If you like exploring the great outdoors, see to it that you have the right hiking boots to keep you comfortable and protected all throughout your hiking experience. You need to find the right type, size, materials, and features of hiking boots.
In general, hiking boots are available in different categories. Make it a point to familiarize yourself with all categories so you will know which one to pick. Trail shoes, for instance, are specifically made to provide lightweight support, stable traction, and moderate cushioning. They are ideal for one to five miles of short hikes on mild terrains. They offer excellent support, which is why you can also wear them as everyday casual footwear.
Light hiking boots are made to be worn on short and medium hikes on easy to moderate terrains. They offer better support than trail shoes even though they are lightweight. They are also ideal for well-maintained trails. However, they are not suitable for very rugged terrains and technical ascents. Backpacking boots and mid-weight hiking boots, on the other hand, are great for extended hikes of at least ten miles. You can also wear them over rough terrains.
Mid-weight hiking boots can give you added cushioning and support. Backpacking boots are generally classified under the mid-weight category because they can provide good support when you are carrying a heavy load. In addition, mid-weight hiking boots can take on more elevation gain and do well on moderately rugged terrains. Then again, they are not recommended for ice climbing and technical alpine ascents.
Then, there are mountaineering boots that offer maximum foot protection and support. These boots are highly durable and offer the best ankle protection. They have thick, stiff soles that are designed for good elevation gain and treacherous mountain trails. Mountaineering boots are typically waterproof. Some of them even have insulation that allows them to protect the feet against cold, wet, and windy conditions.
If you are planning to traverse snowpack and ice, then you should get mountaineering boots because they also go well with crampons. Anyway, do not forget to check out the break-in and materials of the hiking boots that you want to buy. Aside from aesthetics, function and comfort are very important. In fact, you should prioritize function and comfort over style. You need to get durable footwear that can withstand different conditions and various external factors.
Hiking boots are generally made with rugged materials. Keep in mind that the tougher their construction, the more break-in time they will need. Lightweight yet durable hiking boots are typically made with a combination of suede or split-grain leather and nylon. They may also use mesh panels to make them breathable. However, if you are only a casual hiker, then you may benefit more from full-grain leather hiking boots that have minimal break-in time.
Full-grain hiking boots are highly durable and resistant to most weather conditions. Mountaineering boots and backpacking boots that are made with full-grain leather also tend to be heavier and less breathable. You will also need more break-in time with these boots. If you want to hike during snowy or rainy conditions, then you should get hiking boots that include waterproof breathable membranes.
Once you get your hiking boots, make sure that you try them on for a short walk to see if they are indeed comfortable to wear. Take note that breaking in heavier hiking boots has to be done in increments. You should begin with short walks around your neighborhood. If you want, you can also wear the hiking boots around your house for several hours at a time. When you get comfortable enough, try wearing them on short hikes.
You should keep doing this until they seem to be broken in well. Never ever make the mistake of wearing brand new hiking boots on a long hike. If you do not break them in, then they may hurt your feet and make you suffer during the entire trek. Aside from materials, you should also check for waterproof capability. Some hiking boots are waterproof while others are not. Casual hikers who only hike in mild terrains generally prefer non-waterproof hiking boots.
More advanced hikers opt for waterproof hiking boots since they typically hike no matter what the weather condition is. Anyway, when checking for waterproof protection, see to it that you check for a breathable lining. Hiking boots usually have waterproof breathable lining to keep your feet free from moisture. If you prefer full-grain leather hiking boots, then you should inspect the seams for missing stitches, loose threads, and other signs of weakness.
Remember that even if the leather is waterproof, moisture can still pass through it if it gets soaked for an extended period of time. Finally, you should check for waterproof construction or the manufacturing techniques such as using special stitching and taping or sealing seams to enhance waterproof ability. Usually, waterproof construction is combined with other types of weather protection like durable water repellent finish or waterproof lining.
Of course, your hiking boots should have a good fit. It is pointless to wear something that is not comfortable. Your hiking boots must feel snug around your foot yet loose enough to let you flex then forward with ease. You must be able to wiggle your toes inside the toe box. Swelling of the feet is common after hiking. Hence, your hiking boots should have enough room to accommodate your swollen foot.
If your hiking boots do not fit you well, then your circulation can be restricted. You may also have blisters if your hiking boots are too wide or large for your feet. They can make your heels shift as you walk. If you want to get a perfect fit, then consider customizing your hiking boots. You can get different insoles or change the lacing. You can also wear socks that protect your feet against blisters and other injuries.