By now, hordes of thru-hikers have departed from Georgia’s Springer Mountain on a summer’s long journey north along the Appalachian Trail. Most of them are wearing sturdy, ankle-high hiking boots, but if you’re a hiker of a more casual sort than you may not need footwear so rugged. Consider a hiking shoe instead.
Lacking an upper cuff, hiking shoes are smaller and lighter than boots but still provide plenty of stability and arch support on top of a sticky lugged sole. They’re a substantial upgrade from the running shoes or athletic trainers that you might typically substitute when tackling shorter distances or in trying to avoid an expensive boot purchase altogether. Hiking shoes are ideal for travel too — they’re more supportive than sneakers and more versatile than boots. Plus, the low cut won’t shout “tourist” or “hiker” quite as loudly when exploring cities.
Salewa’s Firetail 3 GTX, on sale now for 37 percent off, is an excellent shoe for this purpose. Technically the Firetail is an approach shoe — lightweight yet sturdy footwear designed to help rock climbers carry fully-weighted gear packs to their ascent — but don’t let that categorization deter you. The main difference between an approach shoe and say, a trail running shoe, is that the former has a much more rugged sole that can handle technical paths. The Firetail uses Vibram’s Reptail sole with a Megagrip compound to do so. Salewa also gave the Firetail lacing that extends closer to the toe and a heel-locking system that provides an extra-snug fit, making it a solid choice for hiking and travel this summer.
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