How To Choose Your Hiking Boots

October 20, 2020

How To Choose Your Hiking Boots

Are you looking for yourfirst pair of hiking shoes? Arethe soles of your old pair worn out? Here isour advice to help choose the right pair for you. Hiking shoes don’t necessarily mean sore feet or blisters on your heels.Having the right pair of shoes will allow you to lift your head up and enjoy the surroundings!


    This is the first question that you need to ask yourself in order to choose your hiking shoes. By “type of hiking” we mean:

    • Whattype of terrainwill you be hiking on?
    • How heavy will your backpack be?
    • How longwill you hike for andwhat kind of pacewill you set?


    Generally, there are 3 types of hiking terrain:

    • Easy trails: these can be found atvalley bottoms, in prairiesor otherlarge open spaces. The track surfaces are stable and even, with afew slight hills.
    • Uneven trails: thistechnical terraincan be found in the mountains or undulating landscapes. You will have to look out for rocks, roots and mud. Steps, slanted trails, and sustained steep terrain will put strain on your legs and ankles.
    • Off-trail: this terrain is uneven,often unstablewith loose rocks and the trails arenot usually marked. This kind of terrain demands concentration to move along efficiently. You may need to climb over obstacles, cross rivers and use your hands for shorts sections. It’s real adventure territory!

    Oneasy trails, flexible shoesencourage the natural movement of your foot.Light shoeswill also be comfortable to wear and reduce fatigue. Cushioning improves the comfort of the shoes but is less important than on trail running shoes.

    The more technical the terrain the stiffer the outsoleof your shoe should be to give you morestability.Ahigher cut shoeprotects and supports your ankles.Reinforcements(rubber toe, heel protector, side and instep protection etc) and thicker outsoles, increase thedurabilityof your hiking shoes but they make the shoes heavier.

    Thewater resistanceof your shoes will depend on the weather conditions. An impermeable membrane, like Gore Tex,protects your feet from dampness but makes the shoes less breathable.
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    Gore Tex shoes in dry weather and high temperatures can become too hot and make your feet sweat. You don’t have to choose to have an impermeable membrane on your shoes.Leather shoes are a good alternative, they are a lot heavier but offer good protection and are breathable.


    The weight of your backpack will also influence the choice of your hiking shoes. The shoes you choose will depend on how remote the hike is and how long you plan to hike for. We recommend that youtry to make your backpack as light as possible, just take the essentials. You can find some great advice in this article.
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    Alight backpackis less tiring to carry, there is less chance that you will injure yourself and it is easier to carry for long periods of time. You can therefore choose light and flexible hiking shoes, if the terrain allows.

    If you have to carry a tent, a stove and food then you should look for more sturdy shoes to give you extra stability. High cut shoes will give you extra support if your ankles are weak or terrain is technical.
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    The length and pace of your hike, plus how remote it is, will influence the weight of your backpack. If you skipped the previous paragraph, you should go back and read it!

    The notion of the length of a hike is subjective. A one hour hike on an easy track won’t wear you out as much as one hour on unstable rocks. Your level of fitness and the distances you are used to covering will mean that you may interpret the word ‘long’ differently to other hikers.

    Simply ask yourself ifyour goal seems ‘short’ or ‘long’, so that you eithergo for shoes that are light with more flexibility or shoes that offer stability and support.

    Finally, if youuse your hiking shoes a lot, look for shoes that arereinforced with thick outsolesso that they last longer.



    Take the time to reflect on the question of your level of hiking.

    Answer these questions in a clear and honest way in order to identify your level:

    • How oftendo I go hiking?
    • How muchhiking experience do I have?
    • What types of terraindo I hike on?

    Your hiking level will help you decide on the shoes that will suit you best, either shoes with good ankle support, or lighter weight shoes (with fewer reinforcements and lower cut for freer ankle movement).
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    This is another question that you need to ask yourself in order to assess your level of ability and prevent you from making mistakes in the type of shoes you buy.Evaluate your fitness in an objective way.

    For example, you’ve only been hiking for a few months and you stilldon’t have that much experiencebut you areprogressing quicklyas you gohiking regularly. The hikes you do are more and more ambitious and technical. You havenever injured your anklehiking and you are in good physical shape as you like to practice other endurance sports.
    If this is the case, then you shouldgo for a light, low cut shoe that will give you freer foot movement.
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    Another example is if you are anexperienced hikerand have been hiking for a number of years on mountain trails, but asprained anklehas meant you’ve had to take a break for a few months. Did you used to hike in low cut shoes? If you did, then your shoes now lack much needed ankle support.
    Opt for stable, high cut shoes that will support your ankles. You can get your old shoes back out once you are fully fit again.
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    After you have reviewed your hiking experience, you need to decide which features are important to you.


    Arigid, sturdyshoe offers youstabilityon technical terrain.

    Aflexibleshoe follows the movement of your foot and gives youbetter freedom of movementif your foot hits the ground in the right way.


    Higher cut shoessupport your ankles.

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    Low cut shoes allow your ankles to move more freely.

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    There are alsomid-cut shoeswhich are in between the two, they come up to your ankle bone.
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    A pair of shoes that havereinforcements(rubber toe, heel protector, side and instep protection etc)give you added protection and they last longerif you hike on steep, rocky paths or off-trail. Thicker outsoles protect the soles of your feet.

    Light weightshoesreduce fatiguebut arenot as durable.


    You’ve reviewed your hiking level and identified, out of all the brands and models available, which type of shoe is most suited to you.If you buy your shoes from an outdoor specialty store or from the internet, you need to try them on before you buy them.

    Start by putting ona good pair of hiking socks.

    Even if the shoes are new and regardless of its price, you shouldn’t be able to feelany pressure pointsat all on your feet. The fit of your shoes (the shape and volume of the inside of the shoe) should be adapted to the anatomy of your foot (and not the other way around!). You must be able to adjust your shoe easily without pulling hard on the laces, no matter what thelacing system, classic or Quick Lace.


    • Ideally,try on different styles at the end of the day, wearing your usual hiking socks, as your feet tend to swell a little.
    • When your shoe is undone,you should be able to fit one finger behind your heelwhen your toes are in contact with the front of the shoe.
    • If you fall between two sizes, choose the bigger sizeas your feet will swell during your hike. You can easily reduce the size of a shoe that is too big by adding an insole. The other way around isn’t so easy!

    Your level of fitness changes depending on the demands of everyday life. Only a regular analysis of your hiking activity will allow you to upgrade your gear accordingly... starting with your shoes!