If you enjoy exploring the outdoors, hiking is undoubtedly one of the activities that you enjoy. There are so many hiking trails around the world to conquer and enjoy!
However, before you go on any hiking trip, you must be equipped with the right gear–it can determine how successful your hike is and whether or not you enjoy yourself. One of the most important items you need to consider is your hiking shoes. The shoes you choose to buy must be comfortable and strong enough to withstand the rigors of hiking on tough trails and sometimes over several days.
Here’s some tips I’ve learned when choosing the right hiking boots for the type of adventure I’m on.
The biggest problem that many hikers face is choosing the right size. Trust me, blisters and toenails that turn black and blue are not enjoyable for anyone. You should choose hiking shoes that fit comfortably, but not too tightly either. We recommend shopping for hiking shoes in the afternoon, since your feet normally swell during the day and are at their largest in the evening.
When trying on boots, you should wear a similar pair of socks to what you will wear on your hiking trip. This will give you a better idea for how your feet will feel in your boots when you head out on the trail. Different types of socks can cause blisters and rubs or make your shoes tighter–all of which can be problems when you are on a long hike. Walk around the store a bit before you make the decision to purchase. Your hiking boots should fit snugly and easily with enough space to wiggle your toes, and the tongue shouldn’t fit too tightly against your ankle.
A note on buying boots online: I don’t always think it’s a good idea. It might be tempting to jump on a sale or two from your favorite company, but you never know which size is actually going to work for you until you try them on in-person. Make the extra effort to go to the store and check them out yourself.
How long will your hike be?
How long the hike will be is also a factor to consider when choosing hiking boots. If you are going on a longer hike, you should choose more durable hiking boots that can withstand the rigors of that particular environment. While you might not need something too intense for a day or two out, several days or weeks can take a toll on your boots.
One of the best options for long hikes and extended trips are full-grain leather hiking boots. These are extremely durable, are water-resistant and abrasion-resistant. You’ll want to buy these shoes at least a few weeks before your hiking trip and wear them for a little bit daily to get comfortable in them before your trip rolls around.
Synthetic hiking shoes, made largely from polyester and nylon, can work just as well. These hiking boots are much lighter, comfortable, and require very little time to break into. They are not as durable as the full-grain hiking boots, but can be a good option if you are looking for something a bit cheaper. Personally, I like these options because they are easy to break in. Most hiking gear companies offer these from more expensive options to cheaper–consider the hikes you most likely going to take on and how much you want to spend before you make the final purchase.
Here are some companies that are great place to start for your first pair:
Last but not least, what style you choose can definitely affect your hiking experience. A higher ankle support can help if you tend to roll your ankles or they’re weak, but they can also be clunkier and take longer to break in. On the other hand, low-tops might not be as good of a fit for more advanced, intense hikes with unstable ground.
Also, your tread pattern can be essential to how your shoes grip terrain. If you plan on hiking on shale or volcanic tuff, then you need more prominent treads than you would if you are on a clear path. This is why it is important to know the basics of your hike before you even begin, so you can plan to have the right gear well in advance.
Do you have any particular brands that you swear by as a hiker?