When it comes to hiking, there are three types of boots you need to consider: lightweight, midweight, and heavyweight. Depending on the weight, they provide more or less ankle stability and foot support.
What’s paramount is that the boot fits. It should hug your foot comfortably, with wiggle room for your toes. Try them on with the socks you’ll wear hiking and at the end of the day when your feet are slightly swollen.
Ankle support can help prevent injuries on uneven terrain. Look for boots with a higher collar for extended support or lighter, lower options for more ankle mobility. Consider the stiffness of the midsole – stiffer boots offer better support on rugged terrain, while flexible ones are more comfortable for day hikes.
Don’t underestimate the importance of comfort! Cushioning in the midsole and heel absorbs shock and reduces fatigue on long hikes. Look for breathable materials to prevent sweaty feet, and ensure the boots have enough room for your foot to swell slightly throughout the day.
If you are new to hiking, you will need something on your feet that can keep you upright securely when you carry a heavy backpack when climbing.
Consider the terrain you will be negotiating. Your boots should withstand the elements – the rocks you are clambering over. You will need strong boots that will be able to manage such conditions.
Good grip is crucial! Vibram rubber outsoles are a popular choice for their durability and performance on different terrains. Look for lugs (the tread pattern) that match the conditions you’ll encounter, like deeper lugs for mud or smaller lugs for smoother trails.
Heavy boots have full shanks that’s soles that are rigid and protect your ankles and support your weight when climbing up rocks, while lightweight hiking boots have less shanks.
Full-grain leather offers excellent durability and water resistance, while synthetic materials are lighter and quicker to dry. Consider waterproofing or breathable membranes like Gore-Tex for wet environments.
For a brisk hike you may favour lightweight boots or even sneakers. Depending on the length of your hike, you may consider taking an extra few pairs in your backpack.
Wearing bright coloured hiking boots is not just good because it is fashionable, but because if you get lost, other hikers may spot and rescue you. Red, orange, magenta add, yellow may be a few colours you may consider.
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Here are a few hiking boots worth looking at:
Best overall: Salomon X Men’s Ultra Pioneer Mid Gor-tex Hiking Shoe. This boot is a great all-rounder, with good support, traction, and comfort. It’s also waterproof and breathable, making it a good choice for a variety of conditions.
Best budget: Merrell Moab 3 Mid Waterproof. This boot is a classic for a reason. It’s affordable, comfortable, and durable. It’s not the best choice for the most technical terrain, but it’s a great option for day hikes and light backpacking.
Best backpacking: Salomon Quest 4 GTX. This boot is designed for carrying heavy loads. It has a lot of support and stability, and it’s also waterproof and breathable.
Best for fast and light: Hoka Speedgoat 5 Mid GTX. This boot is lightweight and comfortable, but it still has enough support for technical terrain. It’s a great choice for day hikes and ultralight backpacking.
Best for rugged terrain: La Sportiva Bushido Pro. This boot is built for tough conditions. It has a stiff sole and excellent traction, making it a good choice for scrambling and off-trail hiking.