When it comes to plan your hiking trip such as the Everest Base Camp trek, a proper hiking boot is the most critical outdoor gear you will need on your dream walk.
Depend on where, when and the duration of the hike, choosing the right trekking boot will save your feet from blister and leave a smile on your face.
You might confuse of what styles and which sizes to choose. Here are 5 tips to help you find the right gear for your next adventure.
Types: There are a wide range of choices from trail running shoes, hiking shoes to hiking boots. Find out which one is the best suite with your journey.
Materials: Know more about boot’s component and what material and technology are used in upper, midsoles, insoles, outsoles to sort out your selection
High or Low Cut? Consider if you need serious ankle support on a hiking trip far away from cars.
Fit: An ill-fitting boot is the first thing to avoid
Test: Give your shoes a test run before you bring it to travel.
#1. PICK A STYLE
If you want to choose hiking boots that you can use in majority of your hiking trips then you should know the difficulty level of terrain, duration of the hike and the load you will be carrying of most of the hikes.
Here are some suggestions on selecting styles to help you identify the model that fits your need.
Let’s dive in.
Trail running shoes
Design for running on sandy and dirty trails, but many hikers prefer to choose trail running shoes with lightweight, flexible soles model to provide minimal support and stability for a short hike.
Hiking for a short duration: one-day or weekend hiking such as Australian Camp Hiking
Carrying a day hiking pack (20L)
Walking on mellow terrain
With thicker soles, lightweight design, hiking shoes are more durable and provide better protection for your feet and ankle than trail running shoes. If there is no snow on the track and your pack is light these low-cut shoes are still fine even for long treks.
Short hikes or long-distance hiking without snow or river crossing, such as Poon Hill or Upper Mustang Trek
Carrying a lightweight backpack (25-35L)
Walking in warm and dry terrains or rockier trails
For most of the high-altitude long trek in the Himalaya, hiking boots are an excellent choice. It comes with high-cut design provides ankle support, extra stiffness when hiking on rough terrain, steep trail even it helps you to fight with snow and rain. There is only one catch, the heavyweight.
Going on a week-long trek might encounter snow or high pass crossing like Manaslu circuit trek, Everest base camp trek.
Carrying a moderate to heavy pack (>40L)
Hiking in off-trail or cold conditions
Trekking with porter service: you can carry two sets of shoe, trekking sandals is useful if you cross streams or give your foot some air after the long time wear hiking boot.
Crossing icy passes, glaciers end extensive snow, a micro spikes and yaktrax can provide much support.
#2 KNOW MATERIALS
Now that you have a style in mind, it’s time to take a look deeper at boot’s component.
It helps you to find out a proper boot that offer the specific support your need: Waterproof or no, does it need extra stiffness, more comfort and light than support and protection?
Hiking boot upper
The materials used in the upper layer of the hiking shoe range from synthetics to leather and even the combinations of the two.
It impacts the weight, durability, breathability and the water resistance of the hiking boot.
Synthetics: made of polyester or nylon; This material is more breathable, less break in time, feel lighter and dry faster than the leather pair. On the minus side, it is less water resistance.
Leather: Leather shoes are less breathable, feel heavier than the synthetics one, but it is the best option for durability, protection and water resistance.
Half leather half Synthetics: With the combination of these two materials, this model provides both breathability and durability but less resistance to water.
Hiking boot insoles
Insole is the removable layer inside the trekking boot that has a wide range of thickness, materials, and stiffness.
You can replace factory one with better support padding insole if carrying a weighty pack on the hard surface terrain for a long period.
Hiking boot midsoles
The midsole, is a buffer layer between the insole and the outsoles. It provides cushioning to your feet, stiffness to the boots which protect your feet from shock if you are doing multi-day hiking trip on rocky terrain.
Midsole materials are usually made of EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) and Polyurethane
EVA: lighter and cushier and softer, less durable
Polyurethane is more durable and support
Hiking boot outsoles
The rupper part that touches the ground is the outsoles of the hiking boot. Hard, nonslip outsoles, such as Vibram provide the best grip and protection.
Lug Pattern: Give the traction to your feet; it comes in very shape. The deeper and thicker lugs are used on hiking boot to make it grip better. Larger lugs are good on the muddy trail
Heal break: Offer support on steep descents; This reduces the chance of sliding.
Waterproof hiking boot is good for long hiking trip when the weather is highly unpredictable, it helps to keep your feet dry from falling snow or rain.
These gore-tex models prevent water to enter the shoe while venting out the moisture inside allow your feet to breathe.
The disadvantage of waterproof shoe is it limit breathability, which is not comfortable if you hike in the dry condition.
#3. LEVEL OF SUPPORT
Hiking boots come in three major cuts, the highest one gives the best protection from rolling ankle or rocks entering your shoe but it adds a lot of weight to your feet.
Low-cut: Enjoy the lightness, flexibility and comfort it brings. The Low-cut boots expose ankle so you need to pack light. Perfect choice for short hikes.
Mid-cut: Most prefer style among hikers as it offers more ankle stability on rough terrain and prevent the dust and water enter to your shoe. Good for most hiking trips when you carry a moderate weighty pack.
High-cut: With the optimal balance and ankle support, this cut is best for the adventurous hiker to go off the trail and traverse potentially dangerous terrain.
#4. CHOOSE YOUR SIZE
You get the ideas of the styles, the materials, the cut. You find good reviews shoes that you are hard-set on buying that pair.
If it does not FIT your FOOT, it is not a proper hiking boot for you!
To ensure that the boot is a proper fit and provide maximum comfort
First you need to know your size.
Measure your foot length, width, and use the size charts of the shoe brand to figure out which size you need for the boot. Choose the boot that is 1/2 or full size bigger than casual shoes
Try the shoes on in person; Make sure your toes should not hit the front of your shoe;your heel should not raise up when ascent. You can pull out the insoles and check if you have a thumb’s width of space behind your heel.
When shopping online, you get more selection than retail stores, make sure you use the sizing guide to find your size. Also buy from the brand you have worn before, so you know the model of the shoes well.
It’s a good idea to wear socks when you try your hiking boot. Know the weather condition of most of your hikes, thick woollen socks for cold trek and synthetic for warm or hot weather. The thickness of socks can alter boot fit.
Try your shoe later in the day as your feet swell as you actively stand or work around. It can be ½ or 1 size difference.
#5. BREAK IN
New boots often cause the “top chop” during the break-in period when the leather is not getting flexible.
Prior to take your shoes out for your first trip, wear them inside the house, around the neighborhood or short hikes to break them in, this give you better idea if you find the right gear.
The best hiking boots for give the support that you need, the comfort of boot material brings while you out on the trail and how the boot fits your feet. These are three most important things in picking the ideal boot for you.
Your hiking boot’s job is to keep your feet happy from trailhead to your hike’s end.
So, what other tips have you noticed? I would like to hear from you.