Importance of choosing the perfect vegan hiking boots
As an enthusiastic vegan hiker, I know how important it is to have the right pair of boots. After years of trial and error, I have come up with some handy tips that have helped me find the perfect vegan hiking boots for my adventures.
So whether you are a committed vegan, or simply someone looking for an ethical footwear upgrade, this article will help you navigate the world of vegan hiking boots to find the perfect pair based on your needs.
1. Choose the type of hiking boot based on your activities
Day hiking boots are perfect for short hikes that last a few hours. They are tough yet versatile enough to wear on a daily basis and provide support and protection for exploring trails, scrambling over rocks, and walking in all kinds of terrain. A good pair should be lightweight yet sturdy, with a waterproof membrane to keep feet dry on wet trails.
Backpacking boots are a must-have if you’re planning on taking on any serious hikes. For long distance, multi-day hikes these boots are heavier and sturdier with additional support, stability, traction, and protection. I took a 3 day backpacking trip in the Pacific Northwest and throughout the hike my feet were thankful for the extra support and cushioning that these special boots provided.
Mountaineering & Technical Terrain
Mountaineering boots are designed for tough, technical terrain and cold weather. They feature a taller, stiffer cuff to provide ankle stability and deep lugs on the outsole for uneven surfaces. The soles are made of rubber with an aggressive tread pattern that provides extra traction in slippery conditions. They also have insulation to keep your feet warm in cold climates. For terrain like rocky trails or steep slopes, look for a boot or shoe with good protection from sharp rocks.
Trail running shoes provide extra grip and stability when you’re tackling uneven terrain, like running up a rocky hiking path. They are the most lightweight style of vegan hiking shoe and are constructed to give you speed and freedom of movement. They have a more aggressive tread pattern than regular running shoes, as well as extra cushioning to protect your feet from rocks and other obstacles.
Hiking at night usually means colder temps and increased risk of falls or slippage. For these reasons, look for a sturdy boot that offers plenty of support and protection, including waterproof uppers, stiff midsoles for more stability on uneven terrain, and lugged outsoles for traction in mud or snow.
Look for well-insulated, waterproof boots to keep your feet warm and provide enough traction to prevent slips on icy surfaces.
2. Select your vegan hiking boot materials
Recycled polyester is made from plastic trash. The process to create recycled polyester involves melting down recycled plastic bottles, spinning them into yarns, and then weaving those yarns into fabric.This material is typically used in the upper of the shoe.
Recycled Nylon is a fabric that is created from post-consumer plastics. It’s made by melting down old plastic and spinning it into new yarn, which can then be woven into fabrics. Its most important benefits are its breathability, the fact that it doesn’t get smelly, and that it’s easy to clean. It’s typically used in the upper of the boot to provide strength and flexibility.
Recycled Rubber used in hiking boots comes from car tires, inner tubes, and other downcycled products. Not only is it environmentally friendly and helps clear trash from landfills, but it also provides shock absorbency, lofted cushioning, water repellency, and resistance to abrasion & wear. It’s typically used on the outsole of the shoe to provide grip and traction.
Organic Hemp is a sustainable fiber grown without the use of synthetic chemicals. Hemp is well-suited for hiking because of its breathability, odor-resistance, and moisture-wicking properties.
Microfiber is a synthetic material made from extremely fine fibers that are woven together. Microfiber offers excellent water resistance, cushioning, and breathability for comfortable all-day wear in any weather condition. It’s most commonly used in the upper of the boot for breathability and moisture-wicking properties.
Bio-based Synthetic Leather
Bio-based synthetic leather is created from plant-based sources such as mushrooms or cornstarch, offering the same appearance, texture, and functionality as traditional leather. This durable, waterproof material is used on parts of hiking boots like the upper, toe caps, or heel for enhanced protection and support.
Bamboo is a natural, eco-friendly material with outstanding breathability and moisture-wicking properties, making it ideal for hot climates or extended hikes. It grows quickly without the need for pesticides and requires minimal water for cultivation. Bamboo is commonly used for boot linings or insoles, providing natural antibacterial properties, cushioning, and odor control.
Thinsulate is produced from a blend of polyester fibers, which are processed into insulation. These fibers are bonded together to optimize warmth and protect against both heat and cold. Additionally, Thinsulate is moisture-wicking, helping to prevent perspiration and maintain dry feet.
