Summer is here, and if you love the outdoors as much as we do, you’re looking forward to enjoying the long days by taking on some gorgeous trails. To truly appreciate the experience, though, it helps to have a really great hiking boot.
You came to the right place! We’ll walk you through five tips to help you find the right hiker.
1. How Am I Using This Hiking Boot?
Hiking boots can vary widely, but they all provide better traction, more flexibility, and are lighter weight than your typical work boot or shoe. Hiking footwear can take you from the deserts of Southern California to the cloud forests of the Amazon, but you shouldn’t use the same boot for each trip. The first step to finding the right fit—whether you’re shopping for men’s hiking boots or women’s hiking boots—is to determine the conditions in which you’ll be wearing the boot.
Will you be…
Hiking for the day or going on a longer trip?
Encountering different terrains? Trail, smooth, rocky, or varied?
Carrying a pack?
Facing a variety of weather conditions?
Your hiking conditions will dictate how heavy-duty of a hiker you need and whether you need extra bells and whistles like waterproofing.
2. How Heavy Is My Pack?
Heavy packs can take a toll on even the best hikers. Sometimes, it’s impossible to pack lightly for your hike. That’s where your hiking footwear comes in. If you’re hiking with a heavy pack, we recommend choosing a stiffer sole and possibly taller boot height.
Why? The stiffer sole will provide more support for the extra weight, and the extra height will help protect your ankle while you’re top-heavy. Just remember, heavier boots take longer to break in. Plan accordingly!
3. Will I Need a Waterproof Boot?
No one wants wet feet during a long, grueling hike. Not only is it uncomfortable, it can be dangerous too. Waterproof boots are your first line of defense against moisture—and these come in several forms.
DIY: Products like SnoSeal can be applied to hiking boots constructed using quality, all-leather uppers. If you’re up for it, DIY applications can work well and preserve your leather, but they may be slightly less breathable than other options.
Seam Sealed Construction: Manufacturers who use high-quality, water-resistant leather may seal the seams from the inside to keep water out. These boots provide good breathability and moderate water protection, but they aren’t as waterproof as a bootie liner. You may also need to re-apply the waterproof treatment after some use.
Waterproof Bootie Liner: Liners are the best waterproof protection you can get. Combine a liner with waterproof leather for the best protection. But make sure to wear wick-dry socks—these liners don’t breathe as well as non-bootie waterproof boots.
4. Will I Need Insulation?
For cold weather hikes, it may be best to grab a boot that’s insulated. An insulated boot can help you climb glaciers and snowy peaks. A good pair of wool socks is also a great addition to your cold-weather gear.
5. Other Things to Consider for the Perfect Fit
Once you’ve answered all these questions, you can easily narrow down your options to find the right hiking boot for your next trek. But we’ve got a few more tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your hiking footwear:
Skip leather linings—they absorb moisture and are slow to dry.
Break your boot in thoroughly—while wearing your hiking socks—before your hike.
Wear high-quality, moisture-wicking socks. Avoid cotton except for light hiking purposes as they hold too much water.
Don’t let uncomfortable hiking boots keep you from getting out there this summer. Come visit any of our Boot World locations to meet with a trained hiking shoe expert for guidance--and check out our guide to finding the right fit before you drop by.