Anatomy of a Trekking Shoe

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Trekking Boots or Trekking shoes like most trekking gear are very technical in nature. Brands use countless years of experience and feedback in improving their gear.

The manufacturing process of shoes is similar across brands.

But the features and fabrics included in the construction of the shoe can vary a lot.

Who the shoe is meant for and the final price will decide the quality and type of materia


parts of a trekking shoe
Image credits: Thewirecutter

Parts of a Trekking Shoe

1. Sole

Probably the most important part of a shoe.

The sole of the shoe is what protects the sole of your feet from hard surfaces on the trail. It provides shock absorption and grip. The sole is made of different rubber compounds. Vibrams are considered the world leader in outsole technology. The pattern on the sole should have deep lugs. Shoes with deeper lugs provide more grip on loose soil than ones without. Look for shoes with a ‘Heel Brake”. This is where the heel is slightly larger than the part below your toes. There is a gap below the arch of your feet and this helps provide extra grip while descending.

An ideal sole is one that is strong enough to protect your feet but flexible enough to keep you agile. A thick boxy sole will reduce your agility and tire you out faster.

trekking shoes outer sole
Image Credits

2. Mid-sole

The midsole is what your feet rest on. This layer provides more padding and shock absorption for your feet. The mid-sole is what provides comfort for your feet.

3. Insoles

Some shoes come with foam insoles but these tend to get compressed over time. You can also buy extra insoles for your shoes if that’s something you like.

Anyone requiring arch support can buy specialised insoles that offer arch support.

4. Upper

The upper is any part of the shoe above the sole. The upper is responsible for holding your feet in place. It also protects your feet from scratches, repels water and supports your ankles from twists and turns.

 The upper should be strong enough to protect your feet from the elements but also breathable. The upper is usually made from leather or synthetic fabrics.

5. Inner

The inner is the part on the inside of the shoe. Brands use different types of padding to make the shoe comfortable. If a brand makes a waterproof shoe, it is probably using a GORE-TEX membrane. Gore-tex membrane sits on the inside of the shoe and makes the shoe waterproof.

6. Tongue

A shoe tongue is a strip of material, either leather or a synthetic fabric located under the laces of a shoe. The tongue sits on the top center part of the shoe. Tongues are found on any shoe with laces. The tongue like on any shoe is there to make the shoe sit snuggly and wrap around your feet.

7. Lacing

Manufacturers use different styles of lacing based on their design principles


Punched eyelets: These are seen in the first two to three rows of eyelets near your toes. These are holes with grommets through which the lace is inserted.


Fabric Loop: These are another style of eyelets where tough fabric loops are stitched into the shoe through which the lace is inserted.


D-Rings: These might be used in the middle rows of the eyelets as an alternative to fabric loops.

D-Loops are metal D shaped eyelets that are riveted onto the shoe. Some experts are of the opinion that tends to add pressure points on the feet.


Hooks: Backward facing hooks are used on the topmost layers of the eyelets around the ankle. They help hold the shoe around the ankle without adding pressure points.


8. Toe Guard

Every good shoe will come with a sturdy tow guard. The toe guard will protect your toes during ascents and descents from the rough terrain. Anyone who has gone on a tough hike without a toe guard will tell you that it was the most painful experience in their lives.

Protip: Always cut your nails before your treks. If your toes start banging the shoe while trekking, your nails would break and that’s not a situation you want to be in on a trek. 

Construction Method of Trekking Shoes

1. Norwegian Welt method

In this method, the mid is glued to the upper and the upper and the outer are sewed together. Most western leather trekking shoe manufacturers use this method. The bond is usually super strong and the preferred choice when the requirement is to ensure the outer will not split from the upper. The only drawback is that it tends to make the outer sole very rigid.

2. Strobel Construction

This method is the preferred choice of construction for most modern synthetic outer shoe manufacturers. In this process, the upper, mid and outer is glued together and exposed to high heat, to weld all the parts together. This process tends to keep the outer sole more flexible giving the trekker agility.

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