How to choose your trekking / hiking shoes

When I first started backpacking, I had little or no idea what I needed in terms of gear. Be it shoes, the quality or contents of the backpack, and even the kind of clothes. Eventually, through trials, error, reading and a lot of observation later I figured that there was no ten-point rule to packing right, but if I adapted (or adopted) few techniques and pointer from seasoned travelers, it would go a long way in making my travel easier.

It helped a great deal. Especially when you are traveling alone (and especially as a woman), there are a few tips that help.

What type of shoes?

I refuse to wear anything that hurts my feet. I stick to sneakers even at work (no flip flops, high heels or pumps for me).  At the risk of sounding vain, I admit to my weakness for brands as far as shoes are concerned. Feet, I believe are to be pampered. On the matter of shoes, there is no compromise.

If I were backpacking in say, Cambodia or Bali for extended periods of time (and did NOT include any serious trekking) I stick to sneakers. My personal favourite is ADIDAS / Asics. The comfort is unmatched and over the years, I suppose my feet have grown into it! Plus, I also carry a pair of lightweight but strong NORTHFACE floaters (sandals), which can be worn anywhere and on any surface and doesn’t cut into my skin.  Plus they dry up pretty fast in case I walk into rains or puddles. (If you aren’t fashion conscious, you could wear them with socks, I do). They go very well with any kind of clothing too.

When trekking, say Mt Kilimanjaro or Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea, I stick to COLUMBIA. I haven’t tried any other more expensive or durable brand, but COLUMBIA works.

There are plenty of alternative available in the market of course, for various activities and at various prices too. Take Quechua for example. They are durable, less expensive than Northface or Columbia and have a wide range of options to choose from.

At the end, it is a matter of comfort and affordability, but mainly comfort. You could stick your feet into any lower end or street-side shoe and have a comfortable journey. Personally I do not like taking chances with broken straps or bruised skin or twisted ankles.

Socks

You can never have enough of these wonderful things!  Again, the slightly expensive type helps; namely they don’t raise a big stink when you take them off at the end of the day. (If you are staying in a dorm or a shared tent, you will be thankful to be wearing a pair that doesn’t kill your neighbor)

When backpacking

  1. Sneakers
  2. Lightweight sandals
  3. Lots of cotton socks

When trekking

1. Sturdy trekking boots (they are heavy but you will be glad to have them! I always wear Columbia – swear by it!!)
2.   Sandals to slip into at the end of the day
3.   Thick socks (helps reduce the friction on a particularly tough day)

backpack

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