1. You have to stop every mile to empty grit from your shoes.
Wear low gaiters. For summer, get stretchy soft-shell models like the REI Mistral ($24) or EMS Scrambler ($29). They aren’t waterproof, but they’re light, breathable, and perfect for gritty trails, light rain, and snowfield crossings.
2. Your feet are prone to blisters.
Get quality socks that fit. For a roomier shoe, try Dahlgren’s Trekking socks ($16/pair), a longtime tester favorite with midweight padding. If your shoe fits closely, get Gordini’s new Lava ($14/pair), a wool and synthetic blend we like for its excellent wicking and low bulk.
3. Your feet are really, really prone to blisters.
Eliminate blister-causing moisture by wearing a wicking liner sock, like Wigwam’s Coolmax Liners ($5). Wear a sock and liner when trying on shoes. And don’t skimp on socks when packing. Carry three pairs on multiday hikes, so you always have a dry pair to swap in midday.
4. You want a lightweight shoe, but still need heavyweight arch support.
Replace your insoles with New Balance’s Ultra Arch Support Inserts ($40, Editors’ Choice Award, April 2005). These slightly rigid insoles add support to any shoe, reducing soreness and fatigue that result from long miles or heavy loads.