Comfortable footwear and feet will make a walk in the hills an absolute dream. You won’t think for a second about all the work going on below ankle level as you stride, in a glide-like fashion along with your partner, taking in the amazing views.
On the other hand, or foot in this case; wearing the wrong boots for you, will make you and everyone else with you, completely miserable. So, you may hear the hills calling, but you really shouldn’t answer the call until you’ve got your feet encased in a perfect pair of boots, just made for you.
Two walking boots that we’ve recently tested and love are the Tiber Men’s NGX® Leather Hiking Boots from Kathmandu and the Gomera GTX 2017 Mocca from Meindl. Read on to find out what we think makes the perfect pair of walking boots and how to get the most out of your footwear.
What makes a perfect pair of Walking Boots?
- Comfort. Of absolute high importance.
- Price. The most expensive boot is not always the best for you. Going mid-range price and you’ll be less likely to persevere with a boot that just isn’t right for you.
- Style. Want them for more than your weekly walk – school run, walking the dog? Or are you a bit of an outdoor fashion trendy? Synthetic boots come in various colours with decorative touches.
- Durability. Boots that are up to the job for your use of them will last much longer.
- Material. Leather is durable and stands up to abrasion much better, than synthetic boots. Leather is generally pretty waterproof (although will still need a waterproof treatment to keep it that way). Waterproofing them yourself after purchasing on deciding they are for you and drying them out after every couple of uses of the boot. Downsides are it tends to be less breathable than synthetic material, and less flexible.
My best Walking Boot
The type of walking you plan to do will decide what’s best for you.
- Day hikes on paths and trails. Well surfaced paths or trails in good weather just need your regular sports shoes. If you want to upgrade, a pair of inexpensive hiking shoes is ideal. Being flexible and lightweight, usually synthetic; they may not be waterproof (even on a dry day, but you may find puddles), and offer no ankle support.
- Off-trail walking/ hills. Hiking boots are the next step up. These give you protection from lateral ankle twisting, and from ankle knocks. The midsole is indeed stiffer, but still flexible on your foot. Their soles are cleated, to give better traction – accidents happen most often going downhill. They may have a heel brake – a separate section of rubber at the back, which gives even better traction.
- Backpacking. Hiking with a pack obviously adds extra pressure on your feet. Backpacking boots are a sturdier version of hiking boots. The midsole is stiffer, giving much more support. Choose a boot with cleats wider apart, to prevent mud gathering.
- Winter walking/mountaineering. Mountaineering boots are the industrial version of walking boots. They’re strong, well-padded and able to take crampons for snow and ice walking. In general, these are only suited for serious winter walking – wearing them in the wrong conditions will be unnecessarily tiring.
Caring for your boots according to manufacturers’ recommendations will make them last better. Remember…
- The right socks will protect your feet – wool and merino, are both good options. Cotton tends to trap sweat, leading to soggy feet, and blisters.
- Socks need to be close fitting if you don’t want blisters (really undesirable).
- Toe nails should be trimmed, and any sore spots can be protected with moleskin.
There’s a saying “You have to do what’s right for yourself; no one else is walking in your Boots”.
Ian Knights | Buy Hiking Boots