One of the perks of living in Eugene is the easy access to many parks and trails such as Mt. Pisgah and the Ridgeline Trail. To ensure that your feet stay happy on the trails, take a look at several styles of shoes that can be worn for hiking to find your best fit for your next trail adventure.

1. Hiking Boots

Hiking boots are designed with a more rigid midsole and a high cut to provide both foot and ankle support. This style of footwear is useful to wear to navigate rugged terrain and uneven surfaces which is often required when carrying a load for backpacking or exploring the backcountry. Many boots come in a waterproof version which is good for hiking on wet or muddy trails.

Pros: Maximum foot support, ankle support, warmer for cold weather, good traction
Cons: Heavy, bulky, break-in time may be required, not breathable

2. Hiking Shoes

Hiking shoes are designed with a flexible midsole that still provides support to the foot with a low-cut design that allows for more range of motion at the ankle. This style of footwear may be a good option for longer day hikes or shorter hiking trips when carrying a lighter load.

Pros: Foot support, not as bulky as hiking boots, more ankle motion for push-off, good traction
Cons: Heavier than trail runners, no ankle support

3. Trail Runners

Trail running shoes are designed to provide traction and stability when running on trail surfaces. However, they are very popular with day hikers and long-distance thru-hikers due to their lightweight nature. Some trail runners have light traction whereas other models have enhanced grip for wet surfaces.

Pros: Lightweight, allow you to feel the ground, breathable, more ankle motion for push-off, a little break-in period
Cons: Not as much foot or ankle support, traction varies

It is important to be able to try on a variety of shoes to determine what feels most comfortable to you. As everyone’s foot shape is different, you may find that certain brands fit your feet better than other brands (zero drop vs high drop, wide toe box vs tapered toe box, minimalist feel vs max cushion). Some popular outdoor footwear brands are Altra, Merrell, Salomon, Keen, Saucony, Brooks, La Sportiva, Hoka One One. You may also find it helpful to have a pair of hiking boots designated for backpacking trips and a lighter trail running shoe for day hikes.

Ultimately you should find a shoe that is supportive for your foot type, feels comfortable, and allows you to navigate the terrain you are covering. Happy hiking!