How To Choose The Best Trekking Shoes In India – The Ultimate Trekking Shoe Guide 2021

Trekking shoes play a huge role on a trek. A good pair – be it Quechua trekking shoes or shoes from Woodland – can feel like an extension of your feet. Similarly, an ill-fitting pair with thoughtless design can slow you down and even halt your trek. So, how do you choose the best trekking shoes in India?

Different shoes are suitable for different kinds of treks. Does that mean snow trekking shoes can only be used on snow? Not really. The best trekking shoes are versatile. They work well in all kinds of weather conditions.

This brings us to the next question – which are the best trekking shoes in India? And how do you make this choice?

Many trekkers write to us asking about – what trekking shoes to buy?

And because this is a crucial choice, we have put together a complete guide which covers all topics, right from how to buy trekking shoes, 5 Best Trekking Shoes In India to reviews and how to maintain them.

So, if you’re looking for information on trekking shoes, search no more. This guide is everything you need to know about how to choose the best.


Here are the broad topics we will cover in this blog.

1. How to choose the best trekking shoes in India (Skip to Section)
2. What are the types of trekking shoes available (Skip to Section)
3. Trekking Shoes For Women (Skip to Section)
4. Best trekking shoes in India (Skip to Section)
5. Best budget trekking shoes under INR 4000 (Skip to Section)
6. How to clean and store your trekking shoes (Skip to Section)


How To Choose The Best Trekking Shoes in India


You need to look at 5 things while choosing your trekking shoes:

1. Check for good grip in the trekking shoe

The best way to recognize a trekking shoe with good grip is to look at the grooves. They will be deep. A shoe with good grip will have mud, slush, dirt getting stuck in its grooves. That’s a sign of deep grooves that’s gripping on the mud. Make sure your shoes have deep grooves and good grip.

Budget-Trekking-Shoes-Good-Grip-Indiahikes


2. Look for softness and flexibility of shoe sole

You will be walking on different kinds of terrain and your shoes need to adapt to it. A soft and flexible sole is great at doing this. But how do you check for that?

Take a hard, metallic object, say a key and just tap on the sole. Listen to the noise it makes. A soft sole makes a dull sound. If you hear a sharp sound, know that it’s too hard and such a sole will not work on a trek.

Budget-Trekking-Shoes-Soft-Sole-Indiahikes


3. Go for ankle support in the trekking shoe

A lot of running shoes and sports shoes come with a lot of flexibility and good grip. But what they lack is ankle support. In the Himalayas you will be walking on rough terrain. You will be climbing up and down and your ankle is prone to twisting in unusual angles. And that’s when your trek can end. And you don’t really want that to happen. To prevent this, you need good ankle support and make sure your trekking shoes provide good ankle support.

Budget-Trekking-Shoes-Ankle-Support-Indiahikes


4. Choose Snug-fit shoe

Always test the shoes for the right fit. Ideally, you should buy trekking shoes one size larger than your normal size. Without the extra space, you’d develop shoe bites due to the constant rubbing of the toe against the shoe wall and it gives you extra room for your woolen socks (especially for the winter treks).

A shoe which is a size larger than your normal size will protect you from shoe bites and will give your feet enough space to breathe.

Budget-Trekking-Shoes-Snug-Fit-Indiahikes


5. Water Resistance is crucial

A Himalayan Trek or a Monsoon Trek in the Ghats require water-resistant shoes. This is because trekkers will be trekking through snow, rain, water bodies or other regions where your feet can get wet. If your shoe is not water-resistant, chances are that you will develop shoe bites or some form of calluses owing to wet feet. Additionally, it’s uncomfortable to trek long distances in wet socks and flooded shoes.

Therefore, it’s best to buy shoes which are water-resistant (remember you want water-resistant shoes and not water-proof shoes).

An added layer of leather or resin will really help. It ensures that when you step into a puddle for 3-4 seconds, your shoe does not get wet or water doesn’t seep in. So, water-resistance is important.

