Here's a tip that might sound, well, a little blunt or condescending but is nevertheless true. If you're planning on spending weeks or months hiking through the Appalachian or Pacific Crest or John Muir trails and you run out the night before to pick up some expensive new shoes, you might as well not go. Doing so would be, quite frankly, the very best evidence possible that you're not prepared to make such a long journey. Why? Because having even newish shoes -- ones that you haven't already covered many miles in -- is a recipe for blisters and misery [source: Alt].
Hiking expert Alt says that lightweight boots and trail shoes have become the norm for long distance hikers, but what's really important is to find a pair of shoes that fit best on your feet. For him, that's the Merrell Moab GTX trail shoes, though he emphasizes that different brands work best for other people. For his part McKinney, the author of numerous hiking books, says footwear also includes socks, which are often overlooked as people prep for a hike. There are hiking-specific socks made out of synthetic materials that can be far more comfortable than cotton socks [source: McKinney].