Great hiking boots can provide solid support and total comfort throughout long and short journeys on rugged trails. This guide will help you select the best boots for every hike.
Hiking Boot Styles
There are three common hiking boot styles. The main designs include
- Low-cut boots: These boots are built like a pair of traditional shoes. They’re great for jogs and short walks along hiking paths.
- Day boots: Day boots are made out of a comfortable material that flexes easily. Many brands offer these boots as a high-top and a mid-top.
- Backpacking boots: Backpacking boots are constructed out of a heavy-duty material. You can take hikes on gravel paths while wearing backpacking boots because they have stiff soles that provide solid support.
After you’ve selected a boot design and style, consider every available material option. Many sporting goods stores sell boots that are made with the following boot components:
- Full-grain: If you’re going to take hikes following rain storms, full-grain leather boots are worth considering. This leather has great water-resistant properties, and it doesn’t scratch and tear on rugged terrain.
- Split-grain: In the spring and summer, you’ll enjoy wearing a pair of split-grain leather boots with a mesh because openings will provide great air circulation. Spit-grain boots usually have a nylon mesh and layers of cowhide.
- Nubuck: A pair of nubuck boots is worth considering if you want leather footwear with suede characteristics. Nuback is basically a full-grain leather that’s buffed, so it’s highly durable and water resistant.
- Synthetic: Synthetic material should be considered if you want to hit the trails quickly after buying a pair of boots. This material breaks in fast, and it will feel quite comfort after you take a few steps along a trail.
- Membranes: A waterproof membrane will keep your feet dry in and around puddles. Hiking boots that have this type of membrane aren’t ideal for everyday hikes because the waterproof material restricts air circulation.
- Heat shield: In cold environments, an insulated material can block icy air that chills your feet. Most boot brands use synthetic fabrics to trap heat inside of soles on snowy and icy paths.
Midsole boots are very stiff and ridged. Although a stiff design may sound uncomfortable, it won’t hurt your feet during a hike. The stiffness is important because it makes the process of walking on pebbles and uneven paths easier. Also, as your feet touch the ground while you’re wearing midsole boots, the stiff materials will wrap around environment hazards. This feature increases stability during every stride. There are two midsole material options that provide these perks; you can pick a boot with a
- EVA material: Ethylene vinyl acetate is a lightweight material that’s inexpensive. Hiking boots with EVA materials have various densities; the highest density products are the firmest, and they provide the best support.
- Polyurethane material: Mountaineering boots are usually designed with polyurethane. This material is extremely firm and quite durable.
You must consider the material inside of every boot because it provides internal support. There are two internal material options available for hiking boots. Shanks are one option; they’re sandwiched in the center of hiking boots. The size of a shank varies, so you’ll find inserts that will cover nooks and crannies within a boot and shanks that will only create a layer of support inside half of a boot. Plates are another option; they’re very thin and flexible. These inserts are great for long hikes since they have soft padding that prevents bruises by hard pebbles on rough terrain.
Outsoles are usually constructed out of rubber. Many hiking boot companies use carbon or some other additive to make rubber outsoles in a pair of hiking boots harder. The most common outsole options include
- Lug pattern outsoles: Lugs are placed in hiking boots to provide traction. If you’re going to hike through mud, pick a pair of boots with lugs that are spaced far apart.
- Heel brake outsoles: Heel brake outsoles support your forefoot and its arch. This type of outsole prevents slipping during trips down hills.
How to Ensure a Proper Fit
The process of selecting a boot that fits snugly is simple. However, you’ll have to follow different steps if you’re going to buy shoes online instead of in a physical store. When shopping on a website, you should always pick boots that were manufactured by a familiar brand. In many cases, the shoes that you own by a specific brand and the brand’s hiking boots will provide the same fit. If you visit a store to buy hiking boots, try on both boots, and take a short walk. To experience how the boots will perform on a trail, test them on an inclined platform or a ramp in the store. If there are no inclined surfaces available, test the shoes outside with an employee.