How to Choose Hiking Boots

How to Choose Hiking BootsSelecting a pair of boots to cradle your feet while you go hiking is not difficult, but does merit effort. Shoe problems hikers hope to avoid include blisters, squeezed bones, unsupported or overly supported arches, hot spots and black toenails. A good pair of hiking boots will help minimize foot fatigue, aching soles, shin splints, overly sore calf and thigh muscles, sprained ankles and knee and hip pain. Believe it or not, selecting the proper hiking boot for your foot and body, makes a difference in your hiking adventure. It's best to begin at a camping goods store that employs knowledgeable sales associates, not a sports discount store.


Difficulty: Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Winter and summer hiking socks
  • Form of payment (cash, credit card or check)
Step 1
Go online and get an idea of brands and models offered. Also find an excellent camping gear store.
Step 2
Decide what kind of boot you are shopping for: low, medium or high; day hiking, backpacking or trekking; waterproof or water resistant; moderate tread or deep; lightweight, ultra-durable or in between.
Step 3
Visit the selected store and ask for help choosing hiking boots. Tell the sales associate how and where you hike.
Step 4
Select two or three pairs of boots. Put on your own summer hiking socks.
Step 5
Once you have the boots on, tap your toes to the front before you lace them. Feel behind your foot; there should be a finger's width of room.
Step 6
Walk on a flat surface, and especially on uphill and downhill surfaces. Notice fit, lacing, height, weight and whether your foot slips in the forefoot or in the heel.
Step 7
Switch to your winter hiking socks and repeat the test with each pair of boots.

Tips & Warnings

Shop for boots in afternoon, evening or right after a hike. Your feet will be a bit swollen, improving your sense of fit.
If you wear orthotics, bring them along and put them in the boots that you are trying on.
Save money by buying a second pair of a well-loved boot when it goes on sale, and hold on to it.
Models go out of production, frequently are updated and last year's boots might be available online for much less than the $100 or more you paid for the first pair.
Even the best boots may not fit your feet. Don't take friends' advice about boot brands and models without trying them on.
Sometimes you select a pair of boots and know during the first hike or two that you've made a mistake. Instead of gritting your teeth and collecting sore or injured feet, admit the error and look for a gear swap, so someone else may enjoy the hiking boots. Try again.


Article Written By Lani Johnson

Lani Johnson is a hiking, writing musician. Recent published work includes journalism, poetry and research. See her online writing at or at

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