best hiking bootsRegardless of lifestyle or what kind of activity they participate in, nearly three-quarters of adults report having foot issues at some point. While a high impact job or undue stress can cause problems with your feet, so can the wrong shoes. Without the best hiking boots, your favorite activity could cause you serious health issues.

The wrong shoes can cause you back, hip, or knee trouble. They can also cause you to lose your balance while walking treacherous trails.

If you’re worried you might not have the right hiking boots, your first step is knowing what to look for. Follow our guide to find the best hiking boots on the market so that those long, winding trails feel like a walk in the park

Decide Where You’re Hiking

You’ll need different shoes for different types of trails. If you’ll be on well-kept trails with clearly mapped out paths, you’ll be able to wear some lower or mid-cut hiking boots. Something with plenty of breathability is great for nice weather and lower-impact hikes.

If you end up taking heavy bags, geocaching gear or worry about rain, you’ll need something with some waterproof protection. For heavier loads, you need to make sure you have ankle protection and a higher cut on the boot.

For taking rougher trails, you can choose ankle-high boots that offer some comfort and protection. If you’re only doing light backpacking, leather and fabric are good enough for less rough trails. Waterproof, breathable liners are good for damp weather.

If you end up in hot or arid areas, get well-ventilated or porous boots to keep your feet dry.

If you’re the type to go off-trail, you’re going to need more support. Get full-grain leather on the uppers and make sure you have adequate reinforcement above your ankles. For trips with heavy backpacks, ensure there’s some flex and comfort to fight blisters while having hard outsoles to deal with sharp rocks.

What Kind Of Hiker Are You?

If you’re an experienced hiker with thousands of miles under your feet, you probably have optimized leg muscles. Less experienced hikers are at risk for injuries that well-heeled hikers aren’t. Newer hikers need to consider the possibility of rolled ankles, tweaked knees, and soreness when looking for the best hiking boots.

If you’ve done a fair amount of hiking in your time, you can get rid of some of the support that comes from your boots. Your muscles will be optimized for supporting your body on rough trails. The longer you spend hiking, the lighter your hiking boot can be.

Don’t overestimate your abilities, though. Having an improper boot can turn you in the squeaky wheel of your hiking group, as you ask to stop every hour.

Consider The Features

Heavy boots mean more work as you hike the trails. Find the right fit and the right amount of support without having to hike in 20-pound boots.

Get yourself a waterproof boot. This will keep from ending up with blisters, discomfort, and smelly shoes. Waterproof material might be a little too intense and not allow your feet to breathe.

Make sure you don’t sweat too much in your boots.

Arch support is another important feature. If your feet flatten out after hours of hiking, you’ll be in a lot of pain. If you have higher arches, consider picking up some insoles.

The best hiking boots have the ability to prevent injuries. Stubbed toes and ankle twists are some of the most common hiking injuries that often come from rough terrain. Rigid-toed boots with great ankle support can make sure you don’t deal with either of these issues.

Finally, you need to make sure your load is supported. Heavy packs require that you have a balance of sturdiness and flexibility. You’ll need to make sure you get a great range of motion within your boots.

Make Sure They Fit In The Store

For experienced hikers, the best hiking boots have one feature in common: they fit perfectly.

Test your boots at the right time of day. Believe it or not, your feet expand during the course of the day. Late afternoon or evening is probably the best time to make sure you find a good size for your shoes.

When you head out for a fitting, make sure you’ve got your favorite hiking socks on. If you use any kinds of arch supports or orthotics, bring those along too. You should test boots under the conditions you’ll be hiking in them with.

Once you’ve got them on, slip your finger around the heel and to the back of your foot. You shouldn’t have too much trouble with tightness if the fit is correct.

When you’re lacing up, your foot should start moving around a little bit. Make sure your toes always have enough room to move around. They shouldn’t touch the front of your boot if the fit is right.

Take a few steps and walk around. They should feel comfortable, slightly snug, without any strange pressure or friction. Make sure they’re not rubbing against your heel in the wrong way.

Also, take some time to look at the quality of the boot in the store. Check that the stitching seems clean without any frays or missing stitches. Make sure the lugs are solid and thick.

Thin, spongy or soft lugs will wear out.

Braided nylon laces are the way to go. Make sure the eyelets look durable.

The Best Hiking Boots Make Hiking Easier

You’ll notice the difference while you’re hiking once you’ve picked out the best hiking boots for your feet and your experience. You’ll get just the right amount of breathability, waterproofing, flexibility, and support.

If you’re ready to start checking off all the items on your list for your next hike, contact us for more tips on the gear to have this season.