When it comes to selecting hiking boots, there are many choices out there in the outdoor market. But with so many choices, where do you begin in choosing a hiking boot that's right for you?
Know Your Boot Type
Before choosing a new pair of hiking boots, you need to know that there are 4 different types of boots. Because there are different types of hiking trips, the duration of your trip will determine how much of a load you carry. Selecting the right boot will not only save your feet, but also your back.
Light Hiking Boots: This is for the hiker that enjoys day hikes. They resemble running shoes and have a low ankle cut (little to no roll resistance for ankles) and flexible midsoles.
Hiking Boots: These boots have a mid-to-high ankle cut (moderate roll resistance), and best used for day hikes or weekend hiking trips where you will be carrying a light backpack.
Backpacking Boots: These boots are designed to handle heavier loads, and also come with a stiffer midsole for protection and support against rocks, roots, and uneven trails. If you're planning a hiking trip that is in the deeper woods, this is the boot for you.
Mountaineering Boots: This boot is for heavy duty trail blazing, especially if you're planning a hike up a mountain. These boots provide the maximum amount of support in the ankles and midsoles.
Know Your Hike
Determining what kind of hiking you will be pursuing is key in selecting the right hiking boot. It's also important to know what sort of conditions that you will be hiking in. Not only is boot type important, but the material in which you select your boot will make or break your hiking trip. Choosing a lighter material such as synthetics (nylon or polyester) is not ideal if you'll be hiking in cold and wet terrain. But choosing synthetics has its benefits such as being more breathable and cooler, making it a favorite during the warmer seasons.
Know Your Material
If you're planning a rugged hiking trip through cold and wet terrain, you'll want to look at a hiking boot that has waterproof lining and is made from leather. If you want something lightweight with more protection than a synthetic boot, consider looking into split-grain leather, which is meshed with synthetics. There is also a more flexible leather boot called nubuck leather that is buffed to look like suede and is lighter and flexible. But keep in mind that this specific boot will need some time to break in properly. And finally, if you need protection at its maximum, a full-grain leather boot is the best choice. While not very breathable, it will apply the best protection for your feet and support for your back, which is why it's most ideal for extended trips and when you have to carry heavier loads.
Know Your Fit
Finally, when trying on hiking boots, know the proper way that a boot is supposed to fit. Your toes should be able to wiggle easily, and your foot shouldn't be sliding around inside. When trying on boots, be sure to take the socks that you will be wearing during the hike as well as any foot insoles that you wear on a regular basis. The more realistic the circumstances are, the wiser choice you will make in choosing the right hiking boots.