There are all sorts of hikers, from those who love the serenity of a countryside stroll, to those who live for the adrenaline rush of tackling the world’s most thankless terrain. They all share a common appreciation of the great outdoors. And, they all have great hiking boots.
Choosing hiking boots can be expensive and the right ones can feel great, but are they really necessary when you’re just starting out? Absolutely.
Good boots are the most important tools in your hiking tool kit. Hiking is about walking, climbing, slipping, sliding, sloshing and, if an angry hive of bees is involved, running. The point is, hiking gives your feet a real workout, and the more you know about choosing hiking boots, the better protected your feet will be. Sturdy, well-built hiking boots can protect not only your feet, but also your entire body, from the hazards of rough terrain.
Knowing what to look for is paramount in choosing hiking boots:
Keep it Solid
The boots that you choose should have a good solid feeling on the bottom. Which is not to say that the boots are heavy. The solid base you feel must protect the soles of your feet from rocks and stones. Even if you can barely feel the ground through your boots, this feeling will increase as the miles wear on, leaving you with sore, aching feet at the end of the day. When choosing test their solidity. Press your thumb into the bottom of the boot. If the sole has any give or feels soft, it will not give your feet the protection you need. Twisting the soles is another way to test your boots. If you can twist the sole, they’re likely not your best choice for taking on the trails. Remember, traversing trails is not the same as strolling the pavement around your neighbourhood. Without a solid foundation under your feet, the rocks, sticks and jagged edges you encounter will quickly become a real pain.
Protection on All Sides
Choosing good hiking boots means looking for protection from the bottom up, and all around. Good boots must offer protection on all sides. They are often referred to as “heavy” hiking boots because they have extra padding to protect your feet from protruding rocks, stones, branches and edges that can gouge into the side of your feet. If you decide to purchase fabric boots, make sure that they have protective “welts”. These can be found about ½ inch above the soles, providing extra safety and ultimate comfort for your feet.
If Achilles had owned a decent pair of hiking boots, his story might have ended a little differently. When choosing hiking boots, it’s important to be sure they offer the support that your ankles need to last over long treks. Grab the top of the boot and try to twist or bend it sideways. If the boot bends easily, it’s probably not going to provide the level of protection you’ll need. The top of the boot must be stiff enough to hold the ankle in place.
Wet feet are uncomfortable, itchy and quickly develop blisters. Once the blisters start, your feet will be out of commission for some time, so you need to make sure you’re choosing hiking boots that are waterproof, or at least have the capability to be waterproofed. There are waterproofing solutions such as liquid silicone that can be used on fabric boots. However, these external treatments don’t usually provide the watertight protection you’ll need for all-weather use.