Outdoor shoes, walking boots and accessories guide
It's safe to say, our outdoor instructors have a fair bit of experience when it comes to outdoor footwear.
The Land & Wave full time instructors are the proud owners of 30 wonderful (never smelly) feet and 150 toes. God knows how many pairs of outdoor shoes and foot apparel we all own…a cluttered hallway is the curse of the outdoor instructor.
Here’s our guide to footwear for every outdoor enthusiast.
Socks for Hiking and Athletic use
We’re really enjoying Darn Tough socks now the flip-flops have finally been kicked aside. We’re using the Hiker Boot Sock for all our long days out assessing Duke of Edinburgh’s Award expeditions and Lowland Leader training, which feels perfectly snug in a walking boot. They have a cushioned sole and soft grip around the ankle, without feeling too pinchy. Darn Tough also offer a lifetime guarantee and will replace them if 'they aren't the most comfortable, durable and best fitting socks you've ever worn' - how crazy is that?
We all learnt early on in our instructor careers how important good fitting socks are. Too tight and the lack of circulation makes a cold foot even colder, too loose and get ready for bunching and monster blisters!
We also really like the Darn Tough Athletic range for days when we’re just wearing trainers or approach shoes. They do a great Element No Show trainer sock, as well as different calf lengths, depending how much leg you fancy flashing.
Darn Tough Socks
We spend as much time in the water as we do on dry land, so a decent water shoe is a massive bonus. Some choose to relegate an old pair of trainers to wear in the sea. Others opt for something purpose-made, like the Five Ten (5.10) Tennies Water Shoe.
We’re always looking for protection and a secure fit. This means we want a hard sole to protect against sharp rocks and a decent fastening to ensure it doesn’t come off when we’re swimming or climbing over sea cliffs.
The Five Ten Tennies Water shoe has plenty of drainage holes to stop water sloshing around when you get out of the water and the neoprene upper, keeps your foot snugly in place.
We’ve not heard about any new Five Ten water shoes of late, so you’ll have to hunt for the 2018 model on outdoor sites. Also check out the Five Ten Canyoneer 3 model too. They also do some great climbing and mountain biking shoes too.
First up, ‘What are approach shoes?’. Well, this footwear category is a hybrid shoe that is designed for the walk in or ‘approach’ to the start of a climb, hike or scramble. They’re great for different terrains such as the forest floor or more slippery rock surfaces. They look like a very sturdy trainer.
It’s our instructors’ staple shoe type as it’s very versatile in most outdoor environments. Scarpa, Mammut and La Sportiva all have excellent ranges.
Paul, our Outdoor Instructor Training manager, is pretty particular about his approach shoes, so much so, he buys two pairs at a time once he finds ones he likes. He’s currently sporting Scarpa Epic Lite OD’s, which are still available from some online retailers. However, the newer equivalent would be the Scarpa Zodiac, which is ideal for mountain trails, scrambling and rocky terrain.
Buying hiking boots is a bit like buying jeans. You’ve got to try on a fair few pairs to find your perfect match.
Rosie swears by her Merrel Vibram’s for her skinny little feet, whereas Owen still has his 20 year-old Scarpa Manta boots which are still serving his Size 13’s beautifully. Comfort is key.
Boot Care and Cleaning
Once you find your perfect pair of boots, you MUST treat them well by using Nikwax Fabric and Leather Proof to waterproof and protect your boots. Many people don’t realise that dirty boots can actually make your boots to soak up even more water, so make sure you clean them off after every hike. That’s really important.
Outdoor Gifts for Christmas
Talking about keeping your footwear squeaky clean, we all have one thing that is going on the Christmas list this year: The Boot Buddy. It’s a portable little gem of a product that you can stick in your rucksack or car.
It’s the brainchild of 15-year-old Arminder, who appeared on Dragons Den. It’s essentially a small bottle with a brush on the end to scrub your shoes and boots clean. It was originally designed for football boots, but works a treat on walking boots.
The Boot Buddy