With more than a quarter of the body’s bones located in your feet, not to mention the numerous joints, ligaments and muscles, it is important to ensure you get the perfect pair of hiking boots for your feet. There’s nothing as bad as getting sore and blistery on a trail when you should be enjoying the country’s mind-blowing landscapes. So choosing hiking boots that match up your personal foot type should be your top priority.
What to Look For When Selecting the Right Hiking Boots
- Good boots are sturdy on the bottom. You shouldn’t feel stones or rocks through the sole. If you can, there is a likelihood that your feet will start to hurt miles on the trail. If you can press in the bottom with your hand or twist the soles of the boot, it is probably too soft to offer sufficient protection. Keep in mind that trails are nothing like the paved roads in your neighborhood. Trails are rocky, and you require excellent cushioning to avoid bruising your feet.
- Good boots provide sufficient protection on the sides. They are supposed to be heavily padded to provide extra cushioning for your feet from branches and stones which you may come into contact with on the side of the boot. Ideally, the best hiking boot should have a cushioning of up to an inch or more from the sides to offer additional protection.
- Good boots provide adequate ankle support. Hold the boot and bend it over sideways. If it bends, it is probably not going to offer enough ankle support. The top of the boot should be sturdy enough to hold your ankle in place and provide good support.
- Good boots are bulky enough for their intended purpose. A lighter boot may lack the necessary rigidity to provide your feet with sufficient backing under the heavy load of your backpack.
Which Is the Best Brand to Buy?
Anyone who tells you to buy a specific brand of hiking boots doesn’t know what they are saying. On the other hand, anyone who asks, “which hiking boot should I buy?’’ is also asking the wrong question. The perfect hiking boot is one that fits your specific foot. It’s really that simple. If it doesn’t fit your feet, you shouldn’t buy it. It may work well for your friend’s feet, but turn you into a blistered cripple ten miles down the train. No two feet are similar. They all come in different sizes and shapes. The best boot is one that fits your feet.
At the store:
Choosing a boot with the right fit is a big challenge at the store. Don’t let the brand name or the salesman recommendation steer you to a boot that won’t work for your feet. After you’ve reviewed your choices and tried out each boot, ask for a pair.
1. Do the Finger Test
With the boot unlaced, move your feet as far into the front of the boot. If the boot is the right size for your feet, you should be able to slip a finger at the back of the ankle. The extra space is important for hiking downhill, giving your feet room to slide forward without putting undue pressure on your toes.
2. Do the Sensory Test
Now, take off your socks and slip your feet forward to see if any part of the boot that feels tight. Some boots may make your small toes feel pinched. This can be difficult to feel when you have your socks on. The bare feet test will allow you to notice all this and find a boot that is perfectly designed for your toes.
On the Trail:
Assuming that you’ve finally found the perfect boot, the final step is breaking in your boots before you go out on a hike. All leather boots will definitely need some breaking in before backpacking. Wear your boots for a while on shorter trails until you are comfortable you can wear them on long hikes.
Lastly, even the best boots can still give you problems. Tender feet may get sore, and small spots may develop blisters. Be sure to use moleskin or other abrasion padding to give your feet maximum protection. Remember that sometimes it’s not the shoe that needs conditioning but your feet. Regular hiking will toughen up your feet until they are ready to endure the abuse you’ll give them on hikes.
The ideal hiking boots should feel comfortable as soon as you wear them. Yes, they will soften and break in after a while, but don’t depend on that happening for them to be comfortable. Boots can be quite expensive, so take time to buy wisely. Your feet and bank account will depend on it.