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High quality footwear for outdoor activities should meet a few key requirements; they should provide grip to suit the activity, they should provide support to suit the load you are carrying and should protect the foot from the terrain you are travelling through.
With such a vast array of options on the market and every niche need filled it can be hard to make a selection. Focusing your selection to suit the main activity you’ll be doing is the key. Whilst aspiring to completing the Everest base camp trek is a good, sometimes you’ll only have time to take on some classic day walks near your house.
Types of outdoor footwear
Outdoor footwear breaks into two main types; boots and shoes. Boots offer more support and stability than shoes making them ideal for pack carrying. As a general rule the more expensive and technical the boot the better the load carrying ability of the boot.
Shoes are well suited to day hikes, walking the dog and maybe even riding single track. Shoes are light, break in quickly and are designed to cushion the feet when carrying light loads.
What to look for
Good grip starts with a good sole. There are many high quality soles on the market and shoe manufactures either select a sole from a sole manufacturer or use propriety branded soles.
Support is provided by applying different construction techniques to the boot or shoe. To provide enough support when carrying heavy loads over long distances generally an upper of leather or nubuck is adhered to a cushioning midsole and a grippy outer sole is attached.
Foot protection is provided through the outer fabrics, be it leather, nubuck, suede, nylon or mesh. The use of a toe rand further protects the toes from stubbing and bumps.