Nature Walks for the Whole Family – Choosing the Right Outdoor Footwear

Jan 23rd, 2009 by keelyh | 2 Comments So Far

Nature walking, also called trail walking or gentle hiking, can be a fun and relaxing activity for the whole family. If one of your new year’s resolutions was to exercise and another to spend more time with your children, why not combine the two? Gyms may be wonderful places to intensively tone a particularly body part or slip in a quick workout at lunchtime, but for exercising the mind as well as the body, the benefits of spending time in nature cannot be over-stated. A nature walk at your local campground, national park, or preserve is an easy way to add variety to your weekly exercise routine. Recent psychology studies have shown that spending time in nature can not only reduce stress, but also improve mental functions such as memory.

So, are you ready to get outside? Blog will help you pick the right outdoor footwear to ensure that you and your children’s feet stay healthy and free from foot pain.

Getting the Right Trail Shoe or Hiking Boot Fit

In some ways choosing the right footwear for a nature trail isn’t too much different from choosing any other comfort shoe. The most important factor that is going to determine your comfort in a specific trail shoe is fit. As with walking and running shoes, there should be an extra inch of space between the toes and the edge of the toe box to accommodation the natural swelling that occurs in the feet after a full day of bearing your weight. Your toes should not rub up against the top of the toe box when your first put them on. Contrary to popular wisdom shoes do not need to be broken in. If a shoe or boot is not comfortable the moment you put it on your feet, find a shoe that truly fits. Forcing innocent feet to conform to uncomfortable footwear will only lead to unnecessary foot pain from blisters and calluses. Be sure to note the fit at the shoe’s side wall as well as the heel and toe. A shoe that is the proper length may not fit properly if it is not the proper width for your foot. While the majority of shoes come in medium width, there are still many wide width and narrow width options to fit any foot.

Assessing Your Hiking Boot Needs

One question you hear a lot from beginning hikers and nature walkers is how much traction will I need while out on the trail? It really depends on what terrain you’ll be hiking on. The rougher the trail and the steeper the incline, the more likely you are to require a high traction lug sole. For a smooth, packed dirt trail outside a nature center the traction provided by a good pair of walking shoes may be sufficient. If you’ve had trouble with slip and falls in the past, more traction is always better. If nothing else it will give you more peace of mind. Just don’t let extra traction give you a false sense of your own invincibility. Inexperienced hikers should stick to flatter, more well-kept trails when they start out and save the advanced trails for when they are not just confident, but competent. You don’t want a nasty twisted ankle to show you the error of your ways. Another thing to remember when selecting the right hiking footwear is that not every outdoor shoe works for every season and climate. In warm weather a trail shoe with a mesh upper such as the Keen Women’s Trail Shoe, Voyageur is desirable because the extra ventilation helps control foot perspiration and prevent over-heating. In cold weather an insulated boot such as the Propet Men’s Waterproof Boot, Cliffwalker may be necessary to keep feet safe from chills and muddy trail conditions

About Kid’s Trail Shoes

Fitting kids feet can be uniquely challenge because children are constantly growing. As tempting as it can be to buy a larger shoe that will last longer, never buy a child’s shoe more than a size larger than the child’s foot. An excessively loose shoe can cause tripping and may even negatively affect foot development. A child’s shoe can have a little extra space at the toe, but the heel needs to fit snugly to ensure functional wear. When taking kids hiking be sure not to skimp on traction. Children tend to be less steady on their feet than adults and more prone to slip and fall when walking across slick surfaces. Outdoor Footwear Recommendations

Women’s Trail Shoes & Boots

  • Keen Women’s Trail Shoe, Voyaguer
  • Keen Women’s Waterproof Walking Shoe, Presidio
  • Klogs Women’s Mary Jane Walking Shoe, Quest
  • Mephisto Women’s Walking Shoe, Ladina
  • Propet Women’s Diabetic Insulated Boot, Frost Walker
  • Naot Women’s Coldweather Boot, Bobcat

Men’s Trail Shoes & Boots

Children’s Trail Shoes

General Tips for Mixed Age & Ability Hiking Groups

Though it may see counter-intuitive, put the slowest hiker in the front and pace the group to meet that hiker’s needs. This is particularly important when one or more of your hikers are young children. When a moment of inattention can result in poison oak and overly up close animal encounters, more adult eyes following a child’s movements is always better. Also remember that nature walking, like any athletic activity is a process. The first walk should be a short one, not longer than an hour. This will give you a chance to assess the family’s level of physical fitness so that no one gets turned off from the activity by being over-tired the first time out. If improving the family’s level of physical fitness is a serious goal you can have a debriefing meeting after each walk and discuss together at what rate it would be best to increase the difficulty level of the hikes. Trusting older children to communicate their hiking preferences and assuring them that their input is important is a wonderful way to promote meaningful family bonding.

Happy Trails Blog Readers! Leave your family hiking stories in the comments. Sign up for the Newsletter to receive more foot care tips and receive coupons for discounts on shoes, slippers, and foot care products.


2 Comments on “Nature Walks for the Whole Family – Choosing the Right Outdoor Footwear”

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