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How to choose outdoor hiking shoes?

How to choose outdoor hiking shoes?

By  Linky Johnson 2018-11-20 1775 0

Over the years, the industry has not a standard definition of outdoor sports shoes. Many people categorize off-road shoes, mountaineering shoes, proximity shoes and so on directly and generally as "hiking shoes", which is biased. In order to facilitate communication, I referred to them for outdoor shoes here. Because of the different types of outdoor sports, according to the characteristics of outdoor sports, the design and manufacture of outdoor sports shoes are biased. Please choose the corresponding outdoor shoes and boots according to the outdoor sports items you are involved in, so as to maximize the potential of your feet and protect your feet to the greatest extent.

Classification of outdoor shoes

According to the different characteristics of outdoor sports, combined with the main characteristics of mass outdoor groups, considering the ordinary wear environment and the characteristics of mainstream outdoor sports, I summarized the outdoor shoes into the following categories:

Light hiking shoes:

Light hiking shoes are generally suitable for low-altitude mountain and jungle terrain, 1-2 days of light hiking and leisure outdoor activities, suitable for low difficulty coefficient mountain climbing and ordinary fitness activities, but also for daily leisure wear. This type of hiking shoes is the most frequently worn outdoor shoes.

Light hiking shoes 

The main features of light hiking shoes are:

Shoe model is generally low or middle uppers, upper material using full leather and breathable wear resistant nylon fabric, but also all nylon mesh material. The air permeability of this type of hiking shoes is better. The large soles have moderate soft and hard degree, shallow shading, shallow teeth, dense spacing, good skid resistance, and good cushioning performance of shoes. Some shoes have waterproof film to achieve the function of complete waterproofing. Toe cap is usually fitted with anti-kicking rubber block. The overall quality of shoes is light and lightweight. The midsole is usually made of high density micro porous foaming material with plastic skeleton, which has better impact resistance and can prevent the deformation of shoes to a certain extent.

Heavy hiking shoes:

Heavy hiking shoes are generally suitable for low-altitude mountain environments and complex rugged terrain wear. It is suitable for long distance, trekking, easy climbing and other outdoor activities. This is also a kind of shoes that our outdoor sports groups wear more frequently.

Heavy hiking shoes 

The main features of heavy hiking shoes are:

Shoes are usually of medium and high uppers. Leather is commonly used for upper. Some shoe models are also made of leather and nylon wear-resistant fabrics for consideration of increasing air permeability and reducing weight.

The breathability of this type of hiking shoes is not better than that of light hiking shoes, and the sole of shoes is heavy and hard. In order to enhance the grip performance and load-bearing support performance, the big bottom lines are deeper and the teeth are thicker, but the anti-skid performance is not enough.

The heavy foot shoes have better support for human feet and moderate cushioning. The upper can protect the ankle better. The toes are fitted with kick-proof rubber, and some shoe models are made of 360 degree uppers with wear-resistant materials to enhance the adaptability of shoes to harsh environments.

The overall quality of shoes is heavy (some brands now use enhanced midsole skeletons, increased use of high-density foamed materials, and bonded wear resistant rubber soles, thus greatly reducing the overall weight of shoes). The series of shoes are mostly waterproof and breathable film to achieve the purpose of complete waterproofing.

Off-road running shoes

There are some similarities between off-road running shoes and light hiking shoes, which are generally suitable for off-road running, light hiking, casual outdoor activities and urban casual wear in middle and low altitude environment. Even for indoor and outdoor sports, this kind of shoes is one of the most frequently worn outdoor shoes.

Off-road running shoes 

In order to adapt to the characteristics of large amount of exercise, off-road running shoes are generally of low uppers. The upper materials are mostly made of air-permeable and wear-resistant nylon fabrics, and some are made of PU leather and leather spliced with nylon materials. The large soles of off-road running shoes are soft, the shading is shallow and dense, the air permeability is strong, the anti-skid performance is generally good, and the cushioning performance of the shoes is good.

Some of the shoes are equipped with waterproof and breathable film, the shoe head is equipped with anti-kick rubber cladding. The sole is generally made up of TPU framework, high density micro porous foaming material, and wear-resistant rubber. The TPU skeleton and high density EVA are designed to enhance the support performance and impact resistance of shoes, and the cushioning properties of the sole are enhanced by this design.

Large-sole lines are generally granular, T-shaped and continuous corrugated, this is to make shoes have better ground-grabbing performance and anti-skid performance. Off-road running shoes relatively strong adaptability to the terrain. However, off-road running shoes lack of mud performance, not suitable for muddy road conditions. You can only say that fish and bear paws cannot be both.

Mountaineering shoes

Mountaineering shoes, also known as high mountain boots, belong to high-altitude technology climbing shoes, which can be classified as light and heavy. Generally used for 5 kilometer above the snow and rock terrain mixed climb. The basic features are that the shoe is designed with medium and high upper, and the upper material is composed of leather, nylon, plastics and even carbon, etc. The support performance of climbing shoes is very strong, and the protective performance is also very strong. The big bottom is mostly big teeth and shading.

