Choosing the right hiking shoes is important for a comfortable experience. Foot size may not be the best way to measure shoe size, and trial and error is necessary to find the ideal fit. Consider the type of hiking and the amount of support needed. Leather uppers and gore-tex lining are recommended. Test hikes are necessary to break in the shoes.
What you wear when you hike can affect your overall hiking experience. Therefore, you need to take the time to find the best hiking shoes for your feet. No one wants to end a day of hiking with blistered feet or bruised toes from shoes that are too small. Finding the best hiking boot can take a little effort to get the most enjoyable results.
Shoes are manufactured based on a last, a mold that forms the basis for sizing each shoe. Manufacturers differ in the latter size, so foot size may not be the best way to measure hiking shoe size. Some brands probably fit you better than others, and it usually takes a certain amount of trial and error to decide which hiking boots are ideal for your foot.
Your brand size may be the size you normally wear or will be close to it. For those who are size conscious, try to avoid marrying a particular size. Comfort matters more than the boot size number.
When the shoe is undone, you should be able to slide your toes all the way to the toe of the shoe and have one finger’s distance between the heel and the heel of the shoe. If the gap is greater, the boot is too big. Conversely, if you can’t get your toe into the shoe or you don’t have to slide your foot down to touch the toe of the shoe, the shoes are too small.
In choosing the different types of hiking boots, you should also consider the amount of hiking you intend to do. For day hikes, small, lightweight styles called day trips or featherweights are probably your best bet. However, if you plan to spend several days hiking, you should choose a sturdier shoe.
Trail hikers or middleweights are suited for tackling muddy trails, inclines and longer distances. These hiking boots have a slightly higher ankle support to protect you from banging your ankles against protruding rocks. They are an excellent choice for excursions lasting more than a few days.
If you’re an experienced hiker who plans to include some mountain climbing, you’ll need to find the stiffest hiking boots possible. These are often called stompers. These will allow you to attach crampons if needed. They also provide better stability when hiking in snow or through icy parts of the trail. Stompers are also best for long backpacking trips where you’re carrying a heavy load. They will provide you with the best grip and stability when under the weight of a padded backpack.
When trying on hiking boots, make sure you’re wearing the same socks you plan on hiking. Natural fiber socks are more likely to cause blisters. Shoes should be tried on towards the end of the day, as feet tend to expand slightly as the day progresses. If you plan to use orthotics in your hiking boots, don’t forget to bring them along to try them out.
Most find that leather uppers in hiking boots offer the best fit, as they will naturally conform to your foot the more you use them. If you wade through streams or ponds, consider gore-tex lining inside the shoe, as it will keep your feet dry. In general, if you’re backpacking, you should buy a heavier shoe. Backpacking requires more balance. A general rule of thumb is that the more load you carry, the heavier your hiking shoes should be.
Finally, take your hiking boots on a few test hikes to break the shoe. This is especially important when considering multi-day excursions. Even the best-fitting hiking shoes will likely cause blisters in the first few days of use. Broken hiking boots result in a more enjoyable hiking experience.