They say that not all who wander are lost, but wouldn’t it be a shame to get lost with the wrong pair of hiking boots? After all, comfortable hiking boots are one of the most important pieces of hiking equipment there is.
This is why it’s a good idea to invest both time and money into a good pair of boots — without them, you won’t spend much time on the trails. That said, how can you get the most bang for your buck while also treating your feet right? We’ve done the research on buying hiking boots that fit perfectly.
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Tip #1: Fit & Comfort Matter
Fancy hiking boot technology doesn’t matter if your boots don’t fit properly. Hiking doesn’t happen if your feet are covered in bruises and blisters. Take time to try on your hiking boots and spend some time in them while you’re in the store. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask to try a couple of different sizes. Without a proper fit, your hiking boots can’t do their job of supporting your feet as you explore the great outdoors.
What makes a good, properly fitting boot? Make sure your heel isn’t slipping around too much. Extra space means your heel will have the opportunity to move around in your boot more than it should, causing blisters (and ruining your hiking fun). Toes should have enough room to wiggle a bit, but you’ll want to also be careful to avoid too-small boots.
Pro tip: Try on boots in the afternoon or evening, since most people experience some swelling in their feet throughout the day.
Tip #2: Break In Your Boots
This is a step many of us tend to miss in our excitement to get on the trails. Once you’ve tried on your boots at the store, take them home and have a few indoor only trial sessions.
Be wary of any sliding or slipping around in your new boots, and if you feel any discomfort or pinching, take them back to the store for a different pair. Discomfort will only increase once you hit the trails, so do yourself the favor of being patient while your boots are still new.
Be extremely wary of those quick fixes for wearing in new hiking boots — getting those boots soaking wet and walking them dry will cause your boots a lot of (unnecessary) harsh wear, but will probably also make you hate hiking after they’ve caused intense damage to your feet!
Tip #3: Choose the Right Hiking Boots for Your Adventures
Keen Men’s Targhee II Low Hikers: $124.99
Hiking shoes (low-cut shoes that are great for day trips) and hiking boots (these include ankle support) have a wide range of available styles and require a little light break-in time.
More serious backpackers and those who do a lot of off-trail travel may choose a more sturdy and supportive shoe called backpacking boots. Mountaineering boots are stiffer and heavier and are ideal for supporting heavy loads and crampons for glacier travel.
Tip #4: Start With Flexibility
Find a boot that offers a good amount of flexibility in where it can take you. Look for a pair that offers breathable materials that dry quickly and stability-enhancing, shock-absorbing midsoles. A good place to start is with boots like these that are lightweight, yet sturdy.