy new shoes on the Internet! It won’t work. To buy shoes, go to a good sports shop. Not only because of the advice, but also so that you have enough choice to try and the right conditions for it.
It is always important to me that the salesperson proactively conducts the conversation and radiates a certain competence and passion. Unfortunately, there are always salespeople who allow themselves to be pulled out of their noses and with whom you simply have the feeling that it doesn’t really matter to them whether you are satisfied with the shoes afterwards or not. I have also experienced this in good specialist shops! My tip, especially if you are still inexperienced when it comes to buying hiking shoes: first observe the salespeople for a few minutes in sales talks with other customers and then specifically address the person who seemed most competent and of course most likeable to you.
Take A Lot Of Time To Try It On
Not only trying out different shoes takes time! Once you have made a final selection of potential candidates, you should try them out for at least 20 minutes and test them extensively until you make a final selection.
Use The Test Track And Stairs
Every serious shop that sells hiking boots has a small on-site test track where you can test your shoes on different surfaces while walking uphill and downhill. And if a shop doesn’t have a test track: go somewhere else! You should use the test track intensively. Pay particular attention to whether your toes hit the front when you go downhill. If so, the shoe is either too small or does not give the foot enough support.
Stairs are also a great aid for testing shoes. Here again you should pay particular attention when going uphill whether your heel is firmly in the shoe or whether you slide back and forth or up and down with it. If the latter is the case, blisters are pre-programmed.
Put The Shoe Purchase On The Evening
Feet become wider during the course of the day, which is quite natural. As this also happens on hikes and mountain hikes, you should make sure to buy your shoes in the evening or at least in the afternoon. This is the only way to judge at least to some extent whether the shoe still fits well even after prolonged use.
Take Your Hiking Socks With You To Buy Shoes
If you have hiking socks that you often wear – take them with you to the shop! And if you don’t have any, go to the store and get some. You usually have to buy them, because there are usually no trial hiking socks, but you’ll need them sooner or later anyway.
And here’s a tip: Every shoe is only as good as the sock you wear it with! So it’s best to get advice on the choice of socks right away.
Test As Many Shoes As Possible
Even if it’s annoying: Especially if you haven’t owned any hiking boots yet or not so many, you should try your hand at the shop! It simply happens too often that you think you have already found the right one, and only afterwards realize that there is still something much better.
Pay Attention To The Right Lacing
A shoe can sit completely differently depending on the lacing. Let the seller show you how to tie the shoe correctly and then pay attention to every shoe you try on. At the latest from the fifth pair one tends to become a little lazy in this respect. But you can’t!
Ask For Hiking Shoes In Different Widths
Some manufacturers offer their models in different widths. At LOWA, for example, there are many shoes in the standard size, in S (= less space around the forefoot/ball area), in W (= more space around the forefoot/ball area) and in WXL (extended toe area and more volume in the ball). So if you like a shoe but it is a bit too wide or narrow, ask the seller if the shoe is also available in other widths!
More Robust Isn’t Always Better Too
Especially in Germany it is still deeply anchored in the minds of many people that outdoor clothing must be as robust, heavy and durable as possible. Otherwise it’s no good. But depending on the conditions, a lighter shoe can also be the right choice. Even if the fit is ultimately the most important thing, the weight of the shoes contributes significantly to fatigue and exhaustion during the tour. And a sole that is too hard can, depending on the surface, do more harm than good.
The type of shoe you will ultimately choose depends on many factors. In addition to the purpose and place of use, the training condition of your foot is also decisive. While an untrained person shouldn’t necessarily run up a mountain in light hiking boots, there are people on the other side who even walk in sandals into the mountains or run from Mexico to Canada. The truth lies somewhere in between.
Ultimately, the only thing that helps here is to try it out yourself – and of course to rely on the opinion of a good consultant in case of doubt.
Don’t Try To Find The Egglaying
Yes, hiking boots are expensive. But it’s still worth buying two different pairs of shoes to cover a wider spectrum, rather than looking for the one shoe you can wear for walking or crossing the Watzmann. In the end you are never happy.
Trust Your Foot Feeling
And when you are sitting there, surrounded by countless shoe boxes and your head is already buzzing and you think about whether you prefer to let the hiking be easy after all: Trust in your foot feeling! After all, your feet will tell you which shoe is the best. All you have to do is listen!