Important Factors to Consider When Buying Hiking Boots
31 million hikers mean a lot of hiking boots! So if you were to take up hiking and were looking to buy a new pair of boots, what do you need to consider when buying the best hiking boots for your needs - whilst you could simply walk into the store and select the first pair that catches your eye, but this could cost you much more than the actual price you pay once you are out on the trail!
Here are a few important factors that I consider when looking to buy good hiking boots:
Comfort is key! There is nothing like a nasty blister to turn your favourite hike into a painful struggle...good lightweight hiking boots made from breathable fabrics such as gore-tex are often much more comfortable on first acquaintance than leather boots, which take time to wear in - in fact these are my personal favourites, they're almost like wearing runners!
Distance is a factor - for long hikes and treks you might want to consider a more rigid soled boot with good ankle support, for day hikes on well-defined trails and tracks, lightweight hiking shoes or even hiking sandals will often be much more appropriate.
Terrain - If you're hiking over rocks, snow and scree you will definitely need sturdy hiking boots with good serrated soles and good ankle support, for really extreme treks leather boots could be your best option. If you're going to be wading through streams and rivers then waterproofing will become a factor, although, with good waterproofing, leather boots will keep your feet perfectly dry, once they do get wet they will stay wet for a long time, whereas hi-tech fabric boots can dry much more quickly.
Time of year - If you hike mainly in summer than lightweight hiking boots or shoes made from breathable gore-tex or similar materials or even open toed hiking shoes could be an option. If you're hiking in winter then definitely go for a good waterproof hiking boot
Weight - on long hikes of a day or more consider the extra energy required to lift heavy leather hiking boots. Did you know that the average hiking shoe weighs around 1 3/4 pounds compared to the average hiking boots weighing 3 3/4 pounds!
Size - When trying on your pair of boots for the first time, make sure you take the socks that you will be wearing for your typical hike, you may find that you have to buy a pair of boots a size or even two bigger than your regular shoe size!
Price - Obviously you have to consider how much you want to spend, and there are boots in every price bracket ranging from about $60 right up to $500! so what is best for you? My advice is to go for the most expensive pair that you can afford. Why? because you will be rewarded with high-quality manufacturing, better waterproofing, better comfort and most importantly durability. As I mentioned earlier in 15 years of hiking I have only just had to buy my third pair of boots - my poor now departed 2nd pair got lived in all day every day, went around the world and on top of the world with me.
These are probably the most important factors to consider when buying a pair of hiking boots - get this bit right and you will find a pair of boots that will last you for years and keep your feet warm, dry, comfortable and blister-free wherever and whenever you go hiking. Happy Trails!