Making this guide isn’t easy, but we will try to give you the most essential information and the guide you need for choosing the best boots for your need.
With the right kind of hiking boots, you can make your outside ventures a lot more enjoyable and adventurous. However, if you don’t pay careful attention to what you are buying, you could end up with hiking boots that are uncomfortable and extremely painful. Therefore, if you really do want to enjoy your mountaineering expeditions and ensure that the boots that you have bought will help keep your legs healthy and energized, you should read this simple guide to discover everything there is about selecting the best hiking shoes.
However, before scrolling down for the info you need, remember that as long as you pay close attention to the tips mentioned in this guide and actually implement them while selecting your new shoe, you will without a doubt have an extremely enjoyable hiking session with your friends or family. So, now that that is out of the way, here are the golden tips.
Factors to Look for When Choosing Hiking Boot
1. The Hiking Location/Place
If you are planning a light and easy day hike, it is recommended that you stay away from beefy backpacking boots and instead opt for mountain climbing shoes that are perfect for this kind of thing. However, if you do manage to find good quality mountaineering boot that you are comfortable with, you can use it for day hikes as well. Remember that there is a wide variety of hiking boots and shoes out there. However, each of these suits a particular adventure, so you should choose wisely. More about the different sorts of hiking boots out there are a little further on in this guide.
2. Comfortable Fit
One of the key deciding factors when purchasing a pair of shoes, sandals and boots is its fit and the level of comfort that it provides. Likewise, when you are in the process of selecting a hiking boot, it is crucial that you make sure that it is the right fit for you.
The three factors that will play an important role in providing you with the perfect fit are:
- Width: You will note that the overall width (especially that of the toe box) is immensely important for the comfort of your feet. You are considering should have enough space so that your feet don’t feel compressed. On the other hand, it shouldn’t be so wide that your feet slide around in your footwear.
- Length: The length of your boot should be such that your toes and feet can easily wiggle inside. Remember that even though you might have to adjust or break into the shoes a little, they shouldn’t be cramped. This is especially important if you have hammertoes or some kind of foot issues which heighten their sensitivity.
- Volume: A lot of people confuse the volume of a mountaineering shoe with the width, but the truth is that they are not the same. When you talk about the width of the shoe, you are basically talking about the platform beneath your foot, whereas the volume is the entire area available for your foot. Therefore, while selecting mountain boots, make sure that the bulk of your foot fits securely inside the boot.
Keep in mind that the thing which will be most helpful in selecting the right and the best one is the REI footwear knowledge. If this is a new term to you, don’t worry; it’s mentioned in detail right here in this guide.
Types of Hiking Boots
If you don’t know this already, there are four different types that are used by hikers around the world. By knowing about each of the hiking shoes and mountain climbing boot in detail, you will be able to make an informed decision and a sound investment in a new pair. So, here are the four categories in which the REI sorts the hiking footwear.
1. Light Hiking Shoes – Trail Running or Adventure Racing Shoes
If you are on the lookout for hiking shoes that you can tag along on your day hike, these light shoes will be your perfect companion. These are generally called running shoes because they have low cut models that have flexible midsoles. Because of these features, these are ideal for day hikes. In fact, there are a lot of light backpackers who use light-hiking footwear for long distance journeys even if they don’t plan to do any running or rock climbing.
1. Salomon Men’s XA Pro Mid GTX Hiking Shoe
It is a Mid height and fully waterproof hiking sneaker. This iconic shoe is for moving fast on rough terrain has been improved with an updated collar design for more comfort. The outsole has also been upgraded for superior grip on any surface. Hike your favorite peak in the Salomon XA Pro 3D Mid GTX.
2. Oboz Men’s Sawtooth Low Hiking Shoe
Kick off a long weekend or just make a quick escape from your desk in Oboz’s versatile Sawtooth shoe. This low-top hiker features fabric and leather construction for a lightweight feel, a nylon shank and EVA midsole for great balance and added comfort, and a variegated outsole for slip-resistant grip on and off the trail. Defying foot fatigue and chafing, this lace-up also offers a radial fit system for a stay-put fit and padding throughout.
3. KEEN Men’s Targhee II Hiking Shoe
Here’s a waterproof hiking boot that offers four-wheel-drive performance for your feet. It’s designed to keep your feet dry and let them breathe, and the aggressive outsole bites into the terrain. The mid-cut height adds ankle support. From beaches to mountains to city streets, Keen believes the outdoors is anyplace without a ceiling. Keen believes in living a HybridLife, which means being part of a greater community that is full of people who create possibilities, play in the outdoors and care for the world around them.
4. Lowa Men’s Renegade II GTX LO Hiking Shoe
5. Scarpa Men’s Zen Multisport Shoe
Designed with approach hiking needs in mind, Scarpa creates a durable and attractive all-leather offering. The SCARPA Zen climbing shoe is designed for all-day wear and durability. With its comfort insole, EVA cushioning, and moisture-wicking lining, you’ll get the freedom and high performance you depend on to see your adventure to its end.
