About hiking shoes
Looking for hiking boots/shoes? I have hiked for about 8 years now, and I wish I knew back then the information I know now. Of course, I went through a lot of trial and error when it came to my equipment, clothes, and most importantly, my footwear. I have tried everything from Columbia, North Face, Salomon, and La Sportiva. In this article, I will share with you my experiences.
Hiking Boots vs Shoes?
First, let me explain the difference between hiking boots and hiking shoes. From my experience, boots have a higher ankle cut and are heavier than hiking shoes. People who prefer to go for shorter distances, faster, lighter, and on smoother terrain might prefer the shorter-ankled shoes. However, if you are just trekking at a steady pace, and considering the terrain we have here in UAE, I would suggest going for the boots as they are sturdier, especially if you are carrying a heavy backpack and they can protect you from any injuries from slips and falls while hiking on our unique rocky trails. Lightweight boots are available and are good for our warmer weather, and heavyweight boots are still a good investment if you plan to also go backpacking in cooler climates outside the country. I have a mix of all depending on what I am doing.
My 3 Favourite Hiking Footwear
1. Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX for Women
Price: AED: 550-650
Best for: Backpacking
Waterproofing: Yes, Gore-tex
Ankle Cut: High
These are great value for money and lasted me years. I have used it for backpacking with heavier weights and long-day hiking. Firstly, it has great grip, so it’s perfect for our type of rocky, sharp terrain. Plus I use them in my international expeditions where it’s rainy, muddy, and even snowy. It’s just a bit heavier and not so great for when it gets pretty warm in the UAE. It has a high-cut ankle, so it gives me confidence when walking in screen, gravel and when scrambling.
2. Salomon Speedcross 3 for women
Price: AED 300-400
Best for: trail running and easy day hikes
Waterproofing: No, but water-resistant
Firstly, I am not a trail runner, but sometimes I like to mix up my training. I’ve used these in Hatta, Wadi Shawka, and even Ski Dubai. These are places where I know the surface of the trails is smoother, I’m not carrying heavy and there is no big risk of ankle rolling. I like the lacing system, you don’t have to worry about laces coming undone. These are lightweight, durable, flexible, quick-drying, breathable, and resistant against our rigid terrain. A Speedcross 4 for women is also available.
3. La Sportiva Saber GTX for Women
Price: AED 600-700
Best for: Day Hikes
Ankle Cut: Mid
These are my all-time favourite. These are my third La Sportiva hiking boots. The boots are light and perfect for day hikes in the UAE. They are breathable, meaning it goes well with our weather here. Moreover, they are also waterproof, which is important to me, in case of stepping on any puddles, sudden rains, etc
In addition, these are not as rigid and heavy as the Salomon 4D. It has a hard outer exterior to protect your toes and very little wear and tear, they handle UAE’s terrain very well and the soles have a good grip. These are a bit harder to find nowadays, I did buy mine from backcountry.com and got it delivered using MYUS.COM
What to look out for when shopping for hiking footwear
Key Things to Remember
- Aim for durable footwear. You don’t want to end up with hiking shoes that bread down during your hike. Trust me, this happeneded to me, luckily someone had ducttape and I kept on going. Threw those shoes out right after.
- Make sure the materials is made of a hard exterior that can protect your toes from our harsh terrain. When you’re trying these out, hit your front shoe onto the floor and see how well it protects your toes.
- If you think you might be using these during rainy seasons, whether here in the UAE or outside, best to go for GORE-TEX membrance, which are basically waterproof. They are less breathable though for our warmer weather.
- To that point, if you think you’ll only use them in warmer climates, go for breathable lightweight boots or shoes.
- Check the grip in the sole. When you’re scrambling, walking on scree, gravel and jumping from one rock to the other, you want to be confident enough you won’t slip. Make sure the shoe tread is deep enough. Once they become too shallow, use them for something other than this type of terrain. Just like how you know its time to change your car tyres.
- Some hiking shoes need time to break-in. This means, wear them around the house and short walks before you embark on your backpacking expedition. You don’t want to end up with blisters and in pain.
- See what you want/need out of the shoe and buy the appropriate shoe for it.
- If possible, try the shoe before you buy them and see if they are a good fit.
- For the expedition boots, I normally wear thicker socks, so make sure you keep some space for that when buying a new boot aka buy it one size bigger.
- Don’t go cheap on your footwear. Buy high quality. It’s worth it.
- Higher ankle cut: more stability and protection. Low cut: lighter, faster, flexible.
- Stiffer sole: Best for backpacking (long distance and heavy backpack). Flexible sole: Faster/shorter hikes
- Lastly, prevent and treat blisters as soon as you feel them coming. Read more on this here.
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