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Hiking Boots Buying Guide - Buy the Best Day Hiking Shoes

Hiking Boot Buying Guide - How to Buy Hiking Boots When it comes to choosing the correct Hiking Boots, you should always have a few goals in mind: you want your boots to be as light and comfortable as possible while keeping your feet dry, warm, and well-protected. If you have read our sections on Hiking Boot Features & Characteristics and Hiking Boot Types then you will understand how these factors influence each other. In this section, we will help you find the perfect hiking shoes by explaining the things you should consider:

Intended Use
This is the single most important question you
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will have to ask yourself. As outlined in our Hiking Boot Types section, there are Best Hiking Boots for every kind of purpose. The class of your boot should increase under the following factors: expected terrain and weather conditions, intended Hiking duration, and intended backpack load.

Your Hiking Skill Level
A more experienced hiker might be able to choose lighter day hiking boots compared to a less experienced hiker even if they plan to do the same hike under the same conditions. Especially if you are new to Hiking, you should go for Hiking Boot that gives good support while your feet, ankles, achilles' tendon, calves, and legs get used to the added strain of Hiking. If you plan to increase
your Hiking skill level by gradually increasing the difficulty, load, duration, and/or terrain difficulty of your hikes then make sure to buy boots that allow you to grow and that will still meet your needs once you reach your next skill level. However, there are no boots that facilitate all levels of Hiking so make sure to get new boots once you get into Hiking for which your current boots were clearly not intended.

Hiking Boot Quality
Good quality boots will not give up when the going gets tough. If there is one thing you do not want, it is a broken boot in the middle of a hike. When it comes to judging quality, there are a few things you can judge it by. The brand is often a good indicator. Good Hiking Boot brands have a name to live up to and most companies put their boots through rigid testing before launching them to ensure quality and durability. Cheap boots from an unknown brand are a ticket to trouble. Examine your boot closely. Take your time in checking the stitching, the connection of sole and upper, the toughness and lug pattern of the sole, the stiffness of the upper and the configuration, and type of the lacing. Judging their quality comes down to common sense and the expertise of your sales person.

Hiking Boot Fit
Once you have determined the type of boot you need and have selected a few of which you feel they have the quality you are looking for, it is time for the most important step: fitting. The fit and function of boots are among the most important aspects of selecting the best boots for hiking. Finding a comfortable fit is a very personal matter and looking for a better fit really depends on your own unique feet, your personal preferences, and your Hiking experience. We can, however, give several tips and guidelines when fitting Hiking Boots:
  • There is a difference in the shape and size of your feet in rest in the morning and your feet after a period of walking in the evening. Just to be safe, we recommend you take a 15-minute stroll around the park before fitting your boots and go late in the afternoon. This might feel like going a bit too far but the difference is noticeable, believe us.
  • Wear the socks that you intend to use for Hiking. You might think that your socks will not make the difference but they do. Wear them as you try your boots.
  • In general, you are looking for a snug fit with noticeable support all over your feet and ankles as you make a walking motion. Look for comfortably snug without feeling any pressure points.
  • Remove the inner sole of the boots you are trying and place them against the sole of your feet. The better the outline of sole of the boot follows your own shape, the better the fit will probably be. The boot will most likely be too snug where your
    foot overlaps the sole or the boot will be too wide where the sole is larger than your foot's outline.
  • Fit each pair of boots that you are considering by going through the following steps:

    1. Enter your foot into the open boot with the laces unfastened. Stand up straight and push your foot forward into the toe of the boot. You should be able to slip your index finger between your heel and the heel of the boot. Do this for both boots.
    2. Sit down and lace both boots. As you do so, your heel should move backwards filling the space your index finger created.
    3. Stand up and walk around.
    4. Assure that your toes do not touch the front of the boot. If they do then you should go for a larger sized boot.
    5. Assure that your toes do not touch the top of the boot. If they do then you will need a boot with a larger (front-side) volume.
    6. As you walk, the heel of your foot and the heel of the boot should move together in harmony. The heel of your foot should not slip out of the heel of your boot (heel lift). If you experience heel lift then your boots are either too large in size or the shape of the arch and heel cup are incompatible with the shape of your feet.
Brand Sizes
Each brand has its own definition of the 'average' foot and different brands cater to different foot shapes and mostly widths. Knowing your own feet, you should be able to tell your sales person if you need wider or narrower boots and he/she should be able to help you find corresponding brands. Some brands have different boots and hiking socks for different foot shapes but most companies only have one fit for each boot they produce.

