How to Choose the Right Hiking Boots

For hikers and backpackers, the proper pair of boots is vital for outings. There are different aspects to consider when choosing the correct boots. Many of your decisions will depend on what kind of hiking you will be doing. Will it be an easy day trip, something longer, or even a trip that will take a couple of days? This will determine what kind of boot you should choose. A degree in design could help you to further understand the process of creating products like shoes.

Light Hiking Boots

There are three general types of hiking boots. Light hiking boots are designed for easy terrain and short trips. They are flexible and made of breathable lightweight materials. Many light hiking boots have a low-cut to provide ankle support, but this allows stand, dirt, or other debris to get into the boot.

Heavy Hiking Boots

Heavier hiking and backpacking boots provide better support for feet traveling longer distances are carrying a regularly weighted backpack. These boots have a mid to high range of cut; the higher the cut more durable and stable the boot is, and can provide better ankle support while keeping debris out.

Mountaineering boots

Mountaineering boots provide ankle and foot support for those carrying heavy loads on very long trips. Many mountaineering boots at a hard outer shell designed for snow and ice hiking. Mountaineering boots have the highest cut for support over a long trip.


The fabrics, materials, and technology that make up a hiking boot’s construction serve different purposes, and will affect their performance during a hike. Leather is durable and long lasting, but it takes time to break them in properly and can be quite heavy. Synthetic materials way less and take less time to break in, but they don't hold up as well. Many boots have a blend of both these materials.

Other Features

Other features include water resistance, and the Vibram® sole. Those looking for water resistant boots should look for a water resistant layer in the boots construction. Vibram soles are made up of synthetic rubbers that provide grip, traction, and durability. Boots with Vibram soles are marked with a yellow octagon on the sole.

Try Them On

When you already have the type and cut you want in mind, it’s still important to go out and try boots on. Be sure to bring your own hiking socks to ensure proper fit. Also try on boots later in the day as your feet swell over time. Many outdoor retail stores offer climbing ramps or even a fake rock in order to test out how a boot fits. A boot should hold your feet comfortably without binding them. Your feet shouldn't slide around inside the boot and your heel shouldn’t slide up and down either. Leave extra room for your toes.

When you have your new pair, start out easy and allow them to break in. Take them out on shorter hikes before you start something longer in order to avoid blisters. Afterwards you should be able to enjoy them.

Check out Shoe Blogs for even more information about shoes.


Expert How-How To Choose the Right Hiking Boots

How to Choose the Right Hiking Boots