Footwear

Hiking | Trail Running | Road Running | Boating | Casual

Our footwear department is one of the largest that you'll find; we have everything from expedition boots to flip flops. Hiking, trail running, and road running shoes are all lined up and ready for you to try on. We also have a comprehensive selection of casual shoes from your favorite outdoor and surf brands. Come have a chat with us, we'd love to fill you in on what's new with shoes!

 

Local Hiking Spots

08/01/2016


We are lucky to live in a part of the country where beautiful hiking trails abound, and even luckier to have endless options right in our own little corner of Connecticut. There are many hiking trails that cater to those of you who want to spend a full day out in the woods, conquering new terrain and never passing the same rock twice. On the contrary, if you are a new hiker or you want to introduce the activity to your young children, there is no shortage of local trails that will fit your needs. We've put together a guide to some of our favorite nearby hiking spots based on the ease of the hike and size of the park. In addition, we compiled a list of must-have items for each one so you can stay safe and comfortable on the trail. Don't forget: a good sturdy pair of hiking boots or trail shoes is your number one piece of gear! 



The Norwalk River Valley Trail
nrvt
The NRVT is a local favorite; it offers the chance to take a walk in the woods without having to deal with any variable terrain. If you want to spend some time beneath the trees with a young child, or even push your baby in a stroller, the NRVT is the perfect spot. The Wilton Loop has an entrance on Route 7 at the corner of Wolfpit Road, with a park & ride lot right across from the trailhead. There is another entrance to the Wilton Loop at Merwin Meadows; this section of trail is set back from the road a bit more, but both sections are flat enough to walk comfortably with a stroller.

Gear List:
water bottle, bug spray (we recommend Natrapel 8-hour)



Wilton Town Forest
wiltonwoods

The Town Forest, sometimes known as Wilton Woods, is the largest open space in town. It is also considered to be the most rugged, meaning that you will get the experience of variable terrain and interesting geography without having to even leave Wilton. Hiking all the way around the park is about two and a half miles, so it would be a great opportunity to introduce your children to the joys of hiking without taking them somewhere too overwhelming. 

Gear List:
water bottle, bug spray, extra layer, small first aid kit (we recommend Family Medic from Adventure Medical Kit), whistle



Devil's Den Preserve
devilsden

Devil's Den in Weston and Redding is the largest preserve in Fairfield County, at 1,746 acres. It encompasses 20 miles of trails and has variable terrain with ponds and streams. Depending on your skill level, a hike around the park would take around 3 or 4 hours, but it is definitely possible to explore deeper and spend the entire day getting to know this huge park. The hike would be a bit strenuous for small children, but any child who is fit for a few hours of hiking will love this park (note: this park is not dog-friendly).

Gear List:
water bottle, bug spray, extra layer, small first aid kit, whistle, poncho, day pack (we recommend the Osprey Daylite), trail bar, knife/multitool (we recommend the Leatherman Supertool)




Appalachian Trail, CT Section
at

The famous Appalachian Trail passes through the northwestern corner of Connecticut, and you only need to drive about an hour from Wilton to access it. The AT is a great option for an all-day hike, but we highly recommend taking it a step further for an overnight camping and hiking adventure. Keep in mind that it is a continuous trail, so unless you organize a ride back to your car you will be doing an out-and-back hike. One option we recommend, if you're hiking with a friend, is to take two cars and leave one at the ending point of your hike so that you can experience more of the trail without having to turn around and backtrack. Be sure to research in advance the parking spots that allow overnight parking and the areas that allow camping (there are many!).

Gear List:
water bottle, bug spray, extra layer, small first aid kit, whistle, poncho, day pack, trail bar, knife/multitool, freeze-dried meal, light stove (we recommend the Whisperlite from MSR), gas, tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag (we recommend the Summerlite from Western Mountaineering), pot, utensils, headlamp, pack (we recommend a pack in the 30-48 liter range, such as the 35-liter Banchee from The North Face), water purifier, extra socks

 



 

Go-To Running Shoes

06/16/2016

We interviewed James Whipple, director of the Sono Half and experienced ultra-runner, to find his go-to shoes for running. No surprise here--James owns over 40 pairs of sneakers, and alternates between 2 to 3 during his training periods. James showed us the shoes he loves most for both trail and road running, and what makes them the best tool for a healthier run! Read on to find out how James prepares for a race, and the shoes that keep him on his feet!

james3

James crossing the finish line at Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run with his family.

 

How often do you replace your running shoes?
"On average, it is wise to replace your shoes every 300-350 miles. Trail shoes may wear out faster if you have sections of road on your trail run, since pavement wears down the treads a bit faster."

How long does it take to break in a new pair of sneakers?
"The approximate break in period for most shoes is 20-30 miles. However, lighter, more minimalist type shoes require much less wear to break them in. It is crucial to get a feel for the shoes before you buy them! Spend some time walking around the store and make sure you do not feel any hot spots that could become painful blisters when you are running in them."