6. Merrell Men’s All Out Blaze Hiking Shoe
Move from track to trail and back again in the agile Merrell AllOut Blaze Mem trainer. Featuring a waterproof oily leather and mesh upper that provides a glove-like fit for lightweight durability and natural movement, this handsome men’s sneaker also features M Select DRY technology that seals out water and lets moisture escape so you can stay dry while on the move. Its Merrell Omni-Fit Lacing system provides a precise fit, while breathable mesh lining treated with M Select FRESH enhances inner air circulation for odor control. UNI-FLY and soft E-Foam midsole disperses impact and stabilizes for a solid takeoff, while Vibram outsole delivers all the traction, support, and stability you need during your day. Show off your versatile skills with the amazing AllOut Blaze Men by Merrell.
7. Adidas Men’s Outdoor Terrex Fast R Gore-Tex Hiking Shoe
This light athletic shoe moves faster than ever on the mountain. With protective weldings, a grippy Continental Rubber outsole, PRO MODERATOR support, waterproof GORE-TEX and ADIPRENE cushioning.
8. Five Ten Men’s Guide Tennie Leather Approach Shoe
Five Ten was an originator of the approach shoe category and the Guide Tennie continues the tradition. The Stealth C4 Dotty outsole bites into multiple surfaces and also has a hand-ground beveled climbing toe. The Compression molded outsole and comfortable upper will keep you comfortable all day long.
2. Hiking/Approach Boots
This special kind of mountaineering boots is meant for those who love weekend backpacking trips with slightly lighter loads. These are mid- or high-cut footwear that provides the flexibility needed while you are hiking. Even though these boots are not recommended for long, tiresome and tough hikes, they are perfect for those looking for shoes that will provide support while climbing small hills and other such places.
3. Backpacking Boots – Cross Hikers Boots
Slightly on a lower level than very strong and durable mountaineering boots are backpacking boots. They are designed so that they can carry loads of varying weights on trips that stretch on multiple days. They are supportive, durable and have stiffer midsoles than light hiking boots. However, you should know that there is a huge variety of them nowadays, so you will find many companies offering shoes that are between light hiking, hiking and backpacking shoes. Therefore, you should always make sure of selecting the right footwear for your purposes and feet.
4. Mountaineering Boots – Heavy Boots
These shoes are designed to take on even the heaviest weight, accept crampons for glacier travels, and will keep your feet happy throughout the journey. These rock climbing boots are tough, durable and extremely supportive. Depending on the path you plan to take, they will surely help you stay on track.
Materials and Construction
1. Upper Boot Materials
Those who have ample experience in hiking will know that the upper boot material is crucial when deciding the quality of the boot. After all, the material has an impact on the boot’s weight, breathability, water resistance and durability.
2. Split grain Leather
In case you’re wondering, this material earned its name because it splits away the rougher inner part of the cowhide from the smooth exterior. It is beneficial because it is less costly and won’t be heavy on your pocket. However, the downside is that it offers less resistance to water and abrasion. Still, there are some companies that combine the spilt grain leather with waterproof liners. In addition, the material is often paired with nylon mesh or nylon to provide lightweight and breathable comfort for the wearer.
3. Full Grain Leather
This material provides excellent durability, abrasion resistance and water resistance. It is mostly used in backpacking boots that are built for extended trips, rugged terrain and heavy loads. Even though these are not as light or breathable as nylon and split grain combinations, they are perfect for long hikes. However, you must know that boots that come with this type of leather will need ample time for you to break into if they are to be worn comfortably.
4. Nubuck Leather
This kind of leather is actually full grain leather that is buffed to look like suede. Nubuck leather is water resistant, abrasion resistant and also very durable. Even though it requires the same time to break into as full grain leather, it is quite flexible and comfortable in the end.
5. Synthetic Leather
Synthetic leather, a combination of nylon and polyester, is most commonly found in modern mountaineering boots. The good thing about this material is that it is quite light, making any shoe made from it easy to break into. Even though synthetic leather shoes are not completely water resistant, they do dry a lot quicker and cost a lot less than shoes and boots made from natural leather. However, if you are looking for hiking shoes that are durable, this material might not be your best option as it can wear out quicker than others.
6. Waterproof Linings
Labeled as “waterproof” are those which have a waterproof or breathable membrane constructed with the upper. These membranes are either made up of Gore-Tex® or eVent®. Of course, these shoes work well with conditions that are moist and extremely wet. However, the downside of these waterproof linings is that their breathability is reduced considerable due to the membranes. As a result, you are bound to feel dry and warm, especially in summer days.
An important tip to remember about the leather used in mountain boots is that they should always be treated with a waterproofing product that is recognized to keep the dust and dirt from affecting the waterproof lining later on.