When it comes to hiking in the wilderness, for pleasure or for means of survival, the type of boots worn will have a tremendous impact on the comfort level of your feet. Given that there are countless types and designs for hiking boots, it ultimately will come down to your preferences as a consumer, and as a hiker depending upon your past experiences.
Some key aspects to keep in mind when deciding on what type of boot to buy should include: how water-resistant the boot in question is, how durable the boot is in relation to the type of terrain you will be encountering, how flexible and comfortable the boot will be, prices of other boots with similar characteristics and uses, as well as other factors that go along those lines. Before providing examples of the best boots, let’s first go over what makes a good hiking boot and how useful they can be compared to regular walking shoes.
Why Wear Boots/Shoes?
When it comes to hiking or exploring in the wilderness, it’s almost a no brainer about deciding to wear a nice pair of boots compared to roughing it in walking shoes. Boots provide a wide variety of benefits which includes: support, comfort, warmth, and protection/sense of security.
While the argument can be made that regular walking shoes have good support, their level of support doesn’t compare to that of a good pair of boots. Walking shoes provide support for their purpose of walking on flat surfaces such as roadways, sidewalks, etc. The ankle support, or the lack-thereof, would surely be problematic for any hiker wanting to explore any terrain beyond the norm of roadways and sidewalks. Boots that provide the most ankle support are your best bet when wanting to explore foreign terrain so that you don’t turn an ankle every other step along your way. Rolling your ankle can result in a sprain, torn ligaments, or even the breaking of a bone. Any experienced hiker would concur that having good ankle support is a must-have in any survival scenario.
As anyone can attest to, having to walk around in an uncomfortable pair of shoes for an extended period of time can take a toll on your attitude and endurance. The same goes for hiking boots. If you have a pair of boots that are not comfortable or don’t fit the way you want them to, you will experience blistering, lack of desire to explore, and a bad attitude due to the fact that your comfort level isn’t where you would like it to be. To ensure your feet are comfortable in a pair of boots, the best, and maybe only, factor is to examine how your feet feel in the boots that you want to purchase. Having buyer’s remorse when it comes to boots will directly affect you and your feet. Be sure to try the boots on and walk around with them on before buying them. Buying boots online puts you, the consumer, at risk due to the fact you might not know how they fit and feel on your feet. While customer reviews are good to go by, every person has their own biases and preferences when making a purchase. Some stores/companies have a generous return policy which you should take advantage of. Maybe consider buying the pair you want, going for an experimental walk in the woods nearby and see how your feet feel during and after. That way you can make the decision to either keep them or return them based on the store’s return/exchange policy.
If you plan on encountering cold climates while hiking, it is best to select a pair of boots that will keep your toes and feet warm. Having boots that supply minimal insulation will be problem and could result in frostbite which is a condition that would require hospitalization. While having good insulation is important, another factor to keep in mind is good breathability. If the weather is hot, then having a breathable boot is ideal so that your feet don’t get too hot. You will want to find a pair of boots that provides both insulation and breathability, or have two different pairs of boots where one is designed for the cold, and the other for warmer climates.
Protection & Sense of Security
Boots not only provide comfort and support, but protection as well as a sense of security for you and your feet. When walking around the wilderness, you will come in contact with thorns, sharp rocks, slippery surfaces, dangerous insects or animals, etc. Having a good pair of boots will protect you from aspects of the environment that would otherwise hurt you and cause you to shorten your time in the wilderness. Protection from these factors by having a good pair of boots could save your life in some cases.
So What Pair Should You Buy?
After reviewing all the factors mentioned above, as well as taking into account your own personal preferences, it is time to decide on a pair of boots to buy. As with any purchase, price will be a factor after narrowing your choices down to fulfill your specific requirements. You should be familiar with the range of prices that are associated with the particular brand and caliber of boot that you need. Listed below are three types of boots that will provide you with comfort, durability, and support:
1) Salomon Quest 4D GTX Backpacking Boot
This Hiking boot is made of leather and textiles, has a rubber sole and heel which provides better grip on slippery/wet surfaces. It also has a “gusseted” tongue which prevents debris from entering the shoe. Water-proof and breathable Gore-Tex performance material. Prices range from $170-$250 and can be found on Amazon.
2) Lowa Men’s Renegade GTX Mid Hiking Boot
These hiking boots are ideal for “short-haul” weekend trips and day hikes. Features a Gore-Tex membrane with perforations in the boots lining allows moisture to escape instead of being trapped inside the boot. Made of leather and textiles with good support around the ankles. Prices range from $190-$230 and can also be found on Amazon.
3) KEEN Men’s Targhee II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot
The KEEN Targee hiking boot is a solid hiking boot that combines stability and comfort to the user. Made out of leather with a rubber sole, it provides comfort as well as traction if on wet surfaces. The boot has a very protective outer layer that will keep your feet protected from harmful objects of the wilderness. It is waterproof with a breathable KEEN Dry Membrane to ensure your feet stay dry. Prices range from $100-$180 on Amazon.