What you wear on your feet can have a massive impact on how you feel when out hiking. Not only this but wearing the correct footwear will also greatly aid the health of your feet; keeping them free from sores, blisters, deformities, and pain, amongst other things.
One of the most common types of footwear when getting out the trail is the hiking boot; this is a sturdy and supportive type of shoe that is designed to withstand the pressure and challenge of hiking on even the toughest ground.
However, there are some people who have moved away from their trusty hiking boots and opted for other types of footwear; sandals and trail running shoes being the most popular modern options.
While these other types of footwear do have their advantages, there is little else that can provide you with the support and comfort you need as well as a hiking boot can.
In this article, we are going to be exploring seven excellent reasons to wear hiking boots.
Whether you are tackling a challenging mountain hike with steep slopes and rocky ground or taking the dog for a walk across a muddy field, hiking boots are an essential item. But don’t just take our word for it. There are plenty of reasons that this type of specialist footwear should always be at the top of your list.
When you are out on a trail, you are getting back to nature. One of the best things about hiking is that you are able to explore the world and see things that can’t be seen every day. However, this means getting off the beaten track and that can result in a lot of strain being put on your footwear.
Trail runners and other lightweight shoes are excellent for less intense hikes but when you are going to be facing tough conditions, you need something that can stand up to this. Hiking boots are the only option.
They are often made from extremely robust materials, particularly leather, but there are some synthetic options available. These materials are designed to withstand a lot of walking and in most cases, a decent pair of hiking boots will last for up to 1000 miles. Conversely, hiking shoes or other types of footwear may only last half this long.
Of course, hiking boots are a little pricier but you won’t need to replace them anywhere near as frequently.
There are many hiking shoes and other lower cut options on the market and in some cases, these are an excellent choice. However, if you are going to be hiking, especially for longer periods of time, you must have a decent level of ankle support.
A lot of people make the mistake of believing that it is the feet that require support and this is true; your feet should be well-protected and supported when wearing any shoe. However, the ankles are at risk when navigating over rocky, uneven, or slippery ground.
When you wear a hiking boot, your ankles are encased in the tough leather that we discussed in the previous point. This wraps around the ankle and prevents it from moving independently of the shoe.
This may not sound like a big deal but if you were to slip or tumble, this additional ankle support will play a significant role in preventing ankle injury.
We have just discussed the importance of ankle support in a hiking boot and this is a crucial function if you are walking a demanding trail. However, there may be times when you are taking a gentle stroll through a dry, flat field then you might not need this level of support.
One of the greatest things about hiking boots is that you have a world of options when it comes to weight, style, and support.
If you have never used hiking boots, you could be forgiven for thinking that they come in one form; big and clunky. But this is not the case.
Manufacturers of modern hiking boots use a variety of different approaches to create hikers that are suited to all occasions.
Whether you need a lightweight boot for a gentle hike or something much more robust, your choices are far from limited.
The height of the boot can vary from very low to way past the ankle, giving you further options for support. This also ties in nicely with how comfortable the boots are since some people find that higher boots irritate them or make them feel restricted.
There are hiking boots for winter that are fully insulated and those that are much more breathable and ideal for summer wear.
Finally, hiking boots are incredibly stylish. In years gone by, the hiking boot was not amongst the footwear trendsetters and for a lot of people, this unflattering image has stuck. But when you look at some of the modern designs, you could be forgiven for thinking that this was more of a catwalk show than a hiking trail.
When you choose a modern pair of hiking boots, you will notice that they come in a huge array of colors and designs which gives you the freedom to express your personality and style. Even the most basic-looking boots have a chic and sophisticated design that looks incredible. Your options for matching your hiking boots to your favorite hiking clothing are vast.
Regardless of where you live or what the season currently is, there is a chance that you will come into contact with water. Whether that is from a sudden downpour or from stepping in a puddle on the ground.
