What to look for in walking boots
Thinking of taking on the great outdoors? The first thing you’re going to need is a good pair of walking shoes or hiking boots. Good quality footwear is the most essential part of any walking kit, so choosing the best pair for your needs is of the utmost importance. Luckily for you, we’ve put together this guide to ensure you know what to look for when buying walking boots.
How do I choose hiking shoes?
When choosing a pair of hiking, walking or trekking shoes, you need to think about the kind of walking you’ll be doing. Figure out which kind of socks will you be wearing too, to make sure you get the perfect fit - this will help determine which shoes you’ll need.
Trekking through lowlands, forests and well-maintained walking paths? Then a pair of lightweight walking shoes with a reasonable amount of flexibility should do the trick. In less challenging terrain, a good amount of flexibility will help your foot move more naturally, keeping your feet comfortable for longer.
However, if you’re attempting to go off the beaten path, tackling boggy ground or uneven and rocky paths on higher ground, you’ll be better off with a more robust pair of men’s or women’s hiking boots. These will be slightly more rigid than standard walking shoes, providing ankle support, a more robust sole, and will be altogether more durable.
What to look for when buying walking boots
There are three key things to take into consideration when buying walking boots – foot size, fit and materials. While you may think size and fit are relatively the same, when it comes to buying shoes specifically designed for walking and hiking, there are some key differences.
Know what shoe size you are? Think again. When it comes to hiking boots and walking shoes, it’s essential to know the length and width of your foot, your foot shape, whether you have a low or high arch, and your ball-to-heel measurement, to ensure that you're buying the perfect sized walking shoes or hiking boots for your feet. Your feet also change size and shape depending on the time of day and the seasons, so it’s worth looking for a pair of walking shoes or hiking boots that are a half size larger to give yourself some extra room. You can always use thicker socks or a larger insole to fill up space. Have a look at our sizing chart for more help.
The last thing you want is a pair of hiking shoes or walking boots that don’t fit you correctly, and there’s a couple of key things to check for when trying on hiking boots. Tight spots inside the shoes can lead to rubbing and blisters, while excess volume in the shoe will mean your feet aren’t being supported properly. Any pair of good hiking boots should fit snugly around the heel and ankle, providing support for when you’re tackling uneven ground, but they should also leave room for you to move your toes around inside the shoe. It’s worth remembering that a thick pair of socks can help fill out space in a shoe – but nothing can be done for a pair of walking shoes or hiking boots that are too small!
Last, but certainly not least, you have to think about the kind of materials that make up the shoe. Technology and manufacturing have come a long way in recent years, which has blurred the lines between the benefits of leathers versus fabric. Most fabric shoes will now be made with a waterproof membrane, keeping your feet dry and protected from the elements. But you don’t just want to keep the water from getting in, you’ll need to get it out, too. During a long walk, your feet will sweat, so it’s important your footwear is breathable, to avoid trapping in moisture and condensation.
Are hiking shoes necessary?
If you want to keep your feet dry, having a pair of dedicated walking or hiking boots is a must. New hikers often make the mistake of thinking they don’t need hiking boots or walking shoes and end up with soggy, painful feet, but, they’re a necessity for maximum protection.
Hiking boots and walking shoes are specifically designed to protect your feet, keeping them dry and shielding them from the elements. A good pair of walking shoes or hiking boots will also give you a good grip on the ground below, preventing slips and falls, making them essential for tackling the great outdoors.