Are you the novice hiker who relies on the look and feel of a hiking shoe instead of selecting based on actual elements that you will encounter on the trail? Well, choosing inappropriate hiking boots will result in pinched toes, painful blisters or even injuries. Here are some tips to guide you on how to pick the right hiking boots.
Match With Your Hiking Plan
To select boots that are designed to fit well in your plan, you should choose boots that will provide the necessary support and protection for the most complex terrain that you expect to encounter. What kind of load do you expect to carry? Ideally, boots should support your load comfortably, so heavier loads need to give you more support.
Don’t look at the size of a boot and merely judge its weight. Current technology has produced materials that have replaced the traditional metal shank and other heavy materials so that they’re more stable, better support you and are lighter as well.
Terrain and Climate
Different climates and terrain call for different boots. If you are going to the mountains, you will need strong, stiff soles. You might also have to attach crampons for a better grip on the snow. Steep inclined terrains riddled with mud will need boots that are water proof, sturdier and high cut.
Trail shoes will be ideal for hiking in a dry terrain with clear paths without many rocks. They’re also ideal when carrying a light load.
Find the Best Fit
You should feel comfortable when wearing your boots. Hiking shoes are not your regular sneakers, so don’t expect them to be as comfortable. But they still shouldn’t pinch, constrict your blood circulation or cause hot spots. Fitting is best done when the feet are more swollen, like in the evening.
Remember to fit them with the socks that you intend to use in the real hiking. I prefer polyester liner socks that prevent moisture build up and for the outer cushioning heavy weave-wool. Never wear cotton socks when hiking as they absorb water and allow it to build up next to your skin. This build up might result in frostbite when hiking in below freezing temperatures.
Try walking down an incline and make sure that your toes don’t scrape against the front or your feet slide forward– that means your boots are too wide.
Consider the Boot materials
The materials that make the boots have an impact on their level of durability, water resistance as well as how breathable they are. Full grain leather is a good waterproof and durable but it is not as light and breathable as nylon boots are. This type is suitable for your heavy loads and extended terrain.
Synthetic leather boots are lighter and dry faster than leather boots, however, they wear out sooner due to stitching on the outside of the boots. On the other hand, split-grain leather boots are lightweight and are more breathable. Their disadvantage is that they are less resistant to water and abrasion.
Every hiker has a story to tell about his/her experiences with their boots. Do you have any tips or tricks? Have you had an experience when you wish you had better boots for your journey? Comment on this post and share your experiences with us!