I want to try trail running; do I need different shoes for trail and road?
"There are road specific running shoes and a trail running shoes; each have their own benefits depending on the surface and terrain you'll be running on. If you're just trying out trail running for the first time, a crossover shoe is a great option because it's made to perform in both situations."

Do you have any advice for people who are planning to run a marathon?
"Have a plan! Be consistent! There are many terrific beginner training programs available online. Find one that works well with your schedule and follow it consistently. Keep most of your running easy and comfortable to build your fitness and avoid injury. Be patient! I do a lot of my training on the treadmill at home in order to spend more quality time with my family. This also allows me to control my pace and incline, so there is less risk of injury."

What are some important factors to consider when buying new shoes?
"The length of your run, your experience level and your foot's flexibility help break down the difference between running shoes. Your pedorthist can check based on flexing and twisting your foot whether it is rigid or flexible to reveal the amount of support you need. If you're running for longer distances a shoe with more support can protect your arch and absorb shock. I recommend the new brand Hoka for its lightweight and sturdier soles."

Our on-staff pedorthist Arlo Tarr will take measurements and examine your foot type, carefully to help you pick the perfect pair of running shoes for your feet. This is crucial to ensuring that you have a fun and safe running experience; everyone runs differently, so the same shoe is not necessarily the best shoe for everyone. With a pedorthic background, he can examine your feet and point out potential issues that you might not realize effect your running style, and also recommend a supportive insole to help tweak the fit.

 

james1

James and his daughter Mia at the New York City 10K last year.

 

 

James shared with us his favorite running shoes, for trail running and road running. Here are his top picks in each category:

 

Road

Hoka Clifton 2

hokamenshokawomens

 Although Hoka is a relatively new brand, it has already become incredibly popular in the ultrarunning community, with around 75% of ultrarunners using them. They have even become increasingly popular for all distances because of their thick soles that offer maximum cushioning. James likes to use these shoes on his recovery runs of about 8-10 miles; he says, "They keep your legs fresh and absorb shock." They are very lightweight (around 6.6 ounces) and have unique midsoles. Hokas have 2.5 times the midsole volume of a standard running shoe, and they incorporate Meta-Rocker geometry, meaning a sculpted outsole radius in the heel and toe which supports a runner's form. This shoe comes in men's and women's.

 

Trail

Salomon Speedcross 3

salomonmenssalomonwomens

James' favorite thing about these shoes is the incredible lacing system: one-pull tightening is quick and easy, and there is a lace pocket on the tongue where you can quickly tuck away the pull tab. He also mentioned that it's incredibly comfortable: "it feels like a glove on your foot." A protective layer all around the base of the shoe protects against mud, and an anti-debris mesh keeps the area between your foot and the footbed free of debris. The deep tread on the outsoles provides the ultimate grip no matter what the conditions. This shoe comes in men's and women's. 

 

Other Road Shoes we Love:

 

Asics Gel Nimbus

asics

This shoe incorporates a gel cushioning system in the rear foot and forefoot that gives it an incredibly smooth ride. The shoe is constructed of seamless materials, and the elimination of seams and stitching also eliminates the risk of irritating friction and scratching. This shoe comes in men's and women's.

 

Brooks Adrenaline GTS brooks

 A full-length segmented crash pad allows for smooth transitions from your heel to your toe, and the Progressive Diagonal Rollbar adds stability to the shoe. The midsole is designed to be great for people with moderate pronation, and for those with flat to medium arches. Your feet will stay dry and cool thanks to the moisture-management mesh upper. This shoe comes in men's and women's.

 

Other Trail Shoes we Love:

 

LaSportiva Mutant

lasportiva

This aggressive trail shoe will carry you over technical terrain with ease. The outsole incorporates FriXion® XF, LaSportiva's "stickiest running shoe sole compound," which provides superior traction. This shoe offers stability and grip on the roughest terrain, along with cushioning to keep your feet going longer. This shoe comes in men's and women's. 

 

North Face Ultra Cardiactnf

This is an excellent shoe for beginner trail runners, with a low price point and a stable fit. If your trail run includes portions of road, this is the shoe for you, as it is made to perform on any surface. It makes a great crossover shoe for anyone going from road to trail for the first time. It is flexible and light, but also protective, with a wide platform for added stability. Sticky threads give you traction on your uphill climbs, while the midsole cushioning protects your feet on the descent. This shoe comes in men's and women's.