Ignore Shoe Sizes
Do not pay too much attention to the sizes of the boots you try. The sizes of your ideal Hiking Boots could easily differ from your leisure/fashion shoes so do not worry if they are different in quoted size. Even Hiking Boots of the same size could feel very differently so disregard the Hiking Boot Sizes and just focus on the feeling of the fit.

Foot Shapes
If you have 'strange' feet where some parts (for instance, your toes) are not in proportion to the other parts or if your foot has an unusual shape then you will probably have to buy hiking shoes with the best fit. Compensate for your irregularities by using insoles and specific socks.

These are the basic things you need to consider when buying Hiking Boots. Make sure to choose the pair that meets your requirements.

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Article Comments
Thursday 21st January 2010 at 4:38:32 AM  

How do you decide what you are honestly going to use the boots for!? I do not go walking as a hobby, and have only ever gone on a camping trip once in the last 10 years. However, I want a pair of hiking boots as an investment, as I am starting to go on bi-weekly day trips in the woods (on trails mostly) and I will probably go on the odd overnight camping trip within the coming years.

I went to an outdoor shop and tried on a cross hiking trail boot (class C) and a heavier more technical hiking boot (class D).

The price difference was only 20 GBP, and I ended up getting the more technical boots (HanWag Tatra GTX, instead of HanWag M Andulaz GTX), because they had better rubber toe protection and felt sturdier and more durable. Then I got home and realised how heavy they were and that for shorter day trips were probably overkill. Is my judgement correct?

I will *most likely* do more day trips on woodland trails, on rocky uneven surfaces with a light backpack, and will probably only do a few infrequent overnight trips/more advanced trips with a heavy backpack. Should I keep the sturdier "proper" hiking boots for the odd time I will go camping, or swap them for the lighter trail boot which I will most likely use more often? Will the trail boot be up for the job of a 1-3 day hike every now and again with a heavier backpack?

despite going to a true outdoor specialist, I did not get much help from the saleperson, even though I explained my probable usage.

Jeff Knight
Saturday 4th September 2010 at 11:54:11 PM  

Its so important to find the right hiking boot as it really makes a difference in your hiking enjoyment. In fact when you find the perfect fitting boot you just want to get out and start hiking immediately as it feels so good. I was very surprised to find such an excellent selection of including the full leather Norwegian welt hiking boot made by Alico at your website! You simply cannot find a boot like this in most sporting goods stores. In fact the selection I have seen lately in most stores for hiking boots has left me wondering. I certainly should have no problem finding the right boot at your site. Thanks-Jeff

Sunday 5th September 2010 at 7:45:19 PM  

Hi Jeff,

Thanks so much for your kind words :) Good luck with your ever important search for the perfect pair of hiking boots!


Wednesday 10th November 2010 at 9:38:39 PM  

i go on good camps with my dad and my sister normly we take boots but they give me a rash so we got hiking boots.naw we go ferther and farster
I have pigeintow so my shoes all ways go bad but hiking shoes helped me out (alot)

Friday 10th December 2010 at 7:03:12 AM  

Great website, I''m new to hiking and outdoorsy activities but I''m going to hike a volcano (Type "Volcan Baru" on youtube) on new years day! I live in Panama (central America) and we do not have many stores that offer tough rugged boots. Therefore, I''m going to order boots online. I will have to go to one of these stores and fit on boots even if they''re not the name-brand i''m looking to buy, just to have a general idea of my foot length and width. Are those metal foot measurer''s a good reference point or is it crucial to actually try on a boot being that each one fits slightly different. I want to make this a possible hobby of mine and use them to travel the world! Would you recommended me invest in a (less expensive) starter pair and see how I like the experience or go for broke and get the best quality to ensure I have a good experience the first time and want to continue?

Thanks from Panama,


Friday 30th September 2011 at 11:22:48 PM  

please sending address in shenzhen

Wednesday 2nd November 2011 at 5:38:56 AM  

I do quite a bit of day hikes out in the rockies and use only light trail shoes. I want to get into backpacking but hate the feel of the thick soles and rigidity of hiking boots. Is there any brand that you can recommend that allows you to feel the trail more and is a little more flexible than an ordinary hiking boot?

Thursday 8th December 2011 at 5:08:52 AM  

Hi Im a novice hiker training to do the kakoda trail and although the terrain is not the same at home as i will tackle on kakoda im just wondering what sort of brands to look for and $$$ isnt really a issue especially with my boots as its something i really dont wanna take short cuts with

thanks again


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