My trusty old hiking boots (pictured above!) have been with me to the top of Australia in the Snowy Mountains, hiking in Tasmania, watching whales from Ben Boyd National Park on the Sapphire Coast, on ski trips to Canada, and through muddy back paddocks with the dog.
But alas, it is time to say goodbye, and move onto a new relationship and new adventures, with a new pair of boots.
There are a lot of choices out there, and buying new hiking boots can be confusing, especially if you are buying them for the first time. The aim is for new hiking boots or shoes to be comfortable, and to match the type of hiking you do. Here are a few key points to consider before you go shopping:
- Boot cut – Low, mid or high.
Low-cut hiking shoes are great for lightweight travel and day hikes, but provide less roll resistance for the ankles, and may allow more dirt to get in. Mid-cut boots are a great pick for shorter multi-day hikes with moderate load. High-cut boots enhance balance and ankle support on rough terrain, and make sense if you regularly carry heavier loads.
- Boot materials and construction.
Upper – Full-grain leather is solid and durable, but not as light or breathable as other materials. Synthetics are lighter, dry faster and cost less, but may wear more quickly due to the exterior stitching. Waterproof membranes are great at keeping your feet dry, but may reduce breathability.
Midsole – Sandwiched between the upper and outsole, the midsole provides cushioning, and largely determines the boot’s stiffness. EVA is lighter, softer and less expensive, and polyurethane is generally stiffer, and more commonly found in extended backpacking or mountaineering boots.
Outsole – Rubber is used on all hiking boots, with Vibram generally being known as the longest wearing. Harder outsoles are more durable, but can feel slick on loose terrain. Deeper, thicker lugs improve grip, while widely spaced lugs offer good traction and shed mud more easily. A clearly defined heel zone distinct from the forefoot, reduces your chances of sliding on descents.
- Fit – The most important factor!
Toes should wiggle easily. Feet should not slide around, nor be compressed from side to side. It should feel like a big hand is holding your foot over the instep. Fit is crucial in preventing blisters from heel-slip and black toenails from toe-bang on descents.
MY BEST TIPS!
- Choose a reputable outdoor store and an experienced salesperson. A good salesperson will firstly ask you what type of hiking you do, then look at the shape of your foot, and finally make a couple of informed recommendations.
- Never wear brand new boots on a multi-day hike! Wear them in first on day hikes.
- Wear good quality hiking socks, preferably wool.
- Get out there and get to know your new best friends on a fabulous small group Altitude to Sea Level tour with us!
ALTITUDE TO SEA LEVEL