Hikers love the thrill of a new trial, and that passion can lure us to the dunes. But shoes that shine on trails in the woods may not do well in the desert or on the beach. While the adventure is exciting, you need the best shoes for the dunes to comfortably protect your feet. Ideally, dune shoes should fit well, keep sand out, and prevent sweat and blisters.
Choosing high-quality footwear is one of the most essential aspects of outdoor trekking. However, in harsh desert environments and extreme weather conditions, you need to choose footwear that is both robust and breathable. Proper cushioning, breathable materials and ankle support ensure that your footwear can handle sandy terrain. Whether you are dune climbing, sand surfing, or simply taking a walk in the sand, with our list of the best chukka boots and desert hiking boots, we have researched and reviewed the best desert hiking boots on the market for you.
Wind causes the sand to accumulate in clumps, forming sand dunes. As more sand is deposited, small piles of sand develop into huge sand hills. They are often found in deserts. Dunes are sometimes formed of soft sand. Walking on sand becomes more difficult. Because sand piles are made up of many sand particles, they tend to collapse when force is applied with the feet. This is due to the weak reaction force of the sand.
The best shoes for desert walking should always be shoes that are comfortable to walk in. They should provide a good grip. Sand can be found in many places, including hot deserts and beaches. It is important to choose proper shoes so that there are no problems walking on hot desert sand or beach sand.
Some shoes are specially designed for walking on sand dunes. To balance the steps, these shoes should generate friction between the sand and the shoe. The shoes must be light and sturdy to prevent sand from getting into the soles. Our steps leave traces.
Walking in ordinary shoes or shoes with a weak grip will cause discomfort in the feet and make it difficult to move in the sand. To learn more about the best shoes for dunes, read here.
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Waterproofness And Breathability
You may think there is zero chance of rain in the desert, but we are talking about the Arizona Desert, not the Sahara Desert. It can also rain, and there is always the risk of falling into a puddle while hiking.
Waterproof (or at least waterproof) hiking boots will allow you to get the most out of your hike and keep your feet dry at all times.
However, it is not enough for shoes to keep water out. You don’t want your feet to get hot and, most importantly, sweaty while hiking. Sweaty feet increase the risk of blisters. Therefore, ventilation is also fundamental in desert hiking boots. Moisture and sweat will escape from the shoes, and your feet will actually stay dry during the hike.
Desert terrain is rugged and can be hard on your ankles and feet. Because of the rocky, sharp rocks and mostly dry terrain, boots need to provide ankle support to be comfortable.
The design of the boot and certain features make it more supportive than other boots. Ample ankle height, a cushioned midsole, a contoured heel for a snug fit, and overall construction will give you the support you need for desert hiking.
And the efficient lacing system allows you to lace up as tight/loose as you like in different locations to keep your feet warm and comfortable all day long.
Hiking in the desert can be tough, so you want a lightweight boot for hiking, especially when you add high temperatures to the equation. The upper should be made of synthetic leather or mesh material so as not to compromise breathability or waterproofness.
The sole should be sturdy but not too heavy, as too much weight will slow you down and tire you out faster than expected.
The desert is a varied and delicate surface, so the soles of the boots should also be carefully considered. You want the sole to be tough (Vibram is the best name) and have patterned lugs that grip aggressively and give stability and traction.
Mesh lining and the ability to keep sand, debris, and gravel out of the boots should always be a feature in your desert hiking boots. Any detail that keeps the boot snug around the ankle without compromising breathability and comfort will make the boot even more suitable for desert hiking.
Some hiking boots come with lined socks or gussets, but you need to make sure that the breathability is excellent. Sweaty feet are never a good thing when hiking, whether on the mountain or in the desert.
Advantages of Best Shoes For Desert Walking
Hiking in the dunes, where temperatures are high and the terrain unstable, is sure to tire the feet more quickly than other hikes. Therefore, when choosing shoes, it is always essential to look carefully at whether the shoes are up to the challenge.
It is not necessary to choose a highly cushioned shoe, as the dunes will often absorb shock. However, a fairly cushioned midsole and a well-shaped insole will propel and stabilize the foot.
As important as the function of the shoe is, the fit is just as important. For example, a well-fitting shoe not only provides comfort during a long ride, but also prevents the foot from slipping and, consequently, feeling tired. Therefore, choose well-fitting shoes to stabilize your feet.
Heavy hiking or backpacking shoes are not necessary when traveling in the sand. Rather, they will increase the resistance of the sandy terrain and tire you out faster. So ideally, you should choose boots or shoes that weigh less than 2 pounds apiece.
Breathable mesh or non-waterproof materials are helpful on sandy beaches, as the dunes can get hot. Breathable materials also prevent excessive perspiration, thus reducing the burden of blisters and cuts on the feet from prolonged activity on the dunes.
Boots that provide good ankle support are ideal for people who have suffered ankle sprains or repetitive motion injuries in the past. Medium-height boots not only provide stability over long distances, but also prevent sand from entering the boot. However, depending on your needs, a light, stretchy boot may be appropriate for shorter walks.
Is hiking in the sand desert different from other hikes?
Sand dune hiking, as the name implies, is a hike on sand like you would do on the beach. However, desert sand is more difficult to walk on than beach sand because of the shape of the dunes.
When hiking in desert sand, keep in mind that the sand is finer, so there is a greater chance of getting into your boots. But of course, you can hike in Arizona. The sand, the road surface, and everything is a little different.
Do I need special shoes to walk on the dunes?
It may come as a surprise, but walking on the dunes is quite difficult. You sink into the sand and a lot of sand slides down. Soon you will be sliding down with the sand. Trying to climb to the top of the dune requires a lot of effort. Remember that no matter how much you move, the slippery sand will try to get into your boots.
In general, walking on sand can be quite tiring, as it takes a lot of strength to resist the physical resistance of the sand. You will quickly develop blisters and poor stability. Only shoes that keep sand out and yet provide grip and stability are effective for hiking/walking in sandy deserts.
What is the biggest problem with hiking in the desert?
While not the only problem, one of the biggest and most unusual problems is the sand that constantly tries to get into your boots; you don’t want to stop every hour to take them out of the trunk, and you don’t want to be stuck in the sand, either. At the same time, you don’t want to leave them in because they rub against your skin and cause blisters.
Many hiking boots have a gusset or liner between the tongue and the body to block the sand inside.
Should I always use gaiters when hiking in the desert?
Gaiters are boot covers that provide sand protection for your shoes. They are very useful for those planning day hikes.
What is the best sock for desert hiking boots?
If you’re hiking for any length of time, you know that any hiking boots will never be reliable if you use the wrong pair of socks. Despite what you may think, wool socks are the best choice for desert hiking. They may be a little thicker or warmer, but they absorb sweat more effectively than other socks.
In addition, wool socks are an excellent accessory for reducing the risk of blisters. Always pair your hiking boots with a nice pair of wool socks, especially merino wool.
When walking in the desert , you need shoes that are appropriate for the type of sand. Even wet sand is not much fun if it gets caught between your toes (of course, dolphins don’t have to worry about that). Whether you like dry dunes or wet dunes, we hope you find the best shoes for desert walking.