Feeling out Footwear

When hiking through historical sites and along Hadrian’s wall, wearing appropriate footwear is essential. With this in mind, I picked the brains of my fellow field-schoolers along with our TA and our profs to see why they chose the shoes they wear.

Because the right shoe can make or break an experience, I’ve taken this opportunity to take a look at the hiking footwear chosen by current field schoolers.

As far as basic necessity in any good shoe for field school, I have developed the following list:

  • Sturdy and well built – you’ll want something that will hold up to all the kilometres you trek
  • Ankle support – always a good idea for uneven terrain
  • Waterproof – a MUST with all the rain seen in Northern England
  • Comfortable – if you’re spending all day in one pair of shoes, you’ll want them to feel good while you’re wearing them
  • A sole with a good tread – you’ll want them to hold up along the rainy/rocky/uneven terrain you’ll come across
  • A proper fit – none of these things are going to be very handy if your toes are jammed into a size too small or if your feet are sliding around in a pair of shoes that are too big

There are some things that are definitely not required, but can be achieved depending on what you’re looking for in your footwear. This includes

  • Impeccable style – such as Aline’s shoes
  • Colour co-ordination – such as my shoe/backpack coordination

For all those who might be considering a hiking boot purchase, I’m going to briefly break down a few of the boots brought by field schoolers and what they like about them.

Victoria Boerner’s BootsThese Columbia shoes meet all the basic necessities in a heavy-duty hiking boot with a classic and stylish workboot look. With the bright red laces these shoes have a pop of colour in addition to comfort, and durability.

Holly Gojmerac’s Runners For those (rare) sunny days with no worries about heavy rain, a lightweight runner such as this offers comfort and quality but is less heavy than a hiking boot.

Cassandra Phang-Lyn’s Runners

These Columbia runners are a favourite of Cassandra, and have held up to a previous trip through the terrain of Greece. For a light weight, durable, and waterproof option, these runners check all the boxes.

Prem Sai Ramani’s HikersAccording to Prem, these are his absolute favourite hiking shoes. They are stylish, strong, waterproof, and with the higher top they also offer extra ankle support.

Aline McQueen’s BootsThe boots with the highest top and also most stylish (in my opinion) among the group. With the height and quality, these boots offer fantastic ankle support, durability, and these are also waterproof. These ones here are by Palladium and were originally designed for the French Foreign Legion and use military-grade waterproof canvas.

My Hiking Boots

I searched high and low for these bad boys. Luckily Mountain Warehouse offers a great selection of youth shoes, for anyone who, like me, has teeny tiny feet. Not only are the colours nice, but the tops are high enough to offer good ankle support in addition to a durable design that utilizes waterproof material. If anyone else out there has small feet, do not be afraid to check out the youth section of an outdoor store to see what’s there. It’s better to get a little adventurous while shopping than to buy a pair that doesn’t fit right.

Of course there are many shoes out there and there are multiple options to fit various needs, but I wanted to give insight into what us field schoolers have brought with us. My hopes is that as this program continues, future field schoolers and other travellers and hikers can look to this blog to get an idea of what works for us here.

Keep in mind that this blog entry has focused on hiking footwear. Those who follow the blog will already know that when we are digging in trenches, there is a whole second set of footwear. There we are all outfitted with our wonderful wellies! These are waterproof, durable, provide good traction, and are fitted with steel toes to protect against accidents. If you haven’t heard about our Wellington’s, check out a previous blog post.

Bye for now,


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