Comfort and Strength: Hiking Boots

Buying hiking boots is an important endeavor for an avid hiker or backpacker. Hiking boots are one of the key investments towards the success of any hiking or camping trip since the feet have to carry the person where they need to go, and if the feet are uncomfortable, the person will be uncomfortable throughout the trip. There are many different types of men's and women's hiking boots, so it is important to have some idea of the type of boot and the fit that should be expected, as well as how to break in a new boot before a trip.

Buying New Boots

If a person normally only goes on day hiking trips so that there is little to no weight on his back and he is not walking for days in a row, then the type of hiking boot should fit that type of hiking. Day hiking usually only requires light, flexible boots, and quite possibly only a hiking shoe, especially if the terrain is mild. A hiking boot will give more support than a hiking shoe, so if a person knows that he has trouble with his ankles then a lightweight hiking boot is probably the best choice. Since these boots are made of lighter material they do not hold up as well under longer hiking conditions, and since they do not give as much support as a heavier boot, the hiker will also end up feeling more fatigued.

If it is a backpacker buying hiking boots, or a person who participates in more extreme day hiking trips, then they will want to buy a mid-weight boot which will provide more support for those activities. These boots have a stiffer sole than the lightweight boots so they feel a little more awkward walking in them since they do not bend with the natural bend in the foot like the hiking shoes and lightweight boots do. However, these boots give solid support to the foot and ankle in rougher terrain which allows the hiker to have more endurance on the trip without fatiguing their feet and legs.

Mountaineering hiking boots are needed when the camper is going on a long trip requiring a heavier backpack and usually more off-trail hiking. These boots are the stiffest to wear but will provide the best support for the foot and leg. This type of boot can also be designed to be used with crampons for hiking in glacial regions.

With any type of hiking boot, if the hiker knows that he will be hiking through snow, puddles, or streams, it is a good idea to get a waterproof hiking boot. There are some boots that are not waterproof even though they look like the boots that are, such as Gor-Tex. If there is not a water issue, then the hiker would probably be better off not getting waterproof boots since the other kinds provide more air, or breathing, for the foot.