Hiking shoes are so advanced these days people use them when walking the 3000km Te Araroa Trail. For hiking fast and light, they’re hard to beat.
Most hiking shoes are made from a combination of leather and synthetic materials such as mesh or thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) (a type of rubber). they are light, easy to break-in and care for, highly breathable and quick-drying.
Most midsoles are EVA, a polymer designed to handle the stress and impact of walking over uneven ground. Varying densities of EVA provide either firm or soft support, with soft-flex shoes being more comfortable on level ground and when moving fast. Firmer shoes are better for when precise footholds are needed on rocky terrain and while climbing and scrambling. Some midsoles are PU (polyurethane) which is firmer and more durable than EVA.
A nylon or plastic shank sandwiched between the midsole and outsole provides load-bearing stiffness and prevents the shoe from twisting and being overly flexible. Shanks can also protect the foot from bruising from stones and trail debris.
Wide-spaced and deep lugs are designed to shed mud and offer grip in all conditions. A pronounced instep will provide braking power on descent.
Eyelets and laces
Fabric lace loops are common, with some metal or hard plastic eyelets used on those shoes intended for demanding use.
Rubber overlays may be used at the toe box, heel and on the sides. They are designed to protect feet from knocks and the upper material from abrasion.
Fit and width
The toe box should have a thumb-width of space in front of the longest toe. The overall fit should be snug – not tight – across the arch and forefoot.
Waterproof shoes have a special membrane (Gore-Tex or FutureLight for example) that also promise breathability – i.e. it will move moisture from the foot, through the shoe and into the atmosphere. Non-waterproof shoes are, naturally, more breathable. It might be worth paying less for a non-waterproof model if you’re mostly hiking in summer.
A heel counter supports and stabilises the foot, preventing heel lift. A shock absorber will reduce heel strike.
Lowa Locarno GTX Lo $399.99
Use Hiking, travel Upper Nubuck leather, fabric Construction Gore-Tex membrane, double-injected PU midsole, perforated moisture-wicking lining, three-quarter length and full-width nylon shank, ATC climate control footbed, Monowrap Frame for foot support. Outsole LOWA Hybrid Trac Weight 820g (m); 700g (w). www.lowa.co.nz
The North Face Women’s Ultra Fastpack IV FutureLight $280
Use Hiking Upper Abrasion-resistant mesh, TPU overlays Construction Waterproof/breathable FutureLight membrane, toe cap and heel overlay, integrated ghillie lacing system, gusseted tongue, reflective heel webbing, OrthoLite footbed with recycled content, FastFoam midsole, ESS midfoot shank Outsole Vibram Megagrip Weight 706g. www.thenorthface.co.nz
The North Face Men’s Ultra Fastpack IV FutureLight $320
Use Hiking Upper Abrasion-resistant mesh Construction Waterproof/breathable FutureLight membrane, toe cap, gusseted tongue, OrthoLite footbed, dual-density FastFoam midsole, ESS midfoot shank Outsole Vibram Megagrip Weight 706g. www.thenorthface.co.nz
Lowa Sirkos GTX Lo $359.99
Use Hiking Upper Split leather/Cordura Construction Gore-Tex membrane, injected PU midsole, 7/8 length TPU shank, Monowrap Frame for foot support. (Due late September). Outsole LOWA Cross III Weight 800g (m); 640g (w). www.lowa.co.nz
Lowa Innox Pro GTX Lo $399.99
Use Hiking Upper Microfibre, synthetic Construction Gore-Tex membrane, double-injected Dyna PU midsole, three-quarter length and full-width nylon shank, perforated ATC climate control footbed, Monowrap Frame for foot support. 100% Vegan. Outsole LOWA Surround Trac Weight 830g (m); 650g (w). www.lowa.co.nz
Salewa Mountain Trainer 2 GTX $399.90
Use Hiking, approach Upper 1.6mm suede leather Construction Gore-Tex membrane, full rubber rand, 3F heel hold system, climbing lacing, Ortholite footbed, stretch gaiter under laces, PU midsole. Outsole Vibram Mtn Trainer Evo Weight 986g (m), 792g (w). www.bobo.co.nz
Vasque Breeze LT Low GTX $299.99
Use Day hikes, mountain biking, travel. Upper Synthetic microfibre with abrasion-resistant mesh. Construction Gore-Tex membrane, dual-density EndraLast EVA midsole, anatomic high-rebound footbed, moulded rubber toe bumper. Outsole Vibram Ground Control LiteBase with Megagrip compound Weight 626g (m); 520g (w). e.ampro.co.nz
Hoka One One Stinson ATR 6 $299.95
Use Hiking, trail running Upper Open-engineered mesh with recycled yarn Construction Compression-moulded EVA midsole, integrated laces and eyelets, plush heel collar, broad midsoles, TPU-reinforced toe caps, Meta-Rocker for stability, zoned rubber patches. Outsole Vibram Megagrip Weight 664g (m), 556g (w). www.hokaoneone.co.nz
Salewa Mountain Trainer Lite GTX $339.90
Use Hiking Upper Synthetic fabric Construction Gore-Tex membrane,
3F heel hold system, TPU film protects uppers, climbing Lacing, heel stabiliser, rubber toe cup, EVA midsole, nylon shank, vegan friendly. Outsole Pomoca compound rubber Weight 896g (m), 736g (w). www.bobo.co.nz
Hoka One One Mafate Speed 2 $299.95
Use Light hiking, trail running Upper Open-engineered mesh Construction Monomesh debris screen, external TPU heel counter, Ortholite insole, cushioned compression-moulded EVA midsole, sculpted arch support, hi-abrasion rubber zones. Outsole Vibram Megagrip Weight 658g (m), 544g (w). www.hokaoneone.co.nz