The right backpacking shoe varies from person to person, nearly as much as a fingerprint. However, there are a few consistent features to look for. High-quality hiking or backpacking shoes should have plenty of grip and traction. Without friction, your shoes may slip across rocks or fallen tree limbs.
Your shoes should also be comfortable and lightweight. You’re going to be carrying yourself and all of your gear across unpaved pathways. You need to lighten the load whenever possible. It’s important to remember that every hiking boot or shoe requires a few weeks to a couple of months to properly break-in.
During this time, your feet will likely swell. While out on the trail, your feet naturally swell due to gravity, pressure, and exertion. A wide shoe, or a half-size up in your shoe size, may be a worthwhile option to prevent discomfort, pain, and blistering.