Having said that, it is often said,” Give trekker the right shoe and he or she can conquer any mountain”
If you are a beginner and don’t know how and where to start trekking you can read my blog on Trekking Tips for beginners. Once you have decided on starting a trek and are excited, you start thinking about what gears to buy?. In that excitement, the first thing that comes to our mind is ‘ How to choose trekking shoes’?. The choice becomes even more difficult if you are a beginner. Well, if you are a beginner and don’t know how to go about choosing the right shoes, here are some tips. Based on the experience I am sharing few tips on how to choose the right shoes for trekking.
There are various options available in the market but choosing the right one is a difficult choice. Based on the kind of hike or trek, you can choose your trekking shoes. The important points to be kept in mind while selecting  your shoes are:
  1. Grip– a well-fitted shoe with a good grip is a must for all types of treks. Even if you are wearing your regular sports or running shoes, they must have a good grip.
  2. Water-Resistant– If you are planning or heading towards a high altitude trek or a monsoon trek, you may encounter a lot of streams flowing from the hills and the rains. In such a situation, you will need water-resistant shoes. Even in case of rains, these shoes will help you to trek better without water seeping in. Make sure they are water-resistant and not water-proof. Water-proof shoes do not allow your feet to breathe well and you will have sticky and sweaty feet.
  3. Ankle Support– Whether it’s a day trek or a high altitude Himalayan Trek, the most crucial aspect while choosing the right trekking shoe is the ankle support. A good ankle supported shoe protect you from ankle sprains. Your ankle is prone to a lot of turns and twists while climbing up and down through the rough terrains during treks.
  4. Lightweight & Flexible– Usually you trek carrying your backpack, it becomes extremely important to have a shoe which light in weight and flexible. The rough terrains, boulders and steep climbs will need a shoe flexible enough for a free movement of feet. The flexibility of shoes is the most important aspect in choosing the right trekking shoe.
Considering the above points, let’s talk about the pros and cons of various shoes while selecting one for trekking.

Running/ Walking Shoes

If you are a beginner, starting your Day hikes /treks in your regular running shoes is a great idea. However, you will have to keep the above points in mind. There are pros and cons to trekking in your regular shoes.
  • You start with what you have– There is no need to invest heavily in specialised trekking shoes. Day hikes/ treks in your neighbourhood can be easily done with your running shoes.
  • Comfortable– You are the most comfortable in your regular running shoes and that’s what you need. A simple hike can be comfortably done in running shoes.
  • Not expensive– The regular running and walking shoes are not so expensive as you think. You buy them in any case even when you are not walking or running regularly.
  • Well- Worn– Any trek even if it is half a day or a small hike should not be done in new shoes. The obvious reason being the new trail route and the new shoe will give you severe shoe bites. Hence, your regular shoes are well worn and you are used to walking /running in them. To start trekking with these shoes is always a good idea.
  • Not water Resistant- The regular running/walking shoes are not waterproof or water-resistant. The problem comes during rains or when there are water streams on your trek route. Once these shoes get wet, it becomes very difficult to walk. Also, it takes a longer time to dry.
  • Not sturdy – These shoes are not sturdy for treks or hikes where you have rocks and boulders. You need a shoe with a good grip for such treks.
  • Not good for High-altitude Treks– Yes you need a good trekking shoe specially meant for high-altitude treks. These shoes are very sturdy with a good grip, water-resistant and have good ankle support. Running shoes doesn’t qualify for a high-altitude trek.

Trek Sandals

Trek sandals are very sturdy, waterproof and comfortable available at most of the sports stores. As mentioned earlier there are pros and cons of each category of shoes.
  • Easy to carry– These sandals are very comfortable and easy to carry. Light in weight these sandals are perfect for small hikes, easy and day treks.
  • Open/ ventilation– Some might feel their feet are tied up in closed shoes. These sandals come very handy for those who need ventilation and want their feet open.
  • Waterproof– Yes, these sandals are water-proof and you can wear them for monsoon treks, treks with water streams or waterfalls. They are quick to dry too.
  • Grip– The most important aspect of any trekking footwear is the grip. These sandals have a good grip which one needs for any treks. They are good for treks with rocks and boulders.
  • Not for High-altitude treks- Although these sandals are good for most of the treks but not advisable for high-altitude treks. As you climb higher the gradient becomes steeper. At this point, you need a shoe with a good grip and ankle support.
  • Leech bites- These sandals are good for monsoon treks but I am scared of leech bites. I don’t want to invite leeches by wearing these open sandals, hence avoid them. If you are ok with it go ahead! J You can use them where there are no leeches.
  • Clumsy and slushy- These sandals get slushy in mud during monsoon treks and you never know when you will get enough water to wash them. Till then these sandals are clumsy and slushy and it becomes very difficult to walk.

Trekking Shoes

 Trekking shoes are sturdy shoes specially made with a good grip. They are designed keeping in mind all the basic and advanced issues that might come up during trekking. These shoes are meant for high-altitude treks, treks with rocky terrains & boulders, during monsoon treks and snow treks.
There are two types namely high-ankle and low-ankle support shoes. Based on the gradient and type of trek you can choose which one you need to buy. If you are an avid trekker, you will need both over some time.
  • Sturdy- Trekking shoes are tough and sturdy and keep you safe from slipping. The make is so strong that there is a less likely chance of any wear and tear during the trek.
  • Grip & Ankle- support- By all means, these shoes secure your feet maintaining a good grip all through your trek. The ankle support of these shoes are just so perfect and protects your ankle during twists and turns during the trek.
  • Water-resistant- The most important aspect of any trek. These trekking shoes are water-resistant and help you climb comfortably through water streams or during monsoon treks. They are not water-proof shoes. Water-proof shoes don’t allow your feet to breathe and after the long hours of trekking, your feet tend to smell. So go for water-resistant shoes.
  • Breathable- As mentioned earlier, you need to allow your feet to breathe during treks. These shoes are quite breathable and don’t leave smelly feet after the trek.
After discussing most of the pros and cons of different types of shoes, choose your shoe based on the level of the trek and weather conditions. Now you know “How to choose your trekking shoes?”
Final Tips
  • Buy one or half a size bigger trekking shoes so that you are comfortable with both cotton and woollen socks.
  • Never wear new shoes on your trek. Make sure your shoes are well-worn to avoid shoe bites.
So, what are you waiting for? Tie up your laces and Happy Trekking!!!!