When preparing for a backpacking trip, footwear will be one of the most important gear decisions you’ll make. Blisters, strained muscles, and scrunched toes can quickly ruin any backpacking trip, so this is an area where testing and experience go a long way.
At CleverHiker, we almost always backpack in lightweight trail runners for our spring, summer, and fall trips. They keep our feet nimble, minimize blisters, dry quickly, offer excellent traction, and don’t exhaust our legs over long days of hiking. They also don’t require a break-in period and typically last about 500-700 trail miles.
That said, footwear is a highly personal choice, so we recommend finding what will work best for you. Below we discuss the critical considerations for purchasing hiking footwear and recommend our top choices for trail runners, hiking shoes, and hiking boots.
Saucony Peregrine ISO
WEIGHT: 1 lb. 5 oz (pair)
We’ve been hiking with Saucony Peregrines for years now and they’ve remained at the top of our list for good reason. In 2019, Saucony released the new Peregrine ISO (men’s and women’s) as the successor to the Peregrine 8. The ISO retains of the qualities we love in the Peregrine- lightweight, incredible traction, comfort, and quick dry times – and somehow made them even better. One of the most notable upgrades is the ISOFIT system, which is essentially a sock-like upper that morphs to your foot as you lace, providing a more comfortable and customizable fit. The Peregrine ISOs are a well-rounded lightweight trail runner that will keep your feet happy on the trail all day long.
Altra Lone Peak 4
WEIGHT: 1 lb. 3 oz. (pair)
The Altra Lone Peak 4 (men’s and women’s) are incredibly popular trail runners in the lightweight backpacking community. They’re lightweight, comfortable, and feature a very roomy “foot shaped” toe box. The Lone Peaks have a cushy sole, dry quickly, and have great traction for rugged mountain terrain. Altras are built with a zero-drop build, meaning the heel and ball of your foot will be the same distance from the ground (more on this below). Altras have a unique look and fit due to their wide toe box, but as far as functionality goes, they’re at the top of the list for trail runners.