Have you ever gone on a hike? What part of your body begins to ache first? We’re willing to bet your answer is ‘the feet’. This is perfectly true. You cannot take a “hike” in a car or on a bicycle. If you’re taking hiking, you’re using your feet – it’s the whole point, and the best thing about it.
By extension, getting the right hiking boot is critical to the success or failure of your hiking adventure. The most important thing to consider when choosing a hiking boot is comfort. After comfort, you need to consider the support it provides, how protective it is, its durability, stability, weight, water resistance and warmth.
Now, your choice from all the above will depend on the kind of terrain you plan on hiking and the weight of your hiking backpack
. When your chosen trail is smooth and your pack is light, you will be okay with a different kind of hiking boots from the ones you will need when packing a heavy backpack on an off-trail hike. As you consider comfort, always consider your hiking route and choose the lightest boots you can get that are suited for the kind of trail you’ll be hiking on.
There are different kinds of hiking boots suited for different hiking situations. These include: Hiking shoes, day hiking boots and backpacking boots. Hiking shoes are low-cut, flexible and mid-soled shoes great for day hiking with light backpacks. Day hiking boots can be anywhere from mid to high-cut. They are flexible and do not need so much break-in time before use. They are ideal for day hikes and backpacking hikes with light weight packs.
Finally, backpacking boots are the heavy-duty version of hiking boots. Most of these are high cut and provide support by wrapping above the ankles. They are durable and very supportive. They usually have less flexible midsoles. They are designed for multi-day off-trail hikes with heavy backpacks.
Your ultimate goal when picking a hiking boot is your comfort so we will, through this guide, help you choose the best hiking boots and provide other hints – like getting the right hiking socks
– to help you have a better experience with your hiking boot. Hopefully, the next time you pick up your hiking pole
and backpack and then sit to lace your hiking boot, you will be lacing a boot that provides you the comfort and support you need on your hiking trip.
Hiking boots are of varied types and with different features. The cost of each boot will most certainly be affected by the type of boot it is and the features it has. From our research, we found that a good hiking boot can be gotten for between $80 and $250. Usually, the more features a hiking boot has, the more it will cost.
What we have done is select hiking boots of different prices and with different features. Each of these selected boots will give full value for whatever price you pay for it. Look through the features and decide what’s best for you. You can be sure that NONE of the models featured here is a cheap hiking boot that has no quality and offers no value for money.
When choosing a hiking boot, each person has to determine what is best for them depending on the use they want to put the boots to. A person going on an off-trail hike with a heavy backpack does not need the same kind of boot as someone going on a daylight hike with a light backpack. The right boot should be tailored to your exact needs.
Here are some basic things to look out for to help you decide which is best for you:
- Fit – this is a bit more than just the size. It has to fit comfortably without any form of discomfort anywhere
- Material – full-grain leather, split-grain leather, nubuck leather, synthetics, waterproof membrane, vegan, insulation
- Type of midsole
- Internal support
- Type of outsole
- Recommend type of trail
Construction and Design
After size and fit, the next most important thing to consider is the material the boot is made of. Full-grain leather offers the best in durability, resistance to abrasion and water proofing. These qualities make it ideal for heavy-duty backpacking boots. Such boots do well in rough terrains, with heavy loads and extended heavy-duty use.
Split-grain leather has the rougher inner hide split away and replaced with nylon or mesh. This is highly breathable and more affordable. It does not have the ruggedness or the waterproof properties of full grain leather. This kind of material is sometimes lined with waterproof material.
Nubuck leather is full-grain leather that is buffed till it becomes like suede. It has the same features as full-grain leather but is more flexible and, just like the full-grain leather, it will need some time to break-in before proper use. Synthetic materials are usually polyesters, nylon and synthetic leather. They are more affordable, lighter and break-in much more easily. They do not, however, have the durability of full-grain leather.
Waterproof membranes are employed in making the uppers of waterproof boots. These are great in water or when it rains. However, in summer they will simply make your feet sweat because of the reduced breathability. Boots used for hiking in the snow or glaciers are made warm by the addition of insulation. Finally, some hiking boots are vegan-friendly, meaning they were not made with any animal parts or by-products.
A hiking boot's midsole determines how stiff it will be. It provides cushioning and a shock-absorber that protects the feet from shock. When hiking through a rocky, uneven terrain, you will be needing a boot with a stiff midsole so your feet will not be bent out of shape every time it steps on a rock, tree root etc. These midsoles are either made of EVA or polyurethane. EVA is more affordable, lighter and has more cushioning. The density of the EVA can be increased to provide more support. Polyurethane offers a firmer and more durable support so it is usually found in backpacking and mountaineering boots.
Before choosing a boot, check the outsole. All outsoles are made of rubber but they have different degrees of hardness and traction. The traction comes from the lug-pattern on the outsole. Boots best for backpacking and mountaineering have deeper and thicker lug patterns. Your choice should certainly be based on the hiking trail.
Performance and Ease of Use
Before finally settling for a hiking boot, be sure it is a good fit. Get this right! We are not referring to your size. The number could show it to be your right size, but it may not be a good fit. To be sure it is a good fit, try out the boot in the evening after the day’s work. The feet are usually slightly swollen at this time. Getting the right fit may sometimes mean getting a size bigger than your usual size.
Buying online makes it a bit difficult to really test a boot before purchasing. However, even when you have gotten a hiking boot that meets your requirements as far as you can see, you need to know three important things:
- Depending on the kind of boot you are buying, you will need to break it in before actually using it for a hike. The length of time for break-in will differ based on the material used. .
- Choosing appropriate socks is very important. Test it with the same kind of socks you intend to wear on the hike. Slow-drying cotton socks are more likely to cause blisters so it may be better for you to go with synthetic socks. .
- You can get aftermarket insoles to help you improve the comfort of your hiking boot if for some reason they do not have the level of comfort you want after you’ve purchased them.
We will conclude with this advice that we’ve stated a couple of times already. Choose your hiking boots based on the kind of hiking trail you will be hiking on. Secondly, take into consideration the weight of the backpack you intend to carry. All these factors have to work together to give you the exciting hiking experience you desire.
The best hiking boot gives you the support and features you need, and with the information we’ve provided in the buying guide, you should be able to pinpoint features that matter to you. Now, let’s take a look at individual products/brands.
We hope reading this review was helpful for you. Now you should have all you need to make an informed purchase of new hiking boots. Get yours right away, and you’ll be climbing and rambling in no time!