Key important factors you need to know about hiking boots. This the best hiking boots advice collection you must have to have in mind when going for shopping hiking boots.
What are the different categories of Hiking Boots
The Lightweight type
This style of boots are good to wear all day long since they are flexible and not heavy, but are tough enough. Usually they are waterproof. Materials used are mostly mesh and nylon with leather. These materials keep the cost at lower levels, but you may find that they are less durable than the ones made completely out of leather.
When you walk around with them, even from the very first days, you will see that they are not so stiff.
Suitable for relatively normal hikes, where you don’t carry heavy weights or backpacks.
The Midweight type
As the name implies this is something between a light version and they -following- heavy type. Good to allow you carry heavier backpacks without feeling like having cement block shoes. That is a category that is becoming popular since it provides a greater range of uses.
At the beginning you may find that the area under your foot is not so flexible but this will change as you break into the boots. Anyway, you need sturdy boots when you carry heavy things. Materials and quality are usually good in this type, plus waterproof level (you may have seen the Gore-Tex labeling in some of them.
The Heavyweight type
This type is tough and stiff but provides amazing reliability when dealing with weights and difficult terrain. This is the kind of boots you need when you walk on rocky terrain carrying heavy backpacks.
Except that, the boots will also “help you” with difficult or/and long ascents as they take out lots of the strain from your heel.
Temperature will rise on your feet when you walk with them during hot weather. Usually these are the boots you will use when you are going to walk in snow or/and wet ascents, as they take strap-on crampons.
For both midweight and heavyweight boots we suggest to break into them prior making any kind of demanding mountain walking.
Stiff or/and Stable?
The general rule is that hiking boots are by default designed to be stable. This is the way they are manufactured. This is achieved with what is called a shank. The shank is a piece of plastic inserted between the midsole and outsole.
The benefit (along with the length) of the shank is that it reduces calf fatigue when you ascent a hill. So, along with the stiffness level of the boot you decrease fatigue, possible injuries and you are more safe too.
Part of the stability is the proper usage of insoles. You can change these easily finding the ones that give better comfort along with proper fitness between your foot and the internal boot arch.
Waterproofing levels of boots
It is better to choose Gore-tex kind of boots. Usually an extra water-repellent coating is added to make boots waterproof.
Yet, again you need to think that all these coatings will also “help” to produce extra heat on your feet when you walk during a summer day or/and while carrying extra weight. So, your feed (given the conditions) may not get wet from outside factors, but will get soaked by their own with a help from your boots.
On the other hand you need boots that are waterproof, unless you plan to hike in desert like environments, where breath-ability is crucial. You don’t want to have wet feet and socks due to external factors, as this will add too much trouble and discomfort to your hiking/trekking. Having relatively dry feet is a factor thar reduces risks.
Midsoles, Outsoles, Traction and Toe Protection
The essential role of a midsole is to absorb the shock produced from walking in difficult terrains or even soft ones (depending on the nature of the boot). So, there are stiff & thick ones to thin ones. The types of materials often used for midsoles are either EVA foam (Ethylene vinyl acetate) or PU (Polyurethane). EVA ones are less durable but more flexible and softer, while PA one are more durable than soft. What is best? Depends on the usage.
Outsoles shape is essential for hiking and trekking boots. While in regular sports/running shoes you won’t find those deep lugs under your feet as they are for different user, these are must in hiking shoes. They are needed so to get a better grip/grasp on terrains. You will appreciate such in wet terrains and in walking downhill too.
Regarding your toes you will see that there are boots who have a special added rubber band in front or even some graphite one. These are there for a reason as the times where you will “kick” a rock will not be few. This kind of protection is usually not seen in lightweight boots… but -trust us- is something that sooner or later you will need it.
It is “funny” how many people do not give the proper attention to this important factor. Lacing options and way of applying lacing are crucial to comfort and safety and to injuries.
Try to walk with loose laces and you will stop every now and then along your walk. Do not lace properly and you will end up with crooked boots.
Too tight or too loose laces and you will end up with blisters, bruisers and more.
Search for boots where their lacing system and hooks end up at the top of the boots. In that way you make sure that no gaps exist at the top “collar” of the shoe and that is stays fit during walking.
Lots are the times where we saw many people wearing boots either with either extremely tight lacing or loose one, ending up hobbling around or tripping.
When you break into your boots you need to lace them firmly but not strictly. As boots get softer you can lace them a bit tighter but never to turn your feet to a stump.
Hiking Boots vs. Hiking Shoes
Just keep in mind things like the ones above along with how much you want to protect your ankle. Along that, moving fast may influence your choice towards a hiking boot, but again it depends on the terrain.
These are so far our best hiking boots advice. We hope to enjoy it and we welcome any additional input.
Have fun in hiking with safety.
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