I'm on my feet all day for work (home inspector) and also hike. Looking for a hiking shoe/boot that has a very soft/cushony sole. I only weigh about 160 lbs and most shoe soles are very stiff and don't compress. I wear orthotics so I remove the inner liner that shoes come with, making the sole very important for compression. I often hike on damp/wet areas with tree roots and rocks. Any suggestions on a specific shoe and/or how to go about searching for a soft sole hiking shoe?
You might have good luck with trail running specific shoes since most are designed to have more flexibility for runners. I'm currently wearing Salomon, so that be good starting point to see if they fit and meet your flexibility. I hike in the Smokies so it always wet there and my feet have stayed dried with my Salomon when hiking through little mud, wet leaves, stepping on stones that has rushing water, etc.
Edited by ETSU Pride (01/04/1511:43 AM)
It is one of the blessings of wilderness life that it shows us how few things we need in order to be perfectly happy.-- Horace Kephart
I've worn Wolverine Dura-Shock boots for the past 20 years to save my knees from my labors as a builder. The insoles are great, but the soles are Vibram that are thick and cushiony also. The downside is, thick soles have deep lugs that attract dirt into interior spaces. They are good platforms on ladders. The home inspections I've done for clients involved much going up on roofs and inspecting chimneys. IMHO, the most durable, waterproof, and comfortable of the work boots in the 100 and change range. I even use my steel toed boots for hikes. They're good on trails and allow walking in water for short spells. . My Merrel Moab trail runners are the most cushion of any of the trail runners I've used.
I've used Vasque and Merrell, and found both to be good. However, you shouldn't rely on what any of us like. Shoes are, as you no doubt know, something that you need to try on and find what works and fits best for you, not us. The best bet: go to a store that knows how to fit shoes, and try on whatever they've got. You don't say whether your hiking is dayhiking or overnighting. If you'll be carrying a full load of gear, then take a packed pack with you and try it on with the finalists - an extra 20, 30, or 40 pounds can affect the fit of your shoes.
If you don't have a nearby store, and are forced to use online sources, then try to choose one with a good return policy: order several pairs, and send back the "losers."