7 Best Hiking Shoes for Flat Feet (2022)
Flat feet are fairly common and typically painless, which is why many hikers with the condition will hardly give a thought to wearing special shoes on the trail. However, the condition makes you vulnerable to injury and a host of other problems like bunions, hammertoes, tendonitis, or even knee and back complications.
Knowing how to supplement the physical shortcomings and identify the right tools will go a long way in averting that visit to the podiatrist when the damage is done.
Best Hiking Shoes for Flat Feet – Winners
Check out our quick recommendations here, or keep scrolling for detailed reviews:
- Best Hiking Shoes for Flat Feet (Men): KEEN Men’s Targhee II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot
- Best Hiking Shoes for Flat Feet (Women): Merrell Women’s Moab 2 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot
- Best Budget Hiking Shoes for Flat Feet (Men): Merrell Men’s Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoe
- Best Budget Hiking Shoes for Flat Feet (Women): Merrell Women’s Siren Edge 3 Hiking Shoe
- Best of the Rest:
Best Hiking Shoes for Flat Feet (Men)
- One-year manufacturer’s warranty
- KEEN DRY, breathable waterproof membrane sustains a comfortable, dry hike
- Metatomical EVA footbed cradles and supports the foot
- High-density compression-molded EVA midsole cushions feet and absorbs shock
- There have been reports of the adhesive attaching the uppers to the sole giving in after a few wears.
The upper is water-resistant Nubuck leather treated with a PFC-free water repellant for extra protection without harmful chemicals. Its low-profile design facilitates a comfortable, snug, and secure fit, which is ideal for flat feet. The padded tongue and collar compliment the design by cushioning the forefoot against undue pressure.
A hydrophobic mesh lining made out of a KEEN. DRY waterproof breathable membrane wicks sweat and allow vapor out of the boot without letting in water. It keeps your feet dry, aerated, and comfortable throughout the duration of the hike.
The Targhee II’s use KEEN’s Metatomical EVA footbed, whose anatomically inspired design enables them to accurately cradle the foot’s natural contours, providing optimum arch support that reduces fatigue and enhances fatigue balance by regulating pronation.
They ensure body weight is evenly distributed on each footfall so that the big and second toes are not left with the heavy lifting as is common with flat-footed hikers. This also eases the strain on the ankle as the foot twists less with each step, and the ankle doesn’t have to roll too far inwards.
The mid-cut height provides additional ankle support, preventing rolls and twists on uneven surfaces. Their bump toe design shields sensitive toes from the impact on the terrain.
A 1.5-inch heel with KEEN contoured heel support structure cups your heel snugly, enhancing stability and reducing slippage and blisters. It is complemented with dual-density compression-molded EVA midsoles, which cushions and absorbs shock, effectively dispersing the impact from rough terrain and torsion stabilizing external support shanks (ESS) under the arch.
All-terrain multi-sectional rubber outsoles provide aggressive traction using 4mm deep multi-directional lugs which bite into rough terrain and keep you in control, making short work of treacherous loose trails.
They are also non-marking and will leave no trace when used indoors. At only 1 lb. and 1.4 oz., we admit all these perks have been packaged in an impressively lightweight hiking shoe.
Best Hiking Shoes for Flat Feet (Women)
- Durable, water-resistant mesh and suede leather uppers
- Protected by Merrell’s M Select Dry waterproof and breathable lining
- Extra arch support for flat feet with negligible additional weight
- Excellent surface grip courtesy of Vibram TC5+ outsoles
- They require a bit of wearing in before they adapt to the shape of your feet
The waterproof upper is a combination of breathable mesh overlaid with durable performance suede leather, designed to keep your feet comfortable through dusty trails in the heat as well as wet and muddy conditions.
They have a bellowed tongue which seals potential entry points and helps in keeping moisture and debris out. It is made of closed-cell foam, which cushions the forefoot from the pressure of the laces, allowing you to tighten them for a secure fit.
Merrell’s M Select DRY, breathable waterproof mesh lining seals out water while aerating the feet and allowing moisture to escape as you traverse the trail. It allows you to take your backpacking treks through all kinds of weather and terrain.
The removable, washable insole improves your overall comfort by reducing stress on your feet. It has a Merrell air cushion that offers a wide cushioning zone under the heel’s full width, absorbing impact while cradling the heel to optimize stability, prevent heel pain, and provide support.
