It's not easy finding the right footwear for a certain purpose.
All our footwear have one thing in common: they have waterproof GORE-TEX membranes and vibram-soles of the highest quality. Yet there are many different shaft heights and qualities which separate one model from another. But we're here to help!
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ALFA makes footwear in four different shaft heights: low, middle, high cut, and hunting boots with 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 should have at least two different pairs. Continue 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 has no ankle support, and we recommend using them on trails where the surface is mostly smooth. Shoes without ankle support demand a greater degree of ankle stability and strength, especially if you find yourself on a challenging section of trail.
Terrain and packing
They work best for walks without a backpack, or with a lightweight one. For walks on smooth trails and in areas where the ground is relatively clear of vegetation, these shoes are excellent.
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.
Mid-height hiking shoes
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 still have to be carefull when used with a heavier rucksack and in steep terrain.
Terrain and packing
These work well with a light back-pack and on day trips with regular trail surface.
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. But with a mid-height shoe it will take longer and you can use shell pants to block any water from coming in.
Most of ALFA’s high-cut hiking boots are created for typically Norwegian mountain terrain, where most will travel long distances over the mountains. This means the boots are comfortable for long hikes, and gives extra ankle support.
Terrain and packing
With a high shaft, you get more protection than a low- or mid-cut hiking shoe. These shoes function well with heavier backpacks 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.
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.
Extra high 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. If you hike in marshy and wet terrain, with a heavy rucksack or in very technical terrain, hunting boots will suit you well.
Be aware of what you body demands from the boots. People with low bodyweight can experience our stiffest boots are too stable and inflexible (e.g. Bever Pro Advance). This can become uncomfortable on longer hikes, especially without a heavy rucksack.
So how do you choose the right 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.
- 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?
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.
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.