Hiking Boots Shopping Guide

Hiking Boots Shopping Guide

Choosing the perfect hiking boots can sometimes be a daunting task. The right hiking boots will match your hiking ambitions, will fit well, and are comfortable enough to wear for hours on end. In this article, we will walk you through some of the factors you should focus on when shopping for hiking boots. By the last paragraph you should be able to determine which hiking boots are right for your next adventure.


Types of Hiking Boots

Depending on whether you’re hiking through a state park or backpacking through the mountains you’ll need the right pair of hiking boots. Your hiking ambitions will help you determine what hiking boots are right for you. For example, if you’re going to be carrying light loads you may want to consider lighter footwear.


Hiking Shoes – Perfect for day hiking, hiking shoes are low-cut and are a favorite among ultralight backpackers.


Hiking Boots – Intended for weekend backpacking or day hikes. They can range from mid- to high-cut designs and require very little break-in time. Unfortunately, hiking boots are not made for long backpacking trips deep into the backcountry because they lack the support and durability found in backpacking boots.


Backpacking Boots – These boots are specially designed for those who are carrying heavier loads on long backpacking trips. Most backpacking boots are high-cut, providing added ankle support, and include stiffer midsoles than lighter footwear.


Hiking Boot Features

Hiking Boot Uppers


Hiking boots are come in a few different types of materials all of which will impact the boot’s weight, breathability, durability, and water resistance.


Full-grain Leather – Full-grain leather hiking boots are a favorite among hikers because it’s durable, offers excellent abrasion resistance and is water resistant. This material may require longer break-in time than alternative materials.


Split-grain Leather – Split-grain leather is often paired with nylon or nylon mesh in hiking boots and are often lightweight and breathable. Unfortunately, this material is less water resistant than full-grain leather.


Synthetics – Nylon, polyester, and other “synthetic leathers” are commonly found in hiking boots. This material is lighter than leather, but will wear much faster than full-grain leather. 


Waterproof – Waterproof hiking boots are often constructed with waterproof membranes (such as Gore-Tex) in order to keep your feet dry even in wet conditions.


Insulated – Synthetic insulation is included in some hiking boots to ensure that feet stay warm even when hiking on cold weather.



Hiking Boot Midsoles


Midsoles are added to hiking boots to protect feet when walking on rocky, uneven terrain. The most commonly used midsole materials are ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) and polyurethane.


EVA – Midsoles use varying densities of Ethylene vinyl acetate to provide greater support where necessary.


Polyurethane – Midsoles that use polyurethane are more firm than EVA and are usually reserved for backpacking boots.



Hiking Boot Support Components


Shanks – Shanks are 3-5mm thick inserts that are positioned in between a boot’s midsole and outsole. There are two types of shanks, one covers the entire length of the midsole, while the other covers only half.


Plates – Plates are think, semiflexible inserts that are placed between the midsole and outsole (and below the shank if there is one). They help protect your feet from getting hurt my roots or uneven rocks in your path.



Hiking Boot Outsoles


All hiking boots have rubber outsoles. In order to choose the right hiking boots you’ll need to find a pair that have lug soles. Lug soles are thick rubber soles with deep indentations that help ensure better traction and stability. Widely spaced lugs offer the best traction.


Hiking Boot Fit Tips

If you’re on the market for hiking boots, the following tips will help you find the perfect pair:

Know your size. It’s best to have your feet measured at a shoe store. If you’re buying your boots online you can measure your foot length and use an online sizing chart to find a pair of boots in the right size.  


Avoid buying boots that are too small. After a long day of work feet will often swell a bit, which is why you should wait until the end of the day to try on and purchase boots. This will ensure that you are not purchasing boots that are too small.


Orthotics impact the fit of a boot. If you normally wear orthotics you should bring them with you when shopping around for a pair of hiking boots.


Wear the right pair of socks. You should be trying on your hiking boots wearing the same socks you would normally wear when you go hiking. If you wear socks that are thin you may end up with hiking boots that are too tight with the appropriate socks.


Walk around in the boots. When trying on hiking boots make sure you walk around the store a bit in them. If you feel an odd bump or seam, or feel some pinching in the forefoot, you should find another pair of boots.


Consider aftermarket orthotics. You can wear orthotics to help enhance comfort, support and fit.


Now you’re ready to go out and pick a pair of hiking boots that will match your hiking ambitions and will keep you comfortable even hiking through rough terrain.



We at Coastal Boot have a wide selection of affordable hiking boots available for individuals who love adventure! Give us a call today at 1 (800) 972-7627 to place an order over the phone or go to our website’s hiking boots page, and place your order online.  

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