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Walking and trekking footwear for women - a buyer's guide
Hiking and trekking shoes are an essential part of outdoor gear. A suitable shoe is crucial for the success of any tour - after all, your feet are one of the most stressed parts of the body when you are walking. The fact that not all hikes and hikers are the same has been taken to heart by manufacturers, who have designed a wide range of shoes that are perfectly suited to the individual niches in the hiking, hill walking and trekking sector. To help you get to grips of what shoes are available on the market today, we have put together the following buyers guide.
Walking or trekking footwear: What's the difference?
Hiking shoes come in all shapes and forms: Low, ankle-high, or even with an extremely high shaft. This is because the collective term "hiking" covers hikes of completely different lengths and carrying different kind of loads. For long-distance hikes with a large backpack, high rise hiking boots are recommended; for short hikes in flatter terrain, low cut shoes will do fine. In between, ankle-high shoes are recommended for tours in moderate terrain. When we talk about classic trekking shoes, we are talking about shoes that have been specially designed for multi-day hikes in mountainous areas. When trekking, you usually carry a heavier backpack. So trekking shoes should offer a little more protection against twisting - they are thus come in a high design, protecting the ankle.
Which walking footwear for women do I need?
The easiest way to answer this question is to think about what you will be using the shoes for. Will you be out in the rain? You can never go wrong with a waterproof hiking shoe - unless you must pay special attention to the price and are rarely out in the wet. Do you take the shoes only when walking in the forest behind the house or do you plan an alpine crossing? This will affect the height of the shoes - see the next section. Weight is another issue: many manufacturers have slimmed-down lightweight hiking boots in their range that make it easier for you to climb - but, depending on the workmanship and manufacturer, they are not as durable as a heavier, more robustly manufactured hiking boot. You can usually tell by the materials - lighter hiking boots for women are often made of synthetic materials and sturdy textiles, while more durable models often use leather.
Ankle-high walking boots or mid-heigh walking boots?
The question of the right height of hiking boots is related to the question of what you want to use your hiking boots for. If you only want to use your shoes on hikes in moderate to hilly terrain, mid-height to ankle-height hiking boots will do the job. However, you should be aware that especially low shoes quickly reach their limits when the terrain becomes more technical - they offer little protection against twisting your ankle. Ankle-high hiking boots are a compromise - they are usually still relatively light and provide better protection against twisting. For heavy luggage, however, they are often just that bit to flexible. So, if you are lugging a heavy backpack, you should choose a high hiking boot that offers you the necessary safety when crossing rugged terrain.
he 1970s saw Meindl produce their categories. If you want to be on the safe side, you should choose high hiking shoes or hiking boots of the category A/B. With them, you can master rough trails and steep climbs without the fear of twisting your ankle and injuring yourself. Category B includes hiking boots and lighter trekking boots, with which you can tackle more demanding hikes and moderate treks. Finally, category B/C includes heavier trekking boots designed for more demanding treks and to which you can attach light crampons to be ready for easy glacier passages and dangerous snowfields.
Walking footwear for women: Leather or vegan?
Veganism and sustainable living are fortunately having more of an impact upon the outdoor industry in recent years. If you want to purchase vegan shoes, you have an ever-increasing choice - such footwear is always labelled accordingly by the manufacturers. On the other hand, there are still classic leather shoes that do offer all the advantages of leather: Durability, robustness, and pliability.
Which trekking shoes for women do I need?
The answer to this question is similar for trekking shoes as it is for hiking boots. You should ask yourself where you want your trekking shoes to take you. Is it the demanding Annapurna circuit in the Himalayas and do you need a waterproof high-end trekking shoe with all the finesse that will have your back even in snowfall and icy temperatures? Or are you more interested in a lightweight trekking shoe with which you can hike a long-distance trail in the foothills of the Alps in summer with comparatively little luggage? At Bergzeit you will find the right shoes in both categories.
Fit & size for women's walking boots and trekking shoes
When it comes to the right size for your hiking boots, the rule of thumb is - do not go too far! Neither are too small shoes, in which you may maltreat your toes, purposeful, nor will a too large shoe, in which your feet have too much air to the front, satisfy you. It is the famous little finger, which may still have room - take in doubt a size larger, as you get later tour problems.
Should you have wider feet - also no problem. Some manufacturers have hiking and trekking shoes for women in the program, which were specially designed for "wide-footed". These include Italian brands Scarpa, La Sportiva and Aku - as well as German manufacturers such as Meindl. Lowa and Hanwag. Salomon and, especially as far as lightweight hiking boots are concerned, Hoka also have wider hiking boots in their range. Usually, wider shoes are marked with a "W" for "Wide" in the name.
Even if you are looking for narrower hiking shoes, you will find them in the meantime. In this case, you should look for the word "narrow". If you want to insert an orthopaedic insole into your new women's hiking shoe, this is usually not an issue - most models offer sufficient space for this.
Which walking boots or trekking shoes for women with bunions?
In the meantime, you can find several manufacturers on the web who specialize in hiking shoes that are specifically suitable for hallux valgus. At Bergzeit, this is again the company Hanwag - with the Bunion, the Upper Bavarian manufacturer has a shoe series in the program that provides a comfortable fit for this type of foot, allowing for comfortable hikes.
When should I replace my walking footwear?
There is no rule of thumb, as there is for example for running shoes (you should change them after about 600-800 km at the latest), for hiking shoes. So only common sense can help. If the soles are already severely damaged and no longer provide the usual support, a replacement is necessary - if you do not have a more expensive, solid hiking shoe that can be re-soled. In addition, hiking boot stitching also has a limited shelf life. Although a cobbler can sometimes try to save what can still be saved - but at some point, you should do your feet a favour and think about a new purchase, especially with worn-out, damaged shoes.
How can I break in walking boots?
If you have something bigger in mind - for example, a multi-day hike with a lot of altitude - you should always break in your new hiking boots. Especially if you are trying longer distances for the first time, you should not expect too much from your feet. A few short tours to get used to the shoes are not a bad idea - if the temperatures are low and you are not too warm, you can also break in lighter hiking shoes in everyday life.
Did you know?
You can have many hiking and trekking shoes from brand manufacturers resoled. This is easy on your wallet - and on the environment!
Gore-Tex is the market leader when it comes to waterproof membranes for hiking and trekking boots. However, some manufacturers also rely on other technologies such as Sympa-Tex (STX) or eVent.
When it comes to sole manufacturers, the Italian manufacturer Vibram is the top dog. However, many manufacturers also rely on their own inovations - for example, Salomon with its Contagrip soling.