Choosing the right kind of footwear is essential to outdoor recreation. Our feet are critical parts of the body and if not taken care of, this could lead to whole host of problems, even those that are life-threatening. Feet need to be protected and this all starts with the proper footwear including shoes and socks.
When selecting the right kind of footwear for your needs, there are a multitude of factors to consider. Here are some questions to ask yourself before you buy:
What is my purpose for buying these shoes?
The right kind of footwear depends on whether you are hiking, canyoneering, rock climbing, mountain biking, backpacking, mountaineering, and more. Most outdoor recreation activities have a specific kind of footwear that is tailored to that sport. For example, you wouldn’t use rock climbing shoes to backpack in and vice versa.
Do these shoes fit?
If the shoes do not feel comfortable in the store, they will not work out on the trails. Fit is the most important factor, and the best way to ensure a good fit is to walk around the store with the shoes on. Keep in mind, though, that it will take a few uses for your shoes to mold to your feet. This is the breaking-in process, and retailers usually have a return policy if the shoes still hurt your feet after a few days. Asking a salesperson for help is a good idea as well because he or she can measure your feet beforehand and can suggest the right shoes for your purposes.
What Other Features do I Want?
As you can imagine, footwear for the outdoors comes in all shapes and sizes. It is important to determine beforehand what specific features you need or want, like a certain material or waterproofing. For example, hiking boots typically come in low-cut, mid-cut, or high-cut and your selection will depend on how long your trip is and how heavy a load you will be carrying. If you plan to do a lot of river crossings, you’ll want to consider getting waterproof boots.
Other items to consider when looking at footwear are:
Don’t Forget the Socks – The right kinds of socks can also make all the difference. For the outdoors, it is important to get socks that wick moisture away from your feet so they can stay dry. These are made out of synthetic materials or merino wool. You might also consider liner socks to go with heavier socks. Liner socks can help reduce the friction that leads to blisters.
Consider the Store’s Return Policy – Your new shoes or boots might feel great in the store but what happens if they cause problems outside? It is good to know the return policy of the store where you buy the shoes. Most retailers and even online retailers have excellent return policies when it comes to shoes.