How to Choose the Right Hiking Boots

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Having the right boots will make the difference between a swift and comfortable trek and an excruciating one. In order to get a boot that fits your needs perfectly, you will need to understand the available features. And if you have to buy online, this might make the purchase especially difficult. Below you will find detailed information about the different types of boots available and types of adventures they are most suited to.


Which particular boots do you need?

There are different types of boots, and their function varies. Although, you may decide to choose a particular boot because you just like it, it may be difficult to make the right selection. Many people like to find boots they are used to, and stick with the same model every year. But finding something new would be nicer! What you choose to do with any pair depends on you. You could try any of these categories: hiking boots, hiking shoes, backpacking boots, and mountaineering boots.


Hiking Shoes

Men's & Women's Hiking ShoesHiking shoes are the lightest form within the hiking boot family; they are light in weight making them great for running the trail and they are also strong and have great durability. Hiking shoes most often have an aggressive tread pattern, similar to regular trail shoes, but feature a more durable construction and usually rubber soles. Hiking shoes are built to support the ankle with low-cut designs, and have less flexibility in the outer shell. Rubber toe-caps are built into the hiking shoe to protect your toes and give you a more enjoyable feeling across rocky terrain. Different models of hiking shoes are made in both waterproof and non-waterproof options. A waterproof option may not be needed, (depending on climate and conditions) and it may not be wanted as the material for waterproofing will add weight making them slightly more cumbersome. Waterproofing also means reduced breathability which isn’t always fun, especially on the longer hikes. Hiking shoes do not require the same break-in period as other members of the hiking boot family and they will last longer than trail running shoes. This is the reason why they are much better than some of the other options. In addition to the many benefits mentioned above, hiking shoes are also adequate for both short and long distance backpacking trips. In fact, some travelers prefer hiking shoes over hiking boots because of their light weight design and durability.


Hiking Boots

Hiking boots are the most suitable for walking through longer hikes, most especially over rougher terrain, carrying a moderately heavy load, and they will help beginner or occasional hikers support their ankles. Hiking boots are very protective and they sometimes feature a slightly stiffer construction. The major trade-off with hiking boots is that they are heavier, but they will stand the test of time. Hiking boots are best for day hiking, backpacking with heavier loads, hiking off-trail or rough terrain, and spring or summer hiking where there will be snow.


Hiking & Backpacking Boots


Backpacking Boots

These are used for long, multi-day treks and are also very suitable for carrying heavy loads. Backpacking Boots are very rugged and can cope with any kind of weather conditions and terrain. They are stiffer and taller than hiking boots, and can support the ankle and foot better. They are also made of thicker and more aggressive outsoles with firm protection on the exterior. The trade-off for this toughness is increase in weight, but the boots will stand the test of time. Backpackers must remember that you can’t move the same way you will move freely in a hiking shoe. Using backpacking boots means you must have a long break-in period compared to some of the other types.



These are weightier boots designed for very heavy load carriage. They accept crampons and glacier travel, and are very tough, durable, and supportive. They are made with full-grain leather uppers, excellent traction, minimal seams, and sometimes a bit of insulation. They are designed to protect the ankles and give full support. Mountaineering boots are made of full-length shanks, and thus usually too rigid for comfortable full-stride hiking. Due to the weight, it is necessary for these boots to be well broken in before trying a long distance mileage hike. Mountaineering boots aren’t specifically designed for climbers, but some designs do take climbing into account and most will provide room for some type of climbing accessory. Mountaineering boots are most applicable for high alpine travel, winter hiking, and general mountaineering.


Choose the Best Fit

When you find the right hiking boots, make sure you check our shoe sizing charts before order. When you receive your shoes, follow these three simple steps:

  1. Try it on: wear the pair and ensure it fits appropriately. Make sure you wear it with the socks you plan to wear on the trail. Wear the boots at the end of the day, when your feet are more swollen. Make sure to wear polyester socks.
  2. Wiggle your toes as it fits: The boots should feel snug, but must still be comfortable. Try to wiggle your toes till it fits. Although most hiking shoes may not be comfortable the first time you wear them, ensure that they do not pinch your toes or constrict circulation.
  3. Walk around to ensure the proper fit: When trying on the boots, try to move around. Your feet must not slide forward, and your toenail must not scrape against the front of the boot. If the boot is too wide, your feet will slide forward.

     Ultimately, the decision is yours and hopefully you can now see the benefits of each type of boot and the scenarios where each type might be the most supportive. Have you decided which type of hiker you are or where you want to go? You could always play it safe and buy one of each!

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