When it comes to choosing a pair of walking boots or hiking boots, there are a number of things that you need to take into account. If you’re going on a long-distance hike, then proper shoes can make all the difference between an enjoyable and safe journey and having your feet be so blistered and sore that you give up.
First thing’s first: not everyone is suited to hiking in walking boots or even hiking at all. Not everyone has the physique for it; those who aren’t used to carrying heavy weights over long distances will find themselves struggling, and if your idea of exercise is running to catch the bus then you probably won’t enjoy walking for hours across hills and mountains.
If you just want to go for short walks in the countryside, then a comfortable pair of walking boots will be enough. If you do decide to hike across a country or a continent, make sure you give yourself plenty of time and train for it – running to catch the bus isn’t going to cut it.
You should also consider what sort of terrain you’re going to be walking over; if you’re just planning on trekking through gentle hills and fields then any hiking boots that are water-resistant should do. On the other hand, if you want to climb mountains and traverse rocky paths then look for something with good ankle support and grip, such as GORE-TEX boots.
If you plan on doing winter hiking or mountaineering, look for high-altitude boots. These are designed so that you can spend all day walking at high altitudes, where the air is thin and the temperature is low. High-altitude boots have reinforced rubber soles with ridges or lugs on them to provide extra grip, support for your ankles, are usually insulated to keep your feet warm, and have removable insoles so you can swap them out once they’ve been worn in.
Lacing up hiking boots is an art form that takes some getting used to. You should always start at the bottom of the boot and work upwards (some people like starting from the top-down, but it’s hard to be accurate), tightening each section as much as possible without cutting off circulation. If you’re going through cold terrain then you may want to use ski-boot style laces, which can be tightened with a single movement.
You should also consider the benefits of buying high-quality boots over cheaper hiking shoes; while they might cost more, they’ll last much longer before you need to replace them and are made from better materials that will keep your feet dry even in sodden conditions. They won’t come apart at the seams after only two weeks’ worth of hiking either.
Walking boots should be chosen based on how long and arduous the hike is going to be and what sort of terrain it’s likely to cover. They need to fit properly, provide good ankle support and grip, protect your feet from rocks and damp ground, keep them warm when it’s cold out, give you enough room for extra socks if needed, and be comfortable so that they don’t rub or pinch anywhere. With all these factors in mind, choosing hiking boots shouldn’t prove too difficult.