At the very core of a successful hiking trip is your comfort, which stems not only from the activities you are doing but what you are wearing as well. Without an appropriately fitted pair of hiking boots that can handle the terrain you seek to explore, you will find yourself out of luck. Fortunately, ensuring you can find hiking boots that fit you properly can make for a wonderful, pain-free experience that allows you to genuinely enjoy yourself.
Hiking Boots Basics
When selecting your hiking boots it is important to keep in mind that these are more than just your everyday footwear. We all know how frustrating it is to forget an important piece of equipment or feel uncomfortable and unable to focus on our hike.
Your hiking boots need to be resistant to weather, supportive, and right for the activity. Without a perfect fit, hiking boots will not be able to do their job.
Additionally, hiking boots have several components. You must consider the shape, exterior, interior, and any support features before making your choice. You also should keep any mind any personal requirements or conditions you have that may impact what footwear style and fit is right for you!
Select a Style
Once you have reflected on whether you need any personal adjustments, it is time to learn about the various styles of hiking boots that exist. There are several categories for hiking boots which vary depending on how strenuous the activity is and what exposure to the elements your boots will need to have.
While they should all fit you similarly, knowing what to expect when buying can make you more receptive to their features and help guide your search.
Here are the main styles:
- Hiking Shoes: These shoes are best designed for shorter, recreational heights in the daytime. They are best suited for trails and hiking trips that do not involve a lot of weight and rough terrain.
- Backpacking Boots: These are a step up from hiking shoes and have extra support near the calf and ankle. They are sturdier overall and can handle off-trail hiking and heavier weight in terms of clothing and bags along the journey.
- Hiking/Mountain Hiking Boots: These are an advanced option and can sometimes referred to as mountaineering boots. These have stiff materials which are for extreme environments and weather.
It is important to consider the nature of your hike in terms of intensity, the weight being brought along, and terrain before selecting your hiking boots. Understanding the appropriate style of hiking boots is the first step to comfort on your trip. Following this, you can ensure your specific boots fit you properly.
Choose the Right Fit
Now that you have the style in mind for your trip, you may be wondering where to begin on knowing the appropriate size and fit. There are a few ways to approach this, but ideally, you will be able to try them on in person to get a feel for the boots. Although this is not the same as wearing them out on a hike, it is ideal if possible.
However, if you are limited to online shopping you can use your shoe size to guide you and be sure to read carefully regarding any size conversions for your specific boots. For example, knowing if the manufacturer recommends sizing up is important information before making your purchase.
A solid rule of thumb is that when your hiking boot is on and your weight is pressed on the ball of your foot, your index finger should fit in the space at the back of the shoe. As you can see, this is a specific guideline, but it makes it so that the shoes do not rub and cause blisters but also are not too tight and cut off circulation.
If the hiking boots do not fit perfectly or feel stiff when you first put them on, do not panic! It is natural for them to feel a bit stiff before you break them in. Many boots incorporate leather or strong plastic for support and as you wear them over time, they will soften but maintain their composure. However, if the edge of your boot feels at all sharp or loose enough to rub against you, consider a different size.
As mentioned previously, the different materials can impact the fit of your boot as well. Some materials are heavier than others or allow your feet to breathe more easily if you know your calves do not do as well with heavier shoes make sure you select a supportive boot that prevents you from getting too sore.
Consider Any Personal Circumstances
Although we mentioned this before, make sure you consider your personal body structure and needs. For example, if you know you have high arches or flatter feet, select hiking boots that are equipped with adequate support or allow for inserts.
Additionally, if you know that you like shoes to fit looser or suffer from tension when they fit too tightly, be sure to listen to your instincts and experience when driving your search. This is especially helpful if you’ve worn hiking boots in the past and had wished to change certain elements. This is the perfect time to keep these in mind when making your purchase and adjusting the fit.
Hiking boots are at the base of your hiking trip and play a critical role in your comfort and athletic ability throughout your hike! It is important to make sure that they fit correctly so that they can provide you the support you need and to minimize pain and injury. Using the guidelines in this article, select the style and fit that are best for you and enjoy your hike!