As those perfect spring hiking temperatures roll in, the itch to hit the trails becomes more and more relentless. If you scratch this itch too hard, however, you may find yourself suffering from inflammation of the plantar fascia, a band of tissue along the bottom of your foot.
This inflammation is known as plantar fasciitis, and it can cause extreme heel and foot pain. Plantar fasciitis is common among those who overuse their feet, particularly hikers with flat feet and tight calf muscles.
There’s no bummer quite like having a full season of hikes planned only to realize you’re in too much pain to step foot on a trail. Fortunately, if you treat your feet correctly — even retroactively — you can begin to remedy the pain and inflammation, so you can still spend your summer tallying mile after mile.
Proper footwear plays a major role in recovering from and hiking with foot pain. In this guide, I’ll cover the 9 best pairs of hiking boots for plantar fasciitis so you can start trekking your way to happy feet.
My Review Process
As someone who enjoys spontaneity, I have (unfortunately) decided on a whim that I am going to hike 25+ miles in one day with no training or warm up. Pro tip: Don’t do this. Because I’ve done this, however, I have a strong understanding of what it feels like to overuse and subsequently inflame my plantar fascia. Fortunately, I also understand how to prevent and heal the resulting discomfort.In addition to warming up, stretching, and gradually increasing your hiking distances, one of the best things you can do for yourself when hiking with plantar fasciitis is to wear proper hiking footwear. Proper footwear will provide ample cushioning in your heel and forefoot as well as support your ankle and your arch. My top picks for hiking boots for plantar fasciitis focus on these essential components in addition to other features that promote overall healthy foot function.
The Kaha Mid GTX hiking boot excels in executing all of the musts for protecting your feet when hiking with plantar fasciitis. They are stabilizing and incredibly well-cushioned, and they offer supreme comfort.
With a plush footbed made of compression-molded foam, you'll feel like you're walking on clouds. The SwallowTail heel and rocker design will support your foot's natural walking movement, and the ankle cuff will gently cradle your Achilles tendon.
Although you may find your feet a bit toasty in warmer conditions, the comfort and advanced shock absorption technology are well-worth the tradeoff. These impressive shoes for plantar fasciitis are durable, waterproof, and eco-friendly. When you're itching to hit the trail, but your feet are telling you otherwise, HOKA has you covered every step of the way. Gals, you can find ultimate plush comfort here.
This affordable pair of hiking shoes from KEEN offers premium comfort with little to no break-in period. Despite its relatively low ankle collar for a mid-rise boot, the heel-lock delivers when it comes to stability. This can help relieve pain in your Achilles tendon caused by tension in your plantar fascia. The removable insole is composed of polyurethane (PU) for maximum comfort.
KEEN is known for its wide toe boxes, and the Targhee II is no exception. Your toes will be free to wiggle and spread, preventing unnatural cramping and pain in your forefoot. Additionally, the rubber outsole provides high-traction grip, so grab a pair (here, ladies), and feel confident on all types of terrain.
Altra designed these to deliver the comfort of a trail-runner and the support of a hiking boot — and boy, did they succeed. These boots are incredibly lightweight, preventing you from having to lug extra ounces on your already-sore feet. Although the light materials make for a less durable boot than some of the more rigid options, they are a comfortable boot made for one cushioned step after another.
The Lone Peaks are known for their wide toe-box and zero-drop. That makes these an excellent choice for people with wider feet and those looking to promote their natural stride. If you're looking for an exceptionally comfortable boot that enhances your natural step, these were made for you. You can find women’s sizes here. Get on the trail, and start racking up those thru-hike miles.
This waterproof Salomon boot is an excellent choice for people struggling with foot pain caused by plantar fasciitis. The foam midsole assists in shock absorption, lessening the impact on your plantar fascia. Salomon's OrthoLite® insole lines the inside of the boot and molds to your foot shape for further superior cushioning.
