Several companies sell shoes suitable for the Pacific Crest Trail; however, having never done such a long distance hike before, it’s really hard to decide what to buy. From what I can establish, there’s three parts to feet you have to concern yourself with: shoes, insoles and socks.
Insoles for your shoes
It’s universally agreed upon that shoes and socks are important but what about insoles? I’ve always seen insoles as a bit of a gimmick, but it stands to reason that if a shoe company only spends a few pennies (cents?) on the insoles of a shoe, then they’re not going to be as good as a company that dedicates itself towards making insoles. After reading anecdotal evidence and whatnot, I’ve came to the conclusion–based on no experience whatsoever–that are the best. Unfortunately, they’re really quite a horrendous price. I assume they last quite a while–they’re partly made of carbon fibre. You can place them in different shoes and whatnot. I’m probably going to buy some soon and I will comment more then, but I thought I’d mention this so you can do your own research.
Nike Air Zoom Wildhorse 3
If I hadn’t done a lot of searching online, I would have had no idea Nike were worth considering for long distance hiking. I have an extremely lightweight pair of Nike running shoes and they’re great for… running… but I wouldn’t consider hiking in them as I expect their durability to be a bit suspect. I wrongfully believed Nike shoes were all similar with different colours and whatnot, but apparently the Nike Air Zoom Wildhorse 3 shoes are built completely different to the shoes I own. They have a metal plate in the front, they’re a bit more water resistant–but not to the point your feet cannot breathe–and I’ve read reports that carbon insoles work in them. I immediately thought “I’ll buy the newer model” but the Nike Air Zoom Wildhorse 4 shoes are heavier and apparently not as good. However, they might be more durable… Who knows.
Salomon XA Pro
Salomon XA Pro shoes were quite popular at one point and I believe you should still consider these, if you’re female. I am not being sexist, haha. The Salomon XA Pro shoes, feminine edition, are actually much lighter weight than the male version of the shoe. The male versions are arguably too heavy, and they don’t dry out fast enough. I don’t think I’ll be buying these.
Please remember, I am just going by hours of reading reviews and whatnot, I have no personal experience with these items. I don’t want to sound like an expert, as I am not one. I cannot justify buying a million pairs of shoes and the local shops don’t really have what I’m looking for, so I have to channel nerdiness.
La Sportiva Akasha
Apparently, the La Sportiva Akasha shoes were one of the most popular shoes to be worn for hikers interest in the Pacific Crest Trail at one point; however, they’re not as popular now. They’re heavy, they’re hard to come by and they’re expensive. In their defence, they’re water resistant, strong, durable and obviously a great shoe or they wouldn’t have been so popular.
Altra Lone Peak 3.0
The Altra Lone Peak 3.0 shoes are meant to be quite comfortable, a reasonable weight, durable, etc. but they don’t dry out very quickly.
The first thing people will tell you is not to buy hiking boots as they’re too heavy, your feet will sweat a lot and they’ll be too painful. If you don’t sweat (did you know that the only place a dog sweats is its feet? I thought it was its nose) then you’ll be okay :).