Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Maximize hiking comfort by knowing advantages of sole’s parts

The sole is the bottom of the boot and consists of four parts.
The hiking boot’s sole – the bottom part of the shoe between the ground and the foot – consists of a few different parts. Being aware of these different sections can help you choose the best hiking boot for your trail needs.

The sole consists of four parts:
g Outsole – The very bottom of the boot, this is the part of the sole that touches the ground. Typically, it is made of synthetic rubber, with thermoplastic polyurethane the most common material. The outsole has treads across it that allow you to maintain your footing on slippery and uneven terrain. The greater the tread's protruding section, also known as lugs, the more traction the boot offers.
g Shank – Between the outsole and the midsole (see below) is a stiff material, usually made of steel, hard plastic, or a composite material. The shank ensures the boot remains stiff and in doing provides torsional stability so that parts of the sole do no twist as pressure is applied to it during your footfalls. Shanks come in different lengths, usually half-length, three-quarters, or full-length.
g Midsole – This layer sits above the shank and serves as a shock absorber, particularly on rugged terrain. It can be made of several different materials. Should you hike a lot of rocky and uneven trails, compression-molded Ethyl Vinyl Acetate (EVA) offers the best shock absorption. Injection-molded EVA generally provides a more even shock absorption from toe to heel. If searching for more cushioning, flexibility or durability, boots with a polyurethane (PU) midsole is a good bet. Hikers who stick to easy trails and want lightweight shoes should opt for thermoplastic rubber (TPR).
g Insole – Also known as “footbeds,” these are the pads inside the boot that the sole of your foot stands upon. Besides cushioning your step, insoles provide arch support. The more an insole matches your foot shape, the more support and balance you’ll have when walking. If you need more arch support, you usually can remove the insole and replace it with an orthotic or a higher quality insert.

Learn about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.