Comfort, safety and protection are the main functions of shoes for trekking. The classification of hiking shoes in general is roughly in the following categories:
- Lightweight multifunctional shoes for easy hikes and everyday use.
- Light hiking boots with better lateral support, stronger sole and weather protection
- Hiking boots for excursions in the foothills of the Alps with better lateral support and a firmer sole
- Solid trekking shoes for tours in the wilderness with heavy luggage
When it comes to choosing the right type of shoe for the planned terrain and weather, the following rule of thumb applies: the trekking shoe should be as sturdy as necessary and as light as possible. If you are not sure or even tend to twist your ankle, a sturdier hiking shoe is recommended.
The solution for demanding outdoor hikes on unpaved trails are trekking shoes. These are cut very high compared to the alternative hiking boots and offer your feet the best lateral support in rough terrain with their very stable shaft. You grant the ideal compromise between a light hiking boot and a heavy mountain boot.
The only moderately cushioned sole ensures a high level of surefootedness in the terrain thanks to the firm and torsionally stiff material. The shoes are adapted to the high weight of the hiker with his backpack. A waterproof membrane keeps feet dry even in wet conditions and rain. The tread ensures surefootedness in the mountains. They offer optimal grip and maximum protection in pathless terrain.
Leather and breathable synthetic materials are the most common upper materials for trekking shoes. Leather scores high in warm and dry weather with high wearing comfort, at the same time the material is usually more stable and resilient than synthetics. Synthetic material is more suitable for damp and cold weather. It is just as water repellent as a well-waxed leather boot, but much more breathable and dries much faster. Leather boots should also have a functional membrane, then they will also dry quickly, which is important for example on pure tent tours. For the cold season, manufacturers also offer lined shoes.
Manufacturers produce both unisex models and specially tailored specimens for men and women. As a rule, men and women have slightly different foot shapes, and the men's and women's models usually fit the feet better and provide more reliable support. Men's heels are often wider and the difference in width between the heel and toe area is smaller than women's. The upper of trekking shoes for men is therefore comparatively lower and narrower.
For support on long hikes, the trekking shoe must fit perfectly. The heel fit, ankle support and lacing are all important. Here are some important points on how you can easily find the right trail running shoes:
- When trying them on, make sure that the heel is absolutely secure. Blisters or chafing points can occur if the heel can move minimally in the shoe.
- For a secure stand in the shoe, the midfoot must be well fixed. Lacing the shoe again about 15 minutes after putting it on will allow the trekking shoe to adapt to the foot even better.
- The toes need a finger's width of space at the front, and they must not touch at the top. Otherwise pressure points will occur, especially downhill.
- For high wearing comfort, the shoe must roll round, ideally the front rolling point is directly under the ball of the foot.
- The upper should enclose the ankle tightly and lace up tightly to ensure good ankle support.
The rougher the terrain, the sturdier the shoes you need for proper foot protection and a secure grip. Be sure to look for a perfect fit, high-quality materials with long durability and a firm sole.
For optimal comfort, look for models with Gore-Tex Surround technology to keep your feet dry and cool. It's best to try the shoes on in the afternoon, because your foot swells during the day. After 15 minutes, lace up the trekking shoe again so that it fits your foot perfectly. Do your feet tend to have pressure points? Then wear thicker socks, and special insoles will also improve the fit in the shoe.
Try out your new model for an hour in the store or at home. If it feels comfortable over the entire time, you have found your perfect trekking shoe. Break them in over short distances during the first few weeks before you set off on your first real hiking tour. After each tour, remove dirt with a stiff brush and clear, cold water. Dirt dries out the material and leather can become brittle. Spray the upper material with waterproofing spray, dry leather is best treated with leather wax.