Hiking is the activity of going on long walks especially across the country. To carry out this activity you need the perfect shoes for it.
These shoes must be able to withstand harsh weather conditions and maintain high traction on rugged terrains. Of course, they should also be comfortable to wear.
The quantity of hiking footwear options shouldn’t be the reason that you continue to journey to summits in unsupportive sneakers that are falling apart from overuse. With just a few considerations, you can have better boots.
Things to consider when buying a hiking boot
You need a supportive, comfortable, lightweight, and durable boots that will provide you good traction. Any hiking shoe that’s devoid of these qualities aren’t worth it.
Nevertheless, here are what to consider when shopping a hiking or trail running footwear.
1. The boots upper
Leathers are mostly used in the making of a hiking boot upper, but the quality of the leathers varies. Some are full-grain, others are nubuck and split-grain leathers.
A boot with a full-grain or nubuck leather upper is usually durable. They’re also resistant to abrasion and water.
On the other hand, split-grain leather upper that is usually combined with nylon mesh is lighter and more breathable. However, it is less resistant to water and abrasion.
Modern hiking boots now come with synthetic leather. The good thing is that they’re cheaper, lightweight, and dry fast. Unfortunately, they’re less durable.
More so, some hiking boots are branded, “waterproof”. These shoes come with a waterproof membrane. It is the technology of Gore-Tex® (GTX).
GTX is a thin membrane of polytetrafluoroethylene that confers waterproof property on shoes.
2. Quality of the midsole
The midsole is the part between the upper and the outsole. It ensures cushioning and determines the stiffness of the entire boot.
Hiking boot can come with an EVA (ethyl vinyl acetate) or polyurethane midsole. EVA is less stiff than polyurethane, thus more comfortable. However, the polyurethane midsole is more durable.
For long hikes on challenging terrain, a stiff boot seems to serve best. The stiffness will not allow your foot to wrap around the sturdy terrain on every footfall, thereby preventing it from wearing out.
3. Design of the insole
Every good hiking boot and trail running shoe come with a foam insole for comfort and support.
Some are better than others, and most will feel comfortable straight out of the box, but none will provide the long term support of an aftermarket insole.
Insoles can achieve various purposes like provide additional support, fill up more volume, provide more comfort.
An insole with arch support could be more supportive especially to those with high arch.
4. Design of the outsole
Generally, hiking boots are designed with a rubber outsole. They’re known to provide better traction.
A point to take note of when looking for a hiking boot is the lug pattern. These are the bumps on the outsole the provide the needed traction.
Go for boots with widely spaced lugs; they shed off mud easily and offer better grip.
5. The type of hiker you are
Individuals have different needs and their walking habits differ too. The boots you choose should be a match for the type of hiking that you do.
If you are a long-distance hiker, a day hiker, or a casual walker whichever you are affects the type of boots you buy.
Seasoned-thru hikers might hike hundreds of miles in a pair of trail running shoes, while an infrequent, city-based hiker might go for something with ankle support, even for short trails.
Whatever you choose make sure it is substantial and supportive. Although some casual walkers prefer something fast and light.
How should a hiking boot fit?
A hiking boot should give you a snug-fitting but not tight on any part. The toe area should also be a bit free (but not too loose) such that it enables you to joggle your toes when there is a need to.
No matter what all the lists online tell you about the best hiking shoes, it’s always better to go to a store and buy it so that you can try them on.
Every person’s feet are different and of different sizes too. Hiking is also something you will need to do in very comfortable footwear.
So it is advisable you go to a physical store if you can. Online stores too can be considered as an alternative, especially when you already know your shoe size and foot specifications.
If you don’t know your shoe size, we’ve a comprehensive article on how to measure your shoe size at home.
Hiking boots aren’t the same as a pair of running shoes, which have a life span denoted in miles ran.
Think about them as an investment. The best of them will only get better and more comfortable with time. This is how to buy the best hiking shoes.