Few pieces of gear are more important for backpacking or hiking than your footwear. Hiking boots come in all shapes and sizes, and fulfill numerous functions on the trail. An improper type or fit will sabotage your hiking trip faster than just about anything else, inclement weather included. Below, we will look at the characteristics of the best hiking boots on the market today, and how to choose the right pair for your hiking application.
There are a few different types of hiking boots. The first consists of trail running shoes. These are lightweight, breathable, and offer little ankle support. They are fast and great for trail running or day hikes carrying light loads. The second type consists of medium height boots that offer more ankle support, are more durable and heavy, and are ideal for mild to intermediate terrain hiking with moderately heavy backpacks. The third type consists of high ankle support, full grain leather mountaineering boots that are super heavy duty, waterproof, insulated, and are meant for expedition trips with heavy loads as well as mountaineering.
There are a few things to look for in the construction of your boots to help you determine the quality. Full grain leather accompanies high-end boots. A mix of leather and synthetic materials is lighter on your wallet as well as your feet, but will be less durable than full grain leather. The midsoles of most hiking boots are made of EVA, but higher end boots employ the use of polyurethane, which is stiffer and more durable. The outsoles of all hiking boots utilize rubber, but the hardness varies. Harder outsoles are more durable and better suited to rough terrain, but they can feel slick on wet surfaces. Softer outsoles are more grippy but also more susceptible to wear and tear.
By far, the most important aspect of picking a pair of hiking boots is the fit. If your boots are uncomfortable on the trail even a little, your trip could be ruined with a painful blister or sore. To find the best fitting pair of hiking boots, you are going to need to try on several pairs. By trying on several pairs, I mean actually putting them on and walking around in them for a day or two. Walk up inclines and down declines. Put a heavy backpack on your back and walk around for a while to see how they work. Work with an expert to make sure you have the right fit.
Finding the best pair of hiking boots is vital to your having an enjoyable hiking experience. Hopefully these tips will help you to land a pair of comfortable, durable, high-quality boots for your next trip. Thanks for reading and happy trails!
Nate K is an avid outdoorsman and writer for Backpacking Samurai, an online resource for all things related to the outdoors and backpacking. For more information on finding the right hiking boots for your feet, visit the site by clicking here today. Thanks for reading and happy trails!
Image of hiking boots by Daniel Case, used under the GNU Free Documentation License.