How to choose your hiking shoes?

Whether you are a beginner or an experienced hiker, it is important to choose the right shoes that will accompany you on your adventures on the trails. Suitable hiking shoes will offer you comfort and safety, to take maximum pleasure on all the paths you will cross.

To help you make your choice among the hundreds of references present on the market, we will present here the different types of hiking shoes that exist. We will then detail the criteria that you must study to find the pair that best suits your needs. Finally, we will help you determine the size of walking shoe that is suitable for your foot.

The different types of hiking shoes

Hiking boots close-up on dirt at a walker's feet

There are different types of hiking shoes. They meet the different needs of hikers, depending on the type of hiking (terrain, duration), morphology, needs and preferences.

Shoes for short hikes and walks

This first major category of hiking shoes is intended for walks of just a few hours, on marked and easily accessible trails. The level is relatively easy, and walkers only carry a small backpack with them, enough to last the day. They are generally light and flexible, which offers sufficient comfort and basic protection. Their upper is low or mid-rise.

low-top shoes for short hikes

The advantages of shoes for short hikes:

  • They are lightweight. This makes them comfortable to wear and reduces the feeling of fatigue compared to more robust pairs of shoes.
  • They are flexible. Their flexibility gives you good foot mobility and freedom of movement. You can easily adopt a natural gait during your outings.
  • They are breathable. The materials chosen are often very breathable and this allows air to circulate properly. Your feet can therefore stay dry and cool during your walk.

The disadvantages of this type of shoes:

  • Support is minimal. The upper is generally low, which doesn’t provide much support for your ankle. If you’re going to be taking on technical or uneven terrain, or are particularly prone to sprains, you should be extra careful.
  • Protection is limited. They are designed for easy trails, so they rarely protect against front impacts from rocks, roots or other obstacles. Again, this means you have to be extremely careful not to hurt yourself.

What size should you choose for your hiking shoes?

Close-up of a woman's feet wearing hiking boots and standing on top of a rock

Choosing the right model of hiking shoes is unfortunately not enough to ensure your comfort. It is also essential to find the right size. If the size you choose is too small, you will quickly feel compressed and risk having some pain. Too big, it causes more friction and blisters. Here are some tips for finding the size of hiking shoes that suits you.

Try on your hiking boots to find the perfect size

It is naturally easier to find the right size of a hiking shoe by putting it on your feet. However, trying on hiking shoes must be done according to certain rules if you want to be sure to make the right choice.

Put on thick socks

It’s important to bring a pair of hiking socks with you to the store that you plan to wear on your outings. These are usually a bit thick, so you’ll want to remember to put them on before trying on the shoes. If you don’t, you may not have a good idea of ​​how much room you have left once the shoes are on your feet.

Thick socks are the best choice for your outings: they help prevent the appearance of friction and blisters. They therefore significantly improve your level of comfort.

hiking shoes with thick socks

Measure your feet and check the size guide

To choose the most suitable size of hiking shoes for your feet, it may be useful to measure your feet precisely. Using a pedometer is recommended, as it is the easiest way to get an accurate measurement.

Once you have measured both of your feet, remember the length of the larger of the two and go and consult the size guide of the brand you have chosen. As a general rule, it is easy to find the correspondences between size in cm and shoe size. This therefore allows you to have a good idea of ​​the size to choose.

Trying on shoes on a slope

Once you have the hiking boots on your feet, take a few steps around the store to get a feel for them. Also, test them on an inclined surface. Most specialty stores have a surface that simulates a slope with a few stones. You can also go up and down stairs if there is no inclined surface in your chosen store.

For this test, pay attention to the movement of your foot inside the shoe. Your toes should not slide too far forward and your heel should not move too far back. You should have enough room to move your toes without them constantly hitting the front of the shoe.

Men different models to find hiking shoes adapted to your body shape

Check that there is enough space in your shoe

Finally, to ensure your comfort, your toes should not be compressed when you walk, and should not touch the front of the shoe. A space of about half an inch is recommended between your big toe and the end of your shoe. This allows your foot to move comfortably, both uphill and downhill.

Should I take a size larger than my normal size?

You have probably heard people around you advise you to choose a half-size or even a full size larger than your usual size for your hiking boots. There are several reasons why this recommendation may be made.

First of all, with the effort and the effect of heat, the feet tend to swell slightly. A slightly larger hiking shoe therefore allows you not to feel compressed every time your feet swell.

As mentioned above, hiking socks are often thicker than city socks. This gives you more comfort and better protection. The volume of your feet is therefore a little larger than usual and may therefore require a little more space.

How to measure your feet correctly

First of all, it is imperative to know the length of your feet. Without the possibility of trying on, this is the most reliable technique to select the right size. If you have a pedometer, use it to determine the exact length of both your feet. If not, get a sheet of paper and a pencil. Place the sheet near a wall and wedge your foot on it. Make a mark at the end of your foot and do the same on the other side. It is best to ask someone to help you so that you can stand up straight while measuring. Then measure the size of your longest foot and refer to the brand’s size guide to select the ideal size.
I would recommend you to buy your type of hiking shoes and all travel essentials at Dhgate and get huge discounts while shopping