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Backpacking Across Africa-How to Take Care of Your Feet

Backpacking is an adventure that’s fun, challenging, and rewarding. It can also be strenuous and physically exhausting. There are so many details that can improve the quality of your trip, such as what to carry (and not carry) with you. Experienced backpackers have learned firsthand the things that will make their journey easier. One of the most important details of your trip is what shoes you wear during it. If you’re not sure where to start, here is some advice to help you pick the best pair.

Plans

The type of backpacking you’ll be doing can make a huge difference in the shoe you select. If you’re only planning to do short day hikes, you may want a more lightweight boot. If you’re planning to do a great deal of hiking for long periods of time, you want to buy a heavier backpacking boot.

Shopping

When shopping for backpacking boots, it’s definitely something you should do in-store. You might be able to find some good deals online, but the most important thing about your shoe is comfort. Do not buy a shoe without trying it on and wearing it around to thoroughly evaluate how it feels and fits.

Boot Cut

Boots are either low-cut (below the ankle), mid-cut (at the ankle), or high-cut (above the ankle). If you’re doing just a little bit of hiking everyday on well-maintained terrain, a low-cut shoe might be okay for you. In most cases, you will want to get at least a mid-cut shoe, and more often a high-cut. High-cut boots provide the most support for long distances and heavy loads. They’ll protect your ankles and help improve your balance. Mid-cut shoes are good for a mid-range level of hiking and pack weight.

Boot Type

If you are doing just a little bit of walking every day with a lightweight pack, light hiking boots (low-cut) will be fine for you. They are very lightweight and flexible. For a mid-intensity journey, hiking boots (mid-cut or high-cut) would be appropriate. It’s best to consider pack weight, however, so whether your activity will be mid- or high-intensity, if your pack is heavy, you should buy backpacking boots (high-cut). They are more durable and less flexible, which is what you want for hiking and carrying a heavy pack.

Material

Leather boots are high-quality, long-lasting, and water-resistant. They’re an excellent choice if you want to keep the same pair for a very long time, and they’re great for long, intense journeys. They are, however, very heavy and may take a while to break in. Split-grain leather is lighter and less expensive, but it is also less water-resistant. Synthetic materials are lightweight, inexpensive, and easy to break in. They’re a popular choice for low- and mid-intensity backpacking, but they do wear more quickly.

Socks

Don’t forget to choose the best socks to go with your best shoes! Socks that are comfortable with little friction, soft, lightweight, and water-absorbent are good. Try materials like synthetic fiber, wool, and cotton blends. 

Mark Lucia is a Swahili tutor based out of Eastern Africa. He loves long trips and cherishes frugality.

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