Selecting Hiking Boots

Selecting Hiking BootsHiking boots ensure a comfortable journey while hiking both leisurely and challenging trails. A properly fitted hiking boot will protect the foot, bridge and ankle for the duration of the hike, ensure long-lasting comfort, and assist with carrying pack weight. There are many different types of hiking boot styles available. Follow these steps to determine the right hiking boot for you.


Difficulty: Easy

Step 1
Determine the hiking challenge. Discover hiking trails on or through the American Hiking Society. Analyze the terrain you will be hiking (rocky, smooth or a variation of both), the duration of the hike (day, overnight or longer hikes), and the weight you plan to carry (no pack, fanny pack or heavy backpack). Evaluate your hiking skill level, regular outdoor activity and goals for hiking development. Additionally, consider hiking weather factors such as ice, rain or heat, as this may help determine features required in a hiking boot, such as breathability, durability, water resistance and traction.
Step 2
Visit a reputable outdoor enthusiast store. A well-fit, comfortable and relevant boot is considered to be the most essential piece of hiking equipment you can buy. Consult with an educated footwear sales professional to ensure credible advice. Consider a local shop (such as Tucson's Summit Hut) or a credible national chain (such as REI) as your hiking boot resource; Additionally, plan a visit during an afternoon, after feet have naturally swelled.
Step 3
Have your feet accurately measured. Hiking brands can vary in size standards---from each other and other types of footwear---so having your feet properly measured by a credible sales professional will ensure you purchase a boot with a comfortable, accurate fit. Consult your store resource while trying on different hiking boots, as each category may feel differently on the foot, may require a specific amount of time to break in, and may need replacement more or less frequently than other styles.
Step 4
Select a hiking boot category. Hiking footwear is designed to provide foot support and protection during a hike; Evaluate the categories of hiking boots to determine the correct style for your needs. Trail shoes are lightweight styles that are generally low-cut, lightweight and are designed for little or no additional pack weight. Light-hiking boots are for casual hiking needs, when a fanny pack or hydration pack may be necessary, but are still flexible in material and simple in design. Backpacking boots have a stiff upper and sole, protecting the foot and ankle while hiking more strenuous terrain. These boots provide protection and weight distribution while carrying heavy backpacks. Mountaineering boots are categorized for the most challenging conditions, such as climbing steep inclines under a variety of weather influences. Since hiking boot materials, features and functions are diverse, consult a professional to ensure the purchase of a boot that suits your hiking needs.
Step 5
Consider high-quality, tested brand names. Although more expensive, a reliable pair of hiking boots will prevent injury, provide long-lasting foot, bridge and ankle protection, assist in load-carrying, and remain agreeable over time. Brand names such as Chaco, Zamberlan, Vasque or Merrell withstand meticulous quality testing methods to ensure durability, comfort and reliability. Study consumer reviews online, read magazine evaluations and ask a qualified outdoor sales professional for advice. Look for boots that are made from high-quality materials, such as waterproof Gore-Tex and leather, and that feature long-lasting construction, such as double-stitching. Walk on a manufactured incline (often featured at reputable outdoor enthusiast stores) to experience the boot in strained conditions.
Step 6
Understand the store return policy. After careful in-store evaluation and boot comparisons, select a boot for purchase. Ask about the methods of return, should you be unhappy with your purchase at a later time. Consider first wearing the hiking boots around the house to ensure a satisfactory purchase. Most stores will allow returns for clean, undamaged boots.

Tips & Warnings

Remember, quality is extremely important when it comes to hiking boots.
Bring hiking socks to the store to wear while trying on hiking boots.
Wear the newly purchased hiking boots around the home before trekking out on a hike. If blisters appear, consider utilizing a blister preventative such as Body Glide.
Only purchase hiking boots that have first been tried on to ensure a comfortable, appropriate fit.

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