Hiking Boot Buying Guide – How to buy Hiking Boots
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When it comes to choosing the correct Hiking Boots you should always have a few goals in mind: you want your boots to be as light and comfortable as possible while keeping your feet dry, warm and well protected. If you have read our sections on Hiking Boots Features & Characteristics and on Hiking Boot Types then you will understand how these factors influence each other. In this section we will help you find the perfect hiking boots by explaining the things you should consider:
- Intended Use
The single most important question you will have to ask yourself. As outlined in our Hiking Boot Types article there are Hiking Boots for every kind of purpose. The class of your boot should increase under the following factors: expected terrain and weather conditions, intended hiking duration and intended backpack load.
- Your Hiking Skill Level
A more experienced Hiker might be able to choose lighter boots than a less experienced hiker even if they plan to do the same hike under the same conditions. Especially if you are new to Hiking you should go for Hiking Boot that gives good support while your feet, ankles, achilles tendon, calves and legs get used to the added strain of Hiking. If you plan to increase your Hiking skill level by gradually increasing the difficulty, load, duration and/or terrain difficulty of your hikes then make sure to buy boots that allow you to grow and that will still meet your needs once you reach your next skill level. There are no boots however that facilitate all levels of hiking so make sure to get new boots once you get into hiking for which your current boots were clearly not intended.
- Hiking Boot Quality
Good quality boots will not give up when the going gets tough and if there is one thing you do not want it is a broken boot in the middle of a hike. When it comes to judging quality there are a few things you can judge it by. The Brand is often a good indicator. Good Hiking Boot Brands have a name to live up to and most companies put their boots through rigid testing before launching them to ensure quality and durability. Cheap boots from an unknown brand are a ticket to trouble. Examine your boot closely and take your time in checking the stitching, the connection of sole and upper, the toughness and lug pattern of the sole, the stiffness of the upper and the configuration and type of the lacing. Judging their quality comes down to common sense and the expertise of your sales person.
- Hiking Boot Fit
Once you have determined the type of boot you need and have selected a few of which you feel they have the quality you are looking for it is time for the most important step: fitting. Finding a comfortable fit is a very personal matter and finding a better fit really depends on your own unique feet, your personal preferences and your hiking experience. We can however give the following tips and guidelines:
- There is a difference in the shape and size of your feet in rest in the morning and your feet after a period of walking in the evening. Just to be safe we recommend you take a 15 minute stroll around the park before fitting your boots and go late in the afternoon. This might feel like going a bit too far but the difference is noticeable, believe us.
- Wear the socks that you intend to use for Hiking! You might think that your socks will not make the difference but believe us they do. Wear them as you try your boots.
- In general you are looking for a snug fit with noticeable support all-over your feet and ankles as you make a walking motion. Look for comfortably snug without feeling any pressure points.
- Remove the inner sole of the boots you are trying and place them against the sole of your feet. The better the outline of sole of the boot follows your own shape the better the fit will probably be. The boot will probably be too snug where your foot overlaps the sole and the boot will be too wide where the sole is larger than your foot’s outline.
- Fit each pair of boots that you are considering by going through the following steps:
- Enter your foot into the open boot with the laces unfastened. Stand up straight and push your foot forward into the toe of the boot. You should be able to slip your index finger between your heel and the heel of the boot. Do this for both boots.
- Sit down and lace both boots. As you do so your heel should move backwards filling the space your index finger created.
- Stand up and walk around.
- Assure that your toes do not touch the front of the boot. If they do then you should go for a larger sized boot.
- Assure that your toes do not touch the top of the boot. If they do then you will need a boot with a larger (front-side) volume.
- As you walk the heel of your foot and the heel of the boot should move together in harmony. The heel of your foot should not slip out of the heel of your boot (heel lift). If you experience heel lift then your boots are either too large in size or the shape of the arch and heel cup are incompatible with the shape of your feet.
- Brand Sizes
Each brand has its own definition of ‘the average’ foot and different brands cater to different foot shapes and mostly widths. Knowing your own feet you should be able to tell your sales person if you need wider or narrower boots and he/she should be able to help you find corresponding brands. Some brands have different boots for different foot shapes but most companies only have one fit for each boot they produce.
- Ignore Shoe Sizes
Do not pay too much attention to the sizes of the boots you try. The sizes of your ideal hiking boots could easily differ from your leisure/fashion shoes so do not worry if they are different in quoted size. Even hiking boots of the same size could feel very differently so disregard the size of your boot and just focus on the feeling of the fit.
- Foot Shapes
If you have ‘strange’ feet where some parts (for instance your toes) are not in proportion to the other parts or if your foot has an unusual shape then you will probably have to buy the best fitting shoe and compensate for your irregularities by using insoles and specific socks.
Related Hiking Shop Items & Product Categories
We have our own Hiking Shop where we have gathered all Hiking related products available online through a variety of merchants. These are the Hiking Shop Items and Product Categories related to this article. For more Hiking Gear, Equipment and related Products please visit our Hiking Shop at SHOP-of-Hiking.com.
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