When it comes to hiking boots, comfort should override style. Consider a few factors before you pick up a pair for yourself; makes sure the boots you buy are light and comfortable and keep your feet well protected at all times. (Warm and dry are most important!)
The single most important question that you need to ask yourself when buying your hiking boots is ‘what is the intended use?’ There are a host of different types of hiking boots and choosing one should be based on the weather conditions you will find yourself in and of course the expected terrain (also don’t forget to keep in mind the duration of your hike and the backpack load you will have)
While I did say your hiking boots should be light there is always an exception. If you are a more experienced hiker choosing a lighter boot is good; however for amateurs it makes more sense for you to buy something that is not too light. Go for something that gives your feet added support while your legs, ankles, calves and Achilles’ tendon adjust to the strain of hiking. On the other hand if you intend on gradually increasing the level of difficulty of your hikes make sure the boots you buy can accommodate the changes and meet your needs as your skill level grows i.e. the difficulty, duration, terrain and load. Keep in mind that there are no hiking boots that are functional for all levels so when you reach a level that the boots you have can’t accommodate make sure you head out and buy yourself a new pair.
When the going gets tough the tough gets going and this is how you gauge a good hiking boot. At the end of the day the last thing you want while on a hike is a torn or broken boot so judge the quality of a boot carefully. Keep a few of these points in mind. First and foremost consider the brand; the brand is most certainly a good measure for the quality. Reputed brands have a name to live up to and generally put their boots through rigorous testing to ascertain durability and quality. So rule number one is, if the brand is unknown, stay clear.
Moving on, examine the boot you plan on buying very carefully, look at the stitching, the joining of the sole to the upper section of the shoe, the pattern on the sole, the stiffness of the shoe and the like. Use the help and expertise of the sales assistant when judging the quality of the boot but also rely on your common sense.
When selecting a hiking boot the fit is obviously as important as the quality of the shoe. Find a boot that is comfortable, shoe comfort is a very personal matter so it will definitely vary from person to person. Here are a few guidelines when fitting hiking boots. The shape and size of your feet vary as the day goes by based on the amount of walking you do so when buying your boots make sure you go for a 15 minute walk prior to trying on the boots you intend on buying. Make sure you wear a pair of socks, preferably the same pair you intend on wearing during the hike. When you try on the boots ensure that your toes do not touch the tip of the shoe, this gives your feet some breathing space while on a hike, but make sure there’s not too much of a gap.
Typically a good pair of hiking boots should cost you anywhere between a $100 all the way up to $500 based on the variety and of course the brand. Keen Voyageur’s day hiking boot is perfect when you’re out during the summer; these boots are well ventilated weigh less than two pounds. Though they aren’t water proof they do dry fairly fast. For light backpacking you should consider Lowa Renegade’s waterproof hiking shoes. They offer good support and are extremely light. If you’re looking for something a little more rugged check out Asolo. Their hiking boots are far more durable the only drawback however is that their hiking boots are generally heavier than others. However, they offer good support and have impeccable waterproofing not to mention they have good traction.
At the end of the day the brand you choose should be based on your personal comfort, ignore standardized sizes and fits. Wear what you think is most comfortable.