Roaming around the woods on a hike that you have been planning for months becomes exciting with every step. But would your feet be as excited as you after a while? Would you be able to continue enjoying your little excursion if your feet start aching on the go?
Both these questions imply that your much-aspired adventure can turn out to be a nightmare if you have not put enough attention into the selection of boots for hiking. Remember that the perfect hiking boots will have protection and right padding. You have to choose a lot from size to style to ensure that your hiking trip goes as smoothly as possible.
While selecting your hiking boots, consider their practicality, comfort, warmth, and water resistance instead of the flashy features, looks, and what celebrities are wearing these days. Here are a few things you should keep in mind while finding the right hiking boots.
Be mindful of the terrain
Select your hiking boots while keeping in mind the terrain you are going to hike on and the loads that you plan to carry along. That does not mean your boots should have a weight of their own, as added pounds and ounces can increase the energy expenditure. Opt for the lightest boots you can find. Off-trail boots are a big no if you are going to hike on the trails with a light load.
Types of hiking boots
Hiking boots are available in different types. These types are to accommodate different pursuits.
Low and mid-cut boots
The low-cut hiking shoes with flexible midsoles are suitable for day hiking. Trail-running shoes are also a good option for long-distance journeys. Another type is mid-cut boots. These ones are well suited for day hikes where light loads are involved. They are flexible but offer little support when compared to backpacking boots.
The low-cut or mid-cut boots are made of leather or split-leather. Find a pair that has a waterproof liner inside or include a waterproof application yourself. These boots offer stability due to the stiffer soles and better traction than the conventional walking shoes. However, they can be unstable if the terrain is slippery or rocky or big payload is involved.
These boots are suitable for heavy trekking. This footwear is stiffer and has high-cut around the ankles. It is for bushwalking, serious trekking, and rough terrain. If you are planning an off-track hike and a heavy pack, these boots are for you. These boots have well-padded uppers, and the limited flexing of sole provides support on uneven surfaces.
These boots cover the anklebone, thus providing ample support in case of carrying weight. Hence, these boots are perfect when heavier loads are involved.
While buying the hiking boots, look out for the internal support as well. The internal support is provided by shanks and plates. Shanks have 3-5 mm thick inserts that are laid between the midsole and outsole. They occur in different lengths; some cover half while others cover the entire midsole. Then there are plates—thin, semi-flexible inserts laid below the shank (if it is included) and between the midsole and outsole. They offer protection against bruises by uneven rocks or roots.
The fitting of hiking boots should be snug enough to provide space for wiggling your toes. Try the boots at the end of the day (so they can accommodate the swelling of the feet as well). Wear appropriate socks while trying out the hiking boots. Familiar socks make it easier to assess the feel and fit of the new shoes. The thickness of socks should be similar to the pair you intend to wear for hiking. Also, wear synthetic socks on the hike instead of slow-drying cotton socks. Cotton socks can result in blisters.
Measure your size before you go shopping for hiking boots. Take measurements of your foot’s width, length, and the arch-length. Take the help of a specialist at the store for measuring the foot volume. To double-check the size, take out the insoles out of the boots and stand on them. There should be a space of thumb’s width between the longest toe and the end of the insole.