Hiking Boots: How To Choose Them

Choosing the correct hiking shoe is a decision that can greatly effect the overall enjoyment of your outdoor experience. Hiking footwear and hiking boots have become extremely fashionable these days, and it is important to ensure that you find a pair of hiking boots or hiking shoes that are functional in the type of environment you might expect to find yourself in.

All hiking shoes should share certain qualities. Quality hiking footwear will offer lots of lateral stability, to keep your ankle from rolling. They will offer a sole that is good and strong, with a good pattern on the bottom for traction. A cushioned heel and some padding under the ball of the foot of some kind are common. Whether or not you choose a high or low top, the design of the shoe will be geared toward stability and traction.

There are certain features in higher end hiking boots that separate them from the less expensive outdoor footwear. Various degrees of water repelling or waterproofing are available, and will generally improve with higher quality shoes or boots. Another aspect that improves with the quality of the shoe is weight. Better hiking shoes or hiking boots will weigh less, as this is always an important consideration when choosing any hiking and camping gear.

Choose a pair of boots or shoes that are appropriate for the conditions you will be hiking in. if you are going to be using one pair of shoes for all situations, you can find a shoe that will suit most purposes, but if you pick a pair of shoes designed for extremely cold climates, and you hike in hot weather, you may find yourself uncomfortably warm. The same is true in reverse, if you find yourself hiking through snow with boots that lack waterproofing or insulation.

Fitting a mens or womens hiking shoe is a lot like fitting any other shoes. When you try the shoes on, put on both pair and walk around a little bit. Crouch down and bend the toe to see how flexible they are, and whether or not they rub around your ankles. Try them on with a pair of socks that are similar to the ones you hike in, as many outdoor sportsmen will have special hosiery that they wear. Move side to side, jump a little bit and run a short distance. Try to get the feel of them on a hard surface so you can see how they grip the floor.

The boot or shoe should fit snug without pinching across the widest part of your foot. This is especially important in quality outdoor shoes, because the terrain you will be moving across is so varied and uneven. If a shoe pinches your toes, the result can be anything from twisted ankles to bunions to stress fractures. The foot depends on a certain range of motion to operate properly during a step, and the footwear you choose should enhance and support that range of motion, not inhibit it. Although hiking uses a very different type of motion and step than walking or running on straight flat surfaces, this is no less important.

Make sure that your heel does not slip, but also ensure that your toes are not hitting the front of the toe box. If the shoe seems to otherwise fit, but your heel is still slipping, make sure you have used all the eyelets at the top of the laces. If the shoe is still slipping even when properly laced, then try a different brand or size. Make sure that if you use special replacement insoles in your shoes, that you bring them along and try the shoes on with them.

If the hiking boot or hiking shoe you choose is not already waterproof, or you simply desire added protection, there are many waterproofing accessories available. Silicone and other materials can be brushed or sprayed on the outer part of the shoe to keep the feet dry and comfortable.

Once you have chosen a brand, or if you already know the shoes you want to purchase, there are many options online for quality discount footwear. Make sure you are dealing with a reputable company and check the return and shipping policies carefully.

Wherever you get them, take some extra time to choose your hiking boots carefully, and you will build a great foundation for your explorations of our glorious outdoor treasures.

By: Jack Moe

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