Choosing the right shoe can take some time, and good professional advice leads to the best result. But why can shoes be so different? Because it all depends on the last and every shoe manufacturer shapes it differently. When developing a last, the approach is to fix the foot in the midfoot area in the shoe in the best possible way and to give the heel a good hold. The toes are given enough space upwards and forwards to provide sufficient play and thrust space.
Exclusive lasts for women's, men's and children's feet result from the anatomically different requirements of gender and age and are incorporated into the construction of different lasts. Women have a smaller foot volume, which is why, for example, the instep height and ball circumference are adjusted. Furthermore, a specially padded tongue and a soft shaft end accommodate the female foot anatomy. Children's feet need special protection. While the volume of the last is reduced, areas such as the heel, toe or instep area are adjusted accordingly in height and width. What is the result? Different foot shapes require different last shapes:
The forefoot area of an »S last« is narrower than that of a normal last. For this purpose, the bale circumference is reduced.
With a »W last«, the forefoot area is wider than with a normal last. For this purpose, the bale circumference is increased.
Manufacturers such as LOWA offer their models in different last widths. In addition to the optimal fit, factors such as the right area of application and the appropriate functionality are decisive criteria when choosing the right hiking shoe.
AREAS OF APPLICATION:
Requirements and terrain: glaciers, trackless and rocky terrain, via ferrata, ice tours and ice climbing. In this category you will find mainly shoes with a glue-knitted construction. High stability, torsional stiffness and crampon resistance are essential advantages when it comes to a challenging area of application and terrain. In addition to alpine shoes, models in the trekking category are also produced with the so-called "glue-knitted" design. The upper of a shoe is "pinched" around the last and glued to the underside of the insole. The construction is extremely stable and offers the possibility to have the shoe resoled.
Requirements and terrain: Good and less good paths in the low mountain ranges and in the foothills of the Alps, paved paths and alpine pastures. The ideal hiking shoe has a firmer and slightly higher shaft. In addition, the sole is a bit softer and easier to roll in comparison to the alpine colleagues, so that stones and roots do not push through so quickly, but at the same time should have good cushioning. Classic hiking boots are suitable for a variety of activities due to their construction and sole stability.
Requirements and terrain: Well paved paths, easy hikes in the lowlands, walking, sporting activities in the low mountain ranges, use in leisure time and in everyday life. A lightweight hiking shoe should be as light-hearted and supple as a sneaker, but still offer significantly more support and moisture protection.
TIPS FOR SHOE SELECTION
The rougher and more impassable the terrain, the more stable the shoe must be.
When going downhill, the structural forces have an immense effect on the knee joint. In addition to strength training to strengthen leg strength, shorter steps and the correct use of poles, sturdy hiking boots are the key to relieving the strain on the knees. It is also advisable to tighten the lacing of the shaft area from the bend upwards to keep the heel in position. This prevents the foot from slipping so far forward, which prevents blisters and blue toenails.
Use deep draw hooks! This sits at the level of the ankle at the transition from the instep to the shaft of a shoe. It helps to tie a shoe with different tensions at the shaft and instep/tension and to hold the heel in position.
Socks are the most important connection between foot and shoe, here the choice should fall on functional hiking socks that sit like a second skin, buffer moisture and cushion stressed areas.
When trying on shoes in specialist shops, it is best to take out the insole and stand on it. So you can see very quickly whether the foot has enough space.
On the basis of the foot length, select an addition of 12 mm for children and 15 mm (one finger width) for adults. This gives the foot enough room to move forward even when walking downhill.
Try on your shoes in the shop in the afternoon, as your feet swell a little during the day.