HikingGears tipsTips for beginners Practice TipsFamily, babies & childrenSnow & cold weather Where to go ?Hiking responsiblyNature Explore
As a hiker or trekker, your shoes are the most important part of your equipment.
In fact, they are often the first thing you buy to equip yourself! This choice will be essential to enjoy the landscape without being affected by the nature of the terrain or the elements. But sometimes it's hard to find them...
So here is the complete guide to good footwear for you!
Your choice of hiking or trekking footwear depends on several criteria:
the practice ground, the length of your hike, the weight of your backpack, your usual footwear and of course, the weather.
All these factors will help you fight the right shoe for you so you can enjoy your hike in comfort and with peace of mind.
Once you're kitted out, all you need to do is look up and enjoy the scenery!
If there is one question you should ask yourself before choosing your footwear, it's “what type of hiking am I going to do?”.
That is to say, on what type of terrain? For how long? And how heavy is your backpack?
There is a wide range of hiking shoes available that have been designed according to the terrain you are going to walk on.
If you're walking on lowlands you won't have the same needs as for mountain walking.
Each type of terrain has its own particular features.
If you are planning a short day hike on lowlands, in the forest or on the coast, choose hiking boots from our "nature" range.
These shoes usually have dual density insoles, which means that the first sole is close to your foot for comfort, while the second sole is close to the ground for cushioning and insulation from rocks.
Their spikes and outer sole provide excellent grip on certain types of terrain such as forest trails or on the coast. On the other hand, avoid technical passages or too high a gradient.
With less rigidity than mountain hiking boots, they provide maximum comfort and cushioning so that you don't feel the roughness of the trails.
Are you looking to reach summits on more technical trails with more elevation changes?
If you hike in the mountains more often and use scree or technical paths, it is best to choose hiking boots designed specifically for the mountains.
They are more lightweight so your steps aren't as heavy on the climb.
Their sole and spikes also grip and have good grip so you don't skid on steep trails or in scree.
These are the two main promises of the CONTACT technology in our Quechua hiking boots.
Often the front of the shoe is also reinforced with a toe bumper to protect your toes (similar to safety shoes).
Usually, these hiking boots offer more rigidity, have precise lacing and a foot support designed to keep you comfortable on all types of terrain.
They also have better ankle protection thanks to their raised upper - not to be overlooked during the technical passages that can be encountered in the mountains!
Do you want to take on snowy trails and peaks?
Then your choice is completely different! Indeed, snow means warm and waterproof shoes are needed.
We recommend you choose snow walking shoes that insulate not only from the cold but also the moisture of the snow.
Snow walking shoes come with a waterproof and breathable membrane so they don't turn into a sauna for your feet, which would then be wet by their own perspiration (a sauna is better "after hiking", not during", don’t you agree!).
Their insoles also insulate and the shoes have an anti-ingress system preventing the snow lifted by one shoe from falling back into the other...
Some of our snow walking shoes come with CONTACT technology, the result of lengthy tests.
CONTACT insoles are made with a specific component and stud pattern that is designed to ensure the best possible grip and traction. This makes them more effective on snow than standard soles.
Combined with a pair of snow socks and choosing a suitable size to give your toes some room, your shoes will go everywhere with you, without fear of the cold and snow!
The insole is to the shoe what the mattress topper is to the mattress.
People think that they don't need them and that if they have chosen their shoes well, they can do without them.
This is absolutely true!
However, your foot may change over time, or the weather may not always be kind to you.
You can then have a gel insole for maximum cushioning in summer, and opt for a felt insole with "fleece" for extra warmth, or a leather insole that will fit your foot perfectly over time...
If the type of terrain influences your choice of shoes, so should the length of your hike.
Once again, you will have different needs for a half day outing than for several days. Are you going for a few days or several weeks?
Are you planning on exploring new trails during a week-long trek?
If the answer is yes then you will need resistant and durable shoes that won't let you down during you entire stay - even more so if you are going mountain walking for a few days and you can't take several pairs of shoes.
In this instance, go for trekking shoes. Their durability will get you through kilometres day after day on all types of terrain. Their high upper also properly supports your ankle giving greater comfort for the duration.
If instead you plan on hiking for a half-day or full day, your selection criteria will be different.
In fact, if a trekking boot is more durable, it can also be heavier that a standard hiking shoe.
For day hiking, go for hiking shoes instead of trekking.
Another factor to take into account when choosing your hiking or trekking footwear: your backpack weight.
Who would think of trying on a pair of shoes in store with 10 kg on their back? Surely not many people.
However, your backpack weight will strongly influence your choice of footwear.If you're not carrying a backpack, or it is light because you’re planning a short outing, then you can choose soft and lightweight shoes, if the terrain allows. On the other hand, if you are carrying a heavy backpack with your trekking material for a few days then you should choose another type of footwear. In this instance, you would be wise to choose a high upper boot for greater support, and more rigid for greater stability.
There are two other factors to take into account: support and fit.
A high upper will be useful to support your ankle if you walk on rugged or steep trails.
This also stops stones or dust for example from getting inside the boot.
Moreover, if you have followed correctly, the weight of the bag can influence the choice of the height of your shoe's upper: the heavier your backpack, the more support you will need for your ankles with a high upper.
If you are looking for lightness and freedom of movement for your ankle, choose a low upper.
We often hear that you should go up a size for hiking boots... but not necessarily! In fact, it’s different for everyone. Indeed, our feet do not all "swell" the same with effort, some people have a difference of half a size between their right and left foot, etc.
I'm sorry I can't give you a universal solution to this question...
The best option is to try your hiking boots at the end of the day, with hiking socks.
Some brands of hiking boots take into account average differences between men's and women's feet.
This does not mean that these averages are absolute morphological realities, nor does it mean that they necessarily fit you individually.
For example, the width of the foot is sometimes wider in the men's range.
In addition, sizes often start at 6 in the men's range. Again, try on what you like and trust your feelings: your foot will tell you if it feels comfortable or not.
So, if you prefer a man's design when you are a woman (or vice versa), and you find your size and it feels good then go for it!
For the final steer in your choice, here is one last criteria to consider: the weather.
On dry ground or with a little morning dew, waterproof shoes aren't required.
A water-repellent shoe will do the job.
The drops of water slide off the fabric and your feet stay reassuringly dry.
On soaked ground, during a rainy hike or feet in 40 centimetres of fresh snow, don't even ask yourself the question: choose a waterproof shoe that will insulate you from moisture.
Laboratory tests help you evaluate a shoe's waterproof level. During these tests, the shoes are half immersed in water and 3 levels of waterproofing are tested: 2,000 flexes (approx. 4 km walk), 4,000 flexes (approx. 8 km walk) and 8,000 flexes (approx. 16 km walk).
These different waterproof levels are stated in the features of the footwear.
Do you generally hike in high summer when it's very hot? Breathable hiking shoes are the answer! These models have greater breathability thanks to the mesh used and they stop you perspiring when hiking. There is nothing more uncomfortable than hiking with a damp foot that sometimes slides in the shoe!
If you want complete foot ventilation, go for sandals. Their sole and toe bumper, at the front of the shoe, protect the foot and give the same grip as a boot.
The final small word: to avoid blisters, stay warm (or cool) and protect yourself from insects in the tall grass, don't neglect your choice of hiking socks!
Now you're fully kitted out, the trails await!