Mountaineering shoes 

Mountaineering shoes have strong thermal performance, some design has detachable insulation layer. Waterproof shells (layers) are designed to prevent rain and snow from invading. In order to adapt to high altitude climbing, most of them are equipped with ice gripper slot.

Professional outdoor shoes

There are a lot of outdoor sports, and the corresponding shoes are also very many, such as river tracing shoes, rock climbing shoes, ice climbing boots, desert boots, bicycle shoes, off-road driving shoes and various outdoor sports shoes. Because this article mainly popularizes the populace outdoor shoes, at the same time also limits the space reason, here I do not introduce these more specialized outdoor shoes.

Professional outdoor shoes 

Approaching shoes

There is one question that I would like to talk about here. Over the past year, many friends have asked me, "What kind of shoes are approaching shoes?" Well, let's talk about approaching shoes.

Approaching shoes is a popular brand name for outdoor shoes in recent years. The so-called approaching shoes, in fact, are light walking shoes. The design of shoes is slightly different from that of ordinary light walking shoes in shoe shape, shoe material and sole design. They are suitable for light walking and ordinary climbing. Therefore, approaching shoes belong to the category of light walking shoes.

Approaching shoes 

With the development of outdoor sports, as brand merchants subdivide the footwear market, attract more eyeballs and strive for more business opportunities, more and more new shoes and new shoes will be introduced. It can be said that outdoor shoes are also cross-border. However, no matter how the name is changed and the style is changed, the main function of outdoor shoes cannot be separated from that of footwear.

How to choose outdoor shoes?

After a brief look at the types of outdoor shoes, let's see how to buy them. We should choose the corresponding shoes according to the needs of our outdoor sports, so as to achieve the most comfortable wearing effect. After determining the type of shoes, we first choose their own style and color matching, and on this basis, we start from the shoe materials and other aspects to choose a suitable pair of outdoor shoes.

1.Shoe material

Upper material

Upper materials generally have cattle leather, PU leather (artificial leather) and nylon cloth and other materials. When selecting shoes, we should pay close attention to the observation that the top of the shoes with good quality should be smooth with no obvious creases, no folds in the upper stitching, and even and close distribution of the pores of the leather surface. There is no obvious wrinkle and foaming on the leather (Watch out if there is minor damage to the fabric and that the warp and weft of the woven surface should be consistent in density for nylon uppers).

Upper material 

Waterproof layer (film)

When selecting outdoor shoes with waterproof function, it is necessary to observe whether the sewing line of waterproof socks is straight and whether the gluing is compact. The waterproof function of shoes is not observable, which requires testing the waterproof function in actual wear.

The waterproofing membrane has a variety of waterproofing properties. Although some brand waterproofing membranes have strong waterproofing properties, they are basically impermeable, and Gore is the first choice for personal advice. Because the overall balance of waterproofing and air permeability is the best in the industry.

The following pictures show me taking out a pair of damaged cross-country running shoes a few years ago after I took out the waterproof socks. Among them, the black hole was improperly dressed, so that the sharp object pierced the waterproof membrane, so that the shoes lost the waterproof function. The purpose of posting this picture is to remind everyone that when wearing outdoor shoes with waterproof socks, it is necessary to avoid sharp scratches and piercing waterproof layers, so that outdoor shoes can maintain lasting waterproof performance.

Waterproof layer (film) 


The sole generally has two layers, respectively called the middle sole and the big sole.

The midsole are usually a mixed structure, mostly made of dense foamed materials and nylon skeletons (our naked eye is invisible). There are, of course, medium-soles mixed with large soles, which can be seen on the soles of cross-country running shoes and light hiking shoes.


There are a lot of materials for the sole, but at present most brands choose the rubber sole produced by Italian Vibram brand. I believe you also have a special preference for the octagonal yellow V-bottom sign. Although many brands have their own independent formula of rubber synthetic sole, but always cannot resist the visibility of Vibram sole.

A lot of friends have a misunderstanding about the fact that V is not skid proof. Everyone knows that the harder the rubber is, the slipper the sole is, and the softer the sole is, the more slippery it is. It is this reason that leads to misunderstanding on the bottom of V. This is because the V-soles used by domestic or domestic brands are basically Vibram's Alpine series rubber soles, but rarely V-home anti-skid formula rubber soles. The characteristics of Alpine series rubber soles are relatively hard and famous for wear resistance, so people have misunderstood the anti-skid performance of V-soles. The slip is equals.

In fact, the V family has developed many types of anti-slip V-bottom, but has not been adopted on a large scale (the addition of anti-slip material in rubber greatly enhances the anti-slip performance).

For example, Vbibram's ICETREK formula is specifically developed for the best anti-skid performance on cold, frozen or snowy surfaces. This formula provides good grip and skid resistance on frozen surfaces and can be used in all seasons, especially for winter sports such as winter hiking.

Vibram® MEGAGRIP is suitable for users who frequently contact with wet, muddy and smooth surfaces. It has good anti-slip performance and durability, and can adapt to various extreme activities, such as long-distance travel, backpack hiking and comprehensive sports, and seasonal travel. When choosing and purchasing shoes, we should pay attention to the rubber forming rules of soles. Don't choose too many burrs, rough shoes.