 

Water Shoes

05/26/2016


As temperatures rise and spring fades into summer, we all have one thing on our mind: water sports! There's nothing quite like a long afternoon paddleboard trip across the lake or a boat ride out on the sound. Even while hiking, there is nothing more refreshing than taking a break to wade through a nearby stream. No matter how you like to get your feet wet, we have an abundance of water shoes for everything you love to do in summer. Quick drying and breathable with tightly gripping soles, these shoes will keep your feet protected and keep you cool and comfortable all throughout the summer. 



Summer Hiking
hiking
These shoes are made to be incredibly light and breathable, and we often recommend them to people who are taking a hiking trip in a warm weather climate. Wading through water in these is no problem; they dry very fast and will stay comfortable through whatever terrain you encounter. We carry the Capra Rapid and All Out Blaze Aero Sport from Merrell, and the Chaco Outcross Evo, all in men's and women's sizes.


Classic Boat Shoes
sperry
Sperry shoes were made for the deck of a boat. They were originally invented right here in Connecticut after founder Paul Sperry was inspired by his dog's ability to run across wet surfaces without sliding. The soles are non-marking and siped to keep you from slipping. The Sperry boating sneakers we carry are the Flex Deck CVO, Shock Light, and Sojourn Mesh.


Paddling and Portaging
astral
When you need to take your boat out of the water and portage, you'll want to have a good sturdy shoe to make your way over land while carrying your heavy boat. Astral makes water shoes that have sturdy, supportive soles with excellent tread to help you make your way back to the water with ease. Check out the Porter, Aquanut, and Loyak, available in men's and women's sizes.


Everyday Comfort
sandals
Our favorite everyday summer footwear is any one of these comfortable, water-loving sandals. You can't go wrong with a pair of classic Tevas, while Keens offer toe protection just in case you run into some terrain. Anhu is a new brand for us, and their sandals are amazingly light and comfortable. We carry several models of Teva and Keen sandals for men and women. From Anhu, we carry the Del Rey for men and the Tilden for women.


Lifeguarding and Traveling
olukai
Hawaiian Brand Olukai created the Eleu Trainer for the Hawaiian Lifeguarding Association. Whether you are running through sandy terrain or swimming in the sea, these shoes will hold up to the challenge. We also recommend them as a comfortable everyday travel shoe, great for light hiking. The Eleu Trainer comes in men's and women's sizes.

Top Hiking Boots

01/13/2016

Ready for Hiking season? Finding the right boots is essential to enjoying your hike. Trekking through mud, steep cliffs and slippery ground ensures you will be working up a sweat, but you can ease the pressure off your feet by finding the right boot. Every journey requires different footwear, whether you are on a long distance backpacking trip or a short walk in the woods, and we're here to break down the difference in footwear for you. 

Thru-Hiking The A.T.

Normally backpacking boots are made to be very stiff since you don't want too much flexibility when you're carrying a heavy load on your back. However, LOWA has come out with a couple of backpacking boots that offer just enough flexibility to make the boots easier to break in. These boots are made with a stiff shank in the rear boot, and in the front the shank tapers to allow flex, which will allow for a shorter break-in period. For men, we have the LOWA Camino Flex ($300), and for women, the Mauria Flex ($300).

lowa_mlowa_w

Exploring Devil's Den

For day hiking, you have the option of boots or shoes, and it really just depends on which is more comfortable for you. A boot that encases your ankle is generally better when you will be doing more climbing on your hike, as it will give you added support and protection. For men's boots, our experts recommend the LaSportiva Core High ($200). This is not only a brand new boot, but it utilizes a whole new type of construction called GORETEX Surround. The GORETEX bootie is incorporated into the boot in a new way that makes it much more breathable, perfect for hiking in the summer. For women, we love the Vasque Inhaler ($159), another new boot that gives your feet added breathability. It is also made with GORETEX, but it incorporates a generous amount of mesh into its design to allow for maximum airflow through the walls of the boot.

lasportivavasque

Walking your dog in Cranbury Park

A hiking shoe with a low ankle can feel cooler in summertime than a high hiking boot, and we have a wide selection of hiking shoes to choose from. Our favorites are the Oboz Tamarac ($140) for men and the Phoenix ($140) for women. Oboz boots offer excellent quality for the price, and unlike most hiking boots, they come with very high-quality insoles. In addition, Oboz makes their own outsoles, which are very well crafted and helps them keep their prices low. BDry waterproofing keeps your feet nice and dry.

oboz_moboz_w

 

 

It is essential to your hiking experience to have a boot that fits well. With the right fit, the right insoles and the most comfortable socks, your feet will be blister-free and much less likely to be injured on the trail. Our experts can help you find the perfect fitting boot, and also the perfect insole to add comfort and customize your fit. We recommend using insoles in your hiking boots no matter what to give you added support, and since they come in a variety of thicknesses, you can also use the thicker ones to shrink any extra spaces inside the boot. Superfeet and Sole Footbeds make fantastic insoles that will keep your feet happy on the trail.

socks

We have a huge assortment of socks that are perfect for day hikes or long trekking adventures. A common misconception is that wool socks are meant for cold weather, but this natural material can be used to construct thin, lightweight socks as well as thick winter socks. We carry socks from Smartwool and Fit that come in a variety of thicknesses and are excellent at wicking away moisture. Bacteria don't take to wool since it is a natural fiber, so even after hours of hiking you won't have that unpleasant sweaty foot smell. Never wear cotton socks while hiking, since cotton holds in moisture, sucks in bacteria, and is very slow to dry.

