Finding the perfect hiking boot isn’t always easy and can be quite the process, but it’s important to find your perfect fit. Sore feet and blisters are no fun.
When looking for the right boot, you need to assess the type and fit of the shoe, while also taking into consideration the terrain you’ll be covering, hike distance, and the weather you’re likely to encounter.
Low-cut hiking shoes with flexible midsoles are perfect for day hikes. For hiking on smooth terrain or carrying light packs, minimal ankle support is necessary.
Mid- or high-cut boots offer more stability and support. They are ideal when the terrain is a bit rougher, packs are heavier, or the distance is longer. Even if you’re just going on short hikes, if you’re prone to rolled ankles or unstable knees, the stiff sole and higher ankle offers greater stability.
If you’re planning on hiking in wet or snowy conditions, make sure to look for waterproof boots.
Online shopping is convenient, but to get the correct fit, you have to try on boots in person. The right fit is key to long-term comfort and support.
Before heading to a store, bring thick socks (if possible the ones you intend to hike in) and any orthotics you use. It’s best to try boots on in the afternoon, since feet swell over the course of the day.
Hiking boots should have a snug fit without being overly tight. There should be room for your toes to wiggle but your foot should not shift side to side, slide front to back, or lift in the heel while walking.
Where possible, walk around the store – take the stairs, or find an incline so you can test the feel of the boot. You may consider some aftermarket insoles for added comfort, support or improved fit.
Before making the final decision about your boot, ensure it will match your needs. Be sure to speak to a salesperson regarding waterproofing, quick-drying, or extra breathability. Ideally, the perfect boot will fit snugly, and provide support and comfort through all four seasons.
Finally, and most importantly, break your boots in before your trip to avoid any soreness or rubbing while exploring.