Are you planning a backpacking trip to enjoy the marvels of nature? Well, you still have to stay safe on the trail, and that entails getting the right equipment. Arguably, there are few things more important than getting the right shoes since these offer the much-needed ankle support. In turn, this prevents falls, sprains, and other foot-related injuries.
But what can you choose? You’re in the right place because we’ll discuss some of the best shoes on the market, in terms of their characteristics, highlighting their pros as well as their cons so you can make an informed decision.
These shoes are definitely fit for hiking, backpacking and trail running with some features you can’t beat and at an all-around affordable price. For instance, the leather uppers are waterproof, so you can wear them even in inclement, rainy weather because they protect your feet from cold and from the water. But these uppers also sport some polyester mesh panels, which add to the overall ventilation.
We love the bootie liners because they are waterproof too and made from Gore-Tex. These will protect your feet from the rain and the cold, but Gore-Tex is an excellent material in terms of moisture-wicking and comfort. More than that, the fit is quite perfect, and the lace system offers incredible stability.
Speaking of stability, the chassis also keeps the underfoot very secure while also proving quite light. That means you’ll move swiftly and comfortably, getting a motion control that’s close to ideal. That way, your backpacking trip will become really efficient and you’ll cover a lot of ground each day.
We love the lace system that just needs one pull to tighten them, which is great when the time is of the essence. You can also tie or untie these shoes pretty fast, and you’ll definitely get a kick out of the lace pockets in terms of storage.
The mudguards are one of the best features of these shoes in our minds because you can wear them even on muddy terrain. But the rubber toe caps are also quite a feat as they protect your toes from rocks and debris along the way. The gussets contribute to keeping debris out of your shoes too, and that’s really amazing.
We love the midsoles made from an injection-moulded EVA, which is renowned for its increased comfort and ergonomic cushioning of your feet. The OrthoLite® sock liners add to the whole cushiony feeling, but also provide some much-needed support. And we didn’t forget the Contagrip® outsoles made from a dependable rubber are great for added grip on rocky, slippery terrain so you can have great traction.
So after singing so many praises to these shoes, what can possibly be their downsides? For instance, we noticed the fit might be a little off, so you really need to study that size chart before placing your order. Besides, they tend to slip in the heel, and they’re not the most breathable shoes on the market. So while they’re amazing for colder weather, they’re not the best for hot and humid climates.
If you’re hiking with your family, you also need the best hiking shoes for toddlers, for kids or for pre-teens, who still need the same ankle support and sturdy materials, but may also have some rather special requests.
Take the Timberland Field Boot for instance. These can be bought in different colours, which is definitely a plus. However, they have a lace-up system that might not be so great for a toddler who’s always fiddling around with their laces since they can easily slip and get lost. Keep in mind that these are Taslan laces, though, which means they’re quite durable. But aside from that, the retail price definitely brings a bang for your buck since these shoes are made from leather, which is a warm, waterproof material.
We love the synthetic sole that’s great for a comfortable, cushiony feel and it won’t hurt your kid’s feet either, but you need to use some moisture-wicking socks with this too. The shaft is 3.5 inches high, which is definitely great for ankle support, and the padded collar adds some extra cushioning around the ankles for a comfortable wear.
We also adore the T-toe, which is another essential feature regarding backpacking safety since a reinforced toe is always awesome on rocky terrain. We feel the textile lining itself is breathable, while the rubber outsole is awesome when it comes to traction and durability.
The footbed is also made from EVA, which we think is amazing for absorbing impacts and shocks so your kid’s feet will feel extremely comfortable for prolonged periods of time. So they won’t get any blisters or foot pain, meaning they can play and run around as much as they like.
These shoes are another example of a reliable equipment for colder, rainier weather sporting all the most important characteristics a backpacking shoe should have when it comes to comfort and safety.
So the shaft is ankle-high, meaning they’ll provide good support. We feel the lacing system adds to this support as well, though it could be argued that the laces themselves are quite thin. Nevertheless, there’s a clasp near the tongue that secures this laces in place after you tie them, so they won’t get undone during your trip.
These shoes are made from a synthetic material that’s not completely waterproof, so you’d better not wear them during a heavy rain, on snow or jump into puddles with them. However, we love that the fabric itself is resistant to punctures, it’s breathable and light, so you can enjoy wearing these shoes on your summer hiking trips.
The lining is high-quality too since it’s made from Gore-Tex, meaning you’ll get a durable and comfortable pair of shoes. We know this lining also helps to some degree with moisture wicking, though you still need to get some good moisture-wicking socks.
And what’s not to love about the midsole? There’s this adiPRENE insert that’s great in terms of shock absorption, particularly if you’re hiking a lot on rocky, uneven terrain. It’s even a nice addition to consider if you have to jump from one rock to the other when crossing a river. The EVA material used for manufacturing this midsole adds to the whole comfortable, cushiony feeling. And don’t forget that EVA is a resistant, tough material.
