Trekking shoes are no longer made. They are engineered. I remember what my dad wore on backpacking trips and they resembled an old pair of military boots. Those days are long gone. Today, hiking and trekking shoes focus on style, functionality, durability, and breathability.
There are basically two styles of trekking shoes to choose from. Both are designed to cater more specifically to the type of trail-use you engage in. If you are a backpacker, the heavier duty hiking or backpacking boot is preferred. It is usually beefier in its construction, higher cut, and made from genuine leather. If day hiking is your forte, the lighter-weight trekking shoes are the best choice. These day-hikers are usually much more breathable, have a lower ankle cut, and are a lot more flexible, requiring less to ‘break them in’. You’ll find knobby soles, or lugs, on both styles, making both varieties of trekking shoes more stable and grippy on uneven, rocky, and tree-laden trails. Quite a few hiking boots now feature a breathable inner liner made of Gore-Tex or some other breathable fiber. This feature alone is well worth the investment as it helps keep your feet dry and cool, wicking away perspiration. This liner can also act as a waterproofing agent making trekking shoes ideal for limited water use found on the trail. I personally buy trekking shoes with Gore-Tex as it helps eliminate the chance of blisters.
Hiking and backpacking has become so popular that a lot of trekking shoes and boots are now pouring into the marketplace. This has resulted in a lot of manufacturers making more then is in demand. If you’re new to hiking and backpacking I recommend going to the big box retailers like Dick’s, Cabelas, or Bass Pro, or even your local sporting goods store to actually try on the shoes for size and comfort. However, if hiking is old-hat and you have proven a specific brand and style, I would encourage you to check online for the best deal. Overstock, clearance, and outlet stores are popping up all over the Internet, offering great prices and free shipping. If you do opt to buy online, you should be confident the boot is fitting true to size. The manufacturer as well as consumer reviews found online can help you assess whether the trekking shoe is fitting properly. This is very important as an ill-fitted shoe can result in a lot of discomfort on the trail. I’ve owned lightweight hikers and backpacking boots as I spend a lot of time doing both activities. Some of the better lightweight day hiking brands include The North Face, Merrell, Timberland, and Columbia. The more heavy-duty boots for backpacking include Vasque and Lowa.
It is a great time to be an outdoorsman. Technology, especially in shoe design and engineering, has increased comfort and functionality. Investing in the best trekking shoes will help you enjoy the trail more and while protecting you against injury and blisters.