Hiking on a mountain or another natural terrain can be a very exciting form of exploring the nature of our planet. It can be easy and relaxing, but it can be also difficult and challenging. The more challenging is it, the more experience and special gear it requires. And one of the most important parts of this gear is your shoes. There are various kinds of shoes for such kind of adventure, but now we will focus on the summer hiking shoes. Below is the guide to this kind of shoes, their main features, and the 10 best hiking shoes for summer in 2021.
What kind of shoes are these
The hiking shoes for summer (summer hiking shoes) are low, relatively soft, and lightweight. They are designed to provide comfortable hiking, in which your feet feel light and cool. At the same time, they have to provide enough stability, and this is more difficult, compared to the boots.
In general, these hiking shoes are excellent for shorter and easier treks, or for treks without a too-heavy backpack. They help you to walk faster. At the same time, for longer and more difficult treks, as well as with a heavy backpack, three-season hiking boots are better.
However, there are various hikers with different preferences. Some of them can wear summer hiking shoes for heavy and long treks, and they can still feel comfortable. It is because lightweight and cool are more preferable for them.
The main features of good hiking shoes for summer
The main features of these shoes, or what you have to look for when you choose them are lightweight, comfort, stability, waterproof, breathability, traction, and durability. And finally, of course- their price and your ability to invest for them. Let’s focus on these features in detail.
This is probably the best reason for hikers to buy these shoes. Normally, their weight is only half of the three-season hiking boot’s weight. And in recent years, the manufacturers try to reduce the weight more and more, by using lighter materials. At the same time, they try to do it without sacrificing their quality, in particular- their durability.
So, if you prefer fast hiking, or even running on a trail, such kind of hiking shoes is the best choice. And today, most of the summer hiking shoes are not heavier than 700-800 g (less than 2 lb).
When we talk about the waterproof of the hiking shoes for summer, it is not like the waterproof of boots, for one obvious reason- the shoes are too low. So, yes, waterproof is important, to keep your feet dry, but it can’t help too much if you walk on high wet grass (higher than your shoes), or on trails with deep mud and water- the water will simply enter your shoes from above.
But, at least you would like your feet to remain dry in easier conditions, for example- when you walk on wet short grass, on а less muddy and wet trail, or in rainy weather. However, not everything is perfect with good waterproof shoes. Yes, your feet can be more protected from wetting, but at the same time such shoes are less breathable, and you can’t feel enough coolness as you would like.
This is what makes our feet feel cool, along with the shape and lightweight of these shoes. It also helps against sweating. Good breathability is achieved by proper materials.
However, breathability is in conflict with the waterproof feature, sometimes also with the durability. So, the manufacturers have to choose between good waterproof, good breathability, or some kind of balance between them, in which waterproof and breathability are only partial. Probably this will be resolved better in the future, but for now, you have to make a choice.
The hiking shoes for summer don’t have the stability of the heavier and higher boots, designed to support your ankle. As a result, they are less stable, and in many cases, it is not advisable to bear a heavy backpack, especially for trails with high difficulty.
But even without ankle support, the modern hiking shoes are designed with improved stability, at least for the middle of the shoe, without sacrificing flexibility. In this, some of the shoes come closer to the boots, but if stability and support are really important for you, you still have to wear boots.
This is an important feature since you would walk on various kinds of a surface when you go hiking. You would walk on muddy trails, rocky or stony slopes, grass, or other kinds of surfaces, with different inclines. And you want to walk without slipping.
This is what makes these shoes different than other low shoes for summer. They are designed with a grippy outsole, proper grapples, and good-quality rubber. Some of them are more specialized for one type of surface, while others are made with balance for all kinds of ground.
Above all, you would like to feel comfortable in your hiking shoes. People have various kinds of feet, and the best way to find your most comfortable shoe is just to try it. It is easy if you buy it from a real shop, and fortunately, not too complicated if you buy it online, although you may need to return it if you feel uncomfortable.
And the other good thing is that hiking shoes are usually more comfortable than boots. They don’t have a long break-in period like the boots, and even if you don’t feel enough comfort in the beginning, if the size fits well, most likely you will quickly get used to your new hiking shoes.
The durability of summer hiking shoes highly depends on the used materials. And usually, the heavier, the more durable are the shoes. Yes, there are a lot of improvements in the balance weight vs durability, but usually, it increases the price too.
