Posts Tagged hiking shoes
These relatively lightweight but heavy-duty Vasque shoes will work for running down a trail or strolling down a path, with serious tread and protection.
Sometimes your travels involve nothing more taxing than airport terminals and museum halls, but on other trips you need something serious on your feet. You need shoes that will hold up to more natural elements: rocks, roots, mud, and branches. This Juxt model is ready for all that, and for just keeping your feet comfortable as you hoist on your backpack and head to the bus station.
This is the kind of “in between” shoe we review a lot here, because most vacations are not all or nothing anything. There are some technical aspects to this pair of Vasques that make it good for real hiking, like a close-to-the-toe lace system coming down further than most shoes, plus a full toe cap to keep stubbed toes at bay. There’s a serious tread for rolling over uneven surfaces and down giant boulders.
These shoes don’t incorporate a waterproofing membrane, but the leather uppers are coated to make them water-resistant. In my tests they were fine in a light drizzle. You might want something more robust if you’ll be hiking somewhere rainy, but otherwise these are fine and doing without the membrane saves you $20-$30.
Overall, I’m quite happy with these shoes and I keep pulling them out for jaunts in my area and trips where I know I’ll be doing some light hiking here and there. They look good enough to be my regular active day shoes and have some interesting visual touches, like the overlapping punched-out layers on the toe guard and the unique accent layers on the side. The Vasque Juxt shoes don’t look like many other models out there.
These manage the feat of fitting well out of the box and not needing a lot of break-in time. Plus unlike far too many I’ve tried, the laces and padded tongue both stay where they’re supposed to.
In theory this model comes in wide sizes according to the Vasque site page (and the ones I reviewed were a wide size) but if you look at the listings at REI, Zappos, or Moosejaw you’ll see they only carry the regular widths, so that might be something you have to special order. The Juxt shoes list for $105, but you’ll find them for a bit less at those links.
See more reviews of Vasque shoes for travel.
We review a lot of travel shoes on this blog and more than a few of them break the $100 barrier. As a working stiff who’s got to watch the budget, I realize it can be a wrenching decision to plop down that kind of cash for one pair of shoes, even if the pair will last you a few years. When you’re buying for an offspring with growing feet, however, you really have to think twice.
So I was happy to discover Northside, a company using its China manufacturing to actually give us lower prices instead of just fatter margins. Most of their shoes are in the $40 to $60 range, some of them coming in for less than that at retail.
My tween daughter went tromping around Tennessee on her spring break vacation with the Northside Kiona hiking shoes for women in March, including a couple miles in the woods over roots and stones. She’ll be taking these with her on another trip coming up too and despite the reasonable $50 price, they look like they’ll be around until she outgrows them.
She likes the look of these Kiona shoes, which is key, but they offer great support and a breathable upper. They’re lightweight but have a good tread system, so they grip well on rock surfaces. They also come in all-recyclable packing—a nice touch. You can find them at retail stores like Bob Wards, or online at Amazon.
Northside’s sandals are an especially good deal. The Northside Burke ones pictured above get high marks from users and will only set you back $40 at most. Everything is synthetic of course, but that’s a good thing if you’ll be using them to walk through streams or go paddleboarding. They have a good enough tread to carry a kayak through the woods afterwards and work well for general summer travel. Look for them in stores or at Amazon.
Northwise makes a whole range of hiking shoes, winter boots, rain boots, and more, all at prices that won’t make you sweat. See more at NorthwiseUSA.com.
I can’t promise you’ll be able to walk across the ceiling like a gecko with these GoLite shoes, but they will help you run across a mountain well.
The Mountain Gecko shoes are the kind of shoes we end up reviewing a lot here: not necessarily aimed at travelers, but good enough in multiple conditions—and light enough—to quality for that precious space in your carry-0n bag or backpack.
These shoes are designed for trail running or light hiking, with the extra-grippy sole meant to cling tightly on steep trails and slick rocks. That makes them good for a lot of surfaces you’ll encounter in your travels too, like wet cobblestones and flagstones.
The Gecko 270 outsole is meant to allow for flex in all directions, plus the company’s “Rock Absorber” technology provides a stable platform under the foot with soft shock-absorbing foams close to the ground. Basically the soft part is touching the ground on multiple contact points instead of just being a tire tread under a midsole. This supposedly makes them 30% more stable compared to conventional footwear.
