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Shoes for Wengen and Zermatt

I am planning on wearing my Teva Terra sandals that I wore in Greece last year and all the rest of the summer, they are so comfortable. I didn't wear my sneakers much because it was SO HOT in July. This year we will be in Switzerland and I'm wondering if I need to bring sneakers or hiking boots? I have a pair of Merrills that are a year old that I wear hiking in the mountains here in Utah. I would need to wear them on the airplane to keep my carry on bag under weight. Is it worth bring those to wear hiking in Wengen and Zermatt or could I just bring my sneakers again? I have some Hokas and New Balance Fresh Foams.

Posted by
11386 posts

For safety on rocky trails, I always wear hiking boots with a good tread. Even if you do not do significant elevation, a turned ankle -- or worse -- from poor support can ruin your trip. We found hikes in Zermatt to have significant descent, which in my experience is the situation in which you are most likely to have footing problems.

If you are only going to walk on level, paved pathways, the sneakers are fine.

Posted by
843 posts

It depends on what you plan on doing. If hiking, what type of trails would you do? Do you ever wear your Teva’s hiking in Utah? My Teva’s have a tendency to pick up small rocks and sand so I prefer a closed shoe when we hike. I wouldn’t lug a big pair of boots unless you will be doing some serious trails. There are shoes like some by Oboz that are lightweight with good tread or if you’re doing just fairly easy trails, tennies would probably be fine. Again, this is just all my opinion after having been to that area.

Posted by
61 posts

Maybe I should look at some different light weight hiking boots. No I haven't worn my Teva's hiking here. I am planning on just wearing those walking in cities or paved paths. I'm not going on this trip until the end of August, so I could break them in this summer. Any suggestions besides Obos (I will look at those too) for light weight hiking shoes or boots?

Posted by
61 posts

And suggestions for hiking socks that aren't wool because unfortunately I am allergic to wool?

Posted by
466 posts

We like our Merrill shoes and boots for hiking. Honestly reg. hiking boots can be cumbersome for packing when going overseas. There trail shoes and lighter weight trail boots that take less room and less heavy. I also have some Clarks that I like….double for both walking and hiking. Have good tread!

Posted by
1462 posts

We have always worn our Keen Hiking Shoes to Europe. We do a lot of hiking at home and on trips to Europe. At home I wear boots if I'm doing much elevation gain/loss, but have found shoes to be enough when traveling. I'm a only one pair of shoes allowed girl and have worn my hiking shoes all over Europe.

Posted by
471 posts

This really depends on what you're planning to do. Are you doing big hikes or just casual exploring/walking? We do big hikes (like 4000 ft of elevation gain type hikes around Murren/Wengen) in Altra trail runner "sneakers" (Lone Peaks) + hiking poles. We don't like hiking boots because they feel clunky to us personally, so maybe your sandals plus a trail runner type sneaker would be a good compromise? Or if your sandals have really good traction and you're not planning any major hikes you might be fine.

Posted by
843 posts

If the weather is like last year, I would definitely bring the Teva’s. Have you tried Vermont Darn Tough socks? I react to wool but these don’t seem to bother me and they last forever. You might try Bombas though for non wool socks, have heard some good things about them. Also, if it rains or has rained the trails have tendency to be slippery because of the limestone. I had sneakers on the time we came down a trail in the light rain in Appenzell, that was quite the experience.

Posted by
497 posts

Always wear something with a good profile (grippy) sole. Just like you would use winter tires in snow rather than summer tires, so that you have more traction.

The hiking clubs of Switzerland have an information packed website. Unfortunately it does not have an English option, but it is still worth looking at using a translation app. Here you can see the photos of hiking signposts and other signalisation so that you can recognise and understand them when you are here.

Yellow are the wanderweg paths are suitable for most hikers. The more difficult mountain hiking paths are marked by a white/red/white stripe on the directional arrow. This is certainly something to pay attention to so that you choose a hike according to your ability.

Photo can be seen here:
https://www.schweizer-wanderwege.ch/de/wissen/signalisation/der-wegweiser-erklaert

Here is a translation of their Mountain hiking trail information:

“Mountain hiking trails sometimes open up rough terrain and are mostly steep, narrow and sometimes exposed. Particularly difficult passages are secured with ropes or chains.

Users must be sure-footed, have a head for heights and be in good physical condition and be aware of the dangers in the mountains (falling rocks, danger of slipping and falling, weather changes).

We recommend wearing sturdy shoes with a non-slip sole, appropriate equipment for the weather and topographical maps.”

https://www.schweizer-wanderwege.ch/de/wissen/signalisation/wegkategorien#page-section-2

Since it is so easy to reach the level of the mountain hiking trails by taking the gondola or train up, many people underestimate the danger of these hiking trails and set off as if they were just going for a walk in the park. This has had some very sad consequences in the past, especially near popular tourist destinations such as the Äscher cliff restaurant in Appenzell.

https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/business/mountain-accidents-in-switzerland-the-figures/47805430

Posted by
61 posts

Good advice Maureen! We have gotten ourselves into scary situations a couple of times and try to be cautious. We actually have a friend who does search and rescue and have heard the horror stories.

Posted by
843 posts

Thank you Maureen. We took the tram up to the top of the Ebenalp and hiked down. That was almost ten years ago but I remember the trail starting out by dropping over the side of the cliff and then steep switchbacks down to a more level trail across to the restaurant. Not for the faint of heart or non experienced hiker. I’m not sure how this can be described online as a family friendly trail. Thank you for trying to make people aware that the trails may not be what you expect and to do some homework before just starting out.

Posted by
1817 posts

I live in Wengen, and in summer I often walk around on Tevas. I have even done the panorama hike from Männlichen to Kleine Scheidegg on Tevas.
Important is the sole. It needs to have a good profile and good grip. And many Tevas have them (not a surprise given where they come from...)

Most of the time I wear trail running shoes. These are actually my every day shoes. They are low, comfy, and have a good sole as well. And they are water repellent. I do most hikes with those. Its only for the more difficult trails that I get my mountain boots out.

Important things to look for:
- Good sole
- Waterproof.
- Don't mind getting them dirty (paths are often muddy).

I see tourists (especially Asian ones) go on hikes here with white tennis shoes. I wonder how their shoes look (and their feet feel) at the end of the hike.

Posted by
61 posts

Thank you WengenK, I think I will bring my Tevas and start looking at some Trail Running Shoes and try them out on some trails here in Utah.
Do you have some favorite hikes to recommend?

Posted by
1817 posts

My favourite are:

  • Grütschalp to Lobhorn Hütte.
  • The rear of the Lauterbrunnen Valley beyond Stechelberg (which has the best waterfalls)
  • Wengen to Wengernalp via Mettlenalp.

(None of these I would do with Tevas though... but for getting around Wengen certainly not a problem.)