Sweet Fanny Adams that was one overwhelming experience.
I was cruising the interwebs, doing a little pre-shopping research for a new pair of hikers. I plugged in my search term. “How to Choose the Right Hiking Boot?”
I think I read a dozen blogs, articles, and reviews complete with tips, hacks, and suggestions. It was exhausting.
It occurred to me that I might just be asking the wrong question. Then it occurred to me that you might be experiencing the same thing.
So I fixed it.
Instead of asking How to Choose the Right Hiking Boot
The question should be:
How to choose the right hiking boot
Your Unique Sole
No two feet are the same; your needs are individual. There is a lot to consider, and there are a lot of great choices. It would help if you had a guide that got it right the first time and kept it simple. Buying footwear should not require a degree in data analytics.
You Are Three Steps Away From Your Perfect Hiking Boot
All you need is the knowledge that breaks this decision down to three basic concepts:
- There are three types of feet.
2. There are three basic types of hiking footwear.
3. Three top considerations should go into your final decision.
Three Types of Feet, What is Your Foot Type?
Let’s talk about the three types of feet and how they are going to influence your decision.
1. Pronating Feet.
Pronating refers to feet that roll inward. This can occur naturally or due to some outside influence.
Common problems with feet that roll inward:
· Too much pressure on the big toe
· Flat feet
· Failing arches
· Runner’s knee
· Plantar fasciitis
· Achilles tendonitis
This type of foot is going to need a shoe with excellent arch and ankle support.
2. Supinating Feet
Supination or feet that roll outward; the causes for this issue can be varied and many.
Common problems with supination:
· High Arches
· Ankle instability
· Illiotibial band tightness.
Feet that roll outward need boots with more ankle support.
3. The Neutral Foot.
The neutral foot is the best one to have. It doesn’t roll inward or outward and is structurally the strongest of the three-foot types. If you have a neutral foot type, count yourself among the lucky ones because you can choose whatever hiking boot takes your fancy.
Still with me? Good because we are not finished yet.
The Three Top Considerations
Three primary considerations should go into your choice of hiking boot after sorting out your foot type. Let’s jump right in.
Before you go shopping for your boot type, ask yourself the following question. Where will you be doing most of your hiking? Alpine areas with rocky outcrops and scree fields will require something quite different from deserts. If you love valleys, you are going to face running water frequently. The terrain you hike in should have a big-time influence on the boot you choose.
2. Weather or Climate
Do you live in a temperate rainforest? What about yearly rainfall? Do you get a lot or just a little? Are snow and cold going into the calculation? Where you live and where you plan to hike will have some bearing on your choice.
3. Social Values
Ethical consumerism is a thing. If you google ethical consumerism, you will get back 15,500,000 results. In a nutshell, this means you are shopping with your social values front and center. You are more often choosing products that are cruelty-free and carbon neutral. Manufacturers are more frequently meeting consumer demand for social responsibility in the corporate world.
Did you know that there is one fabulous Swedish hiking boot manufacturer that makes a climate-positive winter hiker? That means not only do they have zero carbon emissions, but they also manufacture in such a way that they remove carbon emissions from our atmosphere. It kind of blows the mind, doesn’t it?
Now let’s have a look at the types of hiking boots.
Three Types of Hiking Footwear
Just like foot types, there are three main types of footwear for hikers and backpackers. Isn’t it nice to keep things simple?
1. The High or Med Top
This boot style is good for people who have feet that tend to roll out or in. A higher boot gives better ankle support. This is especially true when you add a heavy pack. High-top styles are available in both heavy-duty and breathable lightweight versions. Lastly, they offer more protection in the bush.
2. The Low-Top
If you are the lucky person with the neutral foot type, you will be fine no matter what you pick. A low-top hiker is a real pro vs. con situation.
Pros: Cooler, lighter, and drys faster.
Cons: Less ankle support, It doesn’t keep the dirt out of your shoes, and offers less protection in the bush.
3. Trail Runners
A big positive for trail runners is that they dry fast compared to hikers. If you are going to be crossing rivers, you will love how fast your trail runners dry.
Generally speaking, they are also less costly than hiking boots or shoes. On the downside, they wear out faster. They are not built as sturdy as a hiker. Trail runners have a far weaker toe box, and that makes it less protective on the trail.
Wow, good job; you stayed with me all the way through—just a few final words on this topic.
No matter what your foot type is. No matter what choice makes you feel better about the world—no matter what style of boot or shoe you choose. Make sure you ask the salesperson for help and get your new footwear sized properly. Your choice won’t matter if you have a poor fit.
Poor fit equals sore foot!
One last word of advice. Before you leave for your epic adventure, break those puppies in. At a minimum, do 10 miles (abt 16km) before you leave.
Well, there you have it. As the old axiom goes, good things come in threes.
See Ya on the trail.