Regardless of your activity, shoes play an intimate role in how you feel during participation. There is a reason people spend so much money on footwear. Our feet are sensitive, and we use them almost all the time during physical activity. Picking the right set of shoes/boots for hiking or trail running is a crucial part of finding enjoyment in your adventures. Two trips that I took recently reminded me how shoe choice can make the difference between success and failure. One trip was a run/walk around Mt. St. Helens, totaling about 30 miles with a light backpack in a single day. The other was a two night adventure in the High Sierras covering over 50 miles, mostly off trail, boulder hopping. Each required excessive use of my feet. The only store I trusted in picking up the right trail running shoes was US Outdoor.
For the run around Mt. St. Helens, I wore Saucony’s Progrid Perigrine 2 shoes. Coming in at only 1 lb. 3.8 oz, they still offer enough heal and forefoot support to keep the foot centered and stable on the sole. Even with a backpack near 15 lbs., they provided plenty of stability and cushion. They also are minimalist regarding the foot bed. This means they do not have an arch support, or other technology that interferes with the foot’s natural movement. The sole has a thin plastic shank that runs back and forth like a riverbed S-shaped through the sole. This reduces stiffness and weight while protecting from rock protrusion through the sole. The tread has massive grip with large, knobby rubber protrusions. The trail around St. Helens has sand, mud, rock, boulders, hard pack, and “Ah Ha” lava (the rough, hard to walk on kind). These shoes held up perfectly across every type of terrain I could find. If you trail run or backpack light, there is not a better shoe out there.
Next, I went off trail in the High Sierras on the west side of the mountain range. For this trip, I needed a beefier shoe since I had heard that the terrain was brutal on foot wear. I had no idea how brutal it would be. I’m glad I chose my La Sportiva Trango Extreme Evo Light GTX boots. The moment I stepped off the John Muir Trail, I was committed to careful foot placement on boulders ranging in size from cars to bowling balls. Literally, every step was crucial since the boulders are stacked in a chaotic granite wonderland of enormous proportions. Any mistake here could be very costly since few people are likely to be traveling in the same place off trail. The La Sportiva Trango has extremely good ankle support, ridiculous durability, and more importantly, a sole that protects the foot bed no matter how sharp the rock feature placed beneath. Anything less stout would have put my safety at risk.
Of course, that nature of your trip is what matters most. So if you are planning any type of adventure, consider seriously, the shoes or boots you are going to choose. Not only is that shoe choice going to affect the entire quality of your experience, it also will influence the safety of the trip. For lightweight backpacking, hiking, or running, I can attest to the quality, comfort, and durability of the Saucony Progrid Perigrine 2. It is my favorite shoe. For three season mountaineering, and strenuous backpacking, nothing competes with the La Sportiva Trango. The ankle support, footbed protection, and rugged construction make it perfect for serious mountain travel. Both are available for men and women. The basement at US Outdoor has the most knowledgeable staff in the state regarding hiking shoes, boots and trail running shoes. Be sure to take advantage of this wonderful Portland resource when you think about your next exciting trip.