Hiking Shoes

Selecting a Shoe

The difference between blisters and having a blast is getting a great fit in the shoe. Uncomfortable feet can quickly turn a spectacular hike into a grind and gut to the finish. The two clear choices for the Grand Canyon hike are either hiking 🥾boots or trail running shoes due to their lugged, knobby soles that improve traction in a variety of conditions.

In general...

Hiking boots can be heavy. They are typically water resistant or water-proof so don't have a lot of breathability. Hiking boots offer good support on the bottom of the foot and with the ankles.

Trail running shoes have a softer sole so the foot is aware of changes in terrain. They are light-weight, as compared to hiking boots. The fabric comes in a large variety including mesh with great breathability.


  • Size ⬆️ up, your toe-nails will appreciate you! 1/2 size larger than "normal" size is recommended; though if your feet tend to swell then consider 1 full size larger. The balance is to not have shoes that are too tight OR too loose.

  • Consider the sizing and shape of the toe-box as related to the shape of your toes. Toes need room to be flat so look for a wider toe-box if you've got boxy, square-like toes. 👣

  • Before purchasing walk with both of the shoes on. If possible use the store's treadmill at the lowest downhill grade % setting possible. The goal is to determine if your foot is slipping forward enough that your toes touch the end (we do not want our toes to be cramped)

Image: Saucony trail shoes, Shadonna 👧 wears the Peregrine 10

Breaking the Shoe in

Identify a pair of shoes and then PROVE they are the correct pair by practicing over a 3-4 week period or 30-40 miles! The sisters recommend the following approach...

  1. For one week, every day, wear the new shoes in "normal" life for short periods of time

  2. Week two begin hiking shorter hikes of 3-5 miles a few times a week

  3. Week three embark upon longer hikes 5-8 miles a few times a week

  4. Week four embark upon a long hike of 10 miles

If, after following a methodical break-in approach, your feet feel great after a long hike THEN you have FOUND your shoes! If your feet do NOT feel great then start over and select another shoe.


  • REI has a flexible return policy that includes used gear

  • ⚠️ There is a GOOD chance that while training you will wear the tread too much to wear the shoes on the hike. Ensure that you inspect the tread of the shoe regularly so that if replacement is needed you've got time for the break-in of the replacement shoe well before the hike

  • To save 💲 money 💰 once you've identified a shoe that works look for deals on the internet at places like Left Lane Sports or REI outlet

Image: Hoka One One trail shoes

Skin in the Game

A good shoe that is well broken in does not mean no blisters. 😒 Happy is the hiker who is well prepared with "skin" supplies

Glide for Slide!

Blisters form from pressure, heat, moisture and friction. In addition to proper, broken-in shoes the following can help to prevent blisters

  • Socks get good ones and bring an extra pair if your feet get sweaty

  • Body Glide to prevent chaffing and rubbing

Shadonna 👧 likes Wright Sock

Staci 👧🏻 likes Thorlos


Before the hike

  • Calluses are a good thing, no pedicures in the 6 weeks before the hike

  • Keep the toe-nails trimmed, long toe-nails are sure to hit the toe-box and become sore

During the hike

  • STOP 🛑 and clean the sock 🧦 and shoe if any pebble, sand or hot spot 🔥 is felt

  • Keep the feet dry, if feet are sweaty then change socks 🧦


Small pebbles, sand, and dirt inside the shoe are the enemy of a hiker's foot. Gaiters are an option if you've got the kind of gait that "flips" up debris into the back of your shoe.

The sisters 👧👧🏻 have never worn Gaiters so have no recommendation on this topic.