When it comes to choosing a walking shoe, there are different shaft heights, grip, and intended usage to choose between. Find a boot that best suits your feet and usage, so you can enjoy your hikes.
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HIKING SHOES OR HIKING BOOTS?
Many people ask the question ‘Which hiking boot should I choose?’ Often the choice is between a hiking shoe or a hiking boot – or maybe a hiking shoe with a higher shaft. At first, the choice usually focusses on comfort and low weight, but often boils down to type of use and how much support and stability is required. If you need new hiking boots for a long hike or wonder if hiking boots or shoes are right for you, you’ll find plenty of good advice in this article.
ALFA makes footwear in three different shaft heights (low, middle and high cut), and hunting boots have an even higher shaft. Many people want a boot that can be used for all types of trail and terrain, but if you are an enthusiastic hiker our recommendation is that your shoe cupboard should contain at least two different pairs. To choose the correct hiking gear for you, conitnue reading for our guide to different shaft heights and their ideal use. At the bottom you can also find our quick summary.
LOW HIKING SHOES
A low-cut hiking shoe have no ankle support, and we recommend to use these shoes on trails where the surface is mostly smooth. They work best for walks without a backpack, or with a lightweight one. Shoes without ankle support demand a greater degree of ankle stability and strength, especially if you find yourself on a challenging section of trail. For walks on smooth trails and in areas where the ground is relatively clear of vegetation, these shoes are excellent.
With few obstacles in your path to trip you, these hiking shoes are lightweight and comfortable.
Low-cut shoes are often less water-resistant, for example from heather or long grass. This is because water can enter over the collar and run down into the shoes, despite the shoes having a GORE-TEX membrane to protect your foot from shallow puddles and wet conditions.
Our recommended low-cut hiking shoes
MID-CUT HIKING SHOES
With a small step up in shaft height, you’ll find the mid-cut hiking shoes. These work well with a light back pack and on day trips with a good trail surface.
Moderate ankle support will help on tricky sections of trails, but be careful as the trail gets more demanding. A mid-cut shoe supports the ankle but will also challenge the ankle when used with a heavier rucksack and in steep terrain. Mid-cut shoes will also tolerate wet grass. Water won’t seep in through the boot itself due to the GORE-TEX membrane, but as per low-cut shoes, will over time creep in over the collar.
Our recommended mid-cut hiking shoes
HIGH-CUT HIKING BOOTS
"Why hiking boots?" you may wonder. Most of ALFA’s high-cut hiking boots are created for typically Norwegian mountain terrain, where most hikers will travel long distances over the mountains. This means the boots are comfortable for long multiday hikes, and give extra ankle support. With a high shaft, you get more protection than a low- or mid-cut walking boot. These shoes function well with heavier rucksacks and on steep gradients where the ankle deals with additional loads. Some models are extra stiff so they can be used in even tougher terrain. However, these have less flexibility and are therefore not practical for normal long hikes, but are best suited for summiting peaks. Other models have fixation points for crampons. Irrespective of the shoe, you should always be careful in technical terrain to avoid sprains and injuries. The high-cut boots are most resistant to water seepage over the collar from long grass and heather. They are therefore most appropriate for wet and marshy terrain.
Our recommended hiking boots
EXTRA HIGH-CUT HIKING BOOTS / HUNTING BOOTS
Hunting boots are our highest-cut boot. They provide very good ankle protection, as well as being very resistant to water seeping over the collar. Generally speaking, the longer it takes for dampness to creep over the collar and down the inner material, the longer the boot will remain dry. If you hike in marshy and wet terrain, with a heavy rucksack or in very technical terrain, hunting boots can be an excellent companion.
Be aware of your need from the boots. People with low bodyweight can experience our stiffest boots are in fact too stable and inflexible (eg Bever Pro Advance).This can become uncomfortable on longer hikes, especially without a heavy rucksack. It’s therefore important to wear the shoes in before embarking on a hike, so you know the boots fits well and is easy to walk with.
Our recommended hunting boots for hiking
HOW DO YOU CHOOSE THE RIGHT WALKING SHOES?
To find the right shoe or boot we recommend you ask yourself a few questions, in order to find the model that is best for its intended use. At the end of the day, it’s also important to include your foot in the decision-making process. A shoe not fitting your foot correctly will detract from your overall hiking experience.
- Where will I use the walking shoe?
- What is the terrain/walking surface there?
- Is the area often wet or marshy?
- Will I go on long or short hikes?
- Will I have a heavy backpack or walk without one?
- How much ankle support do I need/want?
- Does the shoe fit my foot well?
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The summary above isn’t definitive but rather an overview of shaft heights and their different properties and ideal usage. By crossing off the answers that are most appropriate to you, you’ll find the shaft height best suited to your needs. It is rare for all your answers to relate to one shaft height, instead you’ll usually get a variety of answers.
For example, if you walk most in smooth terrain (low-cut), with some dampness (mid-cut) but with a backpack (high-cut), then we would recommend the high-cut boot so as to not risk ankle injuries by carrying a backpack with too little ankle support. The same applies if you go on short walks (low-cut), in moderately challenging terrain (high-cut) and with a light backpack (mid-cut). Due to the moderately challenging terrain it would be safer to walk with a high-cut boot than a low- or mid-cut shoe, so you can focus on the hike instead of watching every footstep.
If you hike in different kinds of terrain and don’t want more than one pair of boots, we recommend you keep in mind the type of trip you take most frequently during the decision-making process. You may need to make compromises if you want a boot for every kind of use, so choose which criteria are most important to you – and then choose the boot.