The mid-height construction complements this support by extending it all the way to the ankles. There is a protective rubber toe cap to shield the sensitive toes from bump impact.
The boots’ supportive footbeds, which have been contoured for breathability and the spreading of pressure, are made out of lightweight blended EVA. They have extra zonal arch support facilitated by a molded nylon arch shank which braces the arch contours without adding extra weight to the shoe.
Your flat feet are comfortably stabilized, and you can hike for hours on diverse terrains. You also get to experience the stability and excellent grip of the Vibram TC5+ rubber sole traction; the Merrell Moab 2’s come with 5mm deep lugs for good measure.
Best Budget Hiking Shoes for Flat Feet (Men)
- They are covered by the manufacturer’s limited lifetime warranty
- Enhanced arch and heel support courtesy of Merrell’s M Select FIT.ECO+ footbed
- Excellent traction from Vibram TC5+ rubber soles
- Affordable on a tight budget
- Unfit for heavy loads and technical trails due to their extra flexibility
These shoes provide an affordable hiking intermediary if you are not comfortable in boots and need something that will last longer than your regular trail running shoe. They have durable performance suede leather and mesh uppers that are breathable for enhanced comfort.
Their bellows tongues prevent moisture and debris from entering the shoe and protect your feet from experiencing the pinch of laces as you fasten the shoe, thanks to their closed-cell foam cushioning.
There is a breathable mesh lining capable of wicking sweat and releasing moisture, letting in fresh air, keeping your feet cool and comfortable despite the rising summer heat. The lining also has waterproofing qualities which bar water entry into the boot to keep your hiking socks and feet dry when the shoes are subjected to wetness.
The contoured, blended EVA footbed is lightweight and breathable. It features Merrell’s M Select FIT.ECO+ design. This includes a molded nylon arch shank providing additional zonal support for the arch and Merrell air cushioning which cups the heel for stability and absorbs the shock of your body weight pressing against the sole.
Their shock-absorbing and flexible midsole are also formed out of lightweight EVA. You can go for longer hikes without straining your feet or getting fatigued.
They also have protective rubber toe caps and Vibram TC5+ rubber outsoles with 5mm deep lugs. The durable, stable, and slip-resistant Vibram sole traction ensures your feet are firmly planted whether the surface you are stepping on is loose and dusty, slick and smooth, or wet and muddy.
Best Budget Hiking Shoes for Flat Feet (Women)
- Soft, breathable mesh and 3D-printed TPU upper does not require breaking in
- Merrell’s Kinetic Fit TRI insoles provide flexible, intuitive all-rounded foot support
- Zonal arch support boosted by a molded nylon arch shank
- Affordable on a tight budget
- They are not waterproof shoes (for an extra premium, you can get the women’s Siren Edge 3 Waterproof version with Merrell’s M Select DRY BARRIER, which is impermeable to water).
These affordable shoes have been crafted using vegan-friendly materials and processes and custom-designed with the shape of a woman’s foot in mind. The upper is a combination of breathable mesh and 3D-printed TPU. (TPU is originally resistant to abrasion, tearing, and water; 3D printing extends its strength, flexibility, and durability).
The combination results in a rugged yet aesthetically appealing and breathable upper, capable of retaining your foot’s freshness and coolness throughout those long days spent on the trail. It is soft and malleable, meaning the shoe will not require breaking in.
It is also lightweight and quick to dry when exposed to water, so you don’t have to carry the extra weight and discomfort for long (a pair only weighs 1lb 2oz). The inside is lined with a breathable mesh for extra comfort.
The shoes have a traditional lace closure for firm fitting, which features a bellows tongue that conveniently blocks debris from getting into the shoe.
They come with Merrell’s Kinetic Fit TRI removable insoles, which provide flexible and intuitive support to all three arches of your flat foot and cup your heels, ensuring your movement is connected and protected. Kinetic Fit insoles are designed to be contoured exactly like the human foot and offer accurate bracing and support while allowing a natural flex.
Their intuitive shape provides extended arch coverage as well as heel and forefoot cushioning. They are perforated for breathability, which renders them lightweight and is also an organic odor control avenue.
The footbed complements the insoles with a molded nylon arch shank which boosts stability for flat feet over uneven ground. Stability is further enhanced by their extra sticky rugged Vibram TC5+ Megagrip rubber sole with 3.5 mm deep lugs. The added traction enables sure footing regardless of the terrain.