2.Appearance details and accessories

Sewing thread

For a pair of well-made outdoor shoes, the cutting and cutting of fabrics should be burr-free, the sewing line should be straight and smooth (with double lines as the best), the edge of the line and the fabric should have a certain distance, and there should be no jumping line and skewed line. There is no blank holder phenomenon.

Sole viscose

The upper and middle soles of the viscose should be very tight and seamless, so that there should be no visible spills to the naked eye. (Don’t listen to the explanations of some unscrupulous merchants. It's just a beautiful thing. There's a lot of glue and it's dry and hardened. The distortion and extrusion of the shoes in motion can easily lead to the cracking and degumming of the viscose.

Anti-kick head

As far as possible, choose shoes with large area of anti-kick head, and don't choose shoes with hard plastic material (easy to freeze and crack). Should choose a little thick rubber material anti kick head (nail press has a certain elasticity). It should be noted that when trying on shoes, bend the shoe with the front palm bent. Do not place the side edge of the kick head at the bend of the shoe; otherwise the joint will be easily broken.

Shoelace hook (hole)

Laces hook is relatively easy to ignore, when selecting shoes should choose shoelace hook material thick, electroplating technology, smooth surface without burr. Try not to choose shoes with perforated laces and no washers to avoid the wear of long-lasting upper materials.

Shoelace hook (hole) 


Good pair of shoes has a good pair of insoles line, so please also focus on when choosing shoes insole quality. Choose the insole no unified standard. But good insoles have some basic features. For example, one-time molding technology insole, which is made of high-density foam material, is prefabricated according to the characteristics of human foot shape. The ergonomic insole base is comfortable to wear and is used with sole. It can resist certain impact force, has better cushioning performance, and can also better alleviate foot fatigue.

The emphasis of each brand on insoles is different. Here we introduce a patented shoe holder for DANNER shoes in the United States. The white thing in the picture is a bracket placed in the middle of the insole for lifting the bow of the foot, attached to the shoe box in some models. This bracket is a great help to the friends of flat arch, and can also be used to relieve the fatigue of foot arch. It is a very good design idea.


As the saying goes, "shoes are only suitable for the feet." because of the differences in human body, each person's foot type is also different. For example, my feet are relatively wide and the soles of my feet are relatively high. We can't choose an outdoor shoes by demanding a brand or a pair of shoes that are suitable for everyone, and we can't buy a pair of shoes when they are told they are good. And each outdoor shoes brand or manufacturer used to make shoes last is different. So, please remember, to choose a pair of outdoor shoes suitable for their own, the only standard is to try on!

How to try on a pair of shoes?

When trying on a pair of shoes, you should wear socks of medium thickness. After wearing them, you should first adjust the shoelaces, not too tight or too loose. With no sense of pressure or relaxation on the instep as the standard, how to tie the shoelaces tightly and how to feel it from the following aspects.

1. Does the shoe feel perfect for the full package of feet? Some shoes have ankle pads that fit the curve of the ankle on the inside of the upper, which can better wrap and support the ankle.

2. The front foot around the space should not be large to fit the upper slightly pressure for the better. The entire soles of the foot did not slip back and forth in the shoe.

3. To stand upright on a staircase step or road edge with the front soles of one foot.
(It can also be used to step up the front palm continuously). Now swing back and forth to feel if the soles are good enough to support the body.

4. Check whether your shoes are comfortable with your feet and whether you feel loose? If shoes and feet have a better sense of the whole, that is good.

5. If conditions permit, walk a few steps or step up and down with a load to test the shoes. Feel if the soles are strong enough to support the feet and body, and if the cushioning performance of the shoes is good enough (off-road running shoes are not included in this test).

6. Off-road running shoes can be put on to test the cushioning performance by high jump and squat. The feet and heels have no obvious impact, landing lightly, and the ground is not obviously hard.

7. It is suggested that the asymmetric lacing system be chosen, which accords with the curve of the human foot and makes the foot feel more comfortable and secure.

8. In the actual test of shoes, we should also pay attention to listening, do not choose shoes that issues abnormal noise.

Having completed the above steps, if the overall feeling is good, then this pair of shoes will be very suitable for you.

The choice of outdoor shoes and other outdoor equipment should be based on the principle of "practicality is the hard truth", according to the outdoor environment to choose the outdoor sports to adapt to their own needs of outdoor shoes. I suggest that when choosing outdoor shoes, young friends who are involved in outdoor sports should make a choice in the brand of professional shoe making, not in the brand with longer product line.

I hope that some of my experience in wearing outdoor shoes can give you some reference on how to choose outdoor shoes. This article just throws a brick to attract jade and communicates with you, if there is something wrong, please criticize and correct for me.


 You may also want to read:
 Three most important items of hiking equipment you need to know!
 Purchase of outdoor travel equipment from head to feet
 Shopping tips for outdoor backpack


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2017-08-29 By GB Blog Official