Besides picking a good backpack, selecting the right shoes was probably the most important decision I needed to make when shopping for this year-long trip. Thankfully, unlike my backpack selection, I was successful in choosing the right footwear: the Salomon Synapse Hiking Shoes.

I only wanted to pack one pair of shoes for the whole year—plus sandals and flip flops—and wanted to find a durable, hybrid hiking shoe that could also be used for running on occasion. The search proved to be more challenging than expected.

Initially I was shopping for a pair of waterproof trail running shoes but in chatting with fellow travelers I received some great advice: waterproof shoes will stink after only two weeks in hot, humid climates like Japan and China. Breathable running or hiking shoes would do just fine and if they get wet just stuff newspaper into them and they’ll dry overnight.

The next problem I had was picking out the right tread. I felt that aggressive trail running shoes like the Altra Lone Peak or Salomon XT Wings 3 would be comfortable for daily use and provide enough bite for all the hiking I hoped to do. But again I was told otherwise: most trail runners have a soft “sticky” rubber sole for good traction on slick rock, but for all the pavement I’d be pounding in big cities throughout the trip, that soft rubber would wear out fast.

Road running shoes, on the other hand, didn’t provide enough bite for hiking and probably wouldn’t have provided me with the foot support needed for carrying a heavy pack. I was at a loss, ready to settle on anything in the last few weeks before our departure. Then one evening browsing Backpacker Magazine online I found an archived article from their 2013 Editor’s Choice Awards. Included on the list was the Salomon Synapse Mid hiking shoe that they claimed had “the perfect blend of cushion and security in an incredibly light package.” Their article continued:

…a snug synthetic upper and one-pull lacing that lock your foot in place, provides superior stability for the weight. And you still get smooth, easy striding that feels trail-runner fast…a pronounced rocker—or curved sole—and the whole package combines to offer an “agile, full-speed-ahead feel.” Tightly woven mesh across much of the upper delivers hot-weather breathability, yet it still repelled grit and debris on dusty trails and bushwhacks. 

I was sold and ordered a pair from Backcountry.com that evening—on sale—hoping that the woven-mesh upper wouldn’t require much of a break-in period. Thankfully they didn’t and they’ve proved to be a great choice over the past months.

The Lake District, England.The thick EVA midsole has provided great comfort for long days out hiking muddy trails in Norway, climbing steep steps on the Great Wall of China or walking miles of hot pavement in Moscow. The ContraGrip outsole has gripped well on all but one form of terrain: wet marble, (but I’m not sure what shoe would stick to that).

I’m also now hooked on the Salomon QuickLace system that allows me to snug the shoe to my foot in a flash. The abrasion-resistant mesh upper is incredibly breathable yet shields from dirt and much moisture getting inside and thankfully, when they’ve become wet, the shoes have dried overnight with newspaper stuffed inside.

An added bonus- after seven months of near constant use in varied conditions there is no foot funk! I choose to not wear them the day after a particularly wet or sweaty hike which might help. And while I’ve only managed to fit in one good run during all this time, the shoes performed exceptionally well over several steep miles in the Eildon Hills of Scotland.

The Salomon Synapse Hiking Shoe has turned out to be a great choice as my one and only pair of shoes for this trip. There’s still a lot of walking to be done, but I’m confident they’ll continue performing brilliantly.

*UPDATE*

We just wrapped up a whole month of trekking in Nepal, first on the Annapurna Circuit and then to Annapurna Base Camp. On the circuit trek alone we covered 113 miles over 20 days with moderate weight on our backs, (besides sleeping bags, little camping gear was required because we stayed in teahouses).

We hiked through a wide variety of conditions starting in rice terraces and jungle, then high alpine forests and a snow-covered, 17,769-foot pass. I’m happy to report that my feet were comfortable throughout the entire trek and I didn’t even feel a single hot spot. On the snow-covered pass we walked on a well-packed trail so keeping my feet dry wasn’t too much of an issue, but while others slipped and slid around me, the tread on my Synapse shoes bit well and I stayed on my feet the whole steep descent. I only packed three pairs of socks, wore the shoes every single day of the treks and am happy to report that there is still little to no funk!

Only issue I had was my toes getting cold during our early start up the pass, but it was a frigid November morning high in the Himalaya, and they warmed up as we continued struggling up the steep trail. There is some slight wear now on the soles at the heel and ball of the foot, but not bad considering six months of near continuous and heavy use.

Marsyangdi, Nepal, travel, travel photography, Canon 5D Mark III, photography, Annapurna Circuit, trekking in Nepal, Pokhara, Annapurna Sanctuary, Annapurna I, Himalaya, Himalayan Mountains, Tibet, Prayer Flags, people of Nepal, Mustang, Manaslu, 8,000 meter mountains, Manang, Muktinath, Dhaulagiri,

 *UPDATE*

Salomon Synapse, Hiking Shoe, Running Shoe, Trail Running, Best shoe for travel,

Exploring Torres del Paine in muddy, snowy, slippery conditions and still going strong!

GEAR REVIEW: SALOMON SYNAPSE HIKING SHOES
A lightweight hiking shoe that can double as a trail runner if needed. Great comfort for long days on your feet, quick drying and, best of all, no funk after seven straight months!
Footwear
Pros
  • Long-lasting comfort
  • Quick drying
  • No break in
Cons
  • Lacks support for heavy loads
4.5Overall Score

About The Author

Traveler
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Mark quit everything to travel the world for a year with his wife, Britnee. Along the way, he picked up a love for many other things, including illy coffee, Nepal, Bolivianos bills, and Thai beaches. Now happily home in Utah, Mark is a balding marketing professional with a mountain biking addiction.

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