Best Foot Forward: How to Take Care of Your Feet Outdoors

The most important piece of equipment you have when you spend time outdoors is actually your own feet. They propel you from here to there and help you get from place to place. Treat your feet right and your entire outdoor experience will more than likely be enjoyable. Treat them wrong and blisters and bruises will develop, causing great discomfort and pain.

One of the absolute best ways to take care of your feet outdoors is to invest in the proper footwear. Because different types of footwear are needed for different outdoor activities, the best footwear for running, hiking, and climbing are discussed independently below. Select outdoor gear with these traits and characteristics and you – and your feet – are sure to be happy on your next adventure.

Photo/Credits: transdesign.com

Photo/Credits: transdesign.com

Running 

Running footwear is perhaps the simplest of these three types. Though many running shoes are straightforward in design, selecting your own pair shouldn’t come without much deliberation.

The best way to go about buying running shoes is to select a pair based on your weight and running experience. Visiting a local running store is a great idea as they’ll be sure to have an expert fitter on staff to help you find the best pair possible.

A fitter will not only be able to help you choose a solid pair of running shoes based on your weight and experience but will also be able to factor type (trail or road), frequency (how many times you run per week), foot type (height of arch), and pace (how fast your normally run) into their selection.

Hiking 

The footwear that you use for hiking is going to be a lot different than your running shoes. As with running shoes, however, the type of activity and the frequency that you take part in it are going to be major factors.

You want a completely different hiking boot if your main use will be day hikes as opposed to week-long overnight backpacking trips. Hiking boots for day hiking often look more like shoes than boots and are not very bulky. Backpacking boots, on the other hand, are thicker, more padded, and almost always extend above your ankle.

Though there are hundreds of different hiking boots on the market, the specific brand or model isn’t a very important factor. What matters the most is that you find a pair of hiking boots that fits right. A well-fitting pair of hiking boots will ensure that your feet don’t blister, rub, or bruise during the course of a long hike. That’s especially important if you’ve chosen a long and difficult mountain route like the Appalachian trail where you’ll need the best hiking boots on the market. Only when you find a pair of boots that fit well should you begin to look at other features such as support, waterproofing, and breathability.

Climbing 

Footwear made specifically for climbing is perhaps the most diverse of all. This is not because it is more complex but rather because there are more individual types of climbing than there are running or hiking. And they are all very different.

Rock climbers, for instance, will want shoes designed specifically for rock climbing. These shoes often feature very low profiles and are extremely flexible. Rock climbers will need to further narrow down their options between indoor climbing shoes and outdoor climbing shoes.

Those attempting to climb hills, mountains, or other large natural objects will need different footwear altogether. The type of footwear used here will vary as well. If you are mountain climbing in the winter or on a permanently snowcapped mountain, your climbing boots should be completely waterproof, warmly insulated, incredibly durable, and have an extremely grippy sole. Crampons are a good bet as well.

If you plan on climbing mountains during the later part of the summer or early fall, then your boots don’t have to be quite as rugged. You will probably prefer a climbing boot that is a bit lighter and more breathable.

Selecting the best footwear for your outdoor activity of choice isn’t a walk in the park. It is, however, one of the most important things that you can do. Before taking a step outside, it is essential to invest in an awesome pair of boots or shoes specifically tailored to the activity. Do this and your feet will be happy. Keep your feet happy and your trip will more than likely be a success.

Dan Howell spends his life outdoors. He enjoys blogging about how to be prepared and take care of yourself during outdoor activities.

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