One of the most important items when it comes to hiking equipment is the choice of boots. Boots that are too cramped or too loose fitting causes chafing and blisters, while the right choice of boots will give your feet support and help you have a comfortable and enjoyable walk.

How to choose the right pair from a jungle of options? Today I share my best tips for choosing the right hiking boots. Including which terrain and climate you should walk on with which boots, and how much packing you should carry with you – two crucial factors to keep in mind when you are choosing your boots.

A sturdy boot – For demanding hiking terrain

Having a boot that is waterproof but still allows air to ventilate, will keep your feet dry from both puddles and from sweat. If you are walking on more demanding terrain, like a mountain environment with a lot of uphill – or rough and rocky terrain, you need a more solid boot. In the mountains you will not get enough support from a low shoe. This will be even more obvious if you are carrying a lot of weight.

Having a fully packed backpack on your back with gas stoves, tents and other things you need for several stays overnight will put great pressure on your knees and joints. Hiking boots are available with different shaft heights to help with this. A good point of reference is that higher the shaft you choose, the more support you give to your legs and knees, which also helps your back.

Lighter Hiking Boots – For forest walks and easier day hikes

When you want a boot that goes up over your ankle, supports and protects you from getting wet while not feeling heavy.

A low shoe – For easy walking on flat ground

Icebug Winter activities for the family with dog

When buying a low shoe, look for one with a stable sole. A thick sole allows you to walk without feeling the substrate and  a stiff sole cushion your foot when stepping on edges, logs and stones. A stable sole provides support, while a shoe with a sole that you can twist like a cloth will make it difficult to walk on stones.

A low shoe is fine for hiking in lighter terrain. For example, if you are going along a good path like the Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

Sandals – For wading and evenings lounging around camp

I usually always pack a pair of easy hiking sandals, no matter when and where I walk. I like to change over to them during the evenings to be able to move more freely. They are also perfect to throw on in the middle of the night when it is time to pee, and they are convenient to change into when you need to wade through water. A pair of solid hiking sandals will protect the feet against sharp stones in the water and make it easier to grip onto slippery stones.

I like this type from Teva or this hybrid sandal (which protects the toes from small gravel) from Salaomon.

Think about this before and during buying!

If you invest in a good pair of hiking boots and take care of them properly, you will be able to enjoy your boots for many, many years. Outdoor shops often have knowledgeable staff who are happy to help you find the right model and fit for your next adventure.

You need about an inch extra in the boot. Ask for help measuring your feet in the boot.

Make sure the heel of the boot sits well around the foot – this means that the heel should not move up and down too much when you walk – if it does, the boot is too large.

The boot should not be too short or small so that it clamps too tightly around your foot. Because even if the boot feels good in the store, your feet will swell when you have been hiking for an hour and you don’t want to hit the front edge of the boots when you go downhill.

Checklist:

– What environment and terrain will you be walking on?

– Are you going to be uphill or downhill often?

– How much weight will you be carrying?

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