Footwear Buying Guide

Buying Guide: Footwear

Fitting Tips

It’s difficult finding the perfect fit online. We offer a great return policy so before you take your shoe outside, make sure it fits!


• When you try the shoe on wear the socks you would normally wear with that shoe. For example, if you plan on taking your new shoe hiking in cold weather, you will probably be wearing thicker socks, so make sure when you try it on you use thick socks.  Also, insert any alternative orthotic if one will be used.

• Wear the shoes around the house (not outside) to help gauge the fit without putting a lot of wear on the shoe. This will help make sure you qualify for the return policy.

• Make sure to know the basic measurements of your feet (width and length).  A brannock device can be used to measure your size.

• Refer to brand size charts(found on product pages) when converting to/from European sizes. **EU sizing is NOT universal, they DO vary from brand to brand.



Type of Use

Ask yourself what you’ll be doing in your new pair of shoes to help narrow down which style to choose from. Here is some information about the different style of shoes we offer to help you weed out what you won’t need.



Ideal for day hikes and weekend adventures while carrying light to moderate packs up to 30 lbs. Hiking shoes are offered in different heights to meet your needs and preferences: Low (below ankle for a sneaker like fit), Med (covers ankle below the calf), and Tall (covers the ankle and extends up to the calf). The midsole is designed to be comfortable with little break-in time, lightweight, flexible, and provide traction on trails.

Shop Men’s | Women’s



For heavy loads 30 lbs+, generally multiday trips and long distances over rugged terrain on and off trails. There are some Low-cut backpacking shoes, but most range from Mid- to Tall-height boots, providing more stability and support. Often the midsole is stiffer and more durable than hiking footwear.

Shop Men’s | Women’s



For heavy loads, covering large distances, over difficult terrain(rock, ice, snow) to help you reach the world’s highest summits. The boot cut ranges from mid to tall for maximum stability, protection, and warmth. The midsole is very stiff and come in various insulation ratings. Most are crampon compatible.

Shop Men’s | Women’s



Trail running shoes are designed to give you better traction off-road and to protect your feet from the rocks, roots, and other elements unique to the trail. Can be used as a hiking or backpacking shoe, but you need to keep your pack weight extremely light (15 pounds or less, at least!).

Shop Men’s | Women’s

Road running shoes perform well on pavement or other packed surfaces with little to no obstacles, like mud or rocks. They are lightweight and flexible, providing comfort  and stability on hard, uneven surfaces.

Shop Men’s | Women’s



The main function of winter shoes and boots are to keep your feet warm and have better grip on slick surfaces. The majority are a Tall-height. Rated for extremely low temperatures (30F to -60F).  Be conscious of activity type when selecting a desired temperature rating.

Shop Men’s | Women’s




Now that you know the type of shoe you want, it’s time to consider the material that best fits the activity you’ll be doing.



Consists of 3 types(Full-Grain, Split-Grain, Nubuck), extremely durable material, but also heavy. Abrasion resistant and has good water resistance. Requires more time to break-in before using on longer trips. Leather does need more maintenance (cleaning, conditioning, and waterproofing). Best job at protecting your foot from trail debris, like rocks, sticks, etc.



Synthetic does not require as much time to break-in. Lightweight. Will show wear faster than leather. Little maintenance is required, but they don’t last as long as leather. Good breathability. Dries quickly when wet.



A hybrid refers to footwear that uses both leather and synthetic materials in the upper. The purpose is to combine the strengths of leather (water resistant, durability, support) and synthetic (lightweight, breathability, and dries quickly). Most modern boots are found here.



Important Features


Waterproof – A waterproof shoe generally refers to a shoe that utilizes an upper with a waterproof membrane (like Gore-Tex) to keep water from getting inside the shoe.  The membrane style is very effective, but causes less breathability.  Waterproofing treatments (spray-on or cream) can be used to increase water resistance and when combined with certain materials like leather can perform close to waterproof membranes but with better breathability. *note treatments affect the material, ie waterproof spray on mesh shoes will not create a waterproof shoe, the mesh will resist absorbing water.


Insulation – There are two kinds of insulation: active and stationary. Active insulation is meant for activities where you will be moving a lot (hiking or snowshoeing) and the heat created from the activity helps keep you feet warm. Stationary insulation is meant for activities where you will not be moving as much (fishing), so the insulation is bulkier.


Made in U.S.A. or Europe – Brands that make their footwear in the U.S.A. or Europe have more control over the quality of the product. The quality of the materials can be better controlled, regulated, and even locally sourced. There is opportunity for skilled craftsman to handcraft products. The manufacturing process is more environmentally friendly because of laws and regulations.


Norwegian Welted – The welt is a strip of leather that runs along the perimeter of the outsole. It’s primary function is to attach the upper to the outsole. This type of shoe construction is intended to make the shoe more waterproof and is very durable and resoleable.




•Materials will last longer and perform better when clean. *Avoid the washing machine.

• Most new shoes come with care instructions from the brand. Follow that for best results.

• After any use, gently remove dirt with a brush (i.e. an old toothbrush). Make sure to remove the laces for a thorough cleaning.

• Don’t use bar soaps or detergents.

•If it’s time to waterproof your shoes, make sure you clean them first. Applying waterproofing agents while dirty does not allow the boot to wick moisture as well. *We recommend treating all footwear, including those with waterproof liners.

• Condition each type of leather(Full-Grain, Split-Grain, Nubuck & Suede) with the correct cleaner/conditioner

• Drying

  – Avoid high heat

  – Stuff shoe with socks or old newspaper to help the shoe keeps it’s shape while drying.

  – Allow boots to dry at room temperature (not in the sun, attic, car trunk, etc.)


Leave a Reply