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The Best Shoes for Hiking & Rafting

What to Look For

A good rafting and hiking shoe will be quick to dry, offer traction on wet surfaces, and give ample support for day hikes. If you will be hiking on less strenuous, maintained trails, you should be OK to wear a lower cut shoe. However, if the hiking part of your adventure includes a heavy backpack burden and rough, rocky terrain, you may want to look into canyoneering shoes, which can offer more ankle support as well as high performance in wet environments.

Common Pitfalls

Be sure to try on a variety of shoes to find the right fit and comfort level for your foot. Something that looks good in the store or online may not always be the best fit for you. If your trip is a one-time deal, you might consider renting a pair of high-quality rafting/hiking shoes from a store or local outfitter instead of buying them.

Where to Buy

Stores like REI, Eastern Mountain Sports, Track 'n Trail and Altrec Outdoors are all well-established stores that offer many styles of specialized hiking shoes. Since these stores have similarly priced products, your best bet may be to go to a brick-and-mortar store to save on shipping costs. Another option is to visit your local outdoor outfitter and try on different shoes, then order the one you like best from one of these stores online.

Cost

As of 2010, a good pair of wet-dry hikers will cost somewhere between $60 and $120. A comfortable fit is one of the most important factors for hiking shoes, and the more expensive shoes may offer a more molded insole and greater durability; so if you will be using these shoes on many different treks, you may decide to pay a little more.

Comparison Shopping

Merrell Water Pro Ottawa Water Shoes are a good choice for comfort and traction with its sticky Vibram soles and a compression-molded, air-cushioned footbed. The Saloman Pro Amphibian allows you to store your loose shoelaces in built-in pockets to keep them from getting snagged on rocks and brush. It also offers a series of drainage ports to increase the shoe's drying ability. If ankle support is of concern, then the 5.10 Canyoneer II may be an optimal choice. Designed specifically for foot travel in wet, rocky terrain, the Canyoneer is flexible enough to maneuver uneven terrain but offers a closure system with buckle and straps that support feet and ankles.

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About the Author

Stacy Tabb began writing in 2001, specializing in business and human resources. She has written web content and other communication materials for a large Fortune 500 company. She spent two years at Northeastern University's School of Journalism before completing her bachelor's degree in psychology at Westfield State College in Massachusetts.

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