Choosing your next pair of outdoor footwear doesn’t have to be a pain! There are many types, brands, and styles to choose from in order to find your perfect fit. In this post, we are going to help you narrow your search and hopefully help you find the perfect pair for you.
When selecting hiking boots or shoes there are a few main things to consider, read on below for some key pointers.
1. Your intended use
What exactly do you plan on using the shoes for? The shoe you will take for some mountaineering in the depths of winter? it is going to be a very different animal to the one that will take you blister-free across northern Spain along the Camino. Knowing what you want out of your shoes is the first step. As a general rule, the more off the beaten track you go, the stiffer the midsole of the shoe will get, and the higher the shoe will go over your ankle.
2. How often will you wear them?
How often are you going to wear the shoes? Are they going to be caked in bog mud every weekend? Or are they going to spend winter in the cupboard and come out when spring comes around.
The answer to this will help you a lot in deciding between different types of upper materials. Leather for example is a very durable material that has been used on mountain boots for years. If it is looked after, a leather pair of boots or shoes can last many years. Some boots can even be re-soled to increase the length of its life far past the life of the outsole rubber, Meindl in particular offer this service, overhauling your old boots and restoring them by hand in the factory in the Bavarian Alps. That said, however, a synthetic mesh upper on a shoe is more conducive to everyday comfort although the lifespan of the shoe will be limited.
3. Do you need waterproof footwear?
There are many different types of waterproof membranes available. The most well-known by far is Gore-Tex. It is the industry standard waterproof membrane and has been used by the best adventure sports brands for years. As a result of the high quality associated with products that use Gore-Tex, as well as the rigorous testing that products must go through before they can use Gore-Tex, the prices of Gore-Tex lined footwear are generally higher than the ones that use their own waterproof technologies. An example of a company’s own membrane is OutDry by Columbia Sportswear.
Outdry is a process that treats the outer material as the waterproof layer whereas Gore-Tex is a membrane that is applied to the back of face fabric. Despite performing at a similar level to Gore-Tex shoes, Columbia’s Outdry shoes do not need to cost quite as much as Columbia is not relying on a third party to make the waterproofing element for them.
It is standard in Ireland to have a waterproof membrane in a hiking shoe. However, if you are warm-footed or plan on using your shoes in a warm environment, you may want to consider a shoe without a waterproof membrane. For this reason we stock both waterproof and non-waterproof options.
4. Make sure they fit
Once you have decided on the footwear that suits your needs, the next most important thing to consider when selecting a pair of outdoor footwear is the fit. Some brands and styles fit slightly more significantly than others, for example, the comfort fit range from Meindl. This range of shoes is designed for those that require more space in their shoes. The wider footbed internally comes with the added benefit of providing a more stable outsole, so the user will have increased stability on their feet over rough terrain. However, a narrow-footed person may find that the increase in space in the shoe leads to movement of their feet inside the shoe resulting in blistering but luckily for those customers, we also have shoes with a narrower last too.
If you are coming to us to try a few different shoes, please be aware that we will want to measure your foot and see which model best suits your foot to ensure the best fit. We stock a wide range of footwear and fit accessories to ensure no matter what shape your foot is or what use you have in mind for the shoes we will be able to find the perfect fit.
As always if you have any questions do not hesitate to drop into the store or get in touch on our social media.