Good hiking boots are a crucial part of every hiker’s equipment. They can make or break our outdoors adventures, so every smart hiker needs to know the basics of how to choose hiking boots the right way before shopping around. In very deed, too much depends on your shoes. If you put on inconvenient boots, the only thing you’ll remember after this trip is the pain in your feet.
Why Should You Choose Hiking Shoes?
There exists a wide array of footwear that may be considered appropriate for hiking. That could include simple, lightweight trail runners for a casual local day hike and extend all the way to heavyweight leather boots that weigh in excess of 4 pounds. Generally speaking, we want to choose the lightest and most comfortable footwear that can provide the needed support and stability for the intended style of hiking you plan.
Tips to Consider When Choosing Your Boots
When you’re searching for hiking boots, you’ll see all kinds of materials and features. How do you know if full-grain leather is important? What is a gusseted tongue? All valid questions – here are some common features and materials used in hiking boots, and what makes them useful.
The soles of hiking boots are always rubber, but the part that wraps around your foot (often called uppers) can be made of different types of materials. What it’s made of determines how water-resistant, breathable, durable and lightweight each hiking shoe or boot will be.
- Full-grain leather: The most durable, abrasion resistant, water-resistant leather. This also makes it the heaviest, the least breathable and the least flexible.
- Nubuck and suede: Buffed leather that’s softer and more flexible than full-grain leather, but also less durable and less water-resistant.
- Synthetics: This could mean it’s made of polyester, nylon or polyurethane in a variety of thicknesses and densities. Some may mimic the properties of leather while others are much lighter weight and more breathable. In general, synthetics are lighter, more breathable, more flexible, less expensive and dry faster than leather. But compared to leather, they’re also usually less durable and less water resistant.
- Mesh: Adds breathability to hiking footwear and lowers weight. Since mesh isn’t that durable, you’ll often find mesh panels in low-wear areas.
- Waterproof-breathable membranes: On their own, leather and some synthetics have excellent water resistance. To make them waterproof, many hiking boots have a waterproof-breathable membrane sandwiched between the inner and outer layers of the upper. This makes the shoe waterproof while still keeping it a bit breathable. Some shoes use popular waterproof-breathable technology like GORE-TEX or eVent, but others may use their own in-house tech.
The Main Benefits of Hiking Shoes
- They are lightweight so comfortable for hikes carrying a light backpack or just yourself.
- They will not take up too much room in your luggage.
- Hiking shoes will have support in the soles and outer materials, making them more supportive than trainers.
- They are made with materials which provide abrasion-resistance, so will last for many hikes.
- No ankle support and light weight means you can generally move faster in hiking shoes.
So, you shouldn’t save money on hiking shoes. The footwear you choose to take you through the breathtaking landscapes can either make you curse with every step or simply not think about it at all.