Footwear Gear Guide

Some would argue that nothing is more important than high-quality properly fitted footwear.  I'm one of those people.  I own and use several different types of hiking boots and shoes.  Like everything else, each boot is different and is used for a different purpose.

Profile of my feet
Now, I'm not trying to get intimate here, but in order for you to understand my footwear preferences, you must understand the type of feet I have.  What's good for me, may not be good for you.  I have size 9 feet (even though I sometimes wear hiking boots that are as big as 9.5) that are very flat and narrow.  Because of this, I have a very difficult time selecting footwear.  I spend a great deal of time in the stores trying on different brands and styles of shoes.  I suggest you do the same, as the penalty for an il-fitting shoe is often blisters.

Light Day Hikes
Salomon Raid Wind

For light day hikes over smooth terrain, there is nothing like a really light shoe.  I use the Salomon Raid Wind because they are very light, durable, and use a very unique lace system.  Instead of conventional laces, they use a plastic slider type system.  The benefit here is your laces never come undone.  The drawback is if the slider system breaks, you could be in trouble.  Luckily I carry spare laces in my 10-essentials, I've been fortunate to never need them.

I've worn these shoes on hikes as short as 0.5 miles and as long as 16 miles.  They key is the terrain and the weight of your pack.  If you have smooth terrain and are using a light pack this shoe is ideal.  If you have rough terrain, you will feel every stone on the trail.  If you are using a heavy pack and are clumsy like me, you could sprain or break an ankle.

Moderate Day Hikes
Vasque Sundowner

This has been my favorite boot for several years.  It comes in a narrow-width model that fits my feet like a glove.  For those of you who are stylish, they come in 3 colors: the red-brown shown here, brown, and black.  Sundowner's use a classic leather upper which does require a bit of care to maintain.  These shoes are great for 3-10 miles hikes over varied terrain.  They do offer good support, but I wouldn't recommend they for backpacking, as they're a bit soft.

Extreme Day Hikes & Light Backpacking
Asolo Longitude

The Asolo (X) series comes in 3 different widths. Longitude (for narrow feet), Latitude (for wide feet), and one for normal feet.  The Longitude model fits my feet perfectly.  These boots fit so well I've even worn them on easy day hikes.  They are ideal for 6+ mile day hikes and 2-3 day backpacking trips.  The uppers are made out of Nubuck and are extremely easy to maintain.  They also have a patented pulley system which makes lacing easy (see picture above).

Heavy Backpacking
Merrell Ridgeline

The Merrell Ridgelines are my workhorse shoe.  They are very stiff and provide excellent support.  I use these shoes only for backpacking because of their weight and stiffness.  When I do wear them, I use moleskin to prevent my ankles from blistering when going uphill.  I don't recommend these shoes for day hiking unless you have a really big pack, or feet made of steel.  Please note, Ridgelines are no longer made so the picture above is of the Grand Traverse, which is similar.

Boot Liners

I use Superfeet Synergizer Green Capsule insoles in ever boot I wear.  I've tried many different types of liners (such as Sorbathane) and I've found Superfeet to be the best.  I recommend buying one that is just slightly larger than the liner in your boot and trimming them to fit.


I've been using Thor-lo socks for a number of years now.  I like the Hiking socks and often wear a think coolmax liner with them.

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This page last changed 28 May, 2004