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Boots are arguably the most important piece of hiking equipment you take with you on hiking and camping trips – your boots. Healthy, dry and comfortable feet make for happy campers (and hikers) and choosing the right type of hiking boots can be a complicated process. There are many buzz words out there that can cloud your decision but we’ve learned a little over the past 10 years of selling hiking boots. Consider these tips while buying your new hiking shoes:
Low cut hiking boots, or hiking shoes, are great for casual day trips and provide some ankle flexibility. Mid-cut hiking boots provide better ankle stability and are better for difficult and long hikes over rough terrain.
Support on the sides and bottom of the hiking boot is important because they will help you keep your ankles and legs straight, which will help you keep moving with comfort.
Choose hiking boots that have a cushioned and comfortable inside. The insole (or footbed) is important to consider because it will keep feet comfortable during both short and long hikes and walks.
The sole of your hiking boots can provide great traction. Generally more ridges that are deep and angled to help avoid slipping.
Waterproof boots are ideal for wet conditions, or if you do not know what kind of conditions you will be hiking through. Wet feet make hiking very uncomfortable and can lead to more complicated problems.
Which Types of Boots are Best for Your Hike?
Generally, hiking boots can be broken down into four basic categories based on the type of hiking you expect to persue. Hiking shoes are low cut, resemble heavy duty running shoes and feature flexible midsoles ideal for a day hike. These are usually classified as hiking shoes and can be very light in weight.
Heavier hiking boots tend to offer a mid or high cut with an overall heavier construction and are intended for longer hikes with a heavier load in your backpack. Backpacking boots are typically more durable than hiking shoes; they are hiking boots with a heavier construction, offer greater support and are intended for multi-day trips.
Finally, mountaineering boots are designed to carry heavy loads on trips with extreme conditions. Consider the length of your trip and the type of terrain you are crossing before selecting the right boot for your hike.
How to Keep Your Feet Comfortable During a Hike
Discomfort has spoiled too many great hikes and this can be prevented by taking just a few precautions. Fit is always of key importance to ensure comfort. Frequently improper fit creates friction points that will quickly create painful blisters which can take days to heal.
Many hiking shoes and boots come in waterproof material; usually either leather or rubber. You can also purchase waterproofing applicants to spray onto boots that you like but are not waterproof. Just remember to reapply this every so often. Keeping your feet dry is extremely important. Stopping to take care of your feet or dry your boots will take hours.
Finally, have materials available like petroleum jelly, moleskin and an extra pair of breathable and quick drying hiking socks available in the event a problem develops.