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Hiking Boots

Lightweight – Day hiking to single night, easy terrain trip.
Mid-weight – Easy to moderate terrain. One to three day backpacking trips.
Extended – Moderate to challenging terrain. Designed for heavy loads on extended backpacking trips. Compatible with most snowshoes.
Mountaineering – Challenging to extreme terrain. Completely waterproof and designed to maintain warmth in the coldest conditions. They are compatible with crampons and snowshoes.
Popular Hiking Boots - Men's (View all Hiking Boots - Men's)
Salomon Quest 4d GTX
$183.95 - 230.00

Fitting a Boot
Always bring the type of socks you plan to wear while hiking to the store with you. If you wear thinner / thicker socks to the store than you normally would when hiking, it will be difficult to determine if the boot fits correctly.

Time of Day – Keep in mind that feet tend to expand/swell throughout the day (due to walking on them).
Toe Box – If you cannot wiggle your toes, the boots are way too tight. A roomy toe box will really pay off on steep down hills. A tight toe box will result in blisters on the top of your toes and the outside of your feet. If possible, walk down a steep ramp in the store (or outside) to determine if the toe box is too small.
Heel – You want limited movement in your heel. This is where the support and control of your boot comes from.
In the store - Have you ever noticed that every store's shoe / boot section is carpeted? This is because it makes the shoes feel softer. Go find some concrete.


Full-Grain Leather – Water-resistant, high durability and more stiff (which provides support, but less flexibility).
Nylon – Lightweight, soft, low-cost material. Limited water-resistance.
Plastic - Primarily used for mountaineering and ice climbing.
Waterproof barriers – (i.e. Gore-Tex, Breathable Fabric) Enhances the water-resistance of a boot while maintaining the breathable characteristics of the boot.

Just because a boot is made of waterproof materials does not mean that you can stand in a lake all day. Boots that are made of waterproof materials may leak at the seams and the connected areas between the boot and the sole. Select boots with a minimal number of seams. Stitched soles tend to be more durable than cemented soles. If your boot has a Gore-Tex liner, that liner was tested individually in an aquarium for waterproofness.

Boots with removable inserts will permit you to dry your boot faster by removing the insert and then pulling the tongue of the boot forward to allow the maximum amount of air to circulate through your boots.

Never use waterproof sprays or waxes on boots made of breathable fabrics. The boots are already water resistant and waxes will prevent the boots from 'breathing'.

Select a lugged sole made of high friction rubber (hard synthetics are normally a bad option).

Speed-hooks permit you to quickly tie and untie your boots. Select a boot that uses them.

Load Carrying Capability
A stiffer midsole and insole provides the support needed to carry a heavier load. A full-grain leather boot is stiffer, adding support for a heavier load. Softer boots, trail runners or running shoes will be more flexible for light, fast trips.

Women’s versus Men’s Boots
Women’s boots traditionally have a narrower last and higher instep. Do not become obsessed with the concept of what sex your boots are attributed to. Buy a boot that matches your feet, not the sex, name or color of the shoe.

Clean – brush off mud and dirt after use. You may ruin your boots if you leave them dirty for an extended period of time.

Dry – placing newspaper inside drenched boots will help to expedite the drying process. Do not use heat (fireplace, heater, etc) because you may melt or damage the boot.

Storing Boots in your Tent
Do not place your boots directly in your tent because you will track mud into your tent, sleeping bag etc. Many hikers leave their boots in their vestibule. When leaving your boots in the vestibule, your boots are likely to be dry in the morning, but they are also likely to be full of bugs.

One alternative is to invert your sleeping bag’s bag and place your boots in there. Close the bag and place it in your tent. Your tent bag (inverted) works as well. Make sure you invert any bag you wish to use so that you do not place mud on your sleeping bag or tent when re-stuffing it.

Wet Conditions
Wet feet lose heat faster than dry feet. Wet feet allow your feet to slide around the boot (more than dry feet) resulting in irritation and blisters.

Regardless if you have waterproof boots or not, water can seep down your socks into the main body of the boot. If you plan to travel in extremely wet conditions, wear gaiters between your waterproof boots and waterproof pants.

Boots versus Running Shoes
If you have weak ankles, go with hiking boots. Hiking boots provide more support and warmth than running shoes.

If you are traveling through a warm climate and in easy terrain you can consider running shoes. Running shoes with lightweight socks can reduce your chances of obtaining blisters in a hot climate (where your feet would sweat inside boots).

If you plan to travel through a cold climate, hiking boots are almost always elite. Running shoes will also not work as well for river crossings.

Mountaineering Boots
See the separate article on Mountaineering boots.

Hiking Socks
Do not wear cotton socks. A common mistake is that people will buy high end, breathable boots and then wear non-breathable, moisture absorbing socks. This places you back where you started.

Most hiking socks are a combination of wool and synthetic materials. High end socks come with padding, which can increase cushioning on your feet.

When trying on boots, always wear the same type of socks you plan to wear while hiking.
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