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Your shoes are one of the most important pieces of gear you will bring on your Costa Rica Adventure. Don’t wait until the last minute to choose your footwear. Research the shoes you want, and purchase them with enough time to break them in.

The Costa Rica Women’s Osa Peninsula Wild & Off-The-Beaten Path Adventure packing list suggests a hiking boot or sturdy trail shoes. Ultimately, you will make decisions based on your experiences, wants, comfort, style, and budget. To help you decide which type of shoes to buy, more details about the terrain, hazards, and hiking distances is provided below so that you can better understand why boots or sturdy trail shoes are required.

Terrain

All activities are rain or shine, on uneven, and sometimes slippery trails. Imagine trying to walk down or up a 45-degree hillside trail in the rain with shoes that won’t grip the ground. That can be scary and exhausting, plus you could fall and injure yourself. Choose shoes with outsoles (bottoms) made of rubber with deep tread to provide you with the most traction on loose surfaces.

Some trails have unstable rocks and imperfect surfaces that break or wobble underfoot. Shoes with mid-high ankle support give you more stability and help minimize the risk of a twisted ankle and/or falls.

The trails are home to creatures big and small. With every step you need to look out for ants, spines on plants, and snakes. One of the most venomous snakes in the world lives where you will be visiting. It is called the Fer-de-lance. These experts of disguise look like leaf litter and can grow to over 6ft long. The most aggressive ones are the small, young ones. The shoes you bring should have thick toe coverings that would be hard for an overactive snake to bite through. For this reason, absolutely no open toe hiking sandal or Keen sandals are allowed on the trails. Boots that cover your ankle will give you the most protection from impalements, bites, and stings.

Some trails pass through deep and hot sand. Footwear with gusseted tongues will help keep out debris. Shoes with ankle support also help keep sand out of your shoes.

Distance:

The hikes on the Costa Rica trip are more like slow nature walks. Each hike is about three hours and can be about 2 miles at a time. You will only be carrying a light backpack with water, camera, and personal essentials. There will be many, many, stops for discussion. Your footwear should provide you with cushion for lots of standing while you are stopped listening to your guide or looking up in the treetops for monkeys.

Hiking Boots, Trail Shoes, or a Hybrid of Both?

Hiking shoes do not need to be old-school thick leather clunky boots. There are many options to choose from. We can break down hiking shoes into three categories.

  1. Hiking Boots. Hiking boots tend to be heavier, made of leather, have higher tops, and deep tread.
  2. Trail Shoes. Trail Shoes tend to be lighter, made of synthetics, lower tops, and minimal tread.
  3. Hybrid Boots. Thanks to technology, there are hybrid hiking boots that have the feel and weight of a trail shoe, with the style, protection, and support of a boot.

Your footwear must protect your foot from impalements from sticks, small animal bites, and thorns. It should have great traction and deep tread. With that said, hiking boots, sturdy trail shoes, and hybrid boots are appropriate for this trip.

A note about trail shoes. Only sturdy, and rugged trail shoes are a suitable substitute for hiking boots for hikes on the Costa Rica trip. Trail shoes made for winter are a good match for wild tropical trails. Winter trail shoes are thicker because they are waterproof, and they have deeper tread for the snow. These adaptations make them appropriate for the Costa Rica trip because they provide participants with the foot protection and traction.

How to choose hiking footwear for your Costa Rica trip. Based on the terrain, hazards, uses of the shoe listed above select your footwear using the following options:

Choose from…
Type: Hiking boot, Trail shoe, or Hybrid boot
Ankle Support/Coverage: Low, Mid, or High
Material: Leather, suede, synthetic, or combination

Plus…
Required: Rubber grip with deep lugs or tread to help with traction.

Pair with these options…
Suggested: Gusseted tongues to keep out water, stones, and debris.
Suggested: Padded collar for supportive fit
Suggested: GORE-TEX® linings for waterproofing and breathability

Examples of different hiking footwear:

The links provide examples of different types of boots. You don’t need to purchase fancy or expensive hiking boots. Look over the specification for the key points listed in this article. Expect to pay $80-$180 for a decent pair of hiking boots or trail shoes.

