Some say the word Patagonia means ‘Land of the Bigfeet’ in reference to the giants that, according to legend, once roamed the land at the end of the world. We’re not sure if that’s true, but we do know that looking after your feet during your hiking tour in Patagonia can mean the difference between endurance and enjoyment. The key to healthy feet lies in choosing the right shoe for you, but the world of the hiking boot can be a confusing place for the uninitiated. It’s always good to ask salespeople for their thoughts, but if you’re unsure of the terminology you might worry that you’ll end up being persuaded to pay extra for features you don’t need or to buy something that doesn’t fit the bill. Never fear, Cascada is here with a handy guide to choosing the right footwear for your trek in Patagonia.
In recent years the old-fashioned, sturdy hiking boot has somewhat fallen out of favour. The rising trend in ultra-lightweight hiking has seen a swing towards smaller, lighter shoes that enable the wearer to travel greater distances at speed because they’re carrying less weight and their movements are less restricted. But less restriction also means less support and that is not something you want to skimp on in Patagonia. This kind of hiking frequently involves uneven surfaces, steep gradients and even ladders in and out of ravines, and with the extra weight of a pack on your back, turning an ankle is a real possibility. So here in Patagonia, a boot means a boot, not a shoe or trainer, and that means that the support should reach all the way to your ankle. A sturdy mid-weight boot with padded ankle support is ideal.
5 tips for when you're in the shop
- Take your hiking socks with you to the shop and wear them when trying on boots. Wearing the right socks is also an essential part of caring for your feet and it will affect the fit of the boot.
- Make sure you try on more than one brand of shoe as the fit and construction will be slightly different for each. Some brands may suit your feet more than others and it’s worth taking the time to find out which work best for you.
- To check the fit of a boot, push your foot as far forward as possible in the boot and try to fit a finger between your heel and the heel cup. You should be able to comfortably fit one finger into the gap and if your toes touch the front of the boot you need a bigger size.
- Take a walk in the boots to check that your arches are well-supported and there isn’t too much slippage at the heel.
- Don’t forget to check the fit on both feet as they probably aren’t exactly the same size.