When you’re not carrying a heavy load and want to move quickly, a pair of low-cut hiking shoes are just the ticket.
Most hiking shoes are made from a combination of leather and synthetic material, which makes them light and relatively cheap. Full leather shoes are likely to cost more, but, because they have minimal stitching, should last longer.
Most midsoles – the material between the inner and outsole – are EVA, a polymer designed to handle the stress and impact of walking over uneven ground. Easy-flex models are more comfortable on level ground and when moving fast. Stiffer shoes are better for rockier terrain and allow more precise footholds when climbing and scrambling.
A heel counter supports and stabilises the foot, preventing it lifting – essential when moving over uneven terrain. A shock absorber will reduce heel strike.
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 eyelets are common, with some metal or hard plastic eyelets used on those shoes intended for demanding uses.
A rubber bumper protects toes from knocks and the shoe upper 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.
Now you what to look for, it’s time to choose a shoe.
Salewa Mountain Trainer GTX $399
Use Approach, hiking, light tramping Upper 1.6mm suede Construction Gore-Tex lining, adaptive memory foam, 360-degree rubber rand, mid-stiff nylon insole, 3F heel hold system, extended lacing to the toe, customisable footbed Outsole Vibram Alpine Approach Weight 1090g (m), 900g (w).
The North Face Ultra Fastpack 2 GTX $300
Use Hiking, hard-packed trails Upper Mesh panels Construction Gore-Tex lining, Ultra Protect Cradle Guide for foot and ankle support, welded upper, rubber toe cap and screens, dual-density injection-moulded midsole, FlashDry collar. Outsole Vibram Megagrip Weight 754g (m/w).
Salewa Mountain Trainer $329
Use Approach, hiking, light tramping Upper Suede Construction adaptive memory foam, 360-degree rubber rand, mid-stiff nylon insole, 3F heel hold system, climbing-style lacing system, customisable footbed Outsole Vibram Alpine Approach Weight 1060g (m), 870 g (w).
Merrell Moab FST $249
Use Hiking Upper Mesh and TPU Construction Traditional lace closure, bellows tongue, breathable mesh lining, Merrell M Select odour control, EVA-contoured footbed, moulded nylon arch shank, air cushion heel. Outsole Vibram MegaGrip, 5mm lugs. Weight 762g (m); 646g (w).
Merrell All Out Blaze Aero Sport $229
Use Hiking Upper Mesh and TPU Construction Omni-fit lacing system, moulded TPU heel counter, UniFly EVA foam midsole, breathable mesh lining treated with M Select odour control, bellows tongue. Outsole Vibram, 5mm lugs Weight 623g (m); 614g (w).
Asolo Quadrant $229
Use Hiking, walking Upper 1.6-1.8mm one piece water-resistant suede and Schoeller K-Tech mesh Construction Breathable upper with Natural Shape last, PU mono density midsole, rubber toe cap, classic lacing system. Outsole Vibram Natural Shape. Weight 680g.