Our guide to helping you choose the right footwear. At Hiking.com.au we stock a wide range of different footwear suited to a range of outdoor uses. This guide will point out some of the differences between the different styles and hopefully help you select the perfect style for your next adventure.
At Hiking.com.au we have a wide range of footwear suitable for a range of outdoor activities. In this guide we'll have a look at the different styles of shoe and boot available and the types of pursuits they are best suited too.
Full Grain Leather: This type of leather has had the least amount of processing done to it. It offers a high level of durability, abrasion and water resistance and is breathable. Boots made from full grain leather can be heavier than synthetic and suede boots and require a bit more time to break in.
Split Leather: Generally Suede. Comes from the underside of the leather. In outdoor footwear it is often used to reinforce high wear areas of synthetic boots and shoes. It has good abrasion resistance, although not as good as full grain leather, and is breathable.
Nubuck: A full grain leather that has been finely sanded or buffed on the grain side to give it a velvet like finish. Like full grain leather this offers excellent durability, water and abrasion resistance.
Nylon/Polyester: Lighter weight than leather but lacking some of it's durabilty. Manufacturers often use suede on high wear areas of synthetic footwear to protect the fabrics from abrasion. One advantage of synthetic boots is that they tend to break in quicker than a leather boot.
The soles of hiking footwear is made up of several layers, the insole, the shank, the midsole and the outsole.
The insole is soft, flexible and found inside the shoe. They are designed to give a degree of cushioning and support and help wick moisture away from the feet.
Insoles are also available from third party manufacturers and may offer a range of additional benefits to the wearer that the original insoles may not have provided. Superfeet for example, due to their stiffness and shape help to support and stabilise the feet, "...improving balance and reducing stress and fatigue. Excess motion, muscle strain, blisters and hotspots can be reduced by the improved fit."
The shank is a stiff layer of material located just beneath the insole. It provides extra stability under foot by helping to reduce flex or twisting in the boot. Most shanks in todays hiking footwear are made from stiff plastics, carbon composites or fibreglass.
The next layer is the midsole. The midsole provides most of the cushioning to the foot. Often made up of either compression molded or injection molded EVA or PU
Types of Footwear
Walking Shoes: The majority of walking shoes are made of a combination of differing levels of suede and synthetic fabrics. Some come with a waterproof liner, often Gore-Tex or eVent. Waterproof shoes offer incresed weather protection but will be less breathable than a non-waterproof lined shoe. Compared to a standard running shoe walking shoes will have more stiffness through the sole and more tosional stability offering good levels of support to the foot, aiding movement over uneven terrain. Usually designed for day walking with a relatively small pack on well trodden trails and paths. That being said, the growth in availabilty of super lightweight hiking equipment there are a growing number of lightweight fanatics who choose to use this type of shoe for multi day trips.
Walking shoes are also worth considering for travel and sightseeing. They offer enough comfort and support to spend the day walking around a city and will offer enough protection for your feet if you happen to decide on going off the beaten track. Many are waterproof giving great weather protection if heading to Europe for their winter. Although they may not offer as much in the way of support or weather protection as a walking boot their versatility combined with their relatively small pack size and weight make them an excellent choice when heading overseas.
|The Mantra GTX from Vasque is a very versatile shoe. It combines good stability with a durable Vibram sole and waterproof Gore-Tex lining to offer a lightweight solution for anything fromm trail walking to travel|
Approach Shoes: Often made from Nubuck or a combination of suede and synthetic fabrics an approach shoe is a hybrid of climbing shoe and walking shoe. They are ideal for mixed terrain that may involve a combination of general hiking with some scrambling and moving over rockier and steeper terrain. A stickier rubber is used on the sole compared to a traditional walking shoe offering extra traction when moving over rock. A cushioned midsole provides enough cushioning for regular walking. The shoe will have more lace holes that extend further down the shoe offering a more precise fit ideal for scrambling. Although suitable for general hiking the stickier rubber on the sole doesn't tend to have the same long term durabilty as the rubbers found on a standard walking shoe.
Mid-cut boots: Most commonly a combination of synthetic fabrics and suede. Mid-cut boots offer a slightly higher level of support than a walking shoe. They offer increased ankle support. Slightly stiffer throught the sole than a walking
A mid cut boot is ideal for day walking and lightweight overnight hikes but probably won't offer enough support for heavy load carrying.
Hiking boots: Available in either leather, nubuck or a combination of suede and synthetic fabrics. A hiking boot offers enough support, both round the ankle and through the sole, for heavy load carrying, multi-day trips and movement across uneven and rocky terrain. A hiking boot