1. Types of Boots
Hiking boots come in three styles: light hikers (AKA trail runners); mid-hikers; and full backpacking boots. The first style is what we recommend for guests of Mountain Trek because they’re meant for short day hikes on maintained trails. Light hikers are made on a running shoe last and are flexible and comfortable. They are made of leather or fabric combinations, come in low- or mid-cut heights and some are waterproof.
2. Before you Buy
There are three things you need to do before stepping foot into a shoe store. Firstly, budget the time needed to be fitted and make the proper choice. Expect to spend at least an hour trying on different models in the store. Secondly, plan to shop in the afternoon because your feet swell as the day progresses and you want to ensure the shoes fit well when they’re at their “pudgiest.” And finally, bring a pair of socks with you to the store or plan to buy a good quality, hi-tech sock that incorporates merino wool and wear those when doing your fitting. Don’t rely on the store’s loaners as you will not be wearing those when out on the trail.
3. Proper Fit
Any reputable outdoor gear store or shoe store will have trained boot fitters on hand to take you through the selection process. They will measure all aspects of your foot (from length to width to arch size) and then suggest a number of different pairs of shoes to try. When you try on shoes, be sure to lace them while standing up and putting your full weight on your foot. (Your foot changes shape when it’s weighted and on the ground.) You’ll want to be aware of volume (the thickness of the foot through the instep) and arch support. The right boot for you should feel comfortable from the beginning. For more about how to properly fit a hiking boot, refer to our ”Fitting Hiking Boots” page.
4. Break Them In
When you first bring your hiking shoes home, wear them around inside for several days to ensure no trouble areas develop. Be sure to wear them up and down the stairs too. If, during this trial time, a sore area is noted, return the boots to the store and try again. The perfect boot is out there, and this initial attention to detail will reward you with happy feet on the trail. Plan your first few hikes to be short ones so that you and your new boots can gradually become acquainted.