You probably don’t want to wear that pair of blown-out Converse All Stars to amble anywhere farther than the corner store. For long treks, the proper footwear will support your dogs and grip the ground to prevent sore soles, painful blisters, and mangled ankles. These four choices will carry you for many miles over different types of terra firma.
1. Rocky paths
Stones and boulders threaten your feet with jammed and bruised toes. Salomon covered the fronts of the X Ultra 3 boots with molded rubber, creating an additional layer of protection between your tootsies and rocks or roots that come outta nowhere. The chevron-shaped lugs on the soles give you plenty of grip for ascending and descending.
2. Beach or riverbed
Go wading with socks and shoes on, and the wet stuff will make your feet all-too hospitable for blisters and bacteria. The Merrell Choprocks can take submergence. Eight circular holes in the midsole allow moisture to efficiently drain, while ventilated polyester mesh uppers let your skin dry off in a hurry after you’re done forging streams.
The springy, thermoplastic foam in the midsole of the 6.6-ounce Reebok Floatride Run Fast sneakers bounces back quicker from the squish of your strides than the EVA padding you’ll find in most trainers. This increased energy return reduces your overall workload, while the extra cushioning protects your joints from impacts.
4. Dirt trails
Hoka designed the tread on the Challenger ATR 5s with broad rubber lugs that bite into turf precisely how you need them to. The teeth are spaced farther apart near the toe, which gives the kicks more grip, and clustered closer together at the back, making for smoother heel strikes that protect your knees over the course of tens of thousands of strides.
This article was originally published in the Spring 2019 Transportation issue of Popular Science.