I want to start looking for the footwear for my next world hitchhiking trip.

On my last two trips I got name brand hiking shoes (Kathmandu and Merrell) but the soles wore out before each trip was up.

I'm not asking for specific brands or models, just what kinds of materials, specs, or characteristics to look for. (Though "durable soles" is not an easy trait to Google for.)

I will only take one pair of shoes. As a hitchhiker I can cover up to 30 km in a day carrying 15kg or more. Hiking shoes are designed for use mostly on natural surfaces and use on asphalt and concrete causes them to wear more quickly.

I used to wear normal sneakers/trainers but moved up to hiking shoes for the extra support for the times I was on rougher terrain with a backpack where I'd injured tendons before.

Is there even a class of footwear suitable for my needs?

  • 3
    This question would fit on The Great Outdoors. They have several questions on the topic, although I have not seen a duplicate. See for instance this one: outdoors.stackexchange.com/q/8848/15142 Some of the guys and girls over there have much experience in giving hiking boots a hard life.
    – Willeke
    Jun 30, 2018 at 9:37
  • I would suggest moving "urban" into the question proper. Reading the title I assumed you're going to walk on paved roads, but after reading the question I'm not so sure anymore. I don't think that the "outdoors" people deals a lot with cities.
    – pipe
    Jun 30, 2018 at 10:00
  • @Willeke: I don't think so since I'll be mostly on paved roads. But I'll have a look ... Jun 30, 2018 at 10:27
  • @pipe: I went with "urban" in the title as a shorthand for the longer description of "asphalt and concrete" in the question body. I'll be mainly but not only on paved roads but I don't want to carry one pair of shoes for paved roads and another pair for other situations. Jun 30, 2018 at 10:29
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    I've had more luck with wear on cheaper Hi-Tec than more expensive KSB shoes (I tend to wear approach shoes as casual trainers as they're waterproof). Jul 2, 2018 at 10:50

2 Answers 2


Well, I am really biased for this question:

German Meindl shoes.

I am wearing them exclusively and you can send them back to repair them and get even a new sole. One pair I owned hold 15 years (!), they are nearly indestructible with good care.

Meindl separates shoes in categories, the higher (A->Z), the sturdier and more robust, but also heavier.

  • A: No shaft, relatively thin soles: free time, walking, traveling. Urban areas, parks, good ways.

  • A|B: More robust version of A: Walkings in mountainous terrain, but still on good paths. Signed walking ways. Almost as light as A.

  • B: Shaft and soles with grip: Walk more challenging trips and on bad ways.

  • B|C: Trekking shoes. Allows very challenging walking routes even in high mountains. Walk on bad ways, ways with pebbles and easier climbing routes.

  • C: High mountain shoes. Climbing will now be assumed, it allows climbing irons.

  • D: Himalaya and South Pole. No ways anymore, but overhanging routes, glaciers, ice curtains and extreme cold.

Essentially if you only do light hiking, you can use A or A|B. You can always chose a higher level, but the shoes get more and more heavy, so the best option is choosing a shoe which is good for the trail you use and then choose the lightest shoe.

  • What does "A or A|B" mean? Jul 1, 2018 at 16:24
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    @hippietrail Added the explanation. Perhaps A is a bit too low, but A\B or even B should do the trick. Jul 1, 2018 at 23:31

Basically you want good support, a sturdy sole and cushioning. As long as you are not going to tackle difficult terrain, a cross-training running shoe can probably do it. My first pair of Nike lasted me over 10 years including carrying an 80L backpack, with roughly 25kg of stuff in it, for months at a time.

After that pair was done, I switch to something even more durable, a hiking shoe with a subtle look so that I can wear that one exclusively in cities too since I also do not carry an extra shoes. The new ones are from Salomon. This is the second pair I got, after the first one lasted 8 years. I particularly liked the internal laces which means nothing is dangling or gets untied even after extensive walking. On my last trip I averaged 18km/day for 86 days without a noticeable increase in wear.

  • Hmm I wore through the soles on both the Kathmandus and the Merrells after about nine to ten months. I weigh between 85 to 100 kg and packs probably never over 20kg really. I don't know if that's a high weight that causes them to wear out so fast? Jul 3, 2018 at 17:58
  • @hippietrail it also depends on how you walk, your posture, the shape of your feet, etc.
    – JoErNanO
    Jul 3, 2018 at 21:54
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    Interesting. Not sure what could account for the difference since me plus my backpack area about the same weight as you and yours.
    – Itai
    Jul 4, 2018 at 1:36
  • @Itai: Amount of walking? Type of surface walked on carrying full weight? Jul 10, 2018 at 5:39
  • Average 18km/day` About 55% paved roads, 30% dirt track, 10% sand and 5% cobblestone. Rough estimate. Full load mosty on paved roads.
    – Itai
    Jul 10, 2018 at 13:10

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