Ask Me: The Best Hiking Shoes For Zion’s Angels Landing
My wife and I really enjoy your website and excellent gear reviews. Thank you! We are headed to Zion National Park in September and looking for footwear for the Angels Landing hike. Can you recommend approach/hiking shoes that won’t wear our feet out on the way up and provide great traction for that last half-mile up the narrow spine to the summit? I would consider a mid-cut for ankle support if they were light enough, otherwise low-cut is fine.
We spoke last year regarding a backpacking trip to Paintbrush Divide (in Grand Teton National Park). After getting our gear and permits organized, we had to unfortunately cancel due to severe weather that weekend in July. However, we did dayhike 3,000 feet up to The Deck behind Teton Village via the Wild Flower Trail. Then we got a 6 a.m. start one day to find ourselves alone at Delta Lake for about 30 minutes until just a few people showed up. That hike and the destination were outstanding!
Thanks for following my blog. Congrats on your plans to hike in Zion, including Angels Landing, which (as you may have seen) I listed among my favorite national park dayhikes. It’s really one of a kind.
You ask a good question, because I think the kind of shoes that are ideal for hiking Angels are the kind I like for most dayhiking, from the trails and rocky peaks of the West to humid summer days on the steep, rugged trails of New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Those are, basically, shoes that are supportive enough for carrying 10 to 20 pounds in a daypack, but with good forefoot flex for natural striding without fatiguing your feet—and very important, with an outsole that delivers great traction when hiking or scrambling on rock, scree, or dirt. I wish more shoe and boot makers put a sticky, multi-use outsole on shoes, I think it just makes sense. Even though the softer rubber that provides good grip on rock can wear out somewhat faster, lightweight dayhiking shoes have a shorter lifespan than heavier boots, anyway.
The footwear I’ll recommend to you would make sense for a lot of the dayhiking most people do. Some of these shoes are waterproof-breathable, others are not, and whether you want that or not is more of a personal preference that depends on where you hike and whether you typically wait for sunny weather.
Scroll through the menu of reviews of approach shoes at thebigoutside.com/tag/approach-shoes-reviews. These are all excellent models with slightly different strengths and weaknesses and design elements, but all with sticky, high-traction outsoles and good support for dayhiking.
Possibly my favorite lately, the La Sportiva TX3 have mesh uppers for superior breathability—good for desert hiking or any hot days, and especially important for longer days, when your feet just get hotter for spending more time in shoes. The Scarpa Epic Lite also breathe well but have uppers that are more reinforced, for durability. The Five Ten Access is an approach shoe with a sticky outsole, and more uniquely is built on a trail-running shoe last. The Oboz Teewinot, Asolo Magix, Arc’teryx Acrux models, Scarpa Zen Pro Mid and low-cuts, Five Ten Camp Four Mid and low, and Salewa Firetail EVO Gore-Tex are all worth a close look.
I rarely suggest just one specific model of footwear to anyone, because fit varies so much. You should make a short list of models based on design elements you prefer—like waterproof or not, type of uppers, price, etc.—then try on at least a few different models, which is the best way to find what’s really right for you. My “Pro Tips For Buying the Right Boots” offer useful advice.
See also my story “One Incomparable Place: Hiking and Backpacking in Zion National Park,” which may give you more ideas on where to hike there.
See also these stories at The Big Outside:
“10 Tricks For Making Hiking and Backpacking Easier”
“7 Pro Tips For Avoiding Blisters”
“Why and When to Spend More on Hiking and Backpacking Gear”
“5 Things to Know Before Buying Backpacking Gear”
“5 Tips For Spending Less on Hiking and Backpacking Gear”
Good luck on your trip.
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NOTE: I reviewed gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See categorized menus of all of my gear reviews at The Big Outside.
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