The Quest 4 incorporates trail running technology, which encourages natural flexion of the foot. Although a leather upper adds a bit of weight, it's a small price to pay for the stability of this boot's high collar and upper rigidity. When you're sporting these, your feet are sure to feel sturdy and well-cushioned for all-day comfort on the trail.
The tried and true Moab 3 boot is made to deliver premium comfort on your hiking adventures. The Merrell Air Cushion and Super Rebound Compound technologies provide extra cushioning in the heel and forefoot, making these an exceptional boot for hikers with bad feet.
Although they are a bit heavy for their size, they offer a rubber heel and toe cap for protection on rugged terrain. The upper is a combination of mesh and leather and features a breathable, water-resistant membrane. These versatile classics are beginner-friendly and perfect for any outdoor activity, especially when you're battling foot pain.
These waterproof hiking boots are lightweight, comfortable, and supportive. They offer adequate underfoot cushioning for those that are recovering from plantar fasciitis. The padded collar provides exceptional ankle support, improving overall stability of the foot.
The excellent traction will keep you sure-footed on wet surfaces, and the mesh membrane is highly breathable. These do tend to run a bit small, so you may want to order a half size up. They offer wide versions and women’s sizes as well. If your future hikes include rain, streams, and wet rocks, the Ultra Raptor II is your new best friend.
Like its sister boot above, the Anacapa boot is soft and protective, making it the perfect choice for a well-cushioned outdoor adventure. The lightweight leather upper offers more stability than a trail runner but less than a traditional hiking boot, so you'll feel sturdy but not restricted.
The water-resistant layer provides sufficient protection from the elements — as long as you don't find yourself frolicking in a torrential downpour. This boot flaunts an extended heel and rocker design to encourage the natural motion of one's stride. Ladies, you can find the same ultimate comfort here. For a nicely-cushioned day hike of light-to-moderate intensity, these are a great choice to have between you and the dirt.
Flaunting similar specs to the Moab 3s above, the Moab 2 Vent boots are warm-weather ready with their breathable mesh lining and lower cut. While they lack the waterproofing of the Moab 3s, they still feature the extra cushioning in the heel, which protects the most tender point for those with plantar fasciitis.
They have a nylon arch shank for extra support in the midfoot and a foam midsole for added comfort. With rubber Vibram outsoles, Merrell hiking footwear is rugged and ready for rough terrain. Grab a pair (here for ladies), and hit the trails all summer long.
These winter-ready hiking boots are almost as warm as mountaineering boots while maintaining maximum comfort. A low-density foam insole assists in shock absorption, and a medium-density heel and midsole provide support. The impressive traction on these will let you confidently bound from one wet surface to another, and the GORE-TEX membrane will keep those toes dry.
Although they come with a hefty price tag, these waterproof hiking shoes are well-worth the investment. If cold-weather hiking is your thing, but plantar fasciitis is trying to convince you otherwise, these are an excellent choice. They also come in women’s sizes, so snag a pair, and your winter hikes are sure to be warm and cozy.
What Is Plantar Fasciitis?
The balls of your feet are connected to your heel by a ligament-like piece of tissue known as the plantar fascia. Plantar fasciitis occurs when it becomes inflamed.
Overuse or overstretching the plantar fascia causes damage to the ligament, making it a very common condition within the hiking community.
The most common causes include being on your feet for extended periods of time, exercising on hard surfaces, neglecting to stretch before exercise, and wearing shoes that lack ample cushioning and arch support.
What Are The Symptoms Of Plantar Fasciitis?
The most common symptoms include pain, swelling, and stiffness. Pain is usually localized in the heels and arches of the foot, but it can spread to the toes as well.
The entire foot, including the Achilles tendon, can become stiff and swollen as well. This makes stretching and massaging the pain away hard to accomplish.
How Can Plantar Fasciitis Affect Your Hiking?
Since most people experience this condition in one of their feet, it can cause you to favor your other foot. This extra stress on your good foot can cause plantar fasciitis to spread to both feet.
If left untreated, the pain and swelling can become severe enough to take you off your feet altogether.
