As many are aware, the running community has super cushioned running shoes which are said to improve performance. My feet get very sore hiking/backpacking with existing hiking shoes or boots and their minimal level of cushioning (even with cushioned inserts which help a little). Are any hiking boot/shoe manufacturers producing or planning to produce super cushioned footwear for hikers and backpackers? If they are or will, I am anxious to try them out.
Many people use Trail Runners for hiking and backpacking these days. Altra Lone Peaks are a very popular model for this but there are many others. Altra now make a "hiking boot" style Lone Peak if you hiking requires a bit more ankle protection.
I have tried Altra Lone Peaks and I found them to be quite squishy. They are noted for having a wide toe box.
@ThomRose thanks for the question! You are right that many brands of hiking boots and shoes are not heavily cushioned. We often recommend adding an insert to help, although it sounds like you've already tried that. One brand you might consider trying is Hoka - they are known for extra cushioning, and although the majority of what we carry from Hoka is in the running shoe category, we do have a few day hiker and boot options as well. Good luck!
Full disclosure, I'm not an REI employee,
Don't underestimate the value of a good pair of socks in addition to the boots and liners. Heavy-cushion wool boot socks, possibly with the addition of a liner sock can go a long way in keeping your feet feeling good. They provide good cushioning as well as moisture-wicking.
Hope that helps!
I switched over to heavy duty trail runners for backpacking a few years ago and haven't looked back. I tried the Altra Lone Peaks and wanted to like them, but I just need a lot more cushioning. I have tried many variations and I guarantee you, no shoe provides the cushioning like a Hoka. I do a lot of my hiking in VA on the AT, with its hard, sharp rocks, and I don't feel a thing!
I've taken them all over the US, long and short trails and they've held up.
(below is a copy of a post on this same subject last week)
I encourage you to try the hoka one one stinson atr 5, they are sturdy as heck, great toe box, unbelievable cushioning. I got these after the the soles of my hoka mafate's finally went smooth, at the bottom of the grand canyon, took them to Iceland and Bridger wilderness - wow! I love them! And with REI's return policy, you can't go wrong.