The weakest parts of the shoes are the upper and the outsole. Depending on the frequency and intensity of your hikes, the life of your shoes can be with different lengths of their lives. Another factor is the environment- if you just walk on easy trails in good weather, your shoes can live longer. But if you often wet them, or walk in high grass, especially with some awns or thorns that can penetrate into the shoe’s material, it can more quickly damage your shoes.
This is the most important about hiking shoes for summer. Let’s see which of them are the best for 2021.
The 10 best hiking shoes for summer
There are hundreds of hiking shoe models by various brands, and of course, their manufacturers always try to achieve the best quality for their price. But since many years ago already, several brands are winners in this- especially La Sportiva and Salomon. So, no wonder that their models take the largest part of the Top 10 chart.
Take a look at this table of the 10 best hiking shoes for summer, with their most important features:
Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX/Low Aero
This is one of the best hiking shoes for summer that exists today. Yes, it is not perfect (there is no perfect shoe and no perfect product in general), but it is excellent in all of the important features- comfort, durability, traction, stability, and breathability vs waterproof.
It comes in two versions: GTX and Low Aero. The difference between them is related to the breathability and waterproof. GTX is the waterproof version, with less breathability, and Low Aero is breathable, but without waterproof. As for all the good hiking shoes, this one has male and female versions.
Another specific feature is its Quicklace system. It allows you to tighten your shoes once, and you don’t need to care about it during the hike. However, some people find it inconvenient if they have a more specific shape of their feet or just specific preferences. Anyway, this shoe remains one of the best.
Pros: Best in everything- durability, stability, comfort, traction, breathability, or waterproof
Cons: Not perfect, a compromise between breathability and waterproof, Quicklace system not suitable for everybody.
La Sportiva Akasha
If you want to run on the mountain trails, Akasha is your best choice. Its outsole provides excellent traction even on rough surfaces. At the same time, it is very flexible, with a high level of comfort for your feet.
Concerning the solution of the waterproof vs breathability, this model is focused on breathing, and it is outstandingly achieved in the shoe’s upper. Finally, Akasha is very durable.
But of course, nothing is perfect. The man’s version of Akasha is a bit heavy. Also, it is too expensive.
Pros: great for running, flexible, excellent traction, breathable, durable
Cons: a bit heavy and too expensive
Merrel Moab 2 Ventilator
Merrel Moab 2 Ventilator is made of suede leather, and mesh upper. It has also a breathable mesh lining. At the same time, it is quite good in the other important features.
Its leader materials are durable, and its footbed is supportive. Also, its traction feature is strengthened by Vibram TC5 sole. It has a rubber toe cap, and its stability is achieved by EVA midsole and air cushion for shock-absorbing.
Finally, it is cheaper. Its main weakness is its durability. Also, it is not waterproof, but that’s not a weakness since breathability is the main goal of the shoe’s manufacturer.
Pros: excellent breathability, comfort, flexibility, good support, cheap
Cons: weak durability, no waterproof
Danner Trail 2650
Do you notice the number 2650? It comes from the Pacific Crest Trail that is 2650 miles long, called also Trail 2650. As you can suggest, these shoes are designed for long-distance. And one of their best features is their durability.
But there is more. You can notice their unique design- they don’t look like most of the other summer hiking shoes. Their mesh liner is incorporated into the rest of their body. The shoes are designed with excellent traction too. Also, they are very comfortable, and don’t need time for a break-in- you buy them and you can go hiking with them from the first day.
The only thing that is not so good is their weak support. But even this could be a problem only for some people, while others find them enough supportive.
Pros: durability, stylish design, comfortable, with excellent traction
Cons: relatively weak support
Scarpa Mojito Trail
This is an excellent and unique hiking shoe, proper for trails with high difficulty. Its manufacturers emphasize waterproof and traction and designed it with suede leather. The shoes are very comfortable, with good support and a high level of stability.
Yes, it is not too breathable, because the focus is waterproof. In fact, the shoes are great for summer hikes in cooler and wet weather, in higher and colder mountains. At the same time, it is enough lightweight and proper for long treks. Finally, its break-in time is very short, and its durability is excellent.
