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Hiking Boot Tips

One of the most important pieces of gear you'll ever own is your hiking boots. To keep your feet comfortable, i.e. blister and foot-injury free, it is very important that your boots fit. The following suggestions are good things to keep in mind when buying a pair of boots.

TYPES OF HIKING BOOTS

There are two types of boots on the market, leather boots and lightweight hiking boots. Leather boots tend to be more durable and last longer, and can be waterproofed. They are expensive. Lightweight boots tend to be more breathable, more comfortable, cheaper, and require a shorter break-in time. However they are not as durable as leather boots and they are not waterproof. Your boots should have good ankle support.

SIZING YOUR BOOTS AT THE STORE

  1. Your feet swell as they warm up. Therefore, it is very important that your feet be warmed up when you try your boots on. A good idea is to park far away from the store. Walk a half mile to the store in the afternoon when it's warm. That way your foot will be more the size it will be when you are actually hiking.
  2. The best way to prevent blisters and an uncomfortable foot while hiking is to protect your foot by wearing two pairs of hiking socks. When you go to try on your boots, bring two pairs of hiking socks with you. Two pairs of socks will not only give you good padding, but will also wick the moisture away from your foot as well.
  3. When you are guessing your foot size, go up two sizes. When you put the shoe on, you should also be able to put a finger between your foot and the heel of the boot.
  4. Once you have the shoe on, lace the boot up. Don't lace it too tightly, but just snugly. Walk around the store and see how they feel. In particular, make sure that your heel can slide around slightly. The boot should be comfortable but stiff.
  5. Your toes should not hit the front of the boot too much. To simulate walking down a hill bang the toe of the boot on the ground or against a wall. Your toe shouldn't hit the front of the boot too easily. If it does, either your boot is too small or your laces aren't snug enough. Your boots should feel a little big.

BOOT CARE

  1. Remember that it takes awhile for boots to be broken in, in particular full grain leather boots. Some companies say that about 200 miles is the break-in time for leather boots! Wear your boots around the house and in the yard before you go on a long hike. Many people also wear different sock combinations when hiking. Try different thicknesses, but always use at least two pairs of socks. For example; a liner and midweight, two pairs of midweight, liner and heavy weight, etc... Go with what feels best.
  2. Clean your boots after a hike. The grit in boots can abrade the leather.
  3. Waterproof your boots often. This will not only help keep them waterproof but it also makes you clean your boots every once in a while.
  4. Buy a boot that has very few seams. The more stitching in a boot, the more places there are for water to leak in.