Gore-Tex is a high-quality waterproof material employed in hiking boots to prevent water ingress while ensuring your feet remain cool and dry.
Synthetic leather has been a major player in the outdoor clothing world for years. The advantages of this material is its low price point and durability. It’s fairly resistant to abrasions and usually can be purchased cheaply, especially compared to natural leather.
However, the disadvantages of synthetic leather make it a big no-no from an environmental and overall health and safety perspective. One of the biggest problems with synthetic leather is that it is often made from virgin plastics such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or polyurethane (PU).
The production process is energy intensive and involves hazardous chemicals. The dangerous effects of these chemicals have recently been experienced in the 2023 chemical spill in Palestine, Ohio where 100,000 gallons of polyvinyl chloride was spilled and released into the environment.
PVC and PU chemicals are toxic and lethal to humans, animals and the environment as they can then leach into soil and water, resulting in toxic runoff that poisons everything it touches and pollutes the air. Additionally, gasses like chloroform and dioxin are released during manufacturing which can cause cancer and other health problems if breathed in over a sustained period of time. For these reasons, consumers should avoid synthetic leather at all costs.
3. Consider the important factors when choosing vegan hiking boots
When it comes to selecting vegan hiking boots, there are five factors to consider: durability, breathability, water resistance, comfort and weight.
Durability is an essential factor in selecting vegan hiking boots because the robustness of the boot will directly affect your comfort, safety and overall enjoyment. Durable hiking boots are built to withstand rugged terrain and harsh elements, while also protecting your feet against blisters, rough terrain or sharp objects.
Breathability helps keep your feet cool and ventilated, which helps prevent blisters, bacteria buildup, and odor. It also reduces the risk of slipping on wet terrain. For optimal breathability, look for mesh panels or microfiber designed to facilitate air flow around your feet.
Water resistance in vegan hiking boots refers to the ability of the material to protect your feet from sweat, rain, and snow. This is usually done through the use of waterproof materials such as synthetic leathers or rubber. These materials are designed to repel moisture while still allowing air flow, keeping feet dry and comfortable during long hikes in wet conditions. Additionally, many manufacturers will add additional features like gusseted tongues, waterproof zippers and sealed seams for extra protection from the elements.
Comfort in vegan hiking boots is determined by features like cushioning, ankle and arch support. The shoes should provide ample traction, ankle support, and midsole shock absorption shock to provide comfort throughout your hike.
Weight is an important factor to consider when buying vegan hiking boots. Generally, heavier boots are more durable and provide better support, but lighter boots allow for greater agility and less strain on your feet. The weight of a vegan hiking boot can range from just over one pound for lightweight styles to three or four pounds for the most rugged designs. In general, look for a boot that strikes a balance between weight and durability.
4. Choose the right fit
To ensure the best fit, it is important to measure your foot length and size before purchasing vegan hiking boots. It is also recommended to try on several pairs of boots in order to find the one with the most comfortable fit.
When choosing vegan hiking boots, it is essential to consider the width of your feet as well as the length. Typically, wider feet require a wide size for more comfort and support. If you have narrow feet, then you may opt for a narrower size for a better fit.
Additionally, it is important to pay attention to the volume of your foot when selecting vegan hiking boots. This refers to how much space there is inside the boot around your foot and ankle area. Too little or too much volume may lead to discomfort while walking or climbing up hills or mountains on your hike.
The arch support provided by vegan hiking boots should also be taken into account when selecting a pair of shoes that fits correctly and comfortably. Boots with adequate arch support will help keep your feet and ankles properly aligned while walking or running over rough terrain during hikes.
Finally, checking for toe room when trying on vegan hiking boots can help ensure that the boots are comfortable. The toe box should have enough space for your toes to move comfortably without rubbing or pinching against the sides of the shoes.
Tips for Trying on Hiking Boots
- Try them on later in the day – This will give you a better feel for how the boots will fit as your feet swell throughout the day.
- Wear the right socks – Wear the same type of socks that you plan to wear when hiking so that you can get an accurate feel for how the boots will fit.
- Walk around the store – Take some time to really walk around, making sure to go up and down stairs or inclines if possible, to get an idea of how the boots handle different terrain and whether they remain comfortable during extended use.
- Test the fit on an incline – If possible, try wearing them on a slight incline or hill since this is more representative of what you’ll experience while out on a hike. This can help identify any potential hotspots or areas that may cause discomfort when walking uphill or downhill.