If you like to spend a lot of time in the mountains on challenging routes, enjoying adventures over several days and sleeping under the stars or in mountain huts, what you’re doing is backpacking. The key point here is the need to fill your rucksack with a lot of gear, and this is an important aspect when it comes to the design of your footwear and the support it must provide. Protection and waterproofing are therefore essential in backpacking boots, as are comfort and shock absorption, to reduce stress on the joints.
Trekking refers to excursions that are shorter than the previous category. Your backpack is therefore only half the weight, but the route is still technically challenging. Footwear for this activity is comfortable and designed for lightness, but without compromising on reliability and performance. Soles made with advanced compounds ensure grip on any terrain, wet or dry, contributing to a feeling of safety at every step.
Single-day excursions, characterised by a lively pace and not particularly technical terrain, such as unpaved roads or forest trails, go by the name of hiking. Recommended footwear for this activity is lightweight and comfortable, designed to carry a limited load and withstand less intensive use than trekking. With a focus on practicality, this type of footwear also comes in lower-cut versions, ideal for greater agility while still ensuring support and protection for the ankle.
Meanwhile, when it comes to particularly challenging routes in technical terms, such as via ferratas or climbing approaches, specific approach shoes are the most suitable. These are light yet robust shoes with an extremely adherent sole, featuring a climbing zone at the front of the foot. Approach shoes need to withstand very intensive use, carrying considerable weight and technical challenges, and must therefore offer excellent support. For easier climbs in the mountains, these technical shoes can replace climbing shoes on the initial sections of the route, thanks to the exceptional grip of the sole.
HOW TO CHOOSE BETWEEN MID AND LOW-CUT BOOTS?
The choice of high-cut or low-cut boot is completely personal. To inform your choice, you should take into account your level of experience and physical fitness. Robustness and support for the foot and ankle are guaranteed by both versions, but obviously the ankle is more stable with a high-cut boot. Moreover, when walking in snowy conditions, high-cut boots have distinct advantages.
WHEN SHOULD I CHOOSE TREKKING AND HIKING BOOTS WITH A WATERPROOF MEMBRANE?
Waterproof footwear is nearly always the best choice for use in the mountains. Compared with non-waterproof versions, footwear with a waterproof membrane offers greater protection and warmth, ideal for use at any time of year. In warmer climates, non-waterproof footwear is advisable, as it gives better breathability. Leather shoes or boots can be an excellent alternative, giving some level of resistance combined with breathability.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT SIZE?
You can follow some simple rules to identify the correct size. First of all, when you try the shoes on, wear trekking socks, if possible the same socks you’ll be wearing with the shoes. The correct size allows for an appropriate space at the tip, to enable full mobility for the toes; the gap is also needed to prevent problems caused by the foot slipping during descents. What’s more, the space around the foot helps to retain heat when the boots are worn in cold conditions. If your boot is the correct size, the risk of blisters is immediately eliminated.
ARE THERE MEN’S BOOTS AND WOMEN’S BOOTS?
Footwear is designed to cater for different shaped feet, and boots are developed to suit both the male and the female anatomy. However, the differences are not conclusive, and your choice should be based more on the characteristics of the wearer than on gender. In general terms, women’s shoes are less bulky and designed to be more flexible. For example, a tall, slim young man may find women’s shoes are a better fit.
HOW TO LACE BOOTS AND SHOES?
When trying on and wearing boots and shoes, it is essential to lace them correctly to ensure appropriate positioning of the foot. Lacing should be even and without pressure points; when tackling long descents, tighter lacing will reduce the risk of the foot slipping forwards. However, for ascents, tighter lacing at the front of the foot is excellent in terms of precision on more technical terrains.
HOW TO WEAR IN NEW SHOES OR BOOTS?
Although if correctly chosen, your boots or shoes are ready for use, we nevertheless recommend trying them out with a few short preparatory walks in less challenging conditions. Wearing in footwear involves doing a simple, familiar walk, preferably not too long.
Once you’ve chosen the right footwear, all you need to do is set off, enjoy the journey, the fresh air and the nature, and you’ll achieve every goal you set yourself!