Budget-Trekking-Shoes-Water-Resistance-Indiahikes

| Note: Make sure it’s not water proof because your feet won’t be able to breathe in a water-proof shoes. And it will get sweaty and stinky. There’s a chance your trek mates will not let you inside the tent if your feet are stinking 🙂

Also, wear your shoes for about two weeks or so to break them in.


| In 2011, Founder of Indiahikes, Arjun Majumdar, had shared a video on similar lines from the Rupin Pass trek. You may view it here:


Types Of Trekking Shoes

1. Hiking Shoes

These are similar to sports shoes, but with stronger grip. They are also more robust.

  Where are they used:
These are lightweight shoes that have flexible soles. They are ideal for short treks when you don’t have to carry heavy loads on your back. You may use them for the following treks:

  • Day/Weekend treks
  • Treks in warm weather
  • Treks on dry terrain (not suitable for rainy season)

Features To Watch out for:

  • Light and flexible soles
  • Snug fit
  • Average grip
  • Easy to wear and remove

Recommended brands:
Some of the popular and recommended hiking shoe brands are Forclaz Fresh, Arpenaz Flex series, Salomon, Woodland and Weinbrenner low ankle series.


2. Trekking Shoes

Trekking shoes are a grade above hiking shoes. They are usually shoes with good ankle support:

Where are they used:
These shoes are made for trekking in various seasons and for trekking in different gradients. They are ideal for

  • Longer treks, usually week-long treks
  • Treks that involve carrying 7kg+ backpacks
  • Good for trekking in snow and rain.
  • Moderately water-resistant

Features To Watch out for:

  • Water resistance: The upper part of the trek boots is usually made of leather, suede or a synthetic material like Gore-tex (GTX) or Nova Dry
  • Deep grooves: This ensures a strong grip.
  • Ankle support: This saves you from painful ankle twists on uneven trails. But this also makes it heavier. And you need to get used to wearing it – breaking in – a couple of weeks before your trek starts.

Recommended brands:
Some of the popular and recommended brands are Forclaz, Quechua, Salomon. They are generally priced between Rs 3000 to 8000.


3. Mountaineering Boots

Expedition boots or Mountaineering boots aren’t required on usual treks. Or for any of the treks that Indiahikes is presently running.

Where are they used:
Mountaineering boots are needed on ice, rocks, crevasses, glaciers. They are crafted to grip these lofty surfaces.

Features To Watch out for:

  • Thick soles with aggressive out-soles
  • Robust fabric on the outside
  • In-sole padding to cushion the foot
  • Ankle support
  • Supports crampons

Recommended brands:
These boots are more expensive, with prices starting upwards of Rs.10,000. Some of the popular and recommended expedition boots are Forclaz 900 and Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX. Other brands such as Merrell, Scarpa, Keen and La Sportiva can be considered, but are not easily available in India.


4. Trekking Shoes For Women

Trekking shoe manufacturing companies are coming up with special trekking shoes that are designed for women’s feet.

Where are they used:

The heel-to-ball length, as well as the width of in-step and heel is larger for men. So, shoe companies began designing a slimmer shoe that cater specifically to women’s feet.

Features To Watch Out For:

  • Slimmer shape
  • Special material at the in-sole and mid-sole for Q-angle
  • Snug-fit

Recommended Brands: Some great shoes under this category are Trek 100 and MH100 for women by Decathlon. Apart from that, you may opt for Merrell Women’s Moab 2 Mid Ventilator and Salomon X ULTRA 3 GTX W

Here’s a video that talks about the difference between Trekking Shoes and Sports Shoes, and which one is right for your trek:


List Of Best Trekking Shoes In India

Trekker’s Choice: Top 5 Trekking Shoes Recommended By Trekkers

(As per Indiahikes Instagram Survey) 

Talking about the top choice, a representative of Decathlon confirmed that Forclaz Trek 100 is their highest selling product and now they are aiming to come out with a new variant.

