Shopping for hiking boots is tricky because they are so important for all kinds of hikers. Long-term backpackers may need more support, but even day hikers should get good quality boots. Here are important factors you need to consider when shopping for hiking boots.
Always Try on Hiking Boots Before Buying
Shopping online for hiking boots is tricky. It’s best to go into a store and try on a variety of boots. Simulate the way you will be wearing them. If you have foot problems and plan to use extra support inside, bring your orthotics and place them in the boots when you try them on. Wear the socks you would wear during your activities. Walk on an incline, if possible, and get a feel for the boots before buying.
Determine a Price Point
The cost of hiking boots can vary widely. Determine your budget and stick to it during your shopping trip. Don’t set your budget too low because hiking boots typically aren’t cheap. A better quality boot that will last longer will cost you more money.
What Kind of Hiking will you be Doing?
How you hike and how often you hike will determine the type of wear your boots will go through and the type of support you will need. For any boots you buy, wear them on walks for a while before hiking in them to break them in. Wearing them right a way on a long hike may cause sores on your feet and discomfort.
Do you consider taking a walk down a paved bike trail hiking? You won’t need thick soled, tough hiking boots. If you are a weekend hiker in rougher terrain, you will need a more supportive shoe to protect your feet and keep them in good shape. Trail shoes are lightweight, flexible, and comfortable because they are made for light hiking.
As a backpacker carrying a heavy pack, you will need more support for on and off trail hiking. For short and moderate backpacking trips, get a more supportive boot than trail shoes. For extended backpacking, you’ll need a more durable, supportive shoe for long-term hiking and rougher terrain.
Boot Treads and Soles
You will notice that there are different tread patterns on different boots. Each pattern is designed for a different purpose. Less complicated designs are more likely meant for light hiking. Talk to someone at the store to determine which tread type will best serve your hiking purpose.
The soles of your boots are also very important. Add orthotic support if you need it. If you wear orthotics regularly, you may need them for hiking, too. Don’t overlook the quality and design of the sole before buying.
Low-cut, Mid-cut, or High-cut
Low-cut shoes are better for short day hikes. They don’t give you as much support for your ankles. A mid-cut or high-cut boot is better for rougher terrain with a lot of rocks and mud. The extra material will help give extra leverage, and they support your ankles and keep them aligned. High-cut boots are ideal for irregular trails and for backpackers carrying heavy packs.
For backpacking, full-grain leather will give you the durable, long lasting support you need. They are very durable and abrasion resistant. Split-grain leather is more breathable and softer. Full-grain leather will take longer to break in. Synthetic materials are less-expensive and break in easier as well, but they usually don’t last as long. Waterproof linings are a great option to help keep your feet dry.
To ensure that your feet stay dry and your boots don’t blow out, choose boots with fewer seems. Most boots today have the upper construction cemented to the sole for a good bond.
Keep your Boots Clean and Well-Taken Care of
Always take good care of your boots if you want them to last long. Clean off the mud and debris after you’ve worn them. Also, the types of hiking boots available constantly change. If you hike a lot and have found a great shoe you love, get an extra pair. By the time you need new boots, your favorite type may be out of stock. A back up pair will keep you covered.