You do still get a lightweight EVA midsole of course, plus a lightweight mesh upper that breathes well.
I complain a lot about footwear being sized for one foot shape only (a narrow D) and everyone else being out of luck unless they buy New Balance, but GoLite has created a nice workaround in some models that helps a lot. When you buy a pair of shoes like these Mountain Gecko ones, you get a PreciseFit insole that can be worn alone for wider feet or, by adding attachments with Velcro, increasing the thickness of it at the front for regular and narrow feet. Simple, but effective.
I’ve taken these Mountain Gecko shoes from GoLite on two trips that involved some light hiking and I’ve worn them around town a lot running errands and walking. The claims hold up in real world situations and I’ll be using them more in the future.
I’m a big believer in packing real hiking boots if you’re going to hike the Saltankay Trail in Peru or the Annapurna Circuit of Nepal, but for the normal casual travel trip where hiking is just one small portion of it, a multisport shoes is best. With this Arete shoe from Oboz, you can hit the tough trails for a day or two, but then still have something for the mean streets of the city.
Oboz is best known for those serious hiking boots and shoes, so the technology in these Arete multi-sport ones has been tested in types taking some real punishment. When I put these on the first time, my reaction was “quality.” After I wore them a few weeks, impression confirmed.
First, they look good. Maybe that shouldn’t be important, but when you’re only packing two or three pairs of shoes for a two-week vacation, it is important. These Arete ones are distinctive and attractive.
Second, I love how the laces go almost to the toe. As with the extremely popular Go Lite Lime Lite shoes, this means you can lace these tight across your whole foot when you need good gripping action for boulder-hopping and root-crossing, but can loosen them up all the way down when performance doesn’t matter. Like kicking back with a beer or chilling by the fire.
Third, the materials in these Oboz shoes are top-notch throughout. There’s more protection than a casual traveler needs on the toe, three layers in the midsole instead of just a simple stability injection, and a non-marking rubber outsole that has some give but feels like it’ll last well past 2020.
Last, I think the marketing description of these plays out in practice: “When we made the Arete, we simply built the shoe we all wanted to wear.”
For my last three trips abroad, plus a dozen walks around the neighborhood, I’ve grabbed these Oboz Arete shoes without thinking. Perhaps they simply built the shoe I wanted to wear as well.
The Oboz Arete lists for $120 and it just came out recently, but you may find it for less at Amazon.
I’ve probably tried out 20 pairs of hiking boots and shoes in the last decade and these Wolverine Pulsar ones may finally be my Goldilocks pair—just right. They’re comfortable but supportive, waterproof yet breathable, and are not so narrow that they compress your toes in front.
The cool thing is, you could have very different feet and still find these just right for you, thanks to Wolverine’s unique offering of a disc inside the shoe—under the removable insole—allowing you to adjust the heel for your gait and activities. It rotates to four settings, two of them to compensate for problems the way custom orthodics do: low arches/inward wear or high arches/outward wear. (Take a look at your oldest shoes and you’ll probably see one side of your heel worn more than the other.) The two other settings are firm or cushion, to adjust for how soft you want the shoes based on your energy and the terrain. I wasn’t so sure this feature was for real, but I tried it on different settings and could feel the difference. Since I have flat feet, this disc adjustment has allowed me to wear these for weeks without feeling the need for orthodics.
But wait, there’s more! The Vibram rubber outsole is as good as you’re going to find on any hiking boots and I got excellent traction from them on dry rocks and in slippery streams while hiking in the mountains of Bulgaria. Since Wolverine’s heritage is making heavy-duty work boots, you know they’re designed to hold up in trying conditions.
Despite the mesh-looking upper, these are totally waterproof too, thanks to the Gore-tex membrane built into them. Again, I went stomping through streams with these things and when my companion’s socks got soaked, mine stayed toasty dry.
They come in two colors: the black with yellow trim ones I’m modeling there at the top and the light blue ones in the photo to the right.
If you’re still not sure this adjustment wheel thing is for real, Wolverine gives you a 30-day comfort guarantee. Wear the shoes for 30 days and “If you’re not completely satisfied that they’re the most comfortable shoes or boots you’ve ever worn, send them back for a refund.”
You can get the Pulsar hiking shoes in regular and wide sizes, on the half size, at outdoor gear stores or direct from Wolverine at a list price of $175. They’re just starting to show up at the online retailers, but Amazon has them at a discounted price.