Forclaz 500 High/Trek 100: Excellent Hiking Shoes For Rough Himalayan Terrain

“We are introducing Trek 100 Textile boots in India. It is a beginner trekker boots focused mostly on the comfort of the trekker and is eco-friendly, which is made up of 100% natural rubber outsole. It also has 100% recycled outer and black lining is dope dyed, reducing water consumption and CO2 emission during the process.
PU Midsole is used for cushioning to provide comfort for several day’s treks. Trek 100 Textile also has a waterproof membrane and is tested with 30,000 flexes of waterproofing,” says Karim Zameziati – Product Manager (Mountain Trekking Boots) Decathlon.

And coming to a variety close to the fifth option – Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX – we think it is great for seasoned trekkers. We have reviewed it here:

Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX: All-Terrain Hiking Shoes for Seasoned Trekkers

From The Trek Leaders’ Cabinet

Salomon X ULTRA 3 GTX W
Trek Leader Ayushi who likes the grip of the shoes especially while descends. The shoes also have a snug fit which minimizes fatigue. She especially likes the Gore-Tex in the shoes which keep her feet dry inside the shoes.

Salomon X ULTRA 3 MID-GTX
Trek Leader Nitesh swears by this model because it was his first-ever trek shoe after years of trekking in canvas and running shoe. “I used it for 2 years, 30 treks. And I still love it because it’s too light in weight. The traction is also first-rate with any surface and it is highly durable with rough condition,” he says.

Top 6 Budget Trekking Shoes In India Under INR 4,000

Here’s a list of trekking shoes that our trekkers swear by! We know because we conducted a survey and listed the top trekking shoes that showed up in the responses. But before we get to the list, here are two things you must keep in mind:

  • These are shoes that have been recommended by trekkers who have used them.
  • Most of these shoes are perfectly suited for local treks and easy-moderate Himalayan treks like Kedarkantha and Dayara Bugyal. But for a very long, difficult Himalayan trek, I would choose wisely out of these.

The list at a glance:

  1. Quechua NH100 Hiking / Trekking Shoes
  2. NH150 Trekking Shoes from Quechua
  3. Quechua MH100 Trekking Shoes
  4. Wildcraft Hypagrip Trekking Shoes
  5. Campus Sports Hiking Shoes by Action
  6. Woodland Trekking Shoes

1. Quechua NH100 Trekking Shoes

They’re perfectly fine for trekking in the Western Ghats though. They have ankle support and are pretty sturdy. But they don’t have any water resistance. So you cannot use them for trekking in snow or rain. They are good shoes for light and mostly dry hikes.

Budget-Trekking-Shoes-Indiahikes

Trekking Shoes Review: “Pros: (1) High quality build. (2) Abuse friendly, can take rough usage with a lot of ease. (2) Good traction/grip. (3) Pocket friendly price. (4) Comfortable wear. Cons: (1) Not water resistant. (2) Not suitable slippery ice-trek trails.” – Zulfi


2. Quechua NH150 Trekking Shoes

This is a grade higher than the NH100 because it is water-resistant. It can last up to 2 hours in water as it has a water-resistant coating and a water-proof membrane.

It has a good Cross Contact sole with mid-ankle support. This one is suitable even for Himalayan treks, but not for very difficult terrain like Pin Bhaba Pass or Kanamo Peak.

Budget-Trekking-Shoes-Indiahikes

Trekking Shoes Review: “The shoes are comfortable, dry off easily and provide great grip even on wet, slippery stones. Great shoes for the given price point” – Vashisht


2. Quechua MH100 Trekking Shoes

This is another shoe that is branded as a hiking shoe. It falls within a good budget and ticks all the right boxes — the sole has good grip, it has ankle support, a flexible sole and water resistance.

For most of our easy, moderate and even moderate-difficult Himalayan treks like Rupin Pass, these shoes will work. They are slightly on the higher end of budget trekking shoes though, costing around Rs 3,500.

Budget-Trekking-Shoes-Indiahikes

Trekking Shoes Review: “I have used the shoes on several Sahyadri treks in winters and rainy as well and also used them at Buran Ghati in snow as well. It’s been almost a year since I bought it, and these shoes are in great condition. They are helpful in all kind of terrain, also they are zero maintenance, and easily washable.” – Raj Shah


4. Wildcraft Hypagrip Trekking Shoes

Surprisingly, Wildcraft also has a list of “budget” trekking shoes. They are never known to be “budget” anything. And there is a loophole too.

