How much do trekking shoes cost? What kind of shoes will I need for a trek to the lower Himalaya?
The best shoes for Himalayan treks are imported (Hi-Tech, Millet, Lafuma, Lytos) and cost from Rs 3,500 to Rs 12,000.
They are available in adventure gear shops, which were once rare but are now easy to find in most cities. Lower-priced shoes are available in Manali, Leh and Darjeeling. I have also scouted for good shoes in foreign-goods markets across the north, from Kargil to Thimphu. (Here’s a tip. Buy ‘Made in China’ shoes and avoid those made in Thailand). For still cheaper shoes, check out Woodland, Adidas and Action.
Though they’re expensive, trekking shoes are an essential investment for Himalayan treks. Your city sneakers may offer arch support and cushioning against shock but they are inappropriate for the variety of terrain you will encounter on a Himalayan trail. You need shoes with ribbed soles that will not slip on wet boulders, rocky slopes, snow and stones covered with verglas or a thin layer of water ice.
Sneakers have soft uppers while trekking shoes have soft yet stiff uppers. Opt for a hard rubber sole. This protects the foot completely and makes walking, jumping and scrambling less punishing on your joints.
Always choose a boot style. It encases your ankle and provides it support, preventing wrenching and twisting. Trekking footwear is waterproofed and you can cross small streams without getting any water in your shoe.
Buy your shoes in the latter half of the day, as your feet are larger then. The right foot is bigger in women and the left foot in men. Ensure that your bigger foot is comfortable. Try on the shoes with thin as well as thick, woollen socks.
Make sure there is enough space for your toes, because you will need to wiggle them to keep the blood circulating under very cold circumstances. But beware of too much space: your toes will hit the front of the shoe when walking downhill. This causes blisters. Wear thick woollen socks to fill this space. Do this on the downhill sections of the actual trek.
Before the trek, break in your shoes. Wear them every alternate day in the city. Walk at least 5 km in them to find out if there are problem areas, which can cause rubbing or pinching.
Yana Bey is a mountaineer and an adventure expert