Trail Running

03/19/2015

Warm weather means it's time to say goodbye to the treadmill and hello to running outside! We recommend trail running this season to breathe in the fresh air and stretch your legs. Trail running has tons of advantages over running on the road, such as lower impact on your joints and a more serene environment. Here at Outdoor Sports Center we have all the gear you need, including a fantastic assortment of new trail running shoes! For those of you who are new to trail running, we've compiled a few tips to get you started safely and to help you get the most out of your run.

trailrunners

 

Be Aware
When running on a trail, you'll be surprised how quickly you start to de-stress and enjoy the beauty around you. Whether on a dirt path or a gravel road, you will stumble upon streams, bridges, and hills that will vary in difficulty and keep you alert. Wilton alone has so many great parks for all levels: beginners, intermediate and advanced runners can enjoy a variety of distance and intensity at each park. Be careful to start at an easier level if you are a beginner. The east loop of the Norwalk River Valley Trail is a wide gravel path that's 2 miles long, easy to navigate, and just opened up this year. The entrance is across from the commuter lot on Wolf Pit Road, and it is a great starting point for beginners. It's important to remember that trails are for a wide variety of use; mountain bikers, dog walkers, and sometimes horses all share the same path, so stay alert just like you would on the road. Another challenge is following the trail markers in order to not get lost. This is much more of an issue on harder trails, like the Wilton Town Forest for experienced runners, so keep your phone or GPS on you at all times as a safety precaution.

Start Slow
If you're more accustomed to running on the road, you will find that the trail is completely different. Different muscles are being used; for example, trail running involves more focus on balance, which means engaging your core. There are often much steeper hills than you would encounter on the road and all sorts of obstacles. Be careful to ensure you have proper footing in order to protect yourself from twisted ankles and falls. Don't start out trying to achieve the same mileage that you run on the road. In fact, because of all the added challenges, it is wise when running on the trail to focus more on the time you spend running than the actual miles you run. Your time will reflect the intensity of your workout better than your miles will.

Accessorize!
There are several pieces of gear other than running shoes that are crucial for trail running.
We carry the Ultra Trail Gaiter by Outdoor Research ($45) which will protect your feet from anything that could potentially fly up and get in your boot. This time of year, with all the snow melting and creating muddy trails, this is a must-have item!
Certain socks are much better on the trail than others, such as Smartwool's PhD Run ($15.95), which are more technical socks that have been completely revamped with more durability and a higher thread count. The ankle comes up higher on these socks, which will protect your ankles in rougher areas.
Wearing sunglasses while trail running can protect your eyes from low-hanging branches that might not be so easy to see. Of course, you do not want to wear dark lenses when running in the woods, but brands like Smith and Native have many models that include a second lighter lens. Smith Parallels even come with an additional clear lens.
Most importantly, make sure you pick up a hydration pack or water bottle to keep you hydrated on the trail! We have hydration bottles and packs from Nathan, Fuel Belt, and Amphipod.

 

Here are the trail running shoes that our experts recommend above all others!

BrooksBrooks Cascadia 10 - This shoe has been redesigned with a more technical outsole, implementing the design of Brooks' PureGrit outsole. New smaller lugs give you significantly better traction on the trail. We carry this shoe in men's and women's.

Hoka

Hoka Mafate Speed - This shoe is designed specifically for long distance running on the trail. Hoka is known for designing shoes with the most cushioning to keep you comfortable when running long distances. We carry this shoe in men's and women's.

LaSportiva

LaSportiva Bushido - (Is this the most advanced tread?) This is the shoe you want if you will be running on a lot of technical terrains. The soles have extra grip and even give you the option to add spikes. They are excellent for varied terrain and drastic elevation changes. We carry this shoe in men's and women's.

Salomon

Salomon Speedcross 3 - Known for its spectacular traction, this shoe performs in all weather conditions. If you like to run Spartan Races, Tough Mudders, or any other event that involves racing in the mud, this is the shoe for you. The Speedcross 3 is perfect for wet conditions. We carry this shoe in men's and women's.

Asics

Asics Gel-Fujitrabuco 3 - If you are new to trail running, this is the shoe you want to start with. Although it is great for any experience level, the wide base makes it incredibly stable, which is an important feature for a beginner trail runner. We carry this shoe in men's.

More on the next page...