Hiking is an activity that fills your heart with inexplicable happiness and joy. It lets you explore the world which is yet unexplored by you and discover the beauty of nature. But, to ensure that you have the best hiking experience, you need the best hiking gears. The shoes or the best hiking boots are one of the most crucial necessities.
But, with a plethora of options available, which one do you think is the best one for you? In this detailed guide, we have mentioned all the aspects that you need to look into to get yourself the best boot.
Just as the name suggests, the hiking boots in this category are lightweight and flexible. Even though they are lightweight, they are tough are ideal for a short overnight backpacking trip or a longer day hike. These are of course waterproof but they are generally the more affordable type or rather non Gore-Tex.
The materials used deviate towards the use of nylon and mesh with the leather mixed in. This helps in keeping the weight as well as the cost down. However, they aren’t as durable as their leather counterparts. The shank and the support of the boot won’t be considerable but as long as you are carrying a lightweight backpack, it would work just fine.
The Midweight boots are increasingly growing in popularity and are in high demand from serious day hikers and backpackers for its efficiency. The shoes of this category are considered to be one of the best hiking boots and provide comfort and support so you can carry a heavy load and walk around easily.
The solid underfoot makes the boot a bit stiffer which makes it easier to walk on uneven and rocky terrain. Also, the waterproofing is better in shoes of this category and you would generally see the use of Gore-Tex.
Tough, stiff and immensely reliable perfectly define the heavyweight boots. These boots are generally designed for extremely challenging rocky trail with weighty backpacking packs. The Gore-Tex along with the thick upper materials offers exemplary performance in wet conditions and snow. However, in hot conditions, they tend to turn rather warm.
The solid and stiff structure aids in alleviating the strain on long trails by preventing the heel from dropping with every step that you take. However, when you do purchase the heavyweight leather hiking boots, spend considerable time in them so as to break them in before you head out hiking in them.
Once you have made up your mind regarding the kind of hiking boot you would like to purchase depending upon its usability, the next step would be to look into all the other factors. A few crucial aspects have been discussed below.
Comfort is one of the most decisive aspects when choosing the best hiking boots. Because of the growing popularity of the lightweight boots, most of them are more comfortable than you could ever imagine. In fact, there are lightweight waterproof hiking boots that require no time to break in and feel excellent from day one. However, the comfort factors that you should consider include:
How the foot feels when you are all laced up and are standing
If the lacing system is comfortable and if the ankle collar feels snug round the ankles
The overall fit of the boot is directly related to the comfort. Your feet are going to remain in contact with the ground at all times and in order to ensure that you can enjoy a pleasant hiking experience, you need to get your hands on well-fitted boots. In case the boot doesn’t fit in properly, it can result in painful blisters. To avoid that, ensure that there isn’t too much room around the heel area.
If the heel can move back and forth easily, it means that the boot isn’t providing the support that the ankle needs. Also, the hiking boots for men or women shouldn’t feel too heavy while walking. This is because; heavy footwear can cause fatigue which increases the chances of an injury.
The ideal boot is one wherein your foot fits in snugly and wherein, you would be able to make minor changes if required.
Today, the best hiking boots have water resistant, durable, breathable and stylish uppers as opposed to the leather in the conventional ones. But, all of them have their own share of benefits. Often runners tend to ignore this but the materials that have gone into the construction of the boots are important to consider. The material can be used to analyse as to how much protection your feet would have. Also, the materials used would determine the weight and the durability.
Materials generally used construction includes nubuck leather, suede leather, leather and textile mesh mix and more. While materials like leather offer fantastic protection from the potential dangers, materials like the nylon mesh offer great breathability. You need to weigh your requirements and then choose either leather hiking boots or nylon ones.
The major differentiating aspect between a hiking shoe and hiking boot has to be the ankle stability. Hikers who tend to choose boots over the lightweight hiking shoes do so for the torsional stability and support that the boots have to offer. Boots basically reduce the chances of twisting your ankles and thereby prevents potential dangerous injuries. This ankle support comes in handy especially in situations wherein you are hiking all day long and are carrying a heavy backpack. The extra support would keep the ankles from feeling fatigued.
The quality of support is dependent on the kind of materials that have been used and the craftsmanship. Earlier, support in shoes meant stiffer sides and rigid soles. But, with the advancement in technology and upgradation in designs, boots today are flexible and stronger. This means ample support is provided to the wearer without any additional weight. All you need to do is make sure that you are choosing hiking boots for women or men that fit in snugly. Before coming to a fin al decision, try on several models.
The majority of hiking boots these days are waterproof but that in no way means that they necessarily have to have the waterproofing capability. The weather can be unpredictable when you are hiking in challenging terrains and remaining prepared than having to face the consequences of the deluge is why people opt for a Gore-Tex model. In order to make the waterproof boots, a breathable and waterproof bootie is inserted right between the interior and the outer fabric of the shoe.
Gore-Tex liners are the most popular and reliable option that is known for its exemplary waterproofing technology. In addition to that, a waterproof coat is added too so that the water droplets can be shed easily. The waterproof boots are great for all hikers and especially for those who like to head out in the mountainous areas where rainstorm or trails filled with water are a possibility. Also, if you hike in the colder areas, the waterproofing adds a layer of insulation.
How many times have you ever actually looked at the lacing system when purchasing waterproof hiking boots? Most people would say never and it is in fact true that over seventy percent of people or even more tend to ignore the lacing system. What people don’t understand is the fact that these do play a vital role when it comes to overall comfort and snug fit of the shoe.
If the shoe has a mediocre lacing system, there are high chances that it would get loose when you move ahead on the trail. If you continue walking with improperly done laces, you would soon get hot spots and blisters which make walking ahead a difficulty. If you feel that it is just the laces which are causing the problem consider replacing it with more comfortable ones.
The major difference between the hiking shoe and hiking boots is the ankle length. People who need more ankle support, carry a heavy backpack and are heading out on a longer hike would generally require hiking boots. When the trails are particularly uneven, rocky, are covered in roots, it makes the hike rather challenging and this is when your foot requires all the support that it needs. You would also require hiking boots when you are hiking in the snow, the trails are steep or when the trail is wet.
Hiking shoes work well when hiking on well-maintained trails, when going on day hikes or when opting for trail running.
You need to make an informed decision depending on the kind of trails that you want to hit. Remember that the best hiking boots would be the ones that would be comfortable, would fit snugly and would help you in moving ahead easily.