Hiking Boots

La Sportiva High: https://www.rei.com/product/175484/la-sportiva-nucleo-high-ii-gtx-hiking-boots-womens

Merril Mid: https://www.rei.com/product/113731/merrell-moab-2-mid-waterproof-hiking-boots-womens

Keen Low: https://amzn.to/3gqA2T5

Hybrid Boots:

Solomon Mid: https://www.rei.com/product/122163/salomon-x-ultra-3-mid-gtx-hiking-boots-womens

Trail Shoe (Winter/Rugged):

La Sportiva: https://www.rei.com/product/145759/la-sportiva-wildcat-20-gtx-trail-running-shoes-womens

On Cloudventure: https://www.rei.com/product/149139/on-cloudventure-waterproof-trail-running-shoes-womens

Salomon: https://www.rei.com/product/157636/salomon-speedcross-5-gtx-trail-running-shoes-womens

Make your feet happy.
Like most first encounters, you can tell right away if you click with someone or something. The same is true about your shoes. Your feet will feel so good in the right pair of boots or trail shoes the moment you put them on. If you don’t like the fit when you wear them for the first time don’t force the relationship. Try the boots or trail shoes on with light-weight hiking socks. There should be enough room to wiggle your toes. Walk around inside and notice how your foot moves with your shoe. – do you notice any rubbing between your toes or on your heel?  Be picky with your shoes and don’t settle.

REI has a generous return policy for members. If you don’t like the item you can return for any reason, used or not, within a year for a full refund.

Don’t forget shoes for relaxing.
Your hiking boots or trail shoes will be your best friend on hikes. For around the eco-lodges you will need comfortable shoes. Flip flops are nice, but over the years we have found that crocs (or knock off crocs) are perfect because you can wear them with or without socks (think buggy nights). They slip on easily with no laces to tie which is perfect for stepping into shoe-free zones or getting up in the middle of the night in the dark to pee.

Croc Classic Clog: https://amzn.to/3gyM4dr

Where to shop:

REI www.rei.com
Columbia www.columbia.com
Dicks Sporting Goods: www.dickssportinggoods.com
Sierra Trading Post: www.sierratradingpost.com

Helpful Links:

Dick’s Sporting Goods: How to Choose Hiking Boots

https://protips.dickssportinggoods.com/sports-and-activities/camping-and-hiking/how-to-buy-hiking-boots?Camp=SEM:DSG_39700050959974283_nonbrand_aud-1025815864993:dsa-862023520988&segment=&gclid=CjwKCAiAwrf-BRA9EiwAUWwKXmQCG1cWxg8Y4xfQqf5gkjfwGXINlPTefsm7yVvbDcNb8ZoT88376BoCw4wQAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

Columbia: Hiking Boots Vs Hiking Shoes

https://www.columbia.com/hiking-boots-vs-hiking-shoes.html?ef_id=CjwKCAiAwrf-BRA9EiwAUWwKXjvTpu2xTaeoOi8OmG1E-6jmp2IuXK8KyMyQLm668mCBgT21clkkdxoChTsQAvD_BwE:G:s&mid=paidsearch&nid=COL%7CDSA%7CAll+Audience-Targeting%7CGoogle%7CUS&oid=DSA_Category-Footwearl&eid=Google+Adwords+US&s_kwcid=AL!3937!3!330343799433!!g!!&gclid=CjwKCAiAwrf-BRA9EiwAUWwKXjvTpu2xTaeoOi8OmG1E-6jmp2IuXK8KyMyQLm668mCBgT21clkkdxoChTsQAvD_BwE

REI: Hiking Boots vs Trail Runners

https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/hiking-boots-vs-trail-runners-the-great-debate.html

Links within document:

Chacos Hiking Sandals
https://amzn.to/3lXpNqp

Keens
https://amzn.to/2VQ5noM

Fer-de-lance
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bothrops_asper