Bottom line: Wear what’s comfortable for you. Most hikers wear trail running shoes.
For starters, I know someone who did the whole hike barefooted. But I recommend shoes or boots, depending on when you thru-hike the Enchantment Basin.
Let’s talk about shoes vs boots, YakTrax micro spikes, and all bare our soles about sandals.
I sport the usual trail runners (Hoka Mafates replaced La Sportiva Bushidos for me in the season of this writing) and I carry Crocs.
Trail runners are versatile so they work well from Aasgard Pass to Snow Creek. They drain well, in case I step in water. And they’re lightweight.
With well ventilated trail shoes, you can just walk through water crossings and hike wet. It’s only one day. You’ll live.
Water shoes –whether Crocs or sandals — are my own choice. But I admit changing shoes twice per crossing is time consuming. (Bring a little towel.)
What about sandals? The Core is largely hikeable in sturdy sandals, Chacos or Tevas, if that’s your thing. I wouldn’t want to be in sandals trying to descend either end of the Enchantments, because of the steepness.
Do you need boots? Before the snow cover has melted off the trail, stiff waterproof boots are nice. They are warmer and provide better traction on sloped snow.
Speaking of snow, there are places where you wouldn’t want to go for an uncontrolled slide. (And any slide on snow in nylon clothes is uncontrolled.) Micro spikes are therefore advisable in the spring, until the snow has mostly disappeared from the route. Again in the fall, it can snow any time.
What about climbing shoes? You’re probably asking because you’ve heard Aasgard Pass is a real “climb,” or you actually plan to do some climbing. Aasgard Pass isn’t a technical climb, so climbing shoes are not required.
As for making a side climb, you just won’t have a lot of time. It’s rare to carry gear up to the core in your pack, climb, then hike the whole way out in one day, but people do it.
Whatever you choose, they should be well broken in, not brand-new. Hike at least 20 cumulative miles in new footwear before takling a long day like the Enchantments.
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