Other types of hiking shoes may be advertised as being water-resistant and this is great, to an extent. When something is water-resistant, this does not mean that the material will stop water from entering the shoe. It has a degree of ability to repel water but it will not keep it out entirely.
On the other hand, hiking boots are waterproof. Most of them are designed with a waterproof upper to give you protection from the outside in. Inside the boots, there is typically a lining that will prevent water from entering.
In a lot of cases, GoreTex is used. This material is known to keep water out whilst allowing the boots to breathe. Your feet are bound to sweat inside the boots but the GoreTex lining allows this moisture to escape.
It is essential that moisture is not allowed to build up inside your hiking boots as this can cause irritation and sores.
If you are on a remote hiking trail with miles to go before you return to your base, the last thing that you want is for your footwear to become irritating. In some instances, you might even find that your footwear becomes painful and prevents you from being able to walk at all.
However, hiking boots are designed with maximum comfort in mind.
These rugged boots might look as though they will be draining on your feet but when you look at the layers of protection and support that are built up inside the shoe, it is not difficult to see why they are so comfortable.
One of the main aspects of comfort is the shock-absorbing abilities of these boots. You will find features such as heel pads and air cushions that take the bulk of the shock caused by each step.
Furthermore, hiking boots have multiple layers that are designed to deliver extreme comfort even when you are walking on sharp or rough ground.
The outsoles are usually very thick which gives you a supportive base for the foot, preventing it from moving in an unnatural manner. There is always a high-quality midsole which is made from soft, cushioned materials that mold to the shape of your feet.
Finally, the insole is soft and supportive and in some cases, they can be removed. A removable insole gives you the option to free up more space inside the boot should you need to insert an orthotic or if you have wider feet and need a little more wiggle room.
If you look at the underside of a hiking boot and compare it to a pair of sneakers, for example, you will notice one significant difference; the lug depth and pattern.
When we talk about lugs, we are referring to the grooves in the outsole of the shoes. In hiking boots, these are often at least 5mm. Conversely, other types of shoes may have very shallow lugs, and on some types of footwear; dress boots, for example, the outsole may be completely smooth.
This is not for a fashion reason but because hiking boots need to be able to grip the ground to prevent you from slipping. If you are walking on terrain that is anything other than perfectly flat and dry, there is a chance that you will lose your footing but a quality pair of hiking boots can make a huge difference.
The lug pattern is just as important as the lug depth and on many hiking boots, you will find a multi-directional lug pattern that further improves their ability to grip.
The outsole of hiking boots is almost always made from rubber. This natural material is strong and the texture is ideal for traction.
If you have ever shopped for hiking boots, one of the first things you will have likely looked for is how supportive the boots are. We have already talked about ankle support but the support that these boots can offer the feet is incredible.
The layered soles, as we have mentioned, are shock-absorbing and this means that you will experience far less pain in the feet. Furthermore, if you wear other types of footwear, these shocks can travel up the legs and cause joint problems in the ankles and knees.
Anyone who has problems with their feet including diabetes, arthritis, bunions and a wealth of other conditions needs a shoe that is going to cradle the foot and move with it rather than causing it to move around inside the shoe.
Hiking boots deliver on all fronts and if you struggle with foot problems, they are the only viable option when it comes to long hikes. Inside the shoe, just below the midsole, you will find what is known as a shank which is a small piece of metal designed to keep the sole flat and supported.
Furthermore, many hiking boots have a rubber toe cap which can go a long way in preventing injury to this vulnerable part of the foot.
Hiking boots are designed for walking on long, arduous trails where the ground may not always be your friend. However, a lot of people are put off these shoes because of their heavy design. But there are so many reasons to wear hiking boots.
Not only will they give you the ultimate level of support and comfort for your feet but they come in a huge range of designs and have many features making them one of the most diverse types of walking shoes out there.
Even if you have a spare pair of runners or hiking shoes in your pack, it is always a great idea to favor hiking boots over all else.