Shoes are the most important part of your kit as they literally keep you grounded. Having blisters and / or sore feet is one of the worst things to have to deal with when it comes to any outdoor activity. Having a solid foundation allows you to build up your kit and be comfortable for any type of trip. One thing to note as well is that it is not a one shoe fits all type game either. It is important to pick the right type of footwear based on the activity you are undertaking. Below are my go-to’s. Keep in mind that these options won’t work for everyone as not all feet are the same. Spend lots of time trying multiple pairs to ensure you find the best fit. Walk around the store and make sure there are no rubbing points.
When it comes to selecting, the firmer the boot, the more time it will take to break them in as well. Don’t expect the stiffer boots to be ready to hike in the moment you buy them.
Comments: I was looking for a rugged boot that could stand up to rigorous use. I am extremely hard on my gear and needed a solution that would last the test of time. After stumbling upon these, I did some research and was instantly hooked to what the brand stood for. These boots have been around since 1964 and have definitely stood the test of time for many users. I am excited to start working with them and will report back after I have had the opportunity to put them to the test on a few expeditions.
Description: A heavy pack and rough terrain—an experience to remember or a nightmare in the making? Make sure it’s the former with a breathable, waterproof hiking boot worthy of the task. The Eriksson GTX builds on a three-section midsole incorporating EVA, polyurethane for shock absorption, and a supportive TPU plate for torsion control. Full grain, 2.2mm waterproof leather offers the durability you’ll need to expand your frontiers. A GORE-TEX® liner, Vibram® Summit sole, and polyurethane internal foam around the ankle proves that we’re serious about getting it done, no matter the terrain.
Comments: Although already on my second pair (that is soon to be replaced again), these are a great set of lightweight shoes. I have taken them on trips through mud, water and cold weather and they have been great for me. They dry out extremely quick and really form to your foot. I have also worn them in cold weather and as long as you keep your toes moving, you should be able to stay reasonably warm unless you are working in temperatures lower than -15C for extended periods of time.
If you are looking for a lightweight solution, these are a great option. Just note that they are not the most rugged shoe on the market.
Buy from Manufacturer | $150
Description: Peak baggers covering maximum miles in challenging conditions need the superior protection of a waterproof Gore-Tex® mid-cut hiker with CRADLE™ technology for proper stride alignment. The Ultra Series provides critical impact and element protection while eliminating excess weight for unrivaled performance on any terrain. A lightweight Pebax® plate puts a little spring in your step and delivers impact protection alongside a rigid Snake Plate™ that prevents stone bruising. Best-in-class Vibram® soles deliver superior grip and durability.
Comments: I was looking for a rugged sandal based option that had toe protection for a trip to a tribal village in the Philippines. The weather was to be very muggy and hot and I wanted something that I could get wet as well. So far I am loving these.
Buy from Manufacturer | $120
Description: Order up some adventure with a side of water in the Newport H2 from KEEN. Ready for adverse conditions, the razor sipped outsole and 3mm lugs provide excellent traction. This KEEN has washable polyester webbing upper and patented toe protection to let you follow any path, whether on rivers or trails.
Comments: These are by far one of my favourite – now discontinued – shoes for winter wear. Whether in -30C temperatures for extended periods or warm weather climates, these are a great waterproof option. I have had them for 5 years and although they could use a replacement, they are still going strong. I recently also applied a layer of waterproofing to keep them rocking.
Description: TheseArctic Hedgehog Tall Insulated Boot are hot. 400 g Heatseeker insulation. Rough, rugged and ready for anything, The North Face’s Arctic Hedgehog lends protection against the elements no matter where you are. The The North Face running can make you look absolutely stunning. The HydroSeal membrane offers waterproofing to the leather upper with lace-up closure for a secure fit, while the treaded rubber sole grants grip to slippery surfaces so you never miss a step in Hedgehog.
Comments: These shoes, as I am sure you can tell, are not shoes for the outdoors. However, these are shoes that will last a lifetime with soles that can be replaced. I have recently replaced virtually all my daily hikers with Steve Madden shoes because of their build quality, comfort and style.
Buy from Manufacturer | $169
Description: The rugged yet refined RYDDEER is the answer to all of your style needs this season. The leather upper makes it easy to dress up this lace-up boot or wear it more casually.
Comments: Bring comfortable when not hiking is also important. When winter camping or at base camp, these are a great way to stay comfortable without having to put on your regular hiking shoes.
Buy from Manufacturer | $50
Description: The warmth and comfort of ThermoBall™ powered by PrimaLoft® insulation combined with a high-traction rubber outsole make this slip-on ideal for padding around base camp.
Comments: My go-to socks for a very long time has been the Smart Wool socks. However, with Darn Toughs lifetime warranty, these are my replacements when the Smart Wools are warn out – and it does happen – sooner than you would expect.
Buy from Manufacturer | $50
Description: Darn Tough uses a custom-count, shrink-treated merino wool that enhances comfort and durability for outdoor activities. Merino wool wicks away moisture and breathes to regulate temperature for outstanding comfort in a variety of conditions. High-density cushioning underfoot. Provides reinforcement at the heels and toes and elastic support around the arch. Ring-toe construction hides seams and enhances comfort. Non-cushioned, wide-ribbed, crew-height legs. Darn Tough recommends that you machine wash socks inside out in warm water on gentle cycle and tumble dry on low.