On Kilimanjaro, it is acceptable to wear boots, trail shoes or both, as we discussed here. Compared to boots, the main advantage of wearing shoes is that they weight less. This conserves energy in the long run, which you will need to tackle a big peak like Kilimanjaro. More and more people are ditching heavy boots and climbing Kilimanjaro in trail running shoes.
Let’s talk about what to look for in a hiking shoe that makes it a good choice.
What is Important in Trail Shoes on Mount Kilimanjaro?
As with any footwear, you have to have the right fit. The overall fit of a shoe is the most important factor when making a footwear decision. Any reputable outdoor gear store or shoe store will have trained fitters on hand to take you through the selection process. They will measure all aspects of your foot and then suggest a number of different pairs of shoes to try. Try several pairs of shoes.
Beyond that, your shoe should be waterproof. It is a fundamental quality for shoes made for active mountain activities. Not only will it keep the water out, but they will also be warmer than the typical trail shoe due to the extra membrane inside the fabric of the shoe.
The hiking shoe shoe have at least a medium groove depth of tread and be made from a sticky material. Lug size and shape do make a difference, as does the rubber itself. These two factors are for traction across different types of terrain you may encounter including mud, rock and scree. Look for a tread a bit deeper than the average running shoe. Trail shoes have aggressive grip for dirt, mud, and rock.
Finally, you want sufficient cushioning to minimize the impact your feet are going to take for the multiday climb. Do not use trail shoes to offer very minimal support and/or cushioning inside the shoe, such as “bare foot” styles.
What are the best hiking shoes for climbing Kilimanjaro? We have three recommended trail shoes. Take a look at our top picks below and find your favorite.
Salomon XA Pro 3D GTX
The Salomon XA Pro 3D GTX is a waterproof, durable trail shoe with an outstanding reputation. Its aggressive lug pattern offers amazing traction in all types of weather. The upper is made from a light breathable Gore-Tex mesh. A custom quick lace system makes putting them on and taking them off a quick maneuver. It has a well balanced platform with dynamic support in the heel and arch areas. We love that this shoe gives solid protection and a precise, stable and responsive step.
The Salomon XA Pro 3D GTX retails for $160 and can be found here.
Merell Moab Gore-Tex Shoe
The Merell Moab Gore-Tex Shoe is a comfortable waterproof hiking shoe made of durable leather, a supportive footbed and Vibram traction. This shoe provides exceptional breathability and waterproof performance. The air cushioned heel absorbs shock and adds stability, while the contoured footbed yields zonal arch and heel support.
Merell Moab retails for $140 and can be found here.
KEEN Targhee III
KEEN Targhee III are waterproof shoes that allow for ample range of motion on the trail. Built with a quality leather upper and a breathable lining, your feet will stay fresh even after multi-day adventures. The all-terrain rubber outsole offers dependable grip in Kilimanjaro’s muddy and gritty conditions.
KEEN Targhee III retails for $140 and can be found here
What About Camp Shoes?
Camp shoes are optional.
After a long day of hiking, you may want to swap out your hiking shoes for something more comfortable while you lounge around camp. If that sounds amazing to you, we have a couple of recommendations for you.
First, you can simply bring some light, broken in athletic shoes from home. Since these are just for walking around the campsite, sitting in the mess tent, or going to the bathroom, they don’t have to be anything special.
OOFOS OOahh Sport Slide Sandals
Recovery sandals are made to reduce post-running or post-hiking aches and stiffness, and speed recovery. These OOFOS sandals are super light (just 12 oz.), undeniable comfortable and heaven on your feet. The fact they are sandals mean you can slip them on and off quickly, without having to mess with shoelaces. However, they are open toe, meaning you’ll probably wear them with socks at higher altitudes.
OOFOS OOahh Sport Slide Sandals retail for around $59 and can be found here.
Yes, we know. They’re ugly. They’re childish. And they have a cartoon crocodile on them.
The shoe everyone loves to hate actually makes a great camp shoe. Constructed from lightweight, cushy foam, these clogs are easy to relax in. They’re very affordable and come in many colors. The heel strap keeps them securely on your feet while still enabling fast entry and removal. If you don’t mind some playful teasing by others, it’s a good choice for Kilimanjaro campsites.
Classic Crocs retail for around $30 and can be found here.
You can find all your outdoor gear at these preferred retailers: