What to Look for in the Best Hiking Boots
One of the most important gears to have when hiking is a proper pair of boots. If you are to look at it, it’s pretty simple to pick a pair, the question, though, would be if that is reliable for your hiking adventures. Your footwear can make or break your trip, so better choose wisely.
Picking the right one for you might be a tedious process. Your hiking trip should also match the kind of boots you’ll be wearing. Here is a guide to finding your best hiking boots.
There are three types of hiking boots: the trail running shoes, medium height, and high cut. Focus more on getting the medium and high cut boots since trail running shoes are too lightweight and only offer little ankle support.
The medium-cut boots are durable, lightweight to heavy (depending on the materials used and brand), and can withstand mild to moderate terrain with moderate to heavy backpacks.
The high cut boots provide high ankle support, are heavy-duty, can support a heavy load, good for rougher terrain, insulated, and more waterproof.
Be sure to check the Top Outdoor Waterproof Boots for a variety of best choices.
The construction and quality of your hiking boots come in many factors. High-end hiking boots are the ones that are usually for heavy-duty, rugged hiking, but they also come with the price. They usually have harder outsoles which are more durable, better to use on rough terrain, but not on wet surfaces. On the other hand, softer outsoles have more grip, but can’t withstand rugged terrains and easy to wear and tear.
The cushioning part of the hiking boots, also called the midsoles, protect your feet from impact and shock. Determine if you need stiffer ones which are good for rough rocks, uneven terrains, and longer trips, or less stiff which provides more comfort during the mild day trail hikes.
How heavy your hiking boots can be an important factor to look at. Some day hike boots are lighter than others, and some backpacking hike boots are heavier than others. Comparison of what boots you should get would depend not only on your hiking situation but also your preference and comfort in wearing.
Remember that the heavier the hiking boots, the more durable and support they give, but might easily wear you down, feeling more tired. The lighter the boots, the easier it is to walk around but with less support. Happy hiking feet can be achieved by knowing the trails and condition of your hike, how much support you want, and how much load (including your backpack) you're willing to bear while hiking.
There are a couple of materials used in different types of hiking boots. Rubber is always used in hiking boots outsoles. But the uppers or the portion that wraps around your feet are made with different materials that determine its strength, weight, breathability, and water resistance.
The most common materials used are synthetics, full-grain leather, and mix of leather and synthetic materials (in the middle).
Synthetics, which are nylon, polyurethane, and polyester, are usually found in modern hiking boots. They are more flexible, lighter, more breathable, dries faster, and more affordable than the usual leather.
Full-Grain Leather is the more traditional material used in hiking boots. They are extra durable, water-resistant, abrasion-resistant, and common option for rugged trails and extended hike. Though, they are less flexible, heavier, and less breathable.
The hiking situation depends whether you’ll go day hiking (shorter, light trip) or backpack hiking (longer, heavy trip).
Day hiking boots are intended for short, lightweight day hikes. They can be mid to high-cut boots, which gives ample ankle support, can flex easier, stable, good for long-distance technical trails while carrying day packs.
Backpack hiking boots are intended for long, multi-day, heavy load hikes. They mostly are high-cut for superb ankle support, which is more durable, more stable, stiffer, great for long, rugged terrains, and off-trails while carrying heavier backpacks.
Check the Best Trekking Boots for your outdoor hiking experience.
Last but not least, pick a pair of boots that will properly fit you. Smaller sizes can make you too uncomfortable and can put pressure and sore to your feet. Much larger boot sizes can also disrupt your hiking adventure. It’s easier to fit when you’re buying in a physical store, but it’s a different story when buying online.
What you can do is to check the boot sizing chart of the online store where you plan to buy your hiking boots, because sizes vary depending on the brand. You can also ask for support by giving them a call, email, or chatting with their representative to clarify the sizing. Then, stand up and measure your feet length in centimeters by using a tape measure to get your accurate size (then convert it to inches). The key is to order a half size up from your original shoe size if you want to be safe. For example, if you’re a size 9.5, then order a size 10. It’s easier to fix and carry a larger shoe size by putting a padding or extra insole, than having a smaller one. Also, be sure to check for product reviews and feedback to give you an idea.
A pair of hiking boots are footwear vital for a successful hiking experience. They come in a variety of types, build, functions, and sizes, which can make or break your hiking trip. So, know what’s the best pair for you and enjoy the hike!