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Hiking Shoes: How to Select the Right Kind

A happy hike starts with happy feet.

By Kari OakleyPublished 5 years ago 3 min read

Hiking boots are one of the most specialized forms of footwear. They are designed to protect feet from the harshest elements while providing comfort and support in the process. These boots are also built with a great amount of durableness. It isn't uncommon for hiking boots to last a few years even with extensive use. Because of the wide variety of styles and designs, many people find it difficult to choose the right hiking boot. In the interest of making this process easier for everyone, here are some tips for finding the right kind of hiking boots.

Brand Name vs. Generic

One of the first choices that people consider when buying hiking boots is the difference between brand name options and generic brands. Most people assume that brand name boots will be of better quality because of their higher price and reputation. However, many people don't have that much money to spend. In reality, nobody should buy hiking boots because of the brand. A decision should only be made based on the inherent quality (or lack thereof) in the boot itself. This is why trying on boots is a critical part of the selection process.

Types of Hiking Boots

Although there are endless variations and designs, there are three to four recognizable types of hiking boots. Each type is specifically designed for a form of hiking in particular. Knowing these differences can make the selection process much easier.

1. Hiking Shoes

These shoes are designed with a low-cut in order to give ankles more room to move. Hiking shoes are perfect for hiking for short distances during the day. They are lightweight, yet sturdy and protective. These models often tend to be the most affordable as well.

2. Day Hiking Boots

Day hiking boots are essentially hiking shoes with mid to high-cut support. They still lack the structural support of backpacking boots, but these models are still better for short backpacking trips or longer day hikes. They offer a good combination of extra support while still remaining fairly light.

3. Backpacking Boots

These boots are designed to tackle both off- and on-trail hiking. They have a sturdy and high-cut that wraps around the ankle for additional support. Backpacking boots are more durable and have stronger midsoles than the other types. These boots are designed for long periods of hiking into the backcountry.

Trying on the Boots

While there are possibilities to purchase online, it is advisable to buy hiking boots in person. This allows the buyer ample opportunity to try on different styles and sizes to find the best fit. Hiking boots should feel snug around every part of the foot. There shouldn't be any area where the boot feels too tight, however. Boots also need to have enough room in the front for users to wiggle their toes. Anything too tight in this area could cause an ingrown toenail or potential issues.

Professionals recommend for people to try their hiking boots on at the end of the day. This is when feet are at their largest from hours of swelling. This state will most accurately replicate how a person's feet will be when hiking. It is also important to bring the socks that will be used when hiking. These factors help to ensure that the hiking boots fit just right. After all, there isn't a lot of room for error when selecting the size of a hiking boot. Fits that are too small will cause cramps and could cut-off circulation to the feet. Boots that are too large will cause blisters and could result in a sprained ankle.

Hiking is a strenuous activity that requires the right footwear to keep a person comfortable and safe. While there are many different kinds of hiking boots, there is still a method for the selection process. These tips can help anyone find the right hiking boots for their future excursions.

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About the Creator

Kari Oakley

Kari Oakley is a fitness trainer from Kenosha Wisconsin. She now lives in downtown Chicago, and loves to get out. She is a big fan of anything adventure, and loves getting a workout in the outdoors.

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    Kari OakleyWritten by Kari Oakley

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