Hiking Boots For Plantar Fasciitis Buying Guide
To help you choose the best pair of hiking boots for your unique feet, check out this buying guide. It details the specific features you should look for to enjoy pain-free hiking in your new boots.
Since the heel of the foot is where most of the pain from plantar fasciitis is localized, it's essential that your hiking boots have adequate heel cushioning and support. Choose boots that have extra cushioning in the heel and those that mention heel-locking technology. This will help stabilize your foot and ankle, putting less strain on your plantar fascia and Achilles tendon.
While the specific brand isn't necessarily a deal-maker or breaker, there are some brands that are known to maximize comfort and cushion in their boots. HOKA, Merrell, Salomon, and Altra are all known for their boots of superior comfort.
While the primary concern for comfortably hiking with plantar fasciitis is underfoot cushioning and stability, a higher-cut boot can relieve tension as well. A boot with a higher collar will provide more ankle support, which can ease some of the stress on the Achilles tendon. A high collar will also aid in overall foot support.
Any extra weight on your feet is going to contribute stress to your plantar fascia. Bearing this in mind, you should be prepared to sacrifice some weight for the benefits of extra cushioning and shock absorption in the sole of the boot. Look for lighter-weight boots that still provide adequate padding underfoot.
Comfort is important in any shoe, but it becomes even more pertinent when you are suffering from inflammation of the tissue in your foot. Cushioning, heel stability and padding, and ankle support are essential for comfort, especially when you are predisposed to foot pain.
As with any hiking footwear, you want a boot that provides breathability. Look for boots that use breathable fabrics like GORE-TEX and mesh to aid in wicking moisture away from your foot.
Cushioning / Shock Absorption
This is perhaps the most important aspect of a comfortable hiking shoe for someone with plantar fasciitis. The insole and midsole of your boot need to provide enough cushioning to absorb the shock from repeated steps on hard dirt, jabbing rocks, and protruding roots.
Hiking shoes with arch support will aid in relieving pain associated with plantar fasciitis. Avoid shoes with flat soles and those that don't have a sturdy, arch-supporting mechanism, such as a nylon arch shank.
When hunting for the champion of hiking boots for plantar fasciitis, the HOKA Kaha 2 Mid will be tough to beat. If you're searching for a more wallet-friendly top performer, slip on a pair of KEEN Targhee II Mid boots, and you'll be trail-ready immediately. And for those of you that are looking to spend day after day thru-hiking, the Altra Lone Peak All-WTHR Mids will have you forgetting that your feet were ever hurting.Plantar fasciitis doesn't have to terminate your love for hiking. Any of these boots will remind you what it feels like to hit the trail with happy feet. Grab a pair, and hike on.
You can hike with mild to moderate plantar fasciitis as long as your hiking boots have ample cushion and support. It is a good idea to stick to less strenuous terrain so as to not aggravate the inflammation in your feet.
You may need to take a break from hiking to allow your feet to heal before getting back on the trail.
Any shoe that focuses pressure on a specific part of your foot will potentiate plantar fasciitis. This includes high heels or shoes that are too tight for your feet. Flat shoes that don’t provide arch support can also aggravate your plantar fascia.
Walking shoes with a thick cushion and arch support are the best for preventing plantar fasciitis. The cushion helps reduce the impact on your heel while arch support decreases tension on the plantar fascia itself.
Ice is the best singular treatment for plantar fasciitis because it constricts blood flow, reducing the pain that is associated with inflammation. Heat promotes circulation, which relieves stiffness.
The best approach is to alternate between ice and heat in order to reduce swelling and loosen up muscles to make stretching and massage more effective at relieving pain.
Plantar fasciitis feels like a stabbing pain in your heels and arches, especially during the first steps of the day or after sitting for a long period. It is also common to experience stiffness throughout your foot, including in your Achilles tendon.
*The information on this site is based on research and first-hand experience but should not be treated as medical advice. Before beginning any new activity, we recommend consulting with a physician, nutritionist or other relevant professional healthcare provider.