These shoes cost Rs 2,500 on portals like Flipkart, but they are well over that (~ Rs 4,000) on the official site. So getting this at a budget price depends on your luck.

The shoes, on the other hand, are pretty decent for Himalayan treks. They score high in the traction department. But certain reviews suggest the water-resistance is very basic. So we wouldn’t recommend it for a monsoon trek. If you’re an occasional trekker, these shoes would suit you.

Budget-Trekking-Shoes-Indiahikes

Trekking Shoes Review: “It worked pretty well during my Sandakphu trek!! But I cant say whether it will last long or not as I used that only for one trek and also haven’t used it in snow.” – Utpal Gogoi


5. Campus Sports Hiking Shoes by Action

20% of our trekkers recommended this shoe and it costs less than Rs 1000. What an absolute steal! The trick is to buy this offline, or you may have to spend a long time finding the right shoe online.

This is not your ideal shoe for Himalayan treks. It has no ankle support, and is not meant for rough terrain with long hours of trekking everyday.

But it works beautifully for treks in the Western Ghats, and can even survive a light shower. From Indiahikes, Saurabh Sawant, who treks extensively in the Sahyadris and has been using it for a long time, even in rain. His only issue is that it gets a bit heavy when it gets wet and takes a long time to dry.

Budget-Trekking-Shoes-Indiahikes

Trekking Shoes Review: “These are the perfect budget trekking shoes. Used them in rock, scree, snow, rain, grass. They have both low and high ankle versions, and I use the high ankle one. Their only pitfall is they’re not waterproof, but it doesn’t get more value for money in terms of trekking shoes than this.” – Saini Krishnamurthy


6. Woodland Trekking Shoes

These shoes are sturdy and durable as any trekking shoe, but have the same issue as most Woodland shoes — they are heavier than other brands’ trekking shoes, and also don’t work well in rain. And at around Rs 3,500, they aren’t too budget-friendly.

Budget-Trekking-Shoes-Indiahikes

But this review brought it under the spotlight.

Trekking Shoes Review: “Contrary to popular opinion about woodland shoes, I found these shoes to be an excellent fit, utility and buy and they are affordable too. These shoes give an excellent grip on snow, gravel and boulders..they are lightweight, have good ankle support and are pretty durable as well..I have been using them for the last three years, though I have done only about 6 treks, I have used them extensively for my workouts including running.” – Abhishek Vaddadi


| Bonus Review:

Forclaz 500 Warm: Pocket-friendly Hiking Shoes for all Weather Conditions

Note: If you have used any of these budget trekking shoes or other than the ones recommended above, share your experience here:


This chart will give you an overall idea of what trekkers are opting for:Brand-Preference-Shoe-Chart-Indiahikes

Rent Himalayan Trekking Shoes

With all options on the table, you see that even budget trekking shoes aren’t inexpensive. But if you wish to be economical with your trekking budget (which we suggest you should be!), then rent trekking shoes instead of buying them. This way, you get to use shoes worth Rs 4000 by paying just Rs 690 for them. Think about it.

The money you save can then be spent on other things – like travel, or your next trek!

How We Clean And Maintain Our Rental Shoes At Indiahikes

If you’re trekking with Indiahikes, you can rent gear from us, by clicking here.


How To Clean And Maintain Your Trekking Shoes

Buying trekking shoes is expensive. So if you buy a pair, make sure to maintain it well. And here are 5 things you must do to keep your trekking sure in good shape after a grueling trek:

1. Cleaning
2. Drying
3. Treating
4. Repairing
5. Storing

1. How To Clean Your Trekking Shoes:

Thumb Rule is to clean your trekking shoes every time you return from a trek.

Don’t leave them dirty. The accumulation of mud and grime on the upper fabric of the trekking shoes adversely affects the waterproofing. This reduces the breathable nature of your boot. So, always clean your shoes after a trek to remove dirt residues.

Steps to cleaning your trekking shoes:

You need – A soft brush (an old toothbrush works well) or sponge and lukewarm water.

