Hi all, I hope everyone is safe and sound and doing well! I know I haven't been on the forum in a few months. But I have a request for hiking shoe recommendations!

Since COVID the hubby and I have gotten into hiking 3-4 times a week. It's been our #1 favorite way to de-stress and relax. It also has helped me start to reverse a weight gain trend. All goodness.

Up until now I've made due with whatever footwear I had that is not hiking specialized at all. I.e., I have been hiking in Allbirds (no tread at all for rocks and such) and Sperry boots (has some tread for rocks and snow but no support and basically I've quickly trashed my Sperry's in no time at all this winter).

So the hunt has been on for proper hiking/trail shoes, but since we aren't vaccinated yet, it's all been online, which is frustrating!

Specifically, after a lot of research, and with Spring coming on, I am looking at trail runners rather than boots, but I am totally open to suggestions here!

My feet are:

- A 6.5, but only kind of. They aren't a 6, but are barely a 6.5.
- A medium width, but only kind of -- often veering on wide, but many wide widths are too wide and "sloppy" fitting
- I have a "bunion" that comes and goes on one foot -- I don't think it's a real bunion, but more of a factor of acquired leg length discrepancy.
- I don't over or under pronate
- I'd say I have high volume feet, but not because I have high arches
- My arches appear "normal" but may be falling. I do like some arch support
- I definitely like stiffer insoles vs too much squish and padding. I prefer using Superfeet insoles in sneakers if they will fit them (see: high volume foot).
- I don't think I have overly narrow heels but.......... read on.
- Allbirds really are my ideal sneaker overall-- those fit like a glove. But don't have the traction and cushioning and protection I need for the trails.
- I also had luck a long time ago with ASICS but they discontinued the model that worked for me

So I've ordered and tried out so far:

1. Merrill MQM Flex 2 GTX in size 6 (I actually ordered a 6.5 but was sent a 6 instead)

  • Way too short-- my toes were scrapping the end
  • Arch was okay though
  • Overall felt too tight in the forefoot and toe box, as in, cutting off circulation tight, even with ties unlaced
  • But the heel fit quite well

2. Altra Lone Star size 6.5 M
  • These felt amazing the minute I put them on and I had such high hopes but...
  • Wore them for a hike and 1 mile in I was in horrible pain
  • Shooting pain up and down my shins and calves, aching knee pain too
  • I powered through the mile back -- wanting to take them off and walk barefoot the entire way-- every step was agony
  • Ended up swapping them out and going on another 2 miles stroll on the beach in my Teva's which helped work out the pains and such, but it's hours later and I still have some shooting needles and aches, ugh.
  • I think the problem with these is there is no drop at all, they are basically flat? I don't know. Also while there was ample room in the toe box, and I like some toe splay room, it seemed to be too much splay.
  • Anyone interested in a pair of Lone Stars that only have 2 miles on them?

3. Merrill Moab 2 Vent 6.5 M
  • I haven't worn these out on the trail and after the Altra experience I'm scared to.
  • Like the Altra's they do feel super comfy around the house, but something feels like my feet are "sitting low" and also maybe they are too wide though they are Mediums.
4. Solomon light hikers size 6M (don't know the brand, I bought these awhile ago)
  • These seem like they fit really well walking around the house, but I've taken these on two hiking related trips and they suck.
  • In particular, the back part rubs into my ankle so bad no socks or moleskin will cure it.
  • Also they are so stiff, that I often feel like I'm going to break my ankle if it rolls a bit.
  • And they are 6's, so no room for foot swell. A 6.5 might work a bit better but I think I am not a fan of light hikers and would prefer a trail runner?
  • So many people love Salomon's and this is what my husband swears by, but those blistered bloody heels still make me hesitate trying this brand again.
4. Merrill Siren Edge, 6.5 Wide
  • These are the almost perfect's-- but I also feel like I could still do better, as I still feel a bit too conscious of my feet when hiking in them, as they slip and slosh a bit. But I can live with these for now, until we're vaccinated and can get to a shoe store for a proper fit.
  • Not too short
  • Arch is okay
  • Comfortable, roomy, but not too roomy, though I do slip and slosh a bit.
  • Heel however keeps wanting to slip out and flap flap
  • Strategic lacing seems to minimize this, and I haven't tried all the lacing methods yet
  • Fits the Superfeet insole well

Sorry for the essay and if you have read this far, I thank you. I am open to any and all recommendations and experiences, especially if you have similar shoe fit issues!!

I'm also very interested in any tips you have for figuring out a hiking shoe will work while wearing it around the house. That's such a different experience than taking it on the trail. How do you know it's going to work in those conditions, like up and down steep slopes and over rocks and such? I have no clue at this point!!!