How To Find The Best Walking Boots For You
Whether you’re a keen hiker or simply enjoy a regular walk around local trails, investing in the best walking boots for you and your walking style is of the utmost importance. Providing your feet with comfort and stability, it’s important to consider a number of factors when selecting your choice of walking footwear.
Where will you be walking?
First things first, where you’re going to be walking will play a huge part in choosing the right walking boots for you. If you’re someone who enjoys day-long hikes up rocky terrain, then a rigid hiking boot with lots of ankle support is crucial. Offering strong grip on uneven surfaces, walking boots with increased ankle height and a deeper outsole provide lots of support and stability, something of huge importance when trekking tougher routes.
If you’re more of a local walker, usually opting for paths that are less challenging and well-trodden, then a lightweight boot or even a walking shoe is a great option. Giving more flexibility and free range of movement, lighter boots and walking shoes allow you to move more naturally, providing the long-lasting comfort needed to sustain long, but less rocky trails.
There are two core materials used when crafting walking boots – leather and fabric.
Heavier boots, built for withstanding tough elements, tend to be made from leather, resulting in durable hiking boots that are perfect for wear in cold and wet weather. Far more rigid than fabric walking boots, those made of leather usually require a bit of breaking in and may take a little longer to mould to your feet but are great for offering more support on those tougher rambles.
More suited to those who enjoy shorter and less rocky routes, fabric walking boots tend to be the more comfortable and breathable option. Slightly less resistant to water but still waterproof thanks to their waterproof membrane, fabric boots are great for wear during the summer months but are still more than wearable throughout the year, provided you’re not planning to jump feet first into muddy puddles!
Upper, Midsole and Outsole
The minefield of shopping for walking boots can become a little overwhelming when people begin speaking about uppers, midsoles and outsoles, but it needn’t be too tricky.
In short, the upper refers to everything on the outer part of the shoe that sits above the midsole. Giving the boot its shape and style, the thickness of the outsole plays a large part in determining the level of support the boot will offer you. Outsoles made from leather tend to be thicker, therefore offering increased support when compared to fabric outsoles, that tend to be less rigid, allowing for more flexibility.
The midsole i.e. the layer of material that sits between the upper and the outsole (at the very bottom of the boot), determines how stiff the boot is. Boots that feel lighter and more comfortable, suited more to less rocky walks, tend to have a midsole that’s stiff, but still flexible, whereas more durable boots usually have a far tougher and less adaptable midsole to offer increased support.
Finally, but interestingly most importantly, the outsole – the bottom of the boot (sometimes referred to as the tyre) is the bit that works the hardest. Constantly pushed against solid elements, there are a range of different outsoles to choose from. For those less intense walks, an outsole only needs to be deep enough to provide grip on slightly muddy and wet surfaces, whereas boots built for hiking and hill climbing need a deeper outsole that can provide grip on really rocky and slippery surfaces.
Oddly enough it’s highly recommended that you shop for your walking boots in the afternoon, as feet tend to expand throughout the day, and you’ll want a walking boot that can comfortably fit your feet when they’re at their largest. More than just about the length of your feet though, be sure to consider everything from shape to width. Purchasing a pair of walking boots that offer a little extra room (though not too much) is also recommended to allow for further expansion in hotter climates, as well as room for walking socks at chillier times.
If you’re looking to purchase your very first pair of walking boots, then we highly recommend visiting our countryside store to make the most of our shop team, who will be able to help advise which boots are best fitted to your feet.
Overall there are a huge number of factors to consider when shopping for your next walking or hiking boot, but these fundamental considerations are a good place to start.
Browse our range of walking footwear online at any time to discover a pair that’s right for you. With options from the likes of Meindl, Aigle, Ariat, Le Chameau and more, you’re bound to find your perfect pair in just a few clicks, however if you’re still unsure on what may be the best walking boot for you, please call our friendly team on 01604 695818, who will be more than happy to discuss your walking preferences and help determine which walking boot is best for you.