There are some things in life you shouldn’t cheap out on. Beds, cars, phones, computers and glad wrap all spring to mind. It also pays to have decent footwear. A good set of boots will last you a good decade if you look after them. Sneakers usually have a shorter lifespan, but if you take care of your kicks, you should only have to replace them every year or so.
But what about hiking boots? There are heaps of options on the market, all claiming to be the sturdiest and offer the best support. So if you’re in the market for a new set of hiking boots let’s take a look at the on-foot fundamentals and learn what to watch for when buying a pair.
A Good, Snug Fit
This is true of any footwear, but a decent pair of hiking boots need to fit your feet. Ideally, you’ll want a little bit of wriggle room for your toes at the front — but not too much. You don’t want to hurt your feet or develop blisters, especially during a multi-day hike. Also, you’ll likely wear your new hiking boots with thick socks on, so when you’re going into a store to try some on wear thick socks so you know how they’ll fit.
Did you know that your feet tend to swell once you’ve been walking around for a while? So, on the day that you plan to try on your new boots — spend the morning walking, even if it’s just around the shopping center. That way when you try on your boots you’ll know if they’ll fit you properly for a long hike.
Form Follows Function
The type of hiking boots you choose will depend on the type of hikes you’ll be going on. For day hikes you may want a low-cut model with flexible midsoles. For those going on an overnight trip, you’ll want a mid to high-cut model. For those going on multiple day and night hikes you’ll probably want to opt for sturdy backpacking boots. These are high-cut boots with a sturdier sole that can take a serious beating and are suitable for most conditions.
You can choose to purchase shoes that have a waterproof covering or you can waterproof your own boots. This is a good option if you’ll be crossing small streams or fiords during your hikes. A word of warning though — waterproofed boots can cause your feet to sweat something shocking, so they may not be suitable for hikes all year round, especially in summer.
If you plan on doing any mountaineering or serious winter hiking then you may need to choose a pair of hiking boots that are compatible with crampons. Crampons are metal plates with spikes attached that are made for hiking on terrains like glaciers or rugged and rough mountains.
All this being said, the type of boot you can afford is going to depend on your budget. There is a range of options available, from the cheap through to the advanced and expensive. Find out exactly how much you can afford to spend and you’ll have a clearer idea of the options available to you.
A Solid Summary
Look for a pair of hiking boots that are a good fit, and try them on during the second half of the day after you’ve done some serious walking. Get a pair of boots that will match the type of hiking that you’re going to do, and consider if you need a waterproof option. Will you need crampon compatibility — only you’ll know. Finally, the boots need to match your budget.