The moulded sock liner is another feature we love since it’s just what you need to make sure you get a right fit from the get-go. It’s also what will get you a comfortable wear, so you can probably go backpacking without first having to break in these shoes. And once you’re there, you can rely on the Traxion outsole that’s made from a quality rubber with the purpose of offering amazing traction and grip, particularly on wet, slippery ground.
These terrific shoes win an honourable bronze medal in our review because they offer some great characteristics. The first one is their versatility since they can be worn in medium-difficulty backpacking trips if you’re working on a construction site or even at the office. Yes, they look that good, thanks to the leather design. In fact, this is more like suede, so you can rely on its low weight and good looks, as well as its resistance to cold and rain.
The Arc Tempo is probably their best feat from our perspective, but that also means these shoes are more appropriate for specific circumstances and feet. So this asymmetrical curve shows this is a great footwear if you want to stay quick and balanced on tricky ground. But it’s not just for agility, it also fits people who have higher arches, meaning you can keep your feet in a powerful position while climbing perilous, inclined terrain during the toe-off part.
However, that means the footbed is somewhat tight and quite hard, so it might feel difficult to wear them on certain terrain or if you don’t have a high arch. On the other side, you can rely on the overall resistance and stability offered by these shoes, even if they’re not the most comfortable for all types of situations.
Other than the aggressive toe spring which is a great helper for speed and obstacles, you’ll get a tapered toe box so you have enough room in your toe area. The synthetic sole is another point in their favour for cushioning and resistance, though it’s not the best when it comes do moisture-wicking.
We love the midsole that offers some amazing stability as well, and it’s really made from a great blend of materials, although these shoes are retailed at an affordable price. So you’ll get a mix of moulded EVA for comfort and TPU for an ergonomic resistance. We feel that the rubber outsole is comfortable as well, and it’s also a Vasque trademarked Off the Grid technology for an enhanced traction.
However, all these materials might make these boots somewhat heavy, each weighing about a pound. The lace system is said to be quite tuneable, though the laces tend to get undone quite frequently, so you might need to re-tie them or do a more secure knot to start with, so we didn’t much like that.
If you want the perfect boots for backpacking through a marshland, you’ve found your winner. This Hi-Tec footwear is manufactured from a full grain leather that not only proves durable and insulating but light, breathable and waterproof at the same time. So even if leather is a bit more high-maintenance than other materials, it’s a great insulator so you can rely on it during cold weather and wet conditions.
And the hydrophobic technology used by Hi-Tec, called i-Shield provides more protection against water since this is actually a coating that repels water. The Dri-Tec construction is also meant to help in that regard, so the people at Hi-Tec really brought out all their weapons in creating a highly waterproof pair of boots for rainy weather.
However, make sure you don’t wear these boots in hot and humid climates because your feet will likely feel as though they’re on fire. The rubber sole contributes to that too, although it’s otherwise very comfortable and resistant for prolonged use.
The heel itself is pretty tall, 1.5 inches in height, so you can have some cushioning around the heel area. This helps navigate difficult terrain, as well as stay dry when you’re walking through puddles. And if we’re talking about comfort, don’t forget the padded collar around the ankle, which provides support as well as cushioning.
The speed-lace hooks are amazing when you need to tie your laces fast, and you can rest assured they won’t come undone on the trail. The OrthoLite sock liner is another feature that made us fall in love with these boots thanks to its anti-microbial properties. That means any odour-causing bacteria will be killed, so you won’t get smelly feet even if you’re hiking for a long time.
We like the shank that’s really stable, yet flexible at the same time, probably because that’s what leather does. The midsole is made from compression moulded EVA, and we love this for its cushioning properties, offering your soles the much-needed protection against all impacts.
And the Multi-Direction Traction outsole is really just great in our opinion. Rubber, in general, provides a great grip and good traction on different terrain, but this technology adds something to the mix: it provides stability and durability on all terrain types, even for the more aggressive hiking styles.
What Will You Get?
We’ve taken you through a series of affordable, comfortable and supportive backpacking footwear, each with their unique features. So now you have to think about where you’re planning to go. Do you want shoes for cold, rainy weather, or for warmer hikes? Will you tackle a very difficult, rugged terrain, or a low to medium difficulty one? Tell us all about your plans and preferences in the comments below.
Rebecca lives in the USA, but loves hiking all over the world. Her favourite is Everest Base Camp Trek in Nepal. It usually takes 16 days, but she likes to slow down, enjoy mountains, the company of other adventurers and take more pictures, so it took her 28 days last time. Another of her passion is the ocean, so all short and long hikes along the ocean shore bring a lot of joy. She also writes for hikingmastery.com.