All hiking boot manufacturers tend to make similar claims, so it can be difficult to decipher which ones will be best for each hiker’s chosen excursions. To make it worse, personal reviews can be time-consuming to comb through when everyone has their own preferences (and of course, foot shape.)
The good news is that shoppers don’t necessarily have to spend an arm and a leg to get the best in shoes. However, they may have to do a little research before they decide.
Track the Trails
The first thing a hiker should do is determine the nature and intensity of their hiking plans.
A person who backpacks for weeks at a time will not necessarily need the same hoots as a day hiker. In fact, day hikers will often wear lighter hiking shoes because they’re perfect for the occasional weekend excursion.
For those who are constantly scrambling over rocks or for those who will be running into more than a few snow-packed trails, there are mountaineering boots that can handle just about anything. Finally, there are also backpacking boots durable enough to handle all the extra weight in a hiker’s pack.
Choose the Best Ankle Support
The lower the cut of the boot, the better it is for casual or weekend hikers. Low-cut hiking shoes won’t give the hiker any type of support if they roll their ankle or otherwise trip when on the trail. Plus, low cuts invite rocks to come in and stay a while. The higher the cut a person gets, the more likely they are to be safe campers and safeguarded from potential foot injuries.
High-cut shoes will provide the best in support, but they’ll also be the most constricting. Hikers that don’t do a lot of serious trekking on uneven ground, can probably get away with buying low or mid cut hiking boots.
Choose the Material
The more durable the material, the heavier it’s going to feel on the foot. Boots made from synthetic materials are light enough that hikers feel comfortable in them almost immediately. They dry quickly when they’re wet, but they’ll provide very little water protection. Split-grain leather is also light and breathable, but it’s not as durable and it doesn’t provide water resistance either.
Finally, full-grain leather is durable and an excellent choice for hikers who will be exploring potentially dangerous territory. However, the boots will be heavy enough that they may take some getting used to.
Test Them Out
Even the most casual of hikers should plan for the worst-case scenario, which means testing their boots out in different scenarios. This can be difficult as people won’t be able to wear them for a few weeks before determining whether or not they’re worthwhile.
There are some outdoor stores that will keep simulated terrain on the premises. The simulated terrain aids the shoe buyer to learn more about how the shoe fits. It also helps them see how likely it is to keep them from slipping. If the hiker feels unstable when they’re on dry ground in the store, they should probably look for one with better tread. The heel should stay in place no matter how a hiker steps to prevent blisters. There should also be plenty of room in the toe box.
Finding the right boot or shoe is pivotal to how often hikers get out to explore. Hikers owe it to themselves to do the research for themselves. This way they don’t end up endangering their feet (or their lives) while they’re trying out a new trail.