If the Shoe Fits

The same shoe, new on the left and used on the right.

What’s the best shoe? This question has been with me since I began hiking. Often, what is meant is, “what brand do you recommend?” I appreciate the person’s respect for my opinion and experience, but the answer I give is, “Wear the shoe that fits your feet.” To that I would add, “Wear the type of shoe that works for the type of hiking you’re doing” and “Wear as light a shoe as you can get away with.”

Used shoe on the left and new (but already dusty from a trail testing) on the right.

I also recommend that if you find a shoe that works, purchase a second pair. I began practicing this when I used trail running shoes for backpacking. I still use trail runners sometimes but like a little water resistance and additional support of a light hiking shoe.

Recently I decided to get a second pair of the Keens as pictured here. This shouldn’t be taken as a recommendation that you buy Keens. I feel no brand loyalty where shoes are concerned. Keen has a wide toe box which works well for me.

Avoid the stink!

If your shoes get wet, put them under a fan overnight and dry them thoroughly when you get home. I have a powerful blower just for this purpose. Occasionally (as in about every six months) I’ll wash my hiking shoes in warm water and detergent, then put them under the blower overnight. I do it out of respect for the noses of others on the trail.

Sweet smelling shoes after drying overnight.

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