Whether you’re a regular or casual hiker you should never take buying the right hiking boot too lightly. Buying a pair of hiking shoes is a much different process than buying a normal pair of shoes for your everyday wear. It takes much more than a good fit and a nice style to make hiking shoes work for you. In order for the shoe to fit the demands of hiking it has to be constructed with the hiker in mind, meaning it has to be lightweight, comfortable and safe.
Here are five things you should consider when selecting the hiking boots that are right for you:
1. Think about how you’ll be using these boots. Are you an avid hiker, or a more casual hiker, and where do you hike? The answers to these questions will determine how you’ll proceed with buying the right pair of hiking boots. You will also need to consider the weather (dry or wet), how long your hikes usually last and the amount of weight you’ll be lifting during your hikes.
There are four various types of boots to consider:
The casual boot. There are casual shoes that include sandals, running or cross trainers. If you’re considering sandals, keep in mind that these are good for softer terrains where the weather is dry. A trail runner or cross trainer is very similar to a good pair of running sneakers but with the support a hiker needs for comfort and safety.
Cross hikers and mid-weight boots are classic boots to consider. These types of boots are made for less rough terrain and even some off terrain travel. These boots typically offer extra support for the foot.
Off-trail boots can be a good option for rough territory. This type of boot offers more protection for the foot because of a rugged construction. Stronger toecaps and a conformed mid-section are some of the additional features these boots carry.
Interested in mountain climbing? Mountaineering boots may be the answer. They are made with mountain climbing in mind, including special ankle support.
2. Consider your skills. There are boots to accommodate all levels of skill. If you’re a new hiker, there is a boot that offers strong support for your foot. This is great because it helps keep your feet more stable on the ground. As you gain experience you can shift to a lighter book.
3. Buy a quality hiking shoe. If you are serious about your hiking, you need to buy good quality footwear. You can often judge quality by brand. Buying a cheap brand is asking for trouble. Some things to look at when judging the quality of a boot are the stitching, the connection of the upper to the sole, the lug pattern and toughness of the sole, and how stiff the upper is.
4. Think about the optimal hiking experience you want to enjoy and choose the boot that will help you achieve it. Every boot has its own personality and its characteristics will indicate how it will perform out on the terrain. For example, the lighter the boot the easier the physical effort. Water resistance is important if you’ll be exploring in wet climates. Do your ankle and sole of your feet receive enough support and comfort?
5. A good fit is essential to finding an effective boot. Here are a few pointers on making sure you’ve got the perfect fit:
Go later in the day to try on hiking boots and be sure you have been walking for at least 15 minutes beforehand.
Make sure to wear the socks you’ll be wearing when you’re actually hiking.
Look for a snug fit and support you can feel all around your feet and ankles. Make sure there are no pressure points.
Try on both boots of the pair, lace them up completely, and walk around in them.
Serious hikers know just how important it is to have the right pair of hiking shoes. When you have the right pair of boots on your feet, your experience on and off the trail becomes all the more exciting and enjoyable.
Robert Mann is an avid outdoorsman who has hiked on multiple continents, from the summit of Kilimanjaro to the windy peaks of Patagonia to the Everest Base Camp. He is creator of ecco ecco shoes, which is dedicated to the world’s best walking shoes.