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Hiking Shoes: Style vs. Function and How To Choose

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By: KURU Footwear

The best test of your hiking shoes is how they feel at the top of the mountain. You know how they look when people ask you on the way up.

When it comes to hiking shoes it’s all about the foundation. You wouldn’t want to buy a house with a beat-up or worn out foundation, so why would you put your feet in shoes that are just as worn out or worse?

Key Takeaways

  • Your choice of hiking shoes depends on the activity you plan to do. Backpacking boots are ideal for multi-day journeys, while hiking shoes or boots are great for weekend camping or light loads.
  • When shopping for hiking shoes, pay attention to the footwear upper and lower parts. Full-grain leather provides durability and abrasion resistance, while nobuck leather uppers offer superior comfort and quality. Lugs on the bottom of the shoe determine the level of traction you need.
  • Personal preferences matter when selecting hiking shoes. While knowing the critical parts, you can choose whatever style and color you prefer.

Your Shoe’s Outer Foundation


The upper part of the shoe leaves a lot up to choice. Full-grain leather is ideal for water resistance along with some waterproofing shoe spray and keeping those shoes in nice shape as it is resistant to abrasion and is non-slip. Depending on the shoe KURU and other manufacturers use different types of leather.

Full-grain leather provides amazing durability and abrasion resistance. This is for shoes that are designed to take a beating.

Nobuck leather uppers provide superior comfort and quality. It’s a leather that has been buffed to resemble suede leather and is more flexible than full-grain leather but with similar water resistance.

Some shoes also come with mesh to increase breath-ability, giving you a bevy of choice of style options.


The key her comes to one word: Lugs. Lugs are the ‘bumps’ on the outside of the shoe, usually on the bottom, that offer traction depending on the surface. And this is how you choose.

Deeper thicker lugs are backpacking and mountaineering shoes to allow grip and keep stability during rough terrain. widely spaced lugs offer more traction and shed the mud from a dirt trail more easily.

KURU hiking shoes can give you the versatility you need on the trail while providing the comfort of walking on pillows with the powerful KURUSOLE technology for the best shock-absorbing shoes.

Also be aware of what you need if you need support for flat feet.

Support your outdoor adventures with our curated list of the top 10 best shoes for plantar fasciitis, designed to provide exceptional comfort and support.

Discover relief with our comprehensive guide to plantar fasciitis pain relief.
KURU Footwear Women's QUEST Hiking Boot in Mustang Brown-Black.


(869) Ratings


Icon depicting KURU Footwear Recommended Product.


Feel confident in your style and in your footing, then do more thanks to all-day comfort and consistent support. QUEST was built for spending quality time outdoors, with high-quality leather, high-top ankle support, and grippy rubber outsoles.

What Activities Will You be Doing?

What are you going to be doing? That is the real question when you go looking for trail shoes.

If you are going to the tops of the mountains you will want a shoe that has a harder rubber and can help you support those heavy loads you’ll be carrying and usually have the ability to attach crampons.

Backpacking boots have a high cut to support the ankles during multi-day journeys into the backwoods. The soles are stiffer than lighter hiking shoes and can be used on or off-trail.

Hiking shoes or boots usually have easy flex and are perfect for weekend camping and light loads. The boots version is taller and offers more ankle support. The lower cut shoe version is usually designed for day hikes.

Know what you need: When you go shoe shopping, go at the end of the day. After being out and about, your feet will be slightly swollen from normal activities and that is ideal for making sure the shoes will fit right and not hurt your feet at the end of your hike each time. If you shop online, make sure you choose a brand you know has a great feel and the fit will be similar.

Make sure you are wearing the same sock you would be when using them, this also can affect the feel and comfort of the shoe.

What are Your Personal Preferences?

Now, you are armed with information. The next part of this whole process is personal preference. Remember you may go on day hikes but still prefer backpacking boots for their stiffness and high cut. Some people will go for several days in light hiking shoes. Keep this in mind when you go shopping to make your selection.

Knowing what parts are important leaves you the ability to try on whatever flashy shoe you want. Bright pink to blaze a trail up the mountain? Go for it. Fire engine red to show those amateur hikers you know what you are doing? That works too. Want to brag about the shoes and how good your feet feel at the top but blend in on the way up? That is all up to you.

Whatever your choice is, make sure to take care of them once you are off the mountain with some light soapy water to get the dirt off. Take care of your shoes so they can take care of you.

No matter which activity you are wanting to do in your life, KURU has the shoe for you that will give you the support, comfort and style that your feet have been craving.

Shop KURU hiking shoes and boots today!
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About Us

For all media inquiries, please contact us at pr@kurufootwear.com.

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