Best of the Rest
- Sufficient traction from eco-friendly rubber outsoles with 3mm-deep lugs
- Highly customizable fitting for a snug, comfortable hold
- Straps going through the midsole optimize sandal-foot connection for added stability
- Podiatrist approved heel and arch support system
- Their reinforced soles make them heavyset for a pair of sandals
Originally designed by river guides in 1989, Chaco’s Z/Volvs have retained a position among the best sport sandals. This version has incorporated modern design and technology to make them lighter and softer underfoot while using vegan-friendly materials and construction methods.
The upper comprises webbing straps made of tough and durable polyester jacquard. They have been laid using Chaco’s unique pull-through design, where they go through the midsole and wrap around your feet. The loops are adjustable from the front to the back, and you can keep going until you get the perfect fit for the shape and size of your foot.
Durable injection-molded ladder lock buckles will secure the straps at the optimum fitting. You can adjust the straps to get an optional toe loop for a more secure fit. They also have adjustable high-tensile webbing heel risers, which secure the heels in place, correcting your flat foot gait and averting the strain from your Achilles heels.
Apart from the comfort and improved agility, you also protect your Achilles tendon from overloading, which can cause foot pain and eventually full-blown Achilles Tendonitis if unchecked.
The Z/Volv sandals rest your feet on Luvseat PU footbeds with an irregular grid-inspired texture for non-slip traction to stabilize your feet. The PU compound is made extra soft so that it can provide comfortable cushioning on long hikes. It has been optimized with heel cups that support the heel risers by enhancing shock absorption.
An embedded lightweight nylon shank provides additional arch support. Its efficiency has gained support from podiatrists; by regulating gait, it aligns the body such that the ankle doesn’t roll too far downwards or inwards, leading to over-pronation and injury. The feet are balanced through uneven terrain.
They can handle diverse terrains thanks to their sticky, non-marking performance outsoles made from EcoTread rubber, which is 25% recycled. Their lugs are 3mm deep for extra traction.
- Sustainable eco-conscious material and construction
- Reinforced water resistance combining full-grain leather and seam sealing technology
- Lightweight EVA cushioning and support
- Excellent traction courtesy of rubber outsole with multi-directional lugs
- The tough leather upper requires wearing in
The premium waterproof upper is made of 100% full-grain leather obtained exclusively from tanneries that are Gold or Silver-rated by the Leather Working Group (LWG) for their efforts towards environmental responsibility. This means it was responsibly sourced sustainably.
It has been seam-sealed for thorough waterproofing. This covers the needle holes through which water may leak into the boots and shields the seams from wear and tear. Its fully gusseted tongue ensures no water gets in through the shoelace holes either, or any other debris for that matter.
These boots come with rustproof speed lace hardware for fast adjustment and efficient wear and removal. They have hooks at the top for more secure lacing. The inside is lined with a breathable ReBOTL recycled fabric to aerate your feet. This eco-conscious fabric is made from non-biodegradable plastic that is shredded and turned into yarns woven into fabric. They get a new life and reduce the plastic footprint in the environment.
They have a soft EVA footbed that cushions your feet and disperses the pressure to maintain your comfort on long hikes. The midsole is also made of lightweight compression-molded EVA foam, a rugged version of a great shock absorber.
At the very bottom is a durable solid recycled rubber sole with multi-directional lugs for increased traction. They will grip all sorts of terrain and provide sure footing. The ankle-length shaft provides ankle protection and support, reducing injury possibilities.
- Dual-density EVA cushioning for extra comfort
- Enhanced breathability courtesy of performance mesh and vented lining
- Metatomical internal support design for optimal foot cradling
- Natural odor control using Cleansport NTX technology
- There have been reports of the shoes being smaller than their assigned sizes
These hikers come with a performance mesh upper designed to maximize airflow. The mesh is reinforced with 100% leather outlays for added durability and water resistance. Designed with an emphasis on ventilation, they have Voyageur’s vented mesh lining, which guarantees continuous breathability for your feet on hot, stifling summer days.
They use lace closure with reinforced eyelets that seal your feet firmly in place. A cushioned collar prevents irritation and discomfort around the ankle.
They have been built specifically for women and feature KEEN’s Metatomical internal support, which is anatomically engineered to cradle the foot’s natural contours. This has been implemented in the removable footbed with dual density EVA cushioning, which has a contoured heel lock and zonal arch support.
