Hiking is one of the best outdoor activities for nature lovers. You can witness breathtaking views, spot fantastic wildlife, and rejuvenate your mind and body, all at the same time.
However, hiking can get quite risky if you’re not equipped for the trail you take. Whether you’re hiking through marshes or mountains, you’ll need to be sure-footed so that your excursion doesn’t end in an unpleasant accident.
That’s why the most important article in your hiking gear are your hiking shoes.
But hiking shoes are quite expensive. That might make some of you wonder why you can’t put on your usual running shoes and set out? Do you really need special waterproof hiking shoes?
We’ve rounded up all the information you need to figure out whether you need those special hiking shoes or not.
Why Do You Need Hiking Shoes?
There’s a reason hiking shoes exist and are immensely popular among professional hikers.
'You see, hiking requires putting your feet to more use than they’re accustomed to. This means you’ll need functional footwear that provides comfort and protects your feet from the elements.
Most people will scoff at this fact and state that their everyday waterproof trail shoes or sneakers are comfortable enough.
Remember, if a shoe keeps you comfortable on your commute from work to your home or during a run in the park, it doesn’t mean it’s ideal for hiking.
While you’re out on the trail, you’ll experience all kinds of obstacles, from rocky terrains to muddy swamps. If your shoes do not endure the elements, they’ll slow you down, or worse, result in fatigue and injury.
For hikers looking to take up diverse hiking trails, proper hiking shoes are a must. However, you should choose the one that fits your needs.
Robust and sturdy hiking boots can get quite heavy, and instead of protecting, they might ruin the experience for novice hikers.
Here’s why you should choose hiking shoes over hiking boots if you’re a moderate to an intermediate-level hiker.
Hiking Shoes Vs. Hiking Boots
Comfortable and sturdy footwear are of utmost importance for hikers, whether they’re beginners or professionals. The question is, what type of hiking footwear should you go for?
Firstly, let’s talk about conventional heavy hiking boots. These boots are constructed with robust and sturdy materials that don’t budge while tackling tough trails.
But, this high protection level comes at a price. Hiking boots tend to be quite heavy, so not everyone can carry them well.
While they shield your feet from abrasions and impacts during the hike, their weight may slow you down and cause severe fatigue afterward.
What’s more, if the shoes get wet, they become double their original weight. This means if you tackle wet trails wearing heavy hiking boots, they’ll do more harm than good for you.
Similarly, in the case of wet hiking trails, hikers prefer waterproof shoes.
Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as entirely waterproof hiking boots. Shoes can only be waterproof to a certain degree, so most hiking boots become soaking wet when submerged in water.
Also, they don’t dry out as quickly as hiking trail shoes, making them relatively inefficient for hiking across streams and marshes.
Another popular feature when it comes to professional hiking boots is ankle support. It’s quite common to twist your ankle while you’re climbing rocks and taking narrow trails.
But, shoes with ankle support do not prevent ankle injuries if you’re merely clumsy. You can reduce your risk of injury simply by being sure-footed and conducting regular ankle exercise.
By now, you know that professional hiking boots are mainly advertised with four main features. These include their
- heavyweight design
- Ankle support
But, none of these features are appealing enough for moderate hikers. Besides that, you’ll have to deal with severe discomfort while breaking into the shoes initially.
That doesn’t mean you don’t need special hiking shoes. You’ll need functional hiking footwear even if you’re an occasional hiker.
In this case, you should go for waterproof hiking shoes rather than professional hiking boots. High-quality hiking shoes like Senja Shoes are an amalgamation of professional hiking boots and comfortable trail shoes.
Firstly, they’re more comfortable compared to their robust counterparts. Along with that, they’re flexible, so you don’t need to break them in.
Secondly, they provide a moderate level of water resistance. They wick moisture away while you’re hiking in the rain, but they’ll still get wet if submerged.
However, unlike hiking boots, they’re breathable as well. This means your feet will stay dry even while you’re sweating, which reduces the risks of infections and blisters.
By now, you've probably realized that special hiking shoes are important, but you don’t necessarily have to invest in the expensive ones.
For further reassurance, we’ve listed down the benefits and drawbacks of using hiking shoes so you can decide for yourself.
Waterproof Hiking Shoes Pros and Cons
Let’s start with the benefits of hiking shoes. Hiking shoes provide rugged protection against the elements.