Steps:

  1. Before cleaning the uppers, bang the soles of your shoes against each other in order to get rid of any remaining dust and mud. 
  2. Then, lightly soak the brush in water and clean the exteriors to remove all dirt stains.
  3. Use lukewarm water, a soft toothbrush to scrub out the outer dirt from trekking shoes.

2. How To Keep Your Trekking Shoes Dry:

It’s evident that you need to dry your shoes after cleaning them. But even if you skip cleaning, you still should not skip drying your shoes.

Trekking shoes get exposed to a lot of moisture, like sweat, rain. So, it’s necessary to dry your shoes before storing them. Storing damp or wet shoes causes mould growth and it can affect the quality of its breathability. So, let your trekking shoes air dry for at least 24 hours.

Steps to dry your trekking shoes:

  1. Remove the insole and undo the laces so that the shoes can breathe and dry faster. 
  2. Leave the shoes to dry at room temperature. 
  3. Don’t expose the shoes to a direct source of heat like fire, dryers, blow dryers or direct sun because this could crack them up and damage the waterproofing. It may lead to discolouration and weakening of adhesives as well, or premature aging in leather shoes. 
  4. Instead, leave your shoes under a fan to dry.

3. Waterproofing Your Trekking Shoes:

With usage, a lot of shoes lose their waterproofing ability. This feature is restored using sprays that aid water in slipping off easily without entering the shoe. After cleaning and drying, you may treat your shoes with re-waterproofing sprays to maintain their water-resistance. You will find re-waterproofing sprays and greases in all major online stores or market sports stores.

| Note: None of the treatments promise fool-proof water-resistance.

How To Use Re-Waterproofing Sprays On Trekking Shoes:

The treatment is required only once or twice a year.

  1. Follow the standard application rules written on such sprays. 
  2. Spray the product evenly all over your shoe. Pay more attention to the seam and joints areas, since most of the water enters from here. 
  3. Leave them for a full day to dry and absorb the spray. Caution: Don’t try to increase the speed of drying by using an external heat source (hairdryers, sun, etc)

How To Use Re-Waterproofing Grease On Trekking Shoes:

This product is specifically applied to leather boots to prevent premature aging, cracking of the leather by making it water repellant.

Contrary to popular belief it does not diminish the shoe’s breathability. It can also be used on membrane-type shoes. You may follow the above steps. But instead of spraying, apply the grease using a cloth.

4. Repairing:

Inspect your trekking shoes after you get back from the trek. Check for any loose stitch or a torn inner sole. And get it repaired before your next trek.

A damaged trekking shoe can lead to blisters and loss of balance on a trek. So, do not take this risk and keep your trekking shoes in good shape.

Tip: Here’s a video on how to fix your trekking shoe if the sole comes off.


5. How To Store Your Trekking Shoes:

Keep the following pointers in mind:

  1. Always make sure that your shoes are perfectly dry before storing them. 
  2. Store them in a dry and well-ventilated area out of direct sunlight. 
  3. If you do not plan to use them for a long period of time, stuff them with newspaper so that they keep their shape. You can also put dehumidifiers like tea-bags and silica gels to keep the shoe odour-free.

Bonus Tip: Here’s a video on the topic that is often overlooked by most trekkers, How to tie your shoelaces so that they don’t come off?


Conclusion

Trekking shoes can indeed make or break your trek. This is why we put together this extensive guide of information collected over the years.

Now, you need not repeat the cliched mistakes while selecting a trekking shoe.

If you have any questions, thoughts or recommendations on budget trekking shoes, which trekking shoe to purchase or how to take care of your trekking shoes, please drop them in the comments below and someone from the Indiahikes team will address them.

Vaibhav Chauhan

Vaibhav Chauhan

Vaibhav was associated with Indiahikes as a Writer & Chief Explorer. He is an avid traveler with a passion for trekking in Indian Himalayas. With his roots in Shimla district of Himachal Pradesh, the love for the mountains is in his blood. When not travelling he likes to spend time interacting with like-minded trek enthusiasts and read books on travel and mountaineering.