Trekking: how to choose the ideal mountain shoes
Today, as never before, the market offers a myriad of mountain shoes for hiking and trekking. Low and high shoes with more or less rigid soles. But how do you orient yourself in the choice?
Each company in the sector has diversified its offer by producing footwear with different characteristics and destinations. In the midst of this real jungle it is very easy to make mistakes and buy a product that does not correspond to your real needs.
Unfortunately, even around the mountains I see a lot of confusion. I happened to meet people with big and heavy “Nanga Parbat” model mountain boots and walk along easy paths marked out as motorways while on the contrary seeing others risking their lives in sneakers trying to gradinate on steep snowfields ….
Fortunately, between these two extremes there exists a middle way dictated by common sense and by few and simple information that can make the difference both in terms of comfort and safety.
Tips for buying mountain shoes
Precisely to avoid making mistakes, before entering the store for the purchase of mountain shoes, I strongly recommend that you already have clear ideas about the use that will be made of them, bearing in mind that not all routes want the same shoes. Knowing in advance the type of terrain and the background of the routes on which you want to challenge yourself contributes greatly to starting with the right foot for this delicate purchase.
Another important thing is to make an honest analysis of one’s abilities and average training status, also taking into account factors such as age and any previous traumas to the lower limbs. A certain type of shoe, worn by a trained and prepared person, can be the top while it can be difficult to manage for those who do not have the same experience and preparation.
Let me give you an example: a sailor hiker or a mountaineer with good balance and dexterity skills will have no difficulty getting off with light approach shoes or a steep, safely sloping trail. Not so obvious for the Sunday tourist with the same shoes on his feet, who will instead benefit from a shoe that is a bit more structured and with a more sculpted sole.
Personally, in the case of day trips, which do not include descents of long screes or stretches of high mountains where it is possible to find snow, I have a great time with low mountain shoes of the trail runnig type (favorite brand LaSportiva). Light, sensitive shoes that allow a comfortable, pleasant and fast walk. The foot sweats a little and there is almost zero risk of blisters. However, it must be said that these shoes have a shorter life span than the boot. Secondly, due to the fact that the ankle is free, more care is required when walking in the most uneven areas to avoid possible distortions, especially during descents and at the end of the day, when fatigue is felt.
The use of the classic high and sturdy boot would limit it to difficult and little-traveled paths, to paths that involve the descent of long screes or the crossing of steep grassy slopes and snow-covered stretches. Surely it is the solution that I would recommend for those who have suffered or suffer from ankle problems (sprains etc ..) or for those who face long journeys of several days with heavy backpacks on their shoulders. In all these cases the choice of the classic mountain boot with vibram sole of good structure remains the ideal option and certainly the safest.
A good compromise for those who do not very demanding hiking is certainly the lightweight Mid boot. This type of shoe has the advantage of supporting and wrapping the foot sufficiently without having the bulk and weight of the classic boot.
In the case of multi-day treks, where it is possible to meet different types of terrain and with different types of terrain (easy path, screes, snow-covered terrain, etc.) it is an excellent solution to alternate low mountain shoes according to the different situations. boot. A few extra pounds on the back when one of the two shoes remains in the backpack, can guarantee greater safety, can avoid unpleasant regrets and some annoying bladder.
Other variables to consider are: the greater or lesser hardness of the sole and the width of the fit.
It is well known that a hard, fatigued sole is less sensitive and absorbs less roughness of the ground while it will be the maximum for safety in case of compact or hard snow (eg crossing snow channels at the beginning of the season).
And yet …, with the necessary exceptions for single and specific models, some companies produce footwear for “thin and tight feet” (eg LaSportiva) and others instead turn to consumers with more feet
Once you’ve identified the type of shoe that’s right for you, don’t hesitate to try out models of more brands in the store.
Arm yourself with holy patience and try to focus on the sensations that the shoe conveys to your foot. The right footwear must be comfortable, enveloping and not present pressures or voids. The foot must remain well extended and without any constraints. In one word: it must be precise!
Important: always try on mountain shoes by wearing them with the sock suitable for that specific type of shoe (the sock suitable for a trail running shoe is not suitable for a structured boot).
In short, classic boots, Mid boot or low shoe, this has long been the dilemma that accompanies every enthusiast in the shop at the time of choice.
Today the ideal mountain shoes exist more than ever, but we must know how to conquer them first of all by making a careful and scrupulous evaluation of their real needs. Only then can you trust to enter the store for the purchase!