Selecting a Hiking Boot
Properly fit and well broken in hiking boots can make a backpacking trip a pleasure whereas, improperly fit and/or poorly broken in boots can lead to misery. There is no one boot that we can recommend because every individuals' foot is different, so when purchasing boots please follow the following recommendations:
- Purchase an above the ankle, mid/heavy weight backpacking boot designed to support a foot carrying loads up to 40-50 lbs
- Go to a reputable dealer with a staff that is trained to fit hiking boots.
- Try on boots late in the day after your foot has had an opportunity to swell.
- Wear the sock system that you intend on using during the trip (we recommend a lightweight polypro liner with an expedition weight SmartWool® sock).
- Walk around the store for 20-30 minutes, taking note if the boot pinches, rubs or irritates your foot in any way.
- If the store has a ramp, walk down the ramp multiple times to see if your toes jam into the front of the boot. (This simulates walking downhill) Walk up the ramp to see if you get an abnormal amount of heel lift. If the shop does not have a ramp, ask to kick a wall, slide your foot along the ground in a “scuffing motion” until the boot comes in contact with the wall. (Like the ramp this will simulate walking downhill with a pack) Again see if your toes jam into the front of the boot.
- Do not be afraid to ask questions.
- Do not make a boot purchase based on look or price point.
- Do go to another shop if nothing that you’ve tried on fits well.
Breaking In and Waterproofing
- Once you have your boots at home, walk around the house for a couple of days to make sure they really fit (once you wear them outside they cannot be returned).
- When you have decided they fit, apply waterproofing recommended by the manufacturer or dealer. (Waterproofing facilitates breaking in)
- Begin breaking in your boots by wearing them casually, if they begin to feel uncomfortable take them off, let your foot rest and go back to them the next day.
- Once your able to wear them comfortably for a full day (6-8 hours), begin wearing them on light hikes.
- The week before you depart on your course you should wear your boots everyday and reapply waterproofing just before departure.
If you follow these guidelines your feet will thank you!