Ever since humans learned to walk, some form of shoe has been essential. Initially, it was a lot about basic protection from the elements. Shoes made from animal skins were developed at first and through the centuries, other types of shoes have been made, incorporating a variety of methods and materials. In more modern times, the discovery of human-made materials have advanced the manufacture of shoes.
Hiking as Recreation
As people began to have more leisure time, and as it became possible to wander farther from home, hiking became more and more popular. Now it is not uncommon to see people enjoying hiking – at different levels of difficulty – for recreation. One of my favorite activities is hiking, and I’m not alone.
Millions of people every year use hiking as a way to connect with nature. I think this is especially true as we become an increasingly urban society. There is definitely a strong desire to get back to our roots in nature. And through the change in the status of hiking, the evolution of hiking shoes has taken place. Originally, people thought of hiking footwear in terms of boots. Bulky, padding-stuffed, stiff boots. These boots were thickly insulated in order to keep in warmth. Additionally, they were large. I look at pictures of my dad’s first pair of hiking boots and I can hardly believe how clunky they were. And you had to break them in. If you didn’t – well, hiking just didn’t maintain the moniker of “recreational activity.”
Today’s hiking boot is really more of a hiking shoe. The modern hiking shoe, as we know it, started evolving during the 1980s. Nike decided to take on the challenge of casual hikers. Until this point, hiking boots were reserved mainly for the hard core outdoorspeople. But what about those who liked to go for the occasional hike? Many of them didn’t want expensive and over-done hiking boots. So, Nike designed a trail shoe that was meant for light hiking.
Now, there are many companies that make hiking shoes. And these hiking shoes have taken advantage of technology to become smaller and sleeker,hile at the same time becoming sturdier. Technological advances have allowed for things like Gore-Tex , which helps protect the feet from water, as well as advances that have led to cushioning in hiking shoes, allowing for a more comfortable hike. And some hiking shoes are made with special technology that lets the shoe to change shape along with the foot. Advances in chemistry have led to more durable materials and research has led to tread that grips better than ever.And you can’t forget the technology that has led to breathable mesh materials that add to comfort while maintaining needed insulating effects.
Thanks to technology, we have more choices than ever for when we decide to commune with nature, and we need the proper footwear to do so.