Their sturdy outsole grips all kinds of surfaces, including rock, soil, mud, and water. The outsole also protects from injury due to hard rocks and sharp twigs.
Furthermore, while professional hiking boots stay above the ankle, hiking shoes stay below your ankles like your typical running shoes. This gives you moderate-level ankle support.
Moreover, the effective combination of water resistance and breathability means the hiking shoes don’t get too heavy when they’re wet.
Similarly, breathability protects feet from ailments that occur due to prolonged wet conditions.
Honestly, there aren’t many disadvantages to hiking shoes. The only thing that concerns us is that the robust outsoles obstruct the interaction between your feet and the ground.
This means the brain reacts slowly if you twist your foot because it can’t feel the rugged ground underneath your sole.
Other than that, hiking shoes have everything you need to keep you comfortable and protect your feet from the elements while you’re on your outdoor excursion.
Common Alternatives to Hiking Shoes
Even if you don't want to purchase a pair of high-quality hiking shoes for your next adventure, we strictly advise against going hiking in your flip-flops.
While moderate level hiking shoes like Senja Shoes are the best option, here are some alternatives you should consider, apart from professional hiking boots.
Waterproof Trail Shoes
Trail running shoes are relatively lighter and more flexible than hiking shoes. However, what makes them a good option for hiking excursions is their aggressive grip and impact protection.
Similarly, their upper part provides good breathability, making it a good option while hiking in the rain.
However, it doesn’t provide any impact resistance from the upper part, so if you’re tackling rough trails, these shoes can easily get ripped or damaged.
Waterproof trail running shoes are ideal for beginners who usually take non-extensive, short hiking trails.
Winter boots are a functional hybrid between hiking boots and running shoes. They work well in the snow and keep your feet warm at the same time.
This means they offer the right amount of breathability and waterproofing. But, you can’t expect them to be as durable as professional hiking boots.
If you pair them with some gaiters, you can easily wear them while hiking on a rainy day as well.
Best Waterproof Hiking Shoes
Now that you’ve been through the alternatives, one thing is evident. You can easily wear other types of shoes while hiking if you prefer, and some of them might even work well.
But, why put your feet and your outdoor experience at risk when you can easily invest in a pair of high-quality hiking shoes?
Here are our favorite hiking shoe options for you to check out before planning your outdoor excursion.
Senja Waterproof Shoes are versatile and functional for any kind of season or environment.
You can wear them while hiking through challenging trails, running at your local park, walking at the beach, or strolling through the snow.
They have an inner lining of shock-proof Solecast wool to protect you against sharp objects and impacts.
Similarly, their Merino Wool interior soaks up your sweat and reduces infections using its anti-microbial properties.
Most importantly, they’re lightweight and flexible, so your feet won’t feel tired in the middle of an exciting trail.
Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX
The Salomon X Ultra combines comfort with productivity through its lightweight design and durable construction.
Its cushioned interior keeps your feet fatigue-free even during long trails. Similarly, it has an impressive outsole design that provides a sufficient grip on sand, rocks, and wet marshes.
Besides that, it is breathable enough to reduce the risk of rashes and infections afterward. If you’re planning a moderate-level daytime hike, these shoes are perfect for you.
Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator
Merrell Moab is a brand known for its robust hiking shoes designed for rough terrains. However, this model is the most popular hiking shoe for seasonal hikers.
It has a lightweight construction combined with a rugged outsole. This way, they don’t feel heavy on your feet but ensure a good grip at the same time.
Furthermore, the shoe has a highly-absorbent interior combined with a moisture-wicking exterior. Although it won’t keep your feet from getting wet if you hike in the rain or across wet trails, it’ll surely keep you comfortable and reduce the risk of foot ailments.
Bottom line, it is an ideal pair of shoes for seasonal hikers looking for a fun day out.
So, do you really need special shoes for hiking? Concluding this article, we’ll provide an answer to this question in a nutshell.
Yes, you do need special shoes for hiking. Hiking is an enjoyable sport, but there are so many things that can go wrong while you’re out in the wilderness. That’s why you’ll need all the protection you can get.
Also, your casual shoes might typically feel comfortable, but hiking shoes will provide the optimal comfort you need while tackling challenging trails.
Even if you’re a seasonal hiker and don’t want to invest in expensive hiking boots, you should go for versatile hiking shoes like Senja Shoes to enjoy a safe and pleasant hiking trip.