You need a special pair of shoes to hike up a mountain, and it takes a more adventurous person to climb one. Trekking across a trail or reaching a summit is a rewarding experience. But, who is to say that you need to get blisters on your feet just by doing so. That is where quality hiking footwear comes in. For you to enjoy the best moments that hiking can offer, you need the best boots in the market.
Types of Hiking Boots
Outdoor shops can offer you so many options for the most “worth it” hiking shoes. But, with a confusing array of displays, which one will you pick? Well to sort it out, know first the type of shoes that you want.
Featuring a low cut ankle design, this type of shoe is perfect for veteran hikers. If you want to have very light strides and a flexible sole, then choose this. It is usually used during long trips and clear cut trails. However, picking this type of shoe would entail that you already have some experience in hiking and have already developed the muscular strength and endurance. This shoe does not provide much support, but it is very lightweight and can give you that smooth hike. Hiking shoes also use breathable covers that are compatible with the hot and humid weather.
Day Hiking Boots
Made for rocky trails, this type of shoe is best for beginners. It showcases a thicker covering and enhanced protection for the feet. Designed with high cut ankles and rigid textiles, this shoe type can help you prevent knee and sole injuries. With leather and suede as its main material, bruises and weather exposure is out of the picture. Yet, this would also mean a heavier pair that needs a long break-in period. This is due to its sole design that offers less support.
Weekly getaways in various terrains are a breeze for these kicks. Specially created with stronger soles and higher cuts, you can go anywhere with it. It boasts better performance and support compared to other types. This boot also offers tougher protection and can cope up with any weather. However, the elephant in the room is its heavyweight. It needs a longer time to break in and more effort in maintaining a pace.
What to look for in the best hiking boots?
You can walk in any shoes, but hiking boots take your adventures to a whole new level. To navigate through all the dizzying brands and choices, you should remember these qualities:
In the hiking boots world, this factor is affected by two accounts. One type is the environment of the destination and the amount of equipment you will be carrying.
There are four designs of hiking footwear you can choose from:
- Rough trail – Light packs and rocky landscapes, best matches this shoe type. They often have high ankle design and waterproof fabric. It also features a plastic midsole that has been tapered, which can give your feet armor from jagged paths.
- Trail – With low-cut ankles and strong soles, this type can offer you the perfect blend of stability and traction. You can use them if you are packing light and the trail is established and clear.
- Mountaineering – Pick this pair if you want to go to tough destinations and jagged landscapes. Designed with full-grain leather and thick nylon soles, this hiking boot is heavy-duty. It is perfect for you if you plan on going on long hikes since they are very durable and weatherproof. They also give the most protection, but they can also be very hard to break into.
- Off-Trail – Going off road and hiking through unpredictable grasslands? Well, this type of hiking boots can offer you stronger protection and more load capacity. They are manufactured with full-grain leather, which is entirely waterproof and durable. Thanks to the latest sole technology, you won’t have to worry about heavy shoes.
Nobody likes sweaty fit and blistered ankles. But, you can avoid these problems by knowing what material your shoes should be made of. If you prefer lightweight boots and a breathable pair, then choose the ones that use nylon and polyester. They are very easy to carry and dry fast, to avoid you from slipping. Split-grain leather on the other hand, is made with fifty percent leather and with synthetics. This combination is more durable and protective compared to the former. Lastly, hiking boots that use full-grain leather are best for rigorous trails and uneven terrain. They also feature a thick layered sole and waterproof covering.
The ability of your shoes to last your adventure is already pre-determined by the type of material it uses and on what type of environment it is used on. By examining these two, you will know whether your hiking boots are for long and rough trips or for short and sweet memories. However, you can extend the longevity of your boots. You can waterproof it for your climbs by covering it with a layer of silicone or wax. You can recondition them and clean them regularly.
Size and Fit
The most expensive shoe brands can still falter and fail you if you pick the wrong size. Making sure that your hiking boots fit you is harder than it sounds. During fitting, your toes should have an allowance of space for it to move. This is due to the natural swelling of our feet in the heat. Your heels should also stay in place while walking. Two fingers down the ankle should also fit well, if you push your toes to the front. For more accuracy, consider consulting an orthotics to advise you. Wearing socks during fitting would help since they add a few more inches to your actual measurement.
Your hiking boots are your feet’s armor in the wild. Better be sure that it is equipped with the latest innovations. The tongue padding on your boots should be stiff and thick enough to allow maximum flexibility. The internal ankle padding should also be cushioned and made with light materials to give your ankle the support it needs. Your heel cup should also fit you well to minimize chafing and discomfort.
Parts of the Best Hiking Boots
Every part of your hiking boot is as good as the whole. Here are tips you can abide:
For the upper portion of your shoe, always consider durability, waterproofing, breathability and overall weight. Different hiking boots use different fabrics. Shoes that use pure leather can be more durable, but also heavier and less breathable. They are also less flexible and need more time to break in. You can choose boots that utilize synthetics, which are lighter. Silicone coated shoes are also nice for weatherproof kicks.
The midsoles are responsible for absorbing the shock from the ground. Make sure that it uses enough cushions and is stiff enough to maximize stability and ease. You can have midsoles that use polyurethane that is firm and durable. You can also have midsoles equipped with EVA, which are softer, cheaper, and firmer.
The thicker the rubber, the better the outsole of your shoe is. The outsole is responsible for giving you the best hold and traction on surfaces. Choosing a cheap material for it can lead to accidents. Your shoes should have good lug-patterns and heel brakes. The former has thicker and has wider patterns, so you can have more hold and less mud accumulation. The latter has padded heels and forefoot to help you during steep climbs.
Important Questions to Consider
In order to help you find the best hiking footwear that suits your style and needs, you need to answer the following questions:
What kind of terrain will you be on?
Picking thick and heavy hiking boots and using them on even trails is like letting a fish walk. Choosing the wrong shoes for the wrong terrain will make you feel out of your element since they would not go well together. Rough terrains require boots with thicker protection and cushioned soles. Light treks need low ankle shoes with a breathable cover.
How long will you wear them?
Longer hikes mean heavier packs. If you plan on hiking for days, then consider buying shoes that can withstand weather conditions and big loads. While short trips that are not so demanding will need lightweight shoes that are breathable and have moderately thick soles.
What are the weather conditions?
Water plays a great role when it comes to the durability of your hiking boots. Some boots that are made of leather can shrink when dampened. If you plan on going on trails with river paths and humid weather, then go with fast-drying shoes. But, if you are in cold and dry climbs, then choose hiking boots that can insulate you and give you warmth.
Your hiking boots are your first line of defense during a trek. Make sure that you choose the best one since they would stick with you until the end. So, invest in brands that offer good-quality hiking boots. However, as the owner, the responsibility of maintaining it in its best condition will lie in your hands. Always remember that good shoes can take you to amazing places.