The boots that you wear on a trek can make or break the experience. Unlike the sidewalks and indoor floors you might usually walk around, hikes can include rougher ground that is less even, more loose, and wetter. Footwear that is not suited to the conditions you tackle will quickly become damaged and won’t give you the proper traction, stability, and comfort. For this reason, you need to find boots that will meet your demands. Here’s how to choose the right hiking boots.
Consider Your Needs
Before you go looking for a new pair of boots, you can narrow your choices by determining what you will use them for and, consequently, what specifications you need and prefer. If you only go on shorter-length day hikes and prioritize traveling light, you can probably choose footwear that has a low- or mid-cut and which provides midsole flexibility. If you hike over extended distances for several days and don’t always follow the trail path, a heavy-duty high-cut boot with maximum ankle support and a rigid full-grain leather upper may be your best choice.
You should also consider the climate and terrain. Breathable, lightweight boots will give you the ventilation you need to stay comfortable in a dry, warm region. Thicker, waterproof boots, on the other hand, will fit a cold area where it may rain or snow. For hard ground, an outsole that has wider treads is ideal for gripping because it makes the most contact with the terrain. For softer ground, an outsole with deeper treads is preferable, as it can dig into the soil and prevent you from slipping on the surface. Many boots offer an effective medium between these two sides for all-around use.
Find a Good Fit
A pair of boots could have lots of impressive details, but if they don’t fit right, they’ll cause you pain. When you try on new boots, there are several factors to be aware of. First, you should aim to test the boots in the afternoon when your feet are slightly larger due to swelling that occurs over the course of the day. Wear the pair of socks you plan to use when you go hiking to account for the added layer as well. The boot should be the proper length for your foot so that there remains some space in front of your toes, even when you walk down a slope.
As for the rest of the boot, you shouldn’t feel any uncomfortable pinching or pressure on any portion of your foot. Your heel should also remain secure as you walk so that you don’t develop blisters. Note that the way you lace can change the feel of a boot, so try a few different methods when testing a pair out. Additionally, you might switch out the insole with a custom version to accommodate high or flat arches. If you already use orthotics, bring them with you to the store so you could see how the boots feel using them.
If you’re looking for hiking footwear, consider AltaiGear’s lightweight tactical boots. They offer traction, breathability, and all-day comfort so you can pursue adventure unimpeded.