hiking boots (that are mostly going to walk through city puddles)
May 5, 2014 9:35 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for "hiking boots" that realistically will be used mostly on city streets. I mostly care about walking on slick cement or tile (e.g., many subway stations, fancy lobbies) without slipping, and about stepping into puddles without soaking my socks. A few times a year I may also wear them on a spring or fall day hike, so I'd rather they weren't heavily insulated, but otherwise actual hiking should be a secondary consideration. What features should I look for, and where would be a good brick-and-mortar store in Manhattan to buy them? (I have funny-shaped feet, so I want to try out a few options without waiting multiple round trips for shipping. Also, helpful staff would be a plus.)
posted by d. z. wang to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Any well-stocked sporting goods store should have a good selection of hiking shoes/boots with non-slip soles. I think REI has shops in Manhattan.

Vibram is the name brand non-slip material, but there may be good generic brands these days.
posted by Phssthpok at 9:50 PM on May 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

You might want to look at hiking shoes, which are more like well constructed sneakers with good soles (like Vibram), rather than boots. They're generally less insulating and lighter, and have softer soles that offer better grip on slick streets. You can still find waterproof ones.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:31 PM on May 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'd just hit REI, and tell them your requirements.

If you're looking for something pretty, check out Blundstones. They're trendy in my little pocket of Ottawa.
posted by sebastienbailard at 11:41 PM on May 5, 2014

Even most hikers don't wear heavy hiking boots anymore, unless they're climbing Everest or something.

I wear trail-running shoes for both everyday city walking-around and hikes.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:48 PM on May 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

I have a pair of Columbia trail shoes that have a waterproof membrane but aren't too hot. Paragon Sports doesn't sell that brand, but does sell a lot of others as it has a good selection of outdoor and sports gear.
posted by AnnaRat at 1:58 AM on May 6, 2014

Sorry, in case it wasn't clear, Paragon Sports has an actual store just off Union Square.
posted by AnnaRat at 1:59 AM on May 6, 2014

I've had my eye on these for exactly the same reason, but haven't tried them on yet. They carry them at Paragon Sports at Union Square.
posted by spilon at 2:01 AM on May 6, 2014

Hiking boots versus hiking shoes (article explains the range from a hiking sandal to a heavy hiking boot). Some interesting comments on it too.
posted by rongorongo at 3:18 AM on May 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Since the actual hiking requirement is minimal, I would recommend a trip to Harry's Shoes. They have a really good selection of shoes and boots that they stock on the basis of "good for walking in New York," plus a really helpful and patient staff.
posted by Mchelly at 3:55 AM on May 6, 2014

Merrell's are very comfortable for ordinary wear, and will hold up just fine on hikes, too.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:32 AM on May 6, 2014

Are you set on boots, as opposed to just "sturdy-soled footwear with good traction and good weatherproof-ness"?

I agree with the trail running shoe recommendation. I am a huuuuge fan of Salomons, for basically the same reasons you want your shoes -- I live in an area where snow, slush and mud are often present, but mainly on city streets. There are many styles, including several that outright state their Gore-Tex usage, but anything with the CS (ClimaShield) and/or WP (waterproof) designation will be a step in the right direction. They also have some high-topped styles.

I have owned three pairs now and convinced my husband to buy his own. I recommend the XA Pro 3D Ultra or any of the XA Pros as a fantastic all-around shoe with a solid-but-not-overly-stiff base, which hiking boots will have (as well as the Synapse style, which I was not too fond of and sent back). I have also owned the XA Comp 5 which they don't seem to have (I think they were up to the Comp 7) but am now rocking a ClimaShield pair of Missions, which are their basic running shoe -- kind of the Air Pegasus of the bunch. But they still have a fairly stiff sole, as running shoes go.

These will protect you from snow/puddles (trust me) and give you a nice balance of cushion and stability so that when you pound that pavement, it's not actually pounding you back :)
posted by Madamina at 8:32 AM on May 6, 2014

I have a pair of Merrell light hikers that did great on a 3 month field expedition in rural Africa, and which are also my most comfortable (albeit not most fashionable) walking shoes. They're definitely boots, but not high boots. They're waterproof, lightweight, durable, and cost me I think $90. I got them by going to REI and telling them what I was looking for. I recommend you do the same.
posted by Scientist at 12:23 PM on May 6, 2014

In my experience, slippery tile, cement, commercial boat decks, etc, deep tread hiking boots/shoes are not your best bet. They are intended to sort of hook on to bumps in the terrain. On a flat slippery surface, you actually want a flatter sole that will kind of suction on to the surface.

If you really want to get serious about traction on smooth wet surfaces, I would suggest either XtraTUFs or Boggs commercial boots (not the fancy girlish rain boots). Both of these are made with commercial fishing in mind. I own pairs of both and they really do well in the wet and on ice.

May be more than what you are looking for but, hey, it's what I wear. And, yes, I regularly take take them on hiking trails in my wet climate.
posted by Foam Pants at 1:33 PM on May 6, 2014

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