The footbed executes natural odor control using Cleansport NTX technology which breaks down odor-producing organisms using microbes bonded into its fibers.
The Voyageur’s dual-density compression-molded EVA foam midsole provides extra cushioning without significantly impacting the shoe’s overall weight. It is boosted by an External Stability Shank (ESS), which adds lightweight support for efficient mobility, torsional stability, and control over uneven surfaces.
KEEN’s all-terrain high traction outsole allows you to traverse rough rocky terrain with confidence. The non-marking 4mm deep multi-directional carbon-rubber lugs have an excellent grip on all types of surfaces. They come with a one-year manufacturer warranty for added peace of mind.
What Are Flat Feet?
Flat feet are feet whose footpads press into the ground when standing because they don’t have an arch, and if they do, it is minimal. We are all born with flat feet and develop arches as we grow up, apart from a small percentage who retain the flat feet into adulthood. The other category of flat-footed adults is those whose arches collapse post-development.
Several factors may cause collapse, ranging from hereditary inheritance, Achilles tendon injury, pregnancy, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and conditions like down syndrome and cerebral palsy.
Flat feet are mostly not a big problem, although they are susceptible to strain and injury because the feet are not in their most efficient position. The arch’s tendons and ligaments are more likely to swell, stretch or tear on long walks or when an extra load is put on them (say backpacking).
The feet are also less flexible, which presents a problem when walking on uneven surfaces. You are prone to leg cramps, muscle pains, and toe drifts (the toes opening up and pointing outwards).
Flat feet are managed using a combination of physical therapy and supportive devices. Therapy includes strengthening tight tendons and muscles and improving their flexibility and mobility. This can be achieved through controlled walks or hikes, which have the added advantage of weight management.
Supportive devices include foot and leg braces, foot orthotics, and custom-made shoes designed for these functions. This is why the best hiking shoes for flat feet have some unique features that regular hikers would not normally consider.
Exercises to Help Hikers with Flat Feet
They stimulate the calves and increase blood flow in the region, increasing your range of motion and overall flexibility. This reduces the risk of injuring your calf muscles while walking or standing. Like any other stretch, they will ease muscle soreness, allowing you to go for more hikes.
Calf Raises/ Stair Raises
The calves are responsible for raising your entire body and propelling you forward when walking or running. Building calf strength and endurance are, therefore, useful if you are an avid hiker. It also improves ankle stability and overall balance while stretching the plantar muscles to avoid plantar fasciitis.
Stretching your toes elongates the muscles, keeps them relaxed, and eases any soreness. It builds muscle memory, which helps correct your gait to distribute weight evenly throughout the entire foot. It is usually more effective when combined with the above strength exercises.
What Does the Ideal Hiking Shoe Look Like?
All-round cushioning is important when you are out on the trail. The forefoot needs to be protected from bump impact and strain from the laces. The ankle protrudes and needs a buffer from the friction generated as it rubs against the boot, and the entire underfoot should not be exposed to the uneven surface below with rocks and sharp objects.
Both the upper and footbed should have sufficient cushioning. The cushioning should be breathable so that the feet remain aerated.
Arch and Heel Support
These two are critical to your overall gait, which by extension, influences your balance and agility. There should be a flexible mechanism for raising the arch to support weight transfer from the heel to the ball, eliminating tarsal strain. The heel should be capped so that it is centered and moves as one with the shoe. The shoe should have extra cushioning under the heel to absorb the extra weight it carries.
Rigidity and Ankle Support
While the uppers are preferred malleable, the area around the ankle should be rigid to prevent excessive rolling while shielding the ankle from external harm. There should be sufficient cushioning to prevent any form of bruising.
The shoe size alone is not sufficient to determine whether the shoe fits. The shape of your feet matters. Some hikers have wide feet, and others have narrow feet; other feet are only wide at the toes.
If the shoe is too wide, the foot will keep moving inside it, which affects stability and may result in bruises and blisters due to internal friction. If it is too narrow, the restricted foot will be unnaturally placed, which is uncomfortable, unsafe, and affects balance.
This is a combination of the construction material, construction method, and functionality of the boot. The material should be durable with the ability to maintain its shape and appearance. The outsole should enable you to traverse diverse terrains, and the seams and joints should hold for extended hikes.
Any type of guarantee or warranty is welcome to back up the manufacturer’s billing if you can’t tell by looking at whether the material is legitimate.
You should also check out our review of the Best Hiking Boots for Wide Feet for more variety.