Pros: great waterproof, good traction, durability, comfort
Cons: low breathability, lacing system not so good
Oboz Sawtooth II Low
This shoe is actually a lower version of a hiking boot. It is still low, but like the boots, it has partial ankle support that is better than other hiking shoes for summer, and this is its main strength.
Oboz Sawtooth II Low comes in two versions- breathable and waterproof, with GTX membrane (the waterproof version is called Oboz Sawtooth II Low BDry). It is relatively lightweight, with excellent traction ability that allows you to hike steep and complex slopes easily.
These shoes are very durable and comfortable. They have a very short period of a break-in and can be used for many years of hiking. At the same time, they are relatively cheap.
Pros: good ankle support, durable and comfortable
Cons: in fact, they are not so comfortable for well-groomed trails
The North Face Vectiv Exploris
The North Face brand is presented in the Top 10 of the best hiking shoes for summer with their Vectiv Exploris- a great shoe with futuristic design, made for hikers who want to walk quickly and lightly for long-distance.
This shoe has a balanced mix of waterproof and breathability (for waterproof it uses Futurelight instead of Goretex). It is comfortable, with a short break-in time, and as all of the other excellent shoes, it has good traction in various kinds of surfaces and a well-designed lace system.
The main weakness of this shoe is its stability. Due to its shape, walking on some terrains can be unstable and you have to be careful. Also, it could be a bit lighter.
Pros: great for fast-moving on long-distance, excellent traction and lace system
Cons: a bit unstable and a bit heavy
This is a shoe designed for hiking on difficult and harsh terrain. It also provides stability and partial ankle support, just like low hiking boots, and almost like Oboz Sawtooth II Low, which’s described above.
Tecnica Magma is comfortable, with almost no break-in time. For the harsh terrains, it is made with excellent traction ability. And for downhill hiking, it has a good shock absorption feature.
Concerning the waterproof and breathability- it is made with a combination of both in some balance. It has an integrated lacing system. Probably the main weakness of this shoe is that it doesn’t perform very well in the smooth and well-groomed trails, at least for some people.
Pros: great for difficult and harsh terrains, good stability, traction, and shock absorption
Cons: not so comfortable for some people in well-groomed trails
Salomon XA Pro 3D
This shoe protects you dry in wet conditions, with a perfect balance between comfort and security. The new geometry of the 3D chassis supplies you with softness and stability while hiking. It is designed with Contagrip sole which is proper for all kinds of terrain, as well as in the city. The shoes are very stable for long slopes, especially while you descend, thanks to the new foot system that protects you from slipping even in wet conditions.
If you need a light and stable waterproof shoe, for shorter or longer (but easier) hikes with enough support for your ankle and foot, this is the shoe! It is not proper for heavy backpacks, but for light or moderate luggage is perfect, especially for trained hikers.
It has a wide sole for better control on the terrain, especially for descending, but also with a good zone for ascending. The shoe is durable, beautiful with the best rate of weight, insulation, and waterproof. Maybe it is not as strong as the heavier leather shoes, but with enough good test results.
Pros: light, stable, especially for descending.
Cons: not enough strong, not proper for heavy backpacks.
La Sportiva Jackal
This is an excellent hiking shoe with a unique design. One of its most specific features is that it is wider than most of the other shoes. It has excellent traction and provides very good support and foot protection, almost like the boots, allowing you to bring a heavier backpack and to hike on long-distance treks.
The main problem with these shoes is that they are too specific. For some people, they can be the absolute perfect choice- outstanding in comfort, stability, durability, shock absorption, and everything else. But for other people with different feet shape they can be uncomfortable and in general, not proper. So, it is important to try them first. And if you are one of the people whose feet fit perfectly in these shoes, it would be the best choice that you’ve ever made for footwear!
Pros: great stability, traction, support, and protection
Cons: uncomfortable for some people
As you can see, there is plenty of choices. There are shoes for various styles of hiking- fast hiking, mountain running, difficult and rugged terrains, steep and even slippery slopes, and at the same time, you can wear them in the city. Besides hiking shoes for summer, you can go to the mountain with hiking sandals (with all their pros and cons), or hiking boots. Some people, usually more advanced hikers try hiking with barefoot shoes.
That’s why there is no universally perfect shoe or whatever kind of footwear. But if you know your feet’ preferences of comfort and your hiking style, you can find hiking shoes that are perfect for you.
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