It’s vital that your feet have the right protection and padding, as they are the ones that take the bulk of the work on your hiking adventures. It’s not always easy to choose the best hiking boots, as there are lots of choices to be made, from style to size to materials and what may feel right in the store still needs to be broken in before you can take them out on your excursion.
Deciphering the styles
The best hiking boots are all designed for particular styles of hiking, ranging from backcountry outings to casual hikes. When you know the difference between hiking boots, you can know which best suit your needs.
- Light hiking shoes: A sturdier version of running shoes, this style is perfect for day hiking.
- Mountaineering boots: These are the boots for you if you’re going to experience rocky terrains, snowy paths or glacial trails, as they can stand up against tough terrain and are built to handle heavy loads.
- Backpacking boots: These boots can handle a wide variety of terrains, and you should pick these boots if you’re going on a multi-day outing. They are durable and will handle almost any condition.
Choose the right material
The material of your hiking boots is vital, as the wrong fabric can make your feet feel cramped and be uncomfortable.
- Synthetics: The most common synthetic materials are polyester and nylon, which are easier to break in, dry faster but are not as water-resistant as other materials.
- Split-grain leather: This is a very breathable material and its light on your feet, but it’s not as durable or water-resistant as full-grain leather.
- Full-grain leather: This material is super durable and your best choice if you’re traversing unsteady or rocky terrain. On the downside, this is a heavy and less breathable material.
Decoding the cut
The cut of your hiking boots should be tailored to your preferred trekking type, as the incorrect cut could end up causing a sprained ankle.
- Low-cut: This hiking boot style is ideal for casual hiking, but can leave you vulnerable to an ankle injury. These are the boots for you if you’re normally on well-maintained trails.
- Mid-cut: They offer a better buffer from debris, as well as better balance and more ankle support.
- High-cut: This is the best cut if you’re adventurous and go off the trail, as they offer optimal ankle support and balance.
Make sure it’s the right fit
Don’t concentrate just on style, materials, and cut and ignore the fit. Your hiking boots should have lots of wiggle room for your toes while fitting snugly around the ball of your foot. Take your trail sock to the store, so you get an accurate feel for fit and comfort.
Always test and break in your boots
Never take your shoes straight from the box to the trail. After you’ve picked out and bought your boots, wear them to run errands or around the house, so you can break them in. If after a few days they don’t feel comfortable, return them to the store.