Off-Roading Shoes (What to Use and How to Choose)

When going off-roading, many people focus on their rig. It is important to have everything you might need for your vehicle while off the beaten track. 

We should not forget to think about ourselves, though. When we have fitted the best possible tires for our rig, why not choose the best footwear for us? Human shoes are sometimes as important as tires for the car. 

What Are Off-Roading Shoes?

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Off-roading shoes are the footwear you wear while driving off-road.

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Many people don’t think about it when they go for a drive. They put any shoe they are comfortable wearing, and that’s that.

Some people wear flip-flops or sandals while off-roading when the weather is great. We don’t judge, whatever is comfortable, but what if the weather worsens while you are out? True, you are in the vehicle, so why should you care about the weather. 

The thing is that going off-roading is different than taking a drive down the highway. There are moments when you have to get out of your rig and see what you are stuck on or what’s waiting for you behind the slope. In the mud or on the rocks, sandals or flip-flops are not the best footwear.

Off-roading shoes should be all-weather shoes or at least ones that would keep you safe when you are outside of your vehicle while still comfortable when you are inside.

Types of Off-Roading Shoes

People wear many types of shoes while driving, and they swear it’s the most comfortable thing to drive with.

It’s all a personal choice, but a few types of shoes would be comfortable to most people while driving the car and still do their job when they walk around.

Hiking boots/shoes

Hiking boots and shoes have thick outer soles to protect your feet while on a long walk on uneven terrain.

They are mostly breathable, and some of them are pretty waterproof. Hiking footwear was designed for comfort during long hours, and driving should not be a problem. 

The only obstacle one could meet while wearing hiking boots for driving is the shape of soles. Some of them have “spiked” soles for better grip, which would not be ideal for moving your feet over pedals. 

Soles of hiking boots are also wider than your average tennis shoes for added stability on the trail. It can also be a problem for people with bigger feet – the added width could make them press two pedals simultaneously.

Running shoes

Off-roading shoes

Running shoes are the lightest and probably most comfortable type of shoes. If you are planning on doing a lot of walking or even running, you should seriously consider a good pair of running shoes for your off-roading or overlanding adventure.

These shoes are light and breathable, with thick enough soles that protect your feet, but they don’t have rugged bottom soles and can easily slide from one pedal to the other. 

The minus of running shoes is that most of them get soaked instantly. Even the trail running shoes won’t protect your feet from getting wet. True, they dry quickly, which saves them a little bit.

Hunting boots

Designed for hiking through thick bushes, walking in mud and tall grasses, and wading through streams all day long, hunting boots are a good choice if you get out of your rig a lot in different weathers and don’t want to own multiple pairs of shoes. They are sturdy, but a good pair might cost you a small fortune.

The downfall of hunting boots for off-roading could be their shape. Some of them are rather clunky, especially with bigger sizes.

We drove for hours in hunting boots, and it takes a little bit of getting used to, but it’s not terrible.

While those three types of shoes for off-roading would be the best picks, there are others you could consider, and it really depends on what you are comfortable wearing while driving.

Rubber boots

Rubber boots are the best option for mud and wet weather. If you are planning on off-roading in the mud, tall rubber footwear is the surest thing you can wear if you have to jump out of your rig. They are easy to clean, and you could walk for hours in a good pair.

The biggest and rather obvious problem with rubber boots is that they are definitely clunky inside a vehicle. 

There are also other boots that won’t probably fit in any of those descriptions but are also comfortable and suitable for long hours of driving and many miles of walking in different conditions.

How To Choose Off-Roading Shoes?

We repeat it multiple times, saying that what you are the most comfortable in is the best way to go, but it is true. There is absolutely no reason for you to wear something that is not comfortable just because someone says it’s the best thing ever.

Although, when picking your footwear for driving, you have to consider a little bit more than how the shoe feels on your foot.

The first is to think of your vehicle. Do you have an automatic or a manual gearbox? It will dictate how many pedals you need to keep pressing when driving and their size. 

It makes a big difference when wearing clunkier rubber boots to press the clutch and accelerate pedals.

From our experience, you need a lot more finesse and control to apply just the right amount of pressure in thick-soled rubber boots than in running shoes. It is not impossible, and you can certainly get used to wearing rubber boots while driving.

The second thing to consider would be the type of terrain you mostly drive on. If you are a mud fanatic, you should probably look into tall waterproof boots that are easy to clean. 

We know that sometimes you need to hop out of your vehicle, and there is a big chance you are going to land in the deepest mud you have ever seen when you least expect it.

Off-roading shoes

The best type of shoes for rock crawling are ones with thick grippy soles and good ankle support. Some places would pose a challenge to walk around in flip-flops with thin flat soles.

To walk around your vehicle on rocks, you need something to help you get a grip on the surface and protect your soles from stabby little stones. The added ankle support would go a long way on uneven terrain.

For those who travel in the mountains on forest tracks looking for the best hiking spots, the best shoes are hiking or hunting boots.

Some off-roaders and overlanders like to hit the road to get away from civilization and enjoy nature and a good workout. For those cases, hiking and hunting boots would be a perfect choice. They are designed for comfort and durability while carrying you through the forest and up to the top of the mountain.

A small thing to consider will also be if you are planning on taking more than one pair of shoes with you. Nobody said you have to wear the same pair in and out of your vehicle.

Depending on the weather, you could pack two or three pairs to change into if you have plenty of space to spare. In that case, you could possibly wear your favorite tennis shoes while driving for hours and change them to rubber boots to jump out into the mud.

How To Care for Off-Roading Shoes?

Depending on the material your off-roading shoes are made of, there are a few different ways of taking care of them to assure their longevity.

Leather boots would require good drying every time they get wet. The drying process should not be intensive, i.e., don’t put them beside the fire or radiator. The best for it is to leave them to dry at room temperature.

Before that, it is good to towel off the moisture from the outside, brush off all the mud with a soft brush, and put some old newspapers inside. After the boots are mostly dry, you need to apply a leather conditioner to prevent the leather from drying too much. That could cause cracking.

To clean your hiking and running shoes, simply wash them in your hands. You can use a small brush or sponge, a little bit of warm water, and soap. Clean whole shoes properly because any bit of dry mud would alter the breathability. Dry them at room temperature with newspapers stuffed inside.

Rubber boots are the easiest to clean. You can just hose them down, and any stubborn dry mud you can wipe with a sponge or a brush and rinse off.

Conclusion

The essential part of going off-roading is how you equip your vehicle, but proper footwear goes a long way to making our life easier and more comfortable while out on the backcountry roads. 

Depending on the weather or terrain we go to, the shoes we pick for driving would sometimes make a huge difference in our experience. Comfort and safety should always be in the front of our minds when picking our outfits for when we are a long way from home. 

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