Match your hiking ambitions. Beefy backpacking boots, for example, are usually not necessary if all you’re planning are day hikes – unless a backpacking boot offers you the most comfort.
Don’t blindly follow friends’ recommendations. Boots are modelled on different ‘lasts’ – the form around which they’re built. These vary substantially in width and volume. You might hear that this brand or the other is best – but the best boots for you are the ones that fit you best.
Give yourself time to thoroughly break in the boots. This includes having enough time to wear them around the house for a couple days to make sure they fit. Most retailers are happy to exchange or refund within 14 days provided the boots have not been worn outside.
Ensure your heel is not lifting up from the footbed when you walk. Use the little walkways in the store to simulate going up and down hills — you’ll notice it immediately.
Remove the cheap foam insole that comes with the shoe. Replace it with a specialist insole. These provide a substantially better fit and support for the arch and heels – far more than just adding gel or cushion insoles.
Wear good-quality socks when you’re trying on boots. Your mum was right — wear warm socks when you go out, preferably ones made from merino or merino/synthetic blends.
Below is a useful video explaining the essential requirements for buying hiking boots.