A lovely country walk should include good company, scenic views and comfortable clothing. There is nothing worse than planning a longer walk or hike, only to find that you’re wearing the wrong footwear. You might think a pair of gym trainers will see you through countryside walks but those who are serious about getting into the great outdoors, you need to invest in something a bit sturdier.
Hiking boots are known to be the perfect balance of support and comfort. You want to be able to walk around in a pair for hours without any discomfort but equally, they need to support your feet and ankles, especially on uneven terrain and in muddy fields.
You might think there’s not a lot of thought goes on when buying a pair but because they tend to be on the pricier end of the scale, it is important to make sure that they’re fit for exactly what you’re looking for.
In this blog post, we will guide you through how to choose a pair of hiking boots for your lifestyle, some of the most common features of a hiking boot and as always, share some of our favourites from our collection. If you’re going to be paying a higher price for footwear, they need to be top quality!
How to choose the perfect pair of hiking boots for you
You could try on a hundred pairs of hiking boots and they would all feel slightly different. Each brand will have different fittings and features so it’s important to know what you’re looking for before you even start shopping. It’s worth going hiking boot shopping at the end of a day because that’s when your feet have expanded the most. It will avoid you from buying boots that are too small. Firstly, here are a few questions to ponder on before you splash the cash.
How often will you wear them? - If you’ll only wear them once a year, you might be better off with another type of boot or walking shoe perhaps. Hiking boots aren’t the cheapest footwear on the market so if the cost per wear is going to be high, find an alternative. On the other hand, if you will get daily or weekly use of them, as well as the occasional walking holiday, you’ll want to invest in a pair that will see you through any weather and season.
Where will you be wearing them? - Will you wear them mostly for local dog walks on flatter ground or will you be hiking frequently? The more unpredictable the terrain, the more attention you’ll need to pay towards the tread of the boot. You’ll need lots of extra grip and support on the soles as well as the ankles.
What will you wear them with? - We don’t necessarily mean your outfit here! Are you a fan of thicker wool socks when walking or do you prefer a thinner cotton sock? Whichever you wear, make sure to take them with you when you try on hiking boots. There’s no point in wearing thin socks if you’d wear thick socks on a hike. With thicker socks, you might find you need to go up about a half size for extra wiggle room. Remember you want hiking boots to be snug but not tight.
When do you need them for? - If you’ve got a hike planned, make sure you buy your boots far in advance. Hiking in a brand new pair of boots will only cause blisters. Wear them in around the house first before trialling them on shorter, local walks. They might feel odd to wear at first but the more you wear them, the more comfortable they will feel on your feet!
The features of a hiking boot
Whilst other shoes just require a simple fit test on your feet, hiking boots are a little different. If you’ll be wearing them out and about for hours at a time, you need to make sure that they include everything you need. Here are a few features to look out for.
Upper sole - This is the material that the boot is made of. Your best bet is leather as it’s waterproof, easy to polish and clean and still looks cool. Whilst they will be waterproof, they will still require cleaning and waterproofing regularly. Our traditional brown leather hiking boots are available for both men and women.
However, synthetic materials, such as nylon and polyester, are perfectly fine for less frequent walkers. They’ll be showerproof but not fully waterproof so perhaps don’t go walking during a downpour in a pair of those!
Insoles - Obviously, all boots will come with insoles attached but if you have particular foot problems, you might need an additional pair of insoles. They might be specialist medical ones or ones that offer extra support or padding for your heels, arches/instep or balls of the feet. With insoles, it’s definitely trial and error and it could also mean you need to size up to fit any extra insoles into the boot.
Outsoles - The more uneven the terrain, the thicker and stiffer the sole needs to be. This does make the shoes heavier but also safer for any off trail routes and offer that extra stability you would need. For lighter walks in the countryside, a softer, more flexible sole is recommended instead. It will still need to have plenty of grooves on the sole for grip but you will get more freedom from the shoe.
Fit - Not only do you need to look at how narrow or wide the boots are, you also need to look into where they sit on your ankle. Hiking shoes need to fit under the ankle whereas boots should cover the ankle bone. Think about how comfortable they will be during a long hike. Many people feel uncomfortable in hiking boots as they can rub against the ankle bone. Others find hiking shoes uncomfortable because the shoe cuts right under the ankle bone. Usually, the longer the hike, the more ankle support you will require as a rule of thumb. It’s all about personal preference and comfort. That’s why we recommend wearing them around the house first before you 100% decide on if a pair is for you or not.
Choosing a pair of hiking boots is a big investment so always make sure it’s worth the price. If you know you’ll get outdoors lots and make use of them, they’re a great investment piece. If you think you might go hiking but prefer shorter walks, shop around for a lighter pair of walking shoes first and see if that makes